I think by now, my love for all things A Nightmare on Elm Street has been fairly well documented here. I love it so much, in fact, that I received this for my birthday:
So I want to start Halloween month off here (a little late but better than never) with the entire run of “Nightmare” including the documentaries “Never Sleep Again” and “I am Nancy”.
First the backstory of me: Nightmare was one of the first ever horror movies I watched. IN COLLEGE. Funnily enough, I didn’t start watching scary movies until college because I was banned early on from anything remotely scary after a bad experience around the age of 7 that was a result of watching The Monster Squad(I stayed up all night waiting for Dracula to come and get me, ergo my parents were also up all night and none too happy about it). My next scary movie would be Carrie at my 16th birthday party and then after that it was fairly horror free until college were I was strongly corrupted my freshman year by The Exorcist, Halloween, The Evil Dead (my friend, Brad, had to come spend the night with me the night I watched that one…) and finally someone introduced me to Freddy Krueger and I watched the majority of the films one after the other and found my movie monster love.
Maybe I loved it so much because I can relate. I’ve had horrific nightmares the majority of life. Really f*cked up shit. Or maybe it’s because it was (loosely) based off a true story. I actually don’t know the reasons, all I know is that the Nightmare series is by far my favorite horror series of all time.
I’m guessing everybody’s seen this one by now (and if you haven’t, why the hell not??) so I’ll skip the synopsis but suffice it to say – you sleep, Freddy gets you. And everybody’s gotta sleep sometime right?
The basis for the film was actually a series of articles in the LA Times in the 70s about a group of Khmer refugees who were suffering nightmares and all refused to sleep. Some of them eventually ended up dying in their sleep soon after. It was attributed to Asian Death Syndrome which affects men between the ages of 19 and 57. The final nails in the coffin were “Dream Weaver” by Gary Wright and (supposedly) Craven’s studies on Eastern religions.
Freddy himself was based off an incident that occurred when Craven was a child where he was startled by a random man on the street and originally Freddy was supposed to be a child molester (they brought this back into play for the remake) but was changed to child murderer so as not to be accused of sensationalizing a particular trial that was happening at the time.
The first and original Nightmare was and still is terrifying. The idea of a monster who kills you while you sleep gets to the heart of terror – the unavoidable. You can get by with no sleep for maybe two days tops but after that it’s unavoidable or you’ll die anyway, not to mention the fact that it can literally make you go insane. Remember Fight Club? Which actually raises the question – if you don’t take Nightmare literally can it instead be taken as a tale of group psychosis related to the onset of hallucinations due to lack of sleep? It’s certainly plausible (although entirely less fun) to think that really our gang hallucinated Freddy and his shenanigans and instead began killing themselves and/or each other in a insomnia induced daze that could perhaps have been caused by nightmares they’d had as a result of learning about their parents having killed a man years ago.
And that’s another thing I love about Nightmare. There are layers. Easily missed on a first, second or third viewing but more easily seen in the 800th viewing. What you’ve got here is a film that can be taken in more ways than one with a villain who loves to be a villain. And what could be better than that?