“When I arrived at the interview, I smeared some cigarette ash under my eyes to make them look sunken. I popped the hood of my car and pulled the dipstick and ran some engine oil through my blonde curls to make my hair flat and thin. I can be a bit of a motor mouth, I tend to talk a lot. But when I got in the room with Wes, I just stared at him.”
Hello freaks! I’m baaaack. It’s time for another VS review! This time, It’s Wes Craven’s 1984 slasher “A Nightmare On Elm Street” up against Samuel Bayer’s 2010 remake. So grab your sweater and your favorite fedora, a beer and some popcorn, and your best glove (knives optional). Let’s get down to business.
A Nightmare On Elm Street- Wes Craven 1984
“Whatever you do, don’t…fall…asleep”. This film is in my opinion, an example of something becoming an instant classic. The camera work engages the viewer and puts a wonderful perspective on whatever terror is occurring at the moment. There are a few examples of this. One is when we see Nancy during her bath and as she slowly drifts off, Freddy’s glove breaks the surface of the water between her legs. A knock saves her in the nick of time. Another is the infamous “blood bed” scene.
In my opinion one of the best scenes is where Freddy emerges through Nancy’s bedroom wall, stretching the fabric of reality. What is amazing to me is how powerful Freddy Krueger comes across and how commanding Englunds performance is with only seven minutes of screen time. The sets on the film are something else that stand out to me. I think they’re incredibly detailed and put the viewer into the movie itself. I feel that the pacing of the film is almost perfect and the violence is not overdone, but still more prevalent than other iconic slasher films of the era.
There is plenty of bloodshed as over 500 gallons of SFX blood was used in filming. Overall Wes Craven shines with a fantastic original story, great camera work and sets and a wonderful performance by Robert Englund, who truly brought life to one of the most purely evil characters ever devised in a slasher film. My only main criticism of this slasher classic is the ending.
I would have much preferred Craven’s original end to the film in which Nancy turns her back on Freddy and tells him he’s nothing. Instead what we get is an oddly placed twist ending that producer Robert Shaye convinced Wes to film. While the ending allows for Freddy to come back and exact revenge on one of the people who burned him alive it’s disjointed and confusing and suggests that the last half hour of the film is based in a dream.
Above all, it is a horror classic that remains fresh and engaging to this day. I am rating this film four out of five stars.
On to the remake..
A Nightmare On Elm Street- Samuel Bayer 2010
There has been quite a bit of controversy surrounding this film. I garnered a lot of hate when released and is widely considered a flop by critics. In watching it I tried to keep an open mind and judge it as fairly as possible. I really enjoyed the opening of this movie.
The diner scene was well executed and set the pace of the movie nicely. It was nice to be able to portray Freddy as he was meant to be, a child rapist, the worst evil Wes Craven could think of when coming up with the character originally. I felt the acting was superb for this re-imagining. They mixed up the story just enough to stay true to the original and yet stray from it and depict a somewhat different tale.
I think the story was well told, the pacing was executed wonderfully and the effects were also well done. Jackie Earl Haley gave his all and we saw a more realistic depiction of a burned character. The SFX were well done for the most part. I thought the micro-dream concept was fantastic and a great way to bring the story into the modern era.
My criticisms of the film are that we are left with a bit of a plothole/weird ending deal (again) and some of Haley’s performance fell flat. Once again this is a remake so it kind of begins the race handicapped but overall I think it was a solid film. The problem is that it’s not a Craven film. I’m rating it at four out of five stars as well.
The comparative review-
In comparing the two films, the original is an obvious winner. Craven’s writing combined with Englund’s physicality create an instant horror icon in Freddy Krueger. Once again, while the nods to original scenes in the remake are good, they fail to capture the essence of artful terror the original does.
However we get to see the story of Freddy we were meant to see in the original script that was abandoned in 84. A child molester. I have a few issues with the remake, mainly with the characterization of Freddy himself.
While I know Jackie Earl Haley gave it his all, for me it’s just not Freddy. I have a few reasons. His face in the movie to me looks almost cartoonish and maybe that’s due in part to the heavily used CGI but the eyes and nose seem wrong.
Another issue I have is the voice and delivery or lack thereof of that classic sarcastic witty humor we know from Englund’s Krueger. I’m sure that’s largely due to Craven not writing the script and not a fault of Haley. I suppose it’s more noticeable to me having watched the original and remake back to back and maybe those who either never viewed the original or began with the remake would never even notice.
I don’t think the remake is as bad as people generally say it is but I do think had they released it as a new installment it would have garnered more success. Separately both Englund and Haley’s performances were fantastic. In the end I just feel Englund’s shoes are too big to fill by anyone, Haley or otherwise. In the same way I feel Wes Craven’s writing and directing cannot be bested when it comes to his personal creations.
In summation the remake suffers from the “remake curse” and has no opportunity to live up to the original because the original is a masterpiece. It is however, still well worth a watch.
I had a wonderful time revisiting the world of Freddy Krueger. The character origins and Englund’s own stories on how he became the monster for film are fascinating and I encourage you to look them up. New Line Cinema was saved from bankruptcy by this film. It was also Johnny Depp’s first movie. I would like to thank not directors this time but actors. Thank you Robert Englund for giving life to a horror icon. Thank you Jackie Earl Haley for being brave enough to step into an icon’s shoes.
Well Freaks, that brings another review to a close. I have knives to sharpen and bodies to dispose of so I’ll catch y’all later.