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Teenaged Tina (Amanda Wyss) is plagued by terrible nightmares, so when
one night her mother is out, she asks her friends Nancy (Heather
Langenkamp) and Glen (young Johnny Depp) and her boyfriend Rod (Nick
Corri) to sleep over and protect her - and interestingly enough, they all
had similar nightmares.
However, protecting her her friends can't, she is killed by something
from her dreams when Rod is still in bed with her. In shock, Rod makes a
getaway ... and for the police he is soon enough the one and only logical
suspect ... and it's not long before he is caught and arrested.
Meanwhile the nightmares Nancy has become more intense, and she is soon
convinced that it was not Rod who killed Tina but someone in their mutual
nightmares ... someone called Freddy Krueger (Robert Englund). But not
only that, Krueger is also after Rod, and before long has hanged him in
his prison cell. Nancy's cop father (John Saxon) and alcoholic
mother (Ronee Blakley) are reluctant to believe her though, even when she
manages to bring Krueger's hat back from her dream. It's only now that her
mother confesses that Krueger was a child killer years ago, but she and
dad were part of aa lynchmob that burned him to death ... with rather
unexpected consequences, considering he now roams the teenagers'
At first, Nancy tries to stay awake as long as possible, but soon
enough she finds out that eventually she has to sleep again, so with Glen's help she wants to pull Krueger from her dreams back into the real
world, but Glen proves rather useless and on top of this soon gets kileld
by Freddy himself ... so Nancy has to rely on an alarmclock and boobytraps
to defeat and kill Freddy. Somehow it works, Nancy manages to pull Freddy
to the real world, badly injure him and in the end burn him - to death,
she thinks and goes get help. But Freddy has already been burned once, and
strikes back in killing Nancy's mum, then he corners Nancy and goes after
her ... which is when Nancy remembers something from a dreambook: If she
can convince herself her dream is not true, it will go away ... and
suddenly Freddy disappears.
The next morning, everything's back to normal, Nancy's friends are back
and so is her mum - and everything couldn't be nicer, until ...
A Nightmare on Elm Street is almost a contradiction in itself:
An intelligent horror-film based on stupid ideas and plottwists, a slasher
movie that manages to be original and inventive, teen horror that
entertains without insulting the audience. The film actually works for a
variety of reasons, but first and foremost perhaps because the film shows
no hesitation in relying on the logic (or un-logic) of a nightmare where
anything can happen (and frequently does) and at least flashes of
surrealism are almost mandatory. Then there's of course the central
character of Nancy/Heather Langenkamp, the final girl, who is more fleshed
out than usually for this sort of film, who really has her own story
that's more than just a genre cliché, and then there's of course
Freddy/Robert Englund, who despite little screentime and almost no
oneliners in this one, makes a great villain.
In its time, the film was immensely popular and has since become a
classic of the genre. It also had 7 sequels - all of which focussed more
on Freddy, who soon became more and more of a comicbook character - and a
shortlived TV-series (Freddy's Nightmares), but neither
could match the quality of this movie.