Hey, I said I was in the mood for something psychological--not something intelligent.
A Nightmare on Elm Street is, indeed, psychological--at least more so than the Friday the 13th franchise. Sure--we've all been into the deep woods. Or Manhattan. Or outer space in the year 2455. But none of us seem to spend an awful lot of time in any of these places, due in part to the fact that they are each of them inherently terrifying.
That's where Nightmare comes in. It brings the horror close to home. And by "close to home" I mean "to your home." Our hero, Freddy Kreuger, sneaks into your dreams while you're safe in your bed. Then he rips your guts out and paints the wall with your blood. Heartwarming.
The first movie in the series is great. Unlike Friday, which I found to be satisfyingly gruesome but not scary, Nightmare is a thoroughly chilling movie. Freddy can really do just about anything he wants, which means every phobia the viewer has will be checked off sooner or later. Scared of being stalked through your neighborhood? Happens all the time. Afraid that your sheets will crawl around your neck while you're sleeping and hang you from the ceiling? Freddy's done it. And also, you worry too much.
Because these movies (or at least the first one) focus less on gore and more on fear, there aren't many exceptional kills. There is one clear champion in this film, and it involves a young man credited as "Introducing Johnny Depp." Presumably he lost that first word somewhere early on in his career. Bedecked in a belly-shirt and a pair of mondo headphones, Depp is eaten alive by his bed. The best is yet to come, though. The bed regurgitates Depp's blood for a solid two minutes, spraying the ceiling and walls. There is so much blood that it actually begins leaking through the ceiling.
There are other fun moments. We get to see the star's best friend tossed around the room and brutally murdered, presumably for cheating on John Cusack in Better Off Dead. The heroine is french-kissed by her telephone for some reason. The final confrontation is like a mix between Beetlejuice and Home Alone; Freddy knows how to take a sledge to the chest like only a Wet Bandit could. The movie ends like the Friday films before it--unintelligibly.
My favorite bit in the movie is the alcoholic mom. In every scene, she seems to be pulling a bottle of booze from the most random locations. She sneaks into the linen closet for some vodka from under the towels. She pulls a bottle out from under her pillow as her daughter is tucking her in. There's even a jug of whiskey right by the fiery incinerator, which is kind of handy in the event of an attack. I'm reasonably sure that this isn't meant to be funny--alcoholics do hide bottles, I guess--but it SO is.
I really have no complaints about this movie. There's a reason it's a horror classic, and I'm disappointed that I missed its recent theater revival.
Which brings us to A Nightmare on Elm Street Part 2: Freddy's Revenge. Essentially, the whole movie is one big complaint. While it took Friday the 13th nine movies to hit "possession," Nightmare abandons its key "dream" premise and instead brings Freddy's kills to the real world in its second installment.
Freddy has some bright moments in this flick, though. For starters, he wreaks havoc on a pool party full of teens. He tops the body count of the series' first installment in this scene alone. Most importantly though, he succeeds where Jason has always failed before--he kills actual pets on-screen. Two birds (sleeping after a blanket is put over their cage) are brutally murdered (a broken neck and a spontaneous combustion). An aquarium full of goldfish are boiled alive. The fact that Freddy has the balls to do that leads me to call shenanigans on Freddy vs. Jason. There is NO WAY that Jason should win that fight. Oops. There are spoilers in this paragraph.
Hopefully, Freddy will get back to his best arena--the dream realm--in the near future. I have high hopes when there are sequels called The Dream Child, The Dream Warriors, and The Dream Dream Dream Dream.