Friday, April 30, 2010

if i die before i wake...

"I'm gonna split you in two."

Tina is having a bad dream. It's late.  She's blonde. She's alone in a rickety Venice Beach alleyway, wearing nothing but a neglligee and trapped with the object of her dread, a horribly disfigured man with knives for fingers.  “Shit."  That's all she says.  The moment is simple, comically authentic and yet so frightening in context, that I had no choice but to fall for A Nightmare on Elm Street head over feet.

A Nightmare on Elm Street is about friends. They’re remarkably well dressed and attractive without any hair extensions or pancake makeup.  They're sincere.  These kids come from white trash families and broken homes, but that's not all they have in common - they all seem to be having the exact same nightmare.  In the center of this clique is Nancy.  Nancy isn’t quite as fashion-forward as her friends. She could certainly use a hot-oil treatment and she has yet to be introduced to the subtleties of tailored tops, but that’s not her fault. Nancy’s mother can’t seem to step away from her vodka or the bronzer long enough to even make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, let alone school her in the fine art of hair conditioning!

Nancy's mother suffers from borderline personality disorder and her father isn't present.  Her deadpan expression upon seeing her best friend splayed open like a flank steak on her bedroom floor indicates a young woman who still has a lot of growing to do. As her friends begin to die off, it becomes abundantly clear that Nancy is going to have to become a whole person if she wants to survive the night!

"He's dead, honey, because Mommie killed him."

When push comes to shove, we have no control over our bodies most basic functions (ie: dreaming); this makes a great landscape for a horror movie. In sleep, we are at our most vulnerable. Wes Craven has taken the seemingly ludicrous concept of a burned child molester exacting revenge upon the children of those who scorned him and he turned out a gritty and viscerally scary film! All cinematic elements are present and working to achieve synthesis, making A Nightmare on Elm Street something to remember and talk about for years to come. A brilliant score by Charles Bernstein and an ensemble of young actors who genuinely seem to care for each other make this movie vital - without any 3D conversion, it practically pops off the screen! I think we can expect a lot of great things from Amanda Wyss!

With a story that moves at a clip and characters that are clearly defined; plus gorgeous boys in briefs and midriff tops (and the fact that Nancy's mom, Ronee Blakely, gives a camp performance to rival any Susan Hayward melodrama), I think it’s safe to say that we can add Freddy Krueger to the pantheon of movie monsters in the years to come.

I don't quite understand why people are so worked up about this movie coming to theatres this weekend.  It's been on dvd for a decade.  Save your hard-earned pennies and buy Never Sleep Again: The Elm Street Legacy instead - they dedicate a solid twenty minutes to discussing how gay Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy's Revenge is/was/will always be.  That's good times, kids!


  1. Please tell me they devote the full 20 minutes to the gym teacher/leather daddy getting bare bottomed spanked in the shower scene in the sequel.

  2. aunt john, it's actually even more than twenty minutes! i went home with a ton of work to do and it was in the mailbox and i lost the entire day just staring like a four year old watching trucks and trains!!