JUMPSCARECUT: A Nightmare On Elm Street (1984)

Written by Jessica Peña

You’d have to be living under a rock if you’ve never heard of Freddy Krueger. The murderous, sweater-wearing character is literally the thing of nightmares. Arguably one of the most feared villains of horror, thanks immensely to his nature of existence. Whereas icons like Jason Voorhees appear suspiciously to torment and slash in real-world life, Freddy’s battleground is essentially your subconscious, something you cannot and will not escape. It makes sense that this evil fool appears in front of you just as you think you’ve gotten away. The fear is believable and Freddy feasts on it. Wes Craven’s A Nightmare on Elm Street gave kids of the time something to be scared about when they’re about tuck into bed at night.

Before the franchise started blurring the lines and scratching the rules up, its origin story, as told in the first film, carves out a memorable rule of thumb: Freddy exists only in the dream world. Whatever you do, don’t fall asleep. And then there’s the chance that you may bring some things back from the dream world if awoken. Tina Grey (Amanda Wyss) sort of figures this out as she is chased in her dream by the mysterious figure, waking up to see that her nightgown has four slashes in it. This is a daring revelation to the viewer, imposing a much more sinister threat than that of one’s own imagination. Craven’s film is clever and paced with animosity to its young characters early on. Tina invites her friends, Rod (Jsu Garcia), Nancy (Heather Langenkamp), and Glen (Johnny Depp) to spend the night the day after her close encounter. To her demise, the viewer is placed relentlessly into Freddy’s carnage, seeping deeper into the fear of resting your eyes. The deaths that follow are seemingly hard to run away from, and it works wonders to the narrative at center.

Robert Englund is Freddy Krueger, the nefarious killer that lurks in the dreams of the Elm Street teenagers. Once a child murderer (and most likely molester) back in the day, Krueger was strangely released on a technicality, cornered by a group of parents in an act of just vigilance, and set ablaze. His burned face, covered vaguely under a brown hat, terrorizes the teenagers’ minds moving forward in the aftermath of Tina’s vicious (and artistically clever) death. The searing memory of Krueger’s death haunts Nancy’s mother to this day, as she was part of the group of parents who took matters into their own hands one night. Nancy Thompson, unaware of her mother’s involvement, narrowly escapes Freddy’s fatal attempts and begins to fight back this elusive figure. With the help of her boyfriend, Glen, she orchestrates a plan to bring Freddy out into the real world and burn him once more for good. Now, if only Glen can stay awake and help her out…

Robert Englund is the peculiar star of the film for his portrayal of the bladed glove-wearing maniac. Backdropped by an equally odd synth track by Charles Bernstein, Freddy chases his victims like they’re trophies. In Tina’s second encounter, Freddy appears to her at one point as a silhouette in the dark shadows, elongating his arms to scratch the fences. He then breaks into chasing her in such an exaggerated manner, as if this is all truly a fun joke to him and he knows he can capture you.

Certainly, there’s a cold hard foundation to Freddy’s demeanor this early on. His cryptic manifestations are what pedal A Nightmare on Elm Street as a shock of terror delight. If nightmares were real, this film delves into them brilliantly. It’s one thing to watch a scary film and try to sleep, but it’s a whole other beast trying to get Freddy out of your psyche before bedtime. For those who enjoy the thrill of our scary subconscious, this film is hound for horror. Wes Craven’s vicious evil of an entity helped propel New Line Cinema into “the house that Freddy built,” with its massive box office return and inevitable franchise. In some old stories, it was a myth that if you died in your sleep, you died in real life. This film does a spectacular play on those fears, cultivating the ingenuities of that kind of imagination and letting them run wild. We’re dreaming in Freddy’s world, and sooner or later, he’s coming for you.

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Watch This Space: October 26 – November 1

Welcome to your weekly go-to film guide – WatchThisSpace – where we recommend what to watch in the cinema and on the television, and remind you of those brilliant films hiding in your DVD collection. This week, it’s all about spooks and scares, as we celebrate Hallowe’en!

IN THE CINEMA

It’s seemed like an eternity since the cinematic release date for ‘Spectre’ was announced, but the time is finally here! James Bond’s return to the big screen promises to be fantastic. Cast and crew have all claimed that this is the most ambitious Bond film of all time, in terms of scale and stunts. This may also be the final time that Daniel Craig will be starring as Britain’s best suave, super-spy, so we’re hoping this will be a fitting end to arguably the best Bond era there has ever been.

ON THE TV

Seeing as though it’s Hallowe’en this week (and given the fact that this is an awful week for films on television), we’ve decided to give you a run down of the best spooky films on offer on the 31st.

16:55 GMT: They’re creepy and they’re kooky, mysterious and spooky. They’re altogether ooky. The Addams Family! At least that’s all I needed to get in the mood to watch this one! Watch the playful, family friendly, ‘The Addams Family’ on Film4 this afternoon.

18:00 GMT: Simply a classic in the genre of all things ghoulish, ‘Ghostbusters’ is a must watch this Hallowe’en on Comedy Central. It will make for some pleasant family afternoon viewing before the really scary stuff starts later on at night. So make the most of it whilst you can!

21:00 GMT: One of many adaptations of Bram Stoker’s famous fictional vampire, but 1992’s ‘Dracula’ is regarded by many as one of the best. Starring Gary Oldman, Anthony Hopkins, Winona Ryder and Keanu Reeves under the direction of Francis Ford Coppola, this star studded adaptation hits all the right notes for a spooky night in. Tune in to Film4 for this classic horror/romance.

22:00 GMT: Undoubtedly one of the “big three”, ‘A Nightmare On Elm Street’ is more than a match for the ‘Halloween’ and ‘Friday the 13th’ franchises, in definitively classic Halloween Horror movies, with plenty of sequels out of which to make a malicious movie marathon. Don’t miss Freddy Kruger at his filthiest on Dave and make sure to tuck in the covers extra tight! A near-perfect Halloween weekend picture.

22:25 GMT: Drew Goddard’s ‘The Cabin In The Woods’ is a film which has really divided audiences down the years. Some praise the originality, whilst others call it completely ridiculous and nonsensical. It’s a film that certainly ticks the boxes in terms of scares, gore and monsters but the plot is pretty far fetched. If you can open up your imagination and get involved in the narrative, head to Channel 5 tonight and get behind the sofa!

DIG IT OUT

This is our favourite part of the WatchThisSpace section. We delve into our own DVD collection and pick out some amazing films, that may not instantly spring to mind when you’re stuck for inspiration to make your movie night a success. Maybe you’ve never seen a film that we pick – or even heard of them for that matter – but you’re gonna have to trust us on this one, and Dig It Out.

Creep: Not the Radiohead documentary we’ve all been craving. Instead, a delightfully dark, found-footage thriller, starring the terrific two man duet of Mark Duplass and Patrick Brice. When a videographer answers a Craigslist ad for a one-day shoot in a remote mountain town, he finds his client is not at all what he initially seems. A tremendously unnerving indie picture, that debuted out of 2014’s SXSW Film Festival, ‘Creep’ is a must-watch for anybody who likes Duplass’ work, and is sure to keep you on the edge of your seat!

Phantom Of The Opera: The 2004 film adaption of the masterpiece musical by Andrew Lloyd Webber and French Novel, Le Fantôme de l’Opéra. A tremendous box-office success, ‘Phantom Of The Opera’, is delightfully mysterious, spooky, and musically inclined. Although panned by critics, this horror drama, directed by Joel Schumacher, is entertaining nonetheless for fans of the classic tale. Catch Gerard Butler in his best pre-spartan role, and dwell in the fantastic sets, magnificent costumes, great art direction, and imaginative camera work that will immerse you in such a dangerous time!

The Purge: You know the annoying guy in your office who’s always bragging about how great life is? Or the jerk that cuts you off in traffic with a stupid smirking face? Well, it’s time for payback. Release your vicious angst and vengeful thoughts with this horrifyingly wicked, mischievously original concept – for 24 hours, once every year, there is no law. Find out how truly terrifying it can be when there is no way to protect yourself and your family with this underrated hit.

Slumdog Millionaire: Danny Boyle’s new biopic, ‘Steve Jobs’, premiered in London this week, to a widely warm reception, with it already being tipped for academy awards. One of Boyle’s most celebrated films, by audiences and critics alike, was the 2008 smash hit, ‘Slumdog Millionaire’. If you’re done with frights and trick or treaters, this winner of 8 Academy Awards, is perfect. The film follows Jamal (Dev Patel), who is arrested under suspicion of cheating his way to a fortune on India’s favourite game show, Who Wants to Be A Millionaire. The film takes you on a journey through every walk of life across India, from the grand palaces and the Taj Mahal to the criminal undergrounds where human traffickers rule the cities. This moving and breathtaking film is an absolute must see if you haven’t already.

This week’s WatchThisSpace was compiled by Nick Deal and Patrick Alexander.

Watch This Space: September 7 – 13

Welcome to your weekly go-to film guide – WatchThisSpace – where we recommend what to watch in the cinema and on the television, and remind you of those brilliant films hiding in your DVD collection.

IN THE CINEMA

Following the success of ‘Maze Runner’ last year, this week sees the release of its sequel, ‘Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials’. The plot continues with Dylan O’Brian returning as Thomas, the reluctant leader of his band of grizzled Teens. Set in a dystopian future, our protagonists face the new horror of navigating the Scorch, a vast, desolate landscape filled with perils. Directed by Wes Ball and featuring Kaya Scodelario and Aiden Gillen, this movie should see a good return after the surprising success of its predecessor.

Also released this week is ‘Legend’, the story of the infamous Kray twins and their fractious relationship as they terrorise London and rule the criminal underworld of the 1950’s and 1960’s, until their incarceration in 1969. Both brothers are portrayed by the ever malleable Tom Hardy in what promises to be an award-nominated double performance. Check out our review for more.

The new Movie carrying the “written and directed by Woody Allen” tagline is ‘Irrational Man’, starring Joaquin Phoenix as a Philosophy professor encountering an existential crisis which may lead to murder. With Emma Stone also featuring in a supporting role, the talent involved here looks set to throw another film full of deep character study and dark humour our way.

ON TELEVISION

Monday 23:00 GMT: Danny Boyle has brought us so many great films over the years, but arguably, none compare to his 1996 classic ‘Trainspotting’. At almost 20 years old, this iconic Brit flick is such a part of cinema history that we absolutely insist you stay up and catch it on Film4.

Wednesday 21:00 GMT: If you couldn’t stomach Monday night’s hard-hitting option, this may be more up your street. Starring Will Ferrel and John C. Reilly, ‘Step Brothers’ is one of our favourite comedies here at JumpCut UK. Watch middle-aged men act like children on Comedy Central, and try not to laugh so hard that you fall off your dinosaur (if you get it, you get it).

Thursday 22:50 GMT: Whilst the world is absorbed with the Marvel Cinematic Universe and who would win in a fight between Batman and Superman, you could escape all that and watch erm…enjoy ‘Watchmen’ on Film4. They aren’t the most popular heroes, but this dark, violent comic-book adaptation is a severely underrated addition to the superhero genre.

Saturday 16:45 GMT: Travel back in time this weekend – in more ways than one – and join Marty McFly for the 1985 classic ‘Back To The Future’ on ITV. Gather the whole family and enjoy a fun, fantastical ride in the DeLorean. 

Saturday 21:00 GMT: If, like us, you love a good Brit flick, we have two for you this week. Alongside Danny Boyle, Shane Meadows is another master of the gritty, realist trade and Film4 is showing his most famous work, ‘This Is England’ this Saturday night. Alternatively, head to BBC3 15 minutes later for the uber-intense ‘Jarhead’ starring Jake Gyllenhaal and Jamie Foxx.

DIG IT OUT

This is our favourite part of the WatchThisSpace section. We delve into our own DVD collection and pick out some amazing films, that may not instantly spring to mind when you’re stuck for inspiration to make your movie night a success. Maybe you’ve never seen a film that we pick – or even heard of them for that matter – but you’re gonna have to trust us on this one, and Dig It Out.

A Nightmare On Elm Street (1984): After the very sad news last week that my favourite horror director, Wes Craven, had passed away, I wanted to celebrate his iconic career by watching my most cherished horror movie of all time. Set in suburbian America, this superbly crafted twist on the unstoppable, stalker format saw the killer (a burned faced and perfectly cast Robert Englund as Freddy Krueger) terrorise and murder a group of frightened teens from within their nightmares. Starring Heather Lagenkamp and a very young Johnny Depp in his first ever acting role, this movie raised the bar for the horror genre, and many films that followed owe an awful lot to the work of Wes Craven. With a cruel sense of humour, genuinely frightening set pieces and perfectly haunting soundtrack, 31 years have done nothing to quash the fear this movie will instill in you. Just try not to fall asleep straight after!

R.I.P Wes Craven 1939-2015

La Haine: Casting a great villain is often imperative to a movie’s success. Luckily, the latest installment in the ‘Bourne’ franchise has found theirs, in the form of French actor Vincent Cassel. The very talented Monsieur Cassel, who you will recognise as the repugnant dance choreographer in ‘Black Swan’, first broke onto the scene back in 1995 with his role in the critically-acclaimed, intensely violent French flick ‘La Haine’. Follow Vinz (Cassel) and his two young comrades as they navigate their way through the French suburbs after a heated riot, and get a taste of what we can expect with the untitled ‘Bourne 5’ next year.

Zombieland: ‘Fear The Walking Dead’ has just hit the small screen and how better to celebrate than by watching this sleeper hit of 2009. Starring Woody Harrelson, Jesse Eisenberg and Emma Stone, the story sees a zombie-ravaged, post-apocalyptic world and the relationships between a small group of survivors. Beautifully written and genuinely funny, we see our heroes desperately trying not to become food for the undead, whilst seeking the sanctuary of a theme park. Featuring a hilarious and self-aware performance by Harrelson, as well as the perfectly neurotic Eisenberg, the movie also has one of the best cameos ever and possibly THE greatest opening credits scene.

Kick-Ass: So, all the kids are back at school. Some of you might have, what, a couple of weeks until you return to university? Or…you could scrap all that, quit education and just become a superhero? From the fantastic Matthew Vaugn (director of ‘Kingsman’ and ‘Layer Cake’) comes this epic, alternative hero who will inspire you to drop it all, throw on the first piece of spandex you can find and take to the streets. The titular hero doesn’t quite have the muscle and skills of your everyday comic-book hero, but he more than makes up for that in courage. ‘Kick-Ass’ is entertaining and funny, whilst delivering a healthy portion of violence and action – if you haven’t seen this before, get ready to be very pleasantly surprised.

This week’s WatchThisSpace was compiled by Jakob Lewis Barnes and special guest Chris Murphy. Get more from Chris by checking out his Twitter activity here.