"One, two; Freddy's comin' for you/Three, four; better lock your door/Five, six; grab your crucifix/Seven, eight; gonna stay up late/Nine, ten; never sleep again."
A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET, one of the most intelligent and terrifying horror films of the 1980s, begins and ends with this haunting children's song. This was the film that introduced the world to Freddy Krueger, the horribly scarred man with the ragged slouch hat, dirty red-and-green striped
sweater, and metal gloves with knives at the tips. Freddy (Robert Englund), a genius of a monster who exists in his victims' dreams and preys on them in the vulnerability of sleep, has returned to the town where years before he was burnt alive as a child killer by locals who took the law into
their own hands. Now he's back to take revenge on their kids. In an era in which the horror film has become little more than a mindless exercise in gratuitous high-tech bloodletting, A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET (like most of Wes Craven's films) brought some hope to those concerned about the fate of
the genre. This movie intelligently probes into the audience's terror of nightmares and combines it with another horrific element--the very real fear of killers in one's own neighborhood. The teenagers in the film, who are paying for the sins of their parents, are not simply fodder for the
special-effects crew but have distinct personalities and are independent and intelligent. The initial success of the movie was based on the audience's insecurity: we are never sure whether the characters are dreaming because the line between nightmare and reality is blurred, and, as a result, the
terror is almost nonstop. The success of the sequels, while still based in the dream-versus-reality premise, has become increasingly dependent on the heroic pose of Freddy Krueger, played with energy and humor by Robert Englund.
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