Thanks to the lack-luster remake of A Nightmare on Elm Street I have recently been reminded of my childhood wonder/horror and fascination with the original film series created by Wes Craven and starring the incomperable Robert Englund. Of course this means I have to sketch some Freddy Kruegers, right...
Also, I was asked by a friend to write a review of this year's remake. If you're in the mood to read I'll leave it right here for your pleasure:
My initial negative thoughts about the idea of a remake of A Nightmare on Elms Street upon seeing the first theatrical trailer months ago ended up matching my reaction to the actual film. Understand, for me, the original Elm Street is held in high esteem because it was, in fact, the very first horror film I ever saw at age six or seven. Because of that, Robert Englund’s Freddy Krueger actually haunted my dreams for a while and has since sat at the top of my most revered movie monsters. It truly is the horror film of my generation.
This 2010 retelling of the original mythology is too clean, in more than one way. The story was cleverly tied together to try and make better sense of the reasons why this burned boogie man haunts the dreams of the Elm Street kids. Where the original film is quite a bit more vague in this area, Elm Street 2010’s over-construction makes the story far more boring than the original, forcing the overall creepiness of the film to be left to typical, played out, horror movie “jump scare” scenes.
My change to excitement for the remake of Elm Street really stemmed from two things: Jackie Earl Haley for one, and some of the great visuals being released in later trailers and screen-shots. Haley is a fucking creepy guy and I figured he would suit Fred Krueger very well, even if they were going for a more serious, eerie personality for the character. Unfortunately, the drying of the story also dried out the Krueger character and made him nothing more than a pissed off pedophile. While Haley injected brief moments that were reminiscent of what Fred Krueger should be, overall I felt his version falls way short. I also didn’t care for the more realistic burn-patient make-up. Perhaps I am just biased - for me, if there is no Englund then there is no Krueger.
My second let down was the visual look of the film. My criticisms in this arena are a bit more mixed than that of the characters. The cinematography and lighting was very well done in this new version. There was a great deal effort put into the change between awake and dream state and I though that was pretty cool – even if it ultimately took away from the scare factor a bit (in the original you sometimes didn’t know if the kids were dreaming or not, playing with you mind more – far less so in the new film). The other aspect of this was the gore effects. Some of them, including a lot of the kills were very well done. However, some of the “Freddy haunt” scenes just looked terrible – as in bad CG – the worst being the scene where Fred’s form stretches out of the wall above Nancy’s bed. This CG hack version just looked awful.
Overall, I came out of the theater feeling disappointed – which I initially expected. This time I let myself fall into the arms of the media hype-up of the film and was ultimately dropped on my bum without so much as a four-knifed cut. On the upside, however, my interest in the new film helped my catch up on some of the collection of the original films and reminded me how great, indeed, they still are. At least I will always have the original Nightmare to return to…
Yearning for something new related to the Elm Street series that is actually good? I would highly recommend checking out Never Sleep Again: The Elm Street Legacy - http://elmstreetlegacy.com/. This wonderful documentary covers all of the films in the series in great behind-the-scenes style. It features present day interviews with many of the people involved in the films - cast, crew, etc. A must see for Elm Street fans.