A Nightmare on Elm Street

A Nightmare on Elm Street ★★★★

Another movie I haven't seen in twenty years. What I thought I remembered is that it was more sexual in nature than I thought when I watched in 25 years ago. This time, though, the sexuality of it is present, of course, but so is every other horror movie trope and cliche one can imagine.

There is an early scene set in a high school English class in which the teacher references two different Shakespearean plays before having a student read from a third[1]. Learning from a teacher like that would, of course, be a mess, but that stands in nicely for the ways that the themes (and possible allegories) stack up in A Nightmare on Elm Street and the movie doesn't really stand up for any of them, though I'd argue that this is intentional. Note, please, the title's indefinite article "A" rather than "The" or no article at all.

I offer three extremely quick and easy reads for the movie, any of which could have a youtube defense clip up within a couple of hours:

First interpretation: The kids aren't alright because they know that their town is built on a graveyard of parental deceit. Most profound and frequent movie reference: Poltergeist, obviously.

Second interpretation: Freddy Krueger as embodiment of adolescent sexual confusion gone crazy. Freddy isn't just interested in hurting these girls - he's interested in scaring them, too (by cutting off his own fingers!?!) and/or grossing them out. Movie References: Halloween and American Werewolf in London.

Third interpretation: Those two things combine into a sort of hazy "Is it all a dream?" susceptible to standard worries about personal mental breaks. Mom's alcoholism certainly could be a contributing factor in this. Movie Reference: Phantasm

Whatever. As a movie, it generally works, which is more than can be said for 85% of the horror movies from that time period.

[1] ed. 9/2/2015 after Wes Craven's death: Apparently, he was an English teacher at one point. I'm curious if he was any good at it, which is not to speak ill of the man. He was a lovely director.

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