I think I may be allergic to movies from the 1980s, particularly ones that are set in the time period (I'll cut the Indiana Jones series a break; I've been harping on them a bit too much lately). It was as though every filmmaker was contractually obligated to include synth music at the most inopportune times. Freddy Krueger's about to aerate the protagonist's face? Better include a nice little synth sting, just to remind everyone this is the time of big hair and bad ideas. I'm guessing future folks will look back on 2000s action cinema and wonder why ostinato cello is in every film's soundtrack.

I'm sweating the details with A Nightmare on Elm Street because the devi's certainly in them with this movie. Yes, the special effects are still very impressive—I could get used to watching Johnny Depp be turned into a geyser of blood and viscera—but there are so many niggling inconsistencies and small failures that make Nightmare less of a classic than people would believe it to be. The first issue is that Wes Craven seems completely uninterested in actually directing any of his actors. Each individual in the film seems to be going for their own tone and style: you have the incredulous, bland child-whore; the anachronistic greaser dude; the shrieking, tone-deaf protagonist; and The Boyfriend (played by Depp), who is as under-characterized as any Girlfriend or Wife in modern, dude-driven comedies. None of these characters is worth giving a damn about, so when they're dispatched one-by-one, you simply are counting them off academically.

I don't need to run down the plot of this movie in any detail, other than that Freddy Krueger was a child-murderer who was vigilante-killed by the parents of said children and their friends in their small town by burning him in the basement of the school. He died, but his specter still lives on in the dreams of those parents' subsequent brood, including that of Nancy (Heather Langenkamp), who is the protagonist simply by virtue of the film telling us so. After her friend, Tina, is overkilled by Krueger in a post-coital nap, Tina's boyfriend is incriminated, leading witness Nancy to defend the boyfriend and attempt to spread the unbelievable news that Krueger has returned.

Nightmare falls early on in the long line of horror films that feature absentee parents, but hers take a particularly large slice of the cake. Mom's an alcoholic and Dad's an overworked, harried police officer. Neither one of them takes an active interest in the goings-on in Heather's life, so when her friend bites the dust, they seem rather unfazed. It's up to Heather to take care of her Krueger infestation her own. 

If for no other reason than the half dozen or so special effects shots, it may still be worth seeing A Nightmare on Elm Street. Regardless of the degree to which it deserves the honor, the film has amended to modern horror canon, and nothing is going to change that soon. Avoid it, otherwise. You can't force yourself to like something as aggressively dated and inaccessible as this one.

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