92 min., 1984
Written by Wes Craven
Directed by Wes Craven
My rating: ★★★★★
Good movie? Great movie? Let me sleep on it. (Ha ha ha.)
* * *
Four friends are being “stalked” and killed by an unknown killer. As the teens are being killed, questions about the killer are raised, and a dark history of the street where they live is revealed.
The plot is really standard…but it’s really not. You have teens dying, and the evil killer who is after them, but when you really start to scratch the surface, you realize that there is a whole lot more going on than just the standard.
One of the standards of most slasher films are the characters. You have the pretty cheerleader, the football player, the nerd, the tough guy, etc. The only characters this movie has are four friends, who really seem like normal run-of-the-mill teens. The only exception is Rod, and only for the reason of him being the street tough that normally doesn’t hang with average teens. You even have an alcoholic mother of the hero, which was not really the norm to see in horror movies; usually there is a strong family bond, but now it’s quite common to have the fucked-up family.
Clichés run rampant in the world of movies, and for some reason they are called upon most in horror. This one tends to break the cliché mold. For one, there is only one scene of nudity, it is extremely brief and it doesn’t take you out of the story. On the sex topic, there is only one scene of sex and it takes place off-screen; all you hear is the act going on. One of the other clichés is drugs. Well, there is no drug useage in this movie, so that does help set it apart. The last one I’ll bring up is the main character in the movie is female. All of the people out there nowadays bitching about how we’ve never had a strong female lead in horror must not have watched this movie.
The killer, Fred (later to be more commonly known as Freddy), is one of the best in the history of horror, not because of his one-liners, or how fucked up he looks, or even the way he kills, but because he is a true scumbag. Before he became the dream killer, he was a child killer. That’s right, we have a killer that actually takes real pleasure from killing and getting revenge. We aren’t supposed to feel bad for him or be on his side. We are supposed to be disgusted by what he’s done and what he’s doing during the movie.
The effects are really strong, even today. Tina’s cuts, Fred stretching out over the bed, and of course the bed gushing are still really strong images that hold up. It’s nice to see classic effects done well enough that they don’t look like complete shit today. This is more proof that a high budget doesn’t make a great movie, and you can make great, long lasting effects with little budget.
The acting is really the only place that the movie falters. Pretty much everyone is overacting and trying too hard, especially Ronee Blakley (Marge, Nancy’s mom). The only exception is Johnny Depp, John Saxon and (of course) Robert Englund, who do great jobs playing their characters just right.
When you get done to it, this is a really well done slasher flick. Okay acting, great special effects, awesome and original plot, and a truly despicable killer. Truly one of the greats and it still holds up today. By the way, Lin Shaye is in the movie and she fucking rules!
Fred, while holding up his glove: “This is God.”
Nancy: “Screw your pass.” (Nott really the words, it’s more the way it is said that makes it terrible.)