Monday, October 20, 2014

Movies I Grew Up With: A Nightmare on Elm Street

By November of 1984, I was only thirteen years old, but already starting to develop my lust for slasher flicks. I had already seen Halloween, Prom Night, Sleepaway Camp, and the first three Friday the 13th movies. There are probably a few more that I'm forgetting, but you get the picture. Naturally, when I saw the commercial for Wes Craven's latest, A Nightmare on Elm Street, I had to see it as soon as possible. My bestest buddy in the whole wide world also wanted to see it. Here's where Mom came in. I was only thirteen. How else was I going to get there? Sure, my friends' had parents that might be willing to take us to the theater, but they weren't all as liberal as my mom when it came to what types of movies us kids watched. all, she was fully aware I was watching stuff like Porky's, Fast Times at Ridgemont High, The Last American Virgin, and Zapped!, along with the aforementioned fright movies.

Don't judge her.

In this case, I can't recall the amount of begging that actually took place. I do know that Mom isn't much of a horror movie fan. She's not utterly opposed to them, at least back then she wasn't, but she'd rather watch something else most of the time. Still, I, or we, did enough whining to get her to bite the bullet, load up the car, and take a bunch of us to meet Freddy Krueger. By a bunch of us, I mean myself, three siblings, my bestest buddy, and his little brother. My three siblings, by the way, all younger than I. In fact, I was the second oldest of all since my friend was six months my senior. My youngest brother brought up the rear at a whopping four years of age.

Don't you dare judge her.

What we saw was simply, and still, one of the best slasher flicks ever made. Just in case you're somehow unfamiliar with the story, I'll give you a quick rundown. Years ago, Freddy was the janitor at a local school and murdered a bunch of kids. He was arrested, but got off on a technicality. Not willing to take that lying down, the neighborhood parents got together and burned him alive. Now, it seems Freddy is haunting their children from beyond the grave through their dreams. The kicker is that if he kills anyone in their dream, they die in real life. And yeah, he kills up some Elm Street kids in their dreams. One of them actually went to have a fairly successful career. It was the kid who got sucked into his own bed during a dream only to have all of his blood and guts come shooting out of it like a geyser. He was played by some guy making his big screen debut by the name of Johnny Depp. You might have heard of him.

Didn't I tell you not to judge her?

That scene featuring Depp is just one of a number of surreal sequences. Another featured a girl who seemed to be flying about the room as her body was being repeatedly gashed. Still another, showed the heroine being dragged into her own bath water which turns out to be a bottomless pool, waking up just before she meets her end. Often it wasn't immediately clear that the person being shown had fallen asleep. This added to the mystery of things. The entire movie significantly raised the bar on what could be done with dream sequences. Of course, spoiler alert, the good guys figure out a way to stop Freddy. They think they kill him, but that's not really the case as we're set up quite nicely for a sequel. The credits roll. We go home. Then the fun starts.

That four year old brother of mine had watched this entire movie unfold without flinching. At least, I didn't see him flinch. He certainly never crawled into Mom's lap, bury his face in her bosom, or even call her name. He hung in there like a champ. I was proud of the boy. Then, he showed his true colors. Whatever colors a four year old has, of course.

When we got home, he had to use the restroom. He ran to the upstairs bathroom, went in and dropped his pants. I happened to be coming up the stairs right behind him and noticed he left the door open. Being a good big brother, I closed it without even thinking about it. Suddenly, my brother screamed as loud as humanly possible, ran to the door, and yanked it open. My first reaction was to ask what in the world was he doing, since his pants were still down around his ankles. All he could do was point toward the bathtub. I laughed and tried to close the door again, but he was having none of that. So yeah, my brother used the bathroom with the door wide open. I don't know about your house, but that was most certainly not a normal occurrence at mine.

The fun wasn't quite over for my brother. During those days, he and I slept in the attic which had been transformed into a bedroom. We each had a side and were separated only by the staircase leading up to it. Once he made it up there, it was well past his bedtime, so he got his pajamas on and...

didn't get into bed.

Instead, he just stares at the thing. I remind him that it's time for him to hit the sack. Since he was obviously having a flashback to the demise of Johnny Depp, he started feeling all over the mattress, checking for holes to be sucked into. It took quite a while for him to be satisfied that Freddy Krueger was not going to grab him from somewhere beneath the bed and spray his insides all over the ceiling. When he reached that point, he manage to lie down and actually sleep through the night.

You still can't judge her.


  1. I still haven't seen this. Am way behind on horror films. Is it just me that thinks the guy on the cover looks like Simon le Bon?

    1. I highly recommend giving it a look. Though the remake isn't as good, I even like that. I think it gets way too much hate.

      As for the pic, I can see the resemblance, except it's our heroine Nancy, lol.

  2. Great article. I was too young to see NOES during its theatrical release, I got my horror start a couple years later with Jason Lives when I was 3. So definitely no judgments coming from me.

    By the time Dream Child came out, I was 5 and at the theatre opening weekend.

    - Cody

    1. Jason Lives at 3! Wow. That's hardcore. Would've loved to have seen my brother try to handle that.