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Angelina’s ‘80s Archive: “A Nightmare on Elm Street”

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.

I know I said I was done with scary movies for the time being, but I can’t help myself. Just after Halloween, I was not willing to say “Goodbye” to the holiday. Also, I always love watching new Movies That Made Us episodes on Netflix as soon as they are released, and I couldn’t watch most of the newest ones because they were mostly horror movies I hadn’t seen — even though they’d been on my list for ages. So, I finally brought myself to watch what is perhaps one of the most iconic horror movies in pop culture history. Here’s the Bitchin’ Bio on A Nightmare on Elm Street.

Release Date: November 16, 1984 (Actually pretty great timing for this article, huh?)

Synopsis: A group of teens is stalked in their dreams by killer Freddie Krueger (Robert Englund). The scariest thing is, if he catches them, they die in real life. When Nancy Thompson (Heather Langenkamp) starts to put the pieces together, she sets up a plan to defeat the knife-handed maniac. Hopefully, she can stay awake — and alive — long enough to do it.

Degrees of Kevin Bacon: 1. Johnny Depp (Glen Lantz) and Kevin Bacon star in Black Mass (2015) together.

Come For: Honestly, I was excited to see Johnny Depp’s film debut. He even gets the “Introducing” in the opening credits.

Stay For: A couple of particularly disturbing sequences that hold up. For example, I was definitely not expecting the way Tina’s (Amanda Wyss) death plays out. The visual aspect had me shaken up, and her performance was incredible.

Had I Seen It? No.

Did I like It? I have to say I was a bit shocked by its 95% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes, but yes, I did! Some of the acting in the film wasn’t great, and a couple of shots looked goofy. Still, the longer the movie went on the more I enjoyed it. That’s not too common of an occurrence. Though I wasn’t sure if Heather Langenkamp was a good actress at first I ended up loving her performance as Nancy. 

While I knew Stranger Things took the name “Nancy” from Nightmare, I didn’t know just how much else they had been inspired by (I love that show, but “inspired” feels like a generous word for all that it has borrowed from its predecessors). I couldn’t help but notice each concept and each specific shot that I’d seen in Stranger Things while I was watching this film. For example, there’s a dream sequence in the movie in which a bug crawls out of someone’s mouth, and the same shot is used in Stranger Things when Barb is shown in the Upside Down. 

I also thought of Scream (1996), which is actually also directed by Wes Craven! It not only has Skeet Ulrich, who looks strikingly similar to Johnny Depp, as one of its stars, but it also recreates the scene of the main character’s boyfriend entering her bedroom window almost shot-for-shot. It just goes to show how influential A Nightmare on Elm Street has been since its release. 

Thanks for reading! I promise that next week I will actually cover a (non-horror) fall feature.

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Angelina is a senior at BU, studying English in the College of Arts and Sciences, with a focus on Shakespeare. She is from Somerville, MA. In addition to writing for HCBU, Angelina is the Director of BU On Broadway Off Broadway and has been involved with theater through BU Shakespeare Society, Wandering Minds, and Stage Troupe. Outside of school, she enjoys dancing, music, baking, and movie marathons. Her pop culture heart lives in the 1980's.
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