Wes Craven’s seminal horror masterpiece, A Nightmare On Elm Street, was released nationwide on this day in 1984. Though the film was in limited release on November 9th, the iconic Freddy Krueger began haunting the entire country on November 16th, 1984.
In A Nightmare on Elm Street, we follow Nancy Thompson (Heather Langenkamp), a teenager who, along with her friends, becomes the target of the sinister spirit Krueger (Robert Englund). Krueger haunts their dreams, gruesomely killing the teens with a glove that has knife blades attached to each finger. Notably, Johnny Depp co-stars in this film, marking his breakthrough role as Glen, Nancy’s boyfriend. Reportedly, Craven’s daughter influenced the casting of Depp, telling her dad that he was the cutest of the actors auditioning.
With a modest budget of just over $1 million, the film managed to amass a remarkable $57 million in global box office earnings. The film was chosen by the Library of Congress in 2021 to be preserved in the United States National Film Registry due to its significant cultural, historical, and aesthetic value.
The Original ‘A Nightmare on Elm Street’ Contains the Series’ Most Iconic Moments
Many defining characteristics of the franchise, such as Krueger’s witty humor and the evolution of his name from Fred to Freddy, were introduced in later installments. However, the original set the tone, and remains perhaps the scariest installment. It also has some of the most memorable imagery from the entire franchise. The bladed glove rising out of bath water, Fred’s grotesque tongue writhing out of Nancy’s phone, a teen shredded as she supernaturally rolls around the ceiling… they’re all here.
Of course, Englund’s Freddy Krueger is a legendary horror character. He’s the rare slasher figure who doesn’t wear a mask and speaks. Englund embodied the character with both menace and wit, capturing the imagination of horror fans. He inspired video games, dolls, and trading cards. Actor Robert Englund even appeared as Freddy on The Simpsons and most recently on The Goldbergs in 2018.
Wes Craven returned to help write the script for A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: The Dream Warriors. However, he didn’t direct another installment until 1994’s New Nightmare. The film is a self-referential take on the franchise that foreshadowed his next horror hit, Scream, released two years later.
The original seven-film series of Nightmare on Elm Street was concluded by New Nightmare. However, Freddy made a comeback in 2003 with Freddy vs. Jason. Of course, this was a crossover with the Friday the 13th franchise. It saw Englund’s Krueger face off against the unstoppable horror juggernaut, Jason Voorhees. In addition, Englund hosted the horror anthology TV series Freddy’s Nightmares in 1998. A much darker portrayal of Krueger was depicted by Jackie Earle Haley in the 2010 remake of A Nightmare on Elm Street. Predictably, the reboot received negative feedback from fans and critics alike and spawned no sequels.
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