When we think about all of the icons of horror cinema, such as George Romero, John Carpenter, Sam Raimi, and Tobe Hooper, the list is never complete without the legend Wes Craven.
A fallen hero who began his career with such controversial films as The Last House on the Left and The Hills Have Eyes, he then went on to build the slasher genre in to what we know it as today; firstly with A Nightmare on Elm Street in 1984, and then once again with Scream in 1996. Although he has dipped his fingers in other genres of film throughout the years, he is primarily remembered for being a horror maestro.
The first viewing, for this author, of A Nightmare on Elm Street was in my early teens when watching as many horror films as possible was a typical day. Having already discovered a love of the slasher genre with classics like Halloween, Friday the 13th and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, a continuation down that road seemed appropriate. Where my previous viewings of slasher flicks introduced me to gore, serial killers and bogeymen, A Nightmare on Elm Street added a little something different; a supernatural element.
That element made the film stand out from the rest in a big way, it basically meant that anything could happen; anything that Freddy wanted to happen anyway. That brings me on to the star of the show, along with the film makers, the characters themselves are just as much icons of horror as they are. Michael Myers, Jason Voorhees and Leather-face will always stick in your mind, however one of the best is the horrifically scarred, comedic Freddy Krueger. Thought to have been killed in a fire that the parents of the neighbourhood lit in order to protect their children from the madman. Freddy came back from the dead to torment their children in their dreams, the once place you can’t protect them.
Craven created the ultimate bogeyman, how do you kill something in your dreams? Robert Englund’s portrayal of the psychopathic killer only added to the fear as his witty personality made the characters believe that he was toying with them before he killed them. Unlike many other horror killers who hide their disfigured faces under a mask, Freddy wore his scarred skin proud for all to see; something which the make-up department did an excellent job of creating.
Whether it was the riveting story line, the lovable iconic killer, the crazy unknowing of what will happen next or Johnny Depp’s first role in a feature film, A Nightmare on Elm Street had it all. Wes Craven we salute you.