The Crypt Collection: “A Nightmare on Elm Street”: A retrospective into the classic horror film.


Photo credit/ Haven Walsh

When I think of horror, a multitude of sub-genres can appear in our heads– from monster movies to ghost films. However, one genre that stands out to me as the craziest: the slasher genre.

From zombie killers who murder teenagers to a dream demon who kills people in their sleep, the slasher genre is defined by its schlocky feel and exploitativeness. Slashers are not expensive films to make, but if a director does them well, they will resonate with audiences and make a ton of money. For example, the original “Halloween” had an estimated budget of $325,000 and grossed just over $47 million.

One of the most famous slasher films is “A Nightmare on Elm Street.” This classic horror film directed by Wes Craven was released in 1984, making it the first of the “Nightmare” series. Its villain, Freddy Krueger, made his mark on the horror world and is a classic face of horror movie villains. This film has both young and old fans, showing it remains timeless. But does this film hold up to today’s horror movie standards?

First off, this film is just fun to watch. While not necessarily the scariest film, it is fun and ridiculous. Modern horror takes itself too seriously at times. While this is not a bad thing, a part of me wishes we could return to the goofy yet scary films such as “Child’s Play” and
“Killer Klowns From Outer Space.”

“Nightmare” is a perfect example of scary yet goofy in the modern sense. While back in the early 1980s, this movie might have been seen as terrifying, nowadays it is a goofy ‘80s movie that still manages to scare at times. This is what I’d call a “Halloween Film.” A Halloween Film is a term I coined to describe any movie that gives off Halloween vibes and a spooky atmosphere. There are specific characteristics required to make a horror movie a Halloween Film. The criteria include being scary but goofy, using practical effects, produced in the 1980s and the 1990s and a now-greatly diminished fear factor.

“Nightmare” fits all of these criteria. It contains very stereotypical spooky scenes such as an old school basement, a boiler room and lots of foggy streets. The film also has a ton of practical effects, such as incorporating insects and fake blood with some green goo for good measure. Practical effects are those special effects techniques that use real life components to produce the desired effect. Made in 1984, this film fits the age category. Finally, the film is not as scary as it was when it was released. The writing can be a bit lackluster at times. The synth scores define the ‘80s and the film’s age at 38 definitely shows.

Finally, it’s not as serious as modern horror, which can get a bit too serious. Modern horror is now about pushing out a film for as many people to see it as possible. We do have occasional standouts in the genre with filmmakers such as Jordan Peele and Ari Aster, who do amazing work. But horror is missing its fun factor.

I haven’t been scared by a modern horror film in years. What the genre needs to do is harness that Halloween energy of horror films of old and make something that can not take itself too seriously while still being able to give everyone a good scare.

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