As you all have seen, I recently watched all 8 of the Nightmare on Elm Street movies: 1-6, New Nightmare, and Freddy vs. Jason. I really wanted to do for this series what I did for the first four Friday the 13th movies (much more in-depth, details on every kill, etc.), but I didn't. I blame my laziness. And the fact that I watched the first four of these movies on the same day (a day when I was really sick, no less), and the thought of putting that much work into each post exhausted me.
What I'm saying is, "I was too lazy to do a big write-up on each of these movies, so you got shorter, crappier reviews instead." (Sorry Ben, Patricia, and the other 2 people who may actually read this blog.)
Anyway, as I was watching these, I came across a handful of thoughts that didn't really fit into a single post, but were more observations on the series as a whole. I tried to write them down as I thought of them, but that didn't always work out. Again, I'm a lazy person.
So, without further adieu, a handful of borderline incoherent ramblings on the Nightmare on Elm Street series (along with a handful of pictures that I have used in previous posts).
- It's hard to watch this series and not compare it to the Friday the 13th series. Both have iconic killers. Both started around the same time. Through the 80s, it was impossible to escape these movies. I wasn't allowed to watch horror movies as a kid and even I knew who Freddy and Jason were. They had become larger than the movies.
I understand why Freddy was so big. He had personality. He told jokes. Jason just walked around slashing people. He never spoke.
Honestly, I never really understood why Jason always seemed to be more popular than Michael Myers. Halloween predates Friday the 13th by 2 years. They were both silent, lumbering killers. Was it the hockey mask? Did that hold more appeal than the bleached Shatner mask?
I'm getting off track here. The point is, it's hard for me to watch Nightmare without thinking about Friday, and vice versa. But I like the Nightmare series so much better. Even its weaker films are enjoyable, and I can't necessarily say the same thing for Friday the 13th. There's some variety in the Nightmare movies. A little something different in pretty much every movie. Friday the 13th isn't like that. After a certain point, all the Friday movies are pretty much the same. And there's no reinvention of the series that makes it interesting again. Sure, I enjoyed Jason X (how can you not?), but all they did was stick Jason in space. Nightmare was able to make a completely original and terrifying movie 7 films into the series [New Nightmare]. Friday the 13th just didn't have the creativity to pull off something like that.
- I think that's what I love most about this series: the creativity. The concept alone is enough to scare you. He's a killer who kills while you sleep. You can't escape sleep. And, while some of his victims found a way to make the dreams work in their favor, that wasn't enough to turn the tide completely. After all, they only visited that world for a few hours at a time: Freddy lived there, and had years to master it. That's what made this scary for me. Everyone sleeps. In every film, the final girl tries her hardest to stay awake. In the first film, Nancy tells Glen that she has been awake for 7 days (she also tells him that the world record is 11 days). So, even with prolonging sleep as long as anyone ever has, you're only buying yourself another week-and-a-half of life (and not much of a life...I can barely go a day without sleep without being a completely worthless human being. Picturing myself for 11 days without sleep is an ugly, ugly thought). And even then, by the time you fall asleep, you'll probably be even harder to wake up, thus making you easy prey for Freddy.
New Nightmare takes this a step further, as we find out that extreme sleep deprivation in children can cause schizophrenic symptoms. So, even when avoiding Freddy by staying awake, you can still do terrible harm to yourself.
And it bears repeating: you will always fall asleep at some point. You can stay awake for 11 days, chug coffee like a champ, and try to power through the emerging schizophrenia. But you will still fall asleep, and that's when he kills. You can't hide forever.
This series also has a lot of great dream imagery. It's not just the normal nightmare stuff of falling off a cliff. They have a recurring scene of stairs turning into quicksand. There's also the horror of running away from your attacker, just to always find that you're back at the place you started. There is the now iconic house at 1428 Elm Street that we get to know very well throughout the course of the series. Hallways of blood. Dead girls in body bags being dragged across the floor by an unseen entity. Not all of it works, but a lot of it does. It's not always flashy or obvious, but there are a ton of great nightmare sequences throughout the series, and I love how they use it.
- A thought ran through my mind while watching New Nightmare. The concept of that film is that these stories help to keep the real monsters/demons at bay. When the stories stop, the monsters come back out (I cannot express enough how much I love this concept). So we follow Heather Langenkamp - playing herself - as her and her family are terrorized by Freddy (or, rather, an ancient demon who has taken the form of Freddy). According to Craven (also playing himself in the movie), it had been too long since a film was made, thus the demon was emerging.
Freddy's Dead was released in 1991. New Nightmare was released in 1994. So, according to this timeline, it takes roughly 3 years for the demon to emerge. In other words, if a new Nightmare movie is not made every 3 years, this demon will emerge and begin killing.
New Nightmare was released in 1994. Freddy vs. Jason was released in 2003. That's 9 years. I'd be lying if I said I didn't check to see if Heather Langenkamp was still alive. I needed to make sure that this demon did not emerge in 1997 and kill her. Thankfully, she is still alive.
Of course, I did not check to see if a bunch of kids mysteriously died in their sleep around that time. It could be that he came back and just decided he didn't want to brawl with Nancy anymore.
Those are my thoughts. For now, at least. I reserve the right to write a post at any given moment with more.
I thoroughly enjoyed rewatching this series. There are a lot of great moments here. I hope it's not too long before I decide to revisit them. This was a lot of fun. If you haven't seen them yet, you really need to.
Finally, here's my rankings of all the final girls in the series:
1. Nancy [A Nightmare on Elm Street] / Heather Langenkamp [New Nightmare]
2. Lisa [Part 2: Freddy's Revenge]
3. Alice [Part 4: The Dream Master & Part 5: The Dream Child]
4. Kristen [Part 3: The Dream Warriors]
5. Maggie [Part 6: Freddy's Dead]
6. Lori [Freddy vs. Jason]
This is no knock on Lori. I really like Lori. But she just doesn't quite measure up to the rest. I almost ranked her above Maggie, but Maggie went to hell to defeat Freddy, and Lori didn't. In the end, I think it was the right choice.
I'm sorry, Lori. I still love you
Last but not least: this is the 100th post on this blog. I know it's not widely read or anything, but I've had a lot of fun doing this, and plan on doing it for many more years. Thanks for reading.