Though not a huge fan of the NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET series, I did enjoy the first film. What fascinated me was the premise: the daemon that stalked you in your dreams, leading to the fear and desperate avoidance of falling asleep. Since we must all in the end sleep or die, this encapsulates the horrifying ultimate “no-win” situation. The film also excelled at blurring the line between the real and the nightmare world.
These ideas are very good ones, and naturally had occurred before in fiction and film. The Robert Bloch scripted William Castle film THE NIGHT WALKER (1964)had touched upon the idea of the breakdown of the barrier between one’s waking life and dreams, and the madness that could cause. THE TWILIGHT ZONE’s “Perchance to Dream” and “Shadow Play” (both based on Charles Beaumont’s short stories) has touched on these very subjects, and THE NIGHT STALKER’s “The Spanish Moss Murders” (Al Friedman & David Chase)had even introduced the element of an item of the dreamlands crossing over in the physical world. All of this is potent stuff.
Wes Craven was inspired by actual events reported in newspapers (see Wes Craven on Dreaming up Nightmares) about men from Southeast Asia who had died in the middle of dreaded nightmares, and a case of a young man so fearful of the same fate that he resorted to desperate tactics to stay awake, duplicated by the character Nancy in the film. Only the real world model eventually did fall asleep… And died.
Favorite effect: Well, to be honest I’ve only really seen the original and A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET PART 3: THE DREAM WARRIORS in their entirety. I consider them the best of the series.
Gore effects, no matter how inventive, don’t entrall me. There are a number of notable dream effects and distortions that are very impressive. But what immediately stands out in my mind is the convertible-top/Freddy sweater ending of the first film, and the skeletal remains of Krueger coming to life (via Doug Beswick’s animation) in the third film. Call me old-fashioned, but I just love those walking stop-motion skeletons — something right out of my own film-fueled childhood nightmares.