There’s a lot to unpack in horror auteur Wes Craven’s initial Nightmare – the notion that not even your dreams are safe from a killer who stalks you through your unconscious mind; and the sins of the parents being visited on their children (yes, Freddy Krueger was always an evil child-killer, but the Springwood parents made him an immortal monster by torching him vigilante-style. Finally, there’s Freddy himself, the most inventive of the first-generation of slasher villains.
His appearance is scary enough, with his burnt-off face and his razor-fingered glove. But there’s also his method of dispatching you, based on your own worst fears, and limited only by the imaginativeness of the Elm Street filmmakers. Of course, the most disturbing thing about Freddy (as played indelibly by Robert Englund in countless installments) may have been that audiences made the wisecracking killer into a folk anti-hero.
At some point in the series, you realize that you’re rooting for Freddy and against his foolish victims, who apparently haven’t seen any of the previous movies. Maybe it was a generational thing; audiences who hadn’t had Freddy haunting their nightmares for three decades didn’t seem too impressed by the 2010 reboot starring Jackie Earle Haley as Freddy. Or maybe the series had finally been bled dry of inspiration. Or maybe it was just that Craven, with his Scream movies, had thoroughly deconstructed the slasher genre and thus deprived Freddy of his power.
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