by Nathan Stout of AccordingToWhim.com
Last night I sat down to watch A Nightmare on Elm Street on Blu Ray. This is the 1984 (and in my opinion the best) version of the movie.
Let me take you back to the mid to late eighties... you know what that means...
Never mind with the time-tunnel picture. My brother and his wife MADE me watch this movie one night on cable. Yes, they made me watch it. They turned off the lights and subjected an under aged kid to sit through Freddy's merciless killings. I fell in love with it. In no time at all I was taping kitchen knives to gloves and making my own cardboard Freddy gloves. I would have to say that A Nightmare on Elm Street formed my opinions on horror and movies in general for the rest of my life.
I watched our dog-eared copy of the movie over and over again, usually fast forwarding to the dream sequences. When I got older and DVDs came out I got it and enjoyed the clarity of the image on the television. The version that was released years ago on DVD was decent but years later a Infinifilm version came out. This version used a higher bit rate and had behind the scenes stuff. I wanted to get it but I just couldn't bring myself to buy something I basically already owned.
Now that Blu Ray has hit the market at full speed most movies are getting released for a decent price. When the new remake (or re-imagining as it is called) was coming out New Line decided to make some residual money off of the original by putting it out on Blu Ray. It appears to be the Infinifilm edition in high definition. I rented it from NetFlix having upgraded my account to get Blu Ray discs for my anniversary.
I have a 46" projection television that I got from my grandparents after it started flaking out on them. Once I got it home it never messed up again! Score! It was an expensive television and it looks fantastic (not one of those crappy projection TVs). So I popped the Blu Ray into my 2nd generation slow-as-molasses player and enjoyed the movie.
First off the image fills the entire 46" and looks fantastic. I love movies that utilize the entire screen. I know that a lot of movies are shot in a wider format to get more in the shot but I'd prefer this aspect so it fills my screen. The image is clean and super clear. You can see some great detail. Some people complain that high definition isn't all the great but I have to tell you I love to watch stuff with such clarity.
The other (and probably more) noticeable experience was the sound. I just use the speakers on the television but the clear audio (DTS-HD) made the experience like watching the movie for the first time. It was like listening to a whole new soundtrack. Such subtly that I have been unaware of for years was brought out. I not only noticed all the little sound effects but the soundtrack stood out much more and in higher detail making it creepier to watch. All in all I am very happy with the high definition version of this film.
Let's get onto the movie. You should all know the story and the outcome by now. Freddy is defeated (until the sequel) and Nancy lives on. Bla bla bla.
What makes this such a horror masterpiece is the unique killer and the unique way he kills. The audience is left tyring to rationalize what is a dream and what Freddy can actually manipulate in the real world and that is what tell you that it gets to it's audience. Does an audience try to rationalize events that take place on screen in other movies? Not often. Is Freddy a ghost? He can do all that crazy stuff in dreams but he can make a crucifix fall off a wall? He can tie up Rod with a sheet and hang him in the real world? What are his limits and what are his victims doing to themselves in the real world? What are we actually seeing, what Freddy is doing in the dreams or reality? Confusing isn't it?
The movie's death scenes get under your skin so they are outlandish but are kept on the ground at the same time. Tina is dragged across the ceiling, trailing blood but absolutely no one seems to notice this. The same with Glen's death. He is turned to pulp and sprayed across the ceiling and it 'appears' that his mom sees this but no one raises an eyebrow as to how it was possible. I think another reason the kills are so memorable is that they had never been done before. Although there was a bed that ate people in the 1977 movie Death Bed: The Bed that Eats it was nothing like what happened to Glen. Even this somewhat disturbing 'death by bed' from an episode of Monsters isn't as nightmare-making as what happened to Capn' Jack.
Another thing that makes this movie a little different is the fact that Nancy gets all ghetto an' shit making anit-personnel devices and other fun booby traps for Freddy. Very few movie characters get smart like Nancy (Ripley from Aliens comes to mind as another who does) and really plans out her confrontation with the bad guy.
I feel the Nightmare franchise could have been handled a little better instead of becoming the tongue and cheek one-liner fest it became. The first movie had Freddy giving one-liners only meant to entertain himself and torture his victims, not the audience. "I'm your boyfriend now Nancy" as opposed to "Now you're playing with power!" Sheesh.
I have heard a lot of negative stuff about the Nightmare remake. One thing I think they got right was to keep the movie dark with very little humor. Perhaps they can continue (there will be sequels) in that fashion and keep it scary.
A Nightmare on Elm Street is a horror classic. The Blu Ray treatment is excellent and I highly recommend you check out this movie (especially in a darkened room).