The original A Nightmare on Elm Street is the greatest and scariest of all the films. None of the other films match the mind bending twists and the general story which is more sophisticated than your average slasher film.
The story is about a group of teenagers who are haunted by a ghastly figure known as Freddy Krueger. It follows the standard formula of having each of the characters picked off one by one until finally the lone protagonist goes up against the killer and defeats him. Unlike your generic slasher film, however, it has a larger focus on the characters and the story. There are numerous dream sequences in which Freddy appears to terrorize his victims. What is engaging about these scenes is you never quite know how much of it is a dream. The climax takes a page out of The Last House on the Left and ends with a head scratching final twist.
The visuals that were available at the time are as impressive now as they were in the 1980’s. The blood effects are all believable and the dream sequences all have an eerie tone to them. One scene involved Freddy coming out of the wall during one particularly scary sequence. The fact that they used spandex material to create the effect is a surprise because it almost looks computer generated. A lot of the film is like that because of the amount of attention given to the sets and graphic death scenes. One of the best moments involves a victim being dragged along the ceiling. This was done using basically clever editing and an upside down room. Nice.
The acting is substantially better than any Friday the 13th film that was ever released. Heather Langenkemp is very good as Nancy Thompson who is by far the best protagonist in the entire series. Robert Englund gives a fantastic performance as the psychopath Freddy Krueger who infamously became a comic clown in later sequels. This is Freddy at his most terrifying and no other actor will truly replace Robert Englund. Johnny Depp makes a surprisingly amusing appearance in his first film role as Glen Lantz who has just about the most over the top death you will ever see in a slasher film. The interesting thing about the characters, namely the victims, is that you can relate to them and feel sympathy for them in their struggle to survive against the supernatural fedora wearing madman.
A Nightmare on Elm Street is a classic horror film which is far more interesting than your average slasher film. The taut story and grisly effects make this superior to every other film in the series. Prepare to be scared stiff because this is one horror film by Wes Craven that you won’t soon forget.