Intro to Film
December 17, 1999
A Nightmare on Elm Street
At a time when the stalker movie had been exploited to all ends and the image of mute, staggering, vicious killers had been etched into societyís consciousness to the point of exhaustion, a new kid entered the block. The year was 1984 and it was time for a new villain to enter into the horror genre. A villain that was agile, intelligent, almost inviolable yet viscous, and by all means deadly. A Nightmare on Elm Street introduced the distinctive presence of Fred Krueger to the horror industry and to the audience. Freddy Krueger took the center stage and with him a new era of horror film s began. This horribly scarred man who wore a ragged slouch hat, dirty red-and-green striped sweater, and a glove outfitted with knives at the fingers reinvented the stalker genre like no other film had. Fred Krueger breathed new life into the dying horror genre of the early 1980ís.
Horror films are designed to frighten the audience and engage them in their worst fears, while captivating and entertaining at the same time. Horror films often center on the darker side of life, on what is forbidden and strange. These films play with societyís fears, its nightmareís and vulnerability, the terror of the unknown, the fear of death, the loss of identity, and the fear of sexuality. Horror films are generally set in spooky old mansions, fog-ridden areas, or dark locales with unknown human, supernatural or grotesque creatures lurking about. These creatures can range from vampires, madmen, devils, unfriendly ghosts, monsters, mad scientists, demons, zombies, evil spirits, satanic villains, the possessed, werewolves and freaks to the unseen and even the mere presence of evil.
Within the genre of horror films falls the sub-genre of teen slasher/stalker films. These teen slasher/stalker films take the horror genre film characteristics into account, however they add more to the formula. More violence, sadism, brutality, and graphic blood and gore are used to increase the terror factor. Sexuality and gratuitous nudity are also key characteristic of many of these films. Imitations and numerous sequels are also a common characteristic of teen slasher/stalker films as well.
A Nightmare on Elm Street and all of the following six sequels fall into its own sub-genre of the teen slasher/stalker sub-genre as well, know as the Nightmare on Elm Street Series. This series of films adds a new dimension to the typical teen slasher/stalker film, depth of character and story. The characters are not there only to be killed, but rather they have distinct personalities, they are independent and intelligent, particularly the female lead characters. The killer, Fred Krueger, as well is not only there to murder his victims. He displays a great amount of wit, sarcasm and intelligence. The audience comes away with a knowledge of each of the characters individual personalities. The storyline takes on a greater depth as well. The story goes beyond the simple gore and focuses more on the psychological terror that lies within and scares society the most. The line between nightmare and reality becomes blurred and the terror is allowed to build up, which results in a tremendous amount of suspense.
Horror films developed over a century ago and have come from a number of different sources: folktales, witchcraft, fables, myths, and ghost stories. The first horror movie was made by Georges Melies, titled The Devilís Castle (1896). Another of the early influential films was The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1919). The shadowy, dream-nightmarish quality of this film was brought to Hollywood in the 1920ís and continued on into the horror films of the 1930ís. Horror entered into the Dracula and Frankenstein era during the early 1930ís. The studios took stories of European vampires and mad scientists and created some of the most iconic beings ever known on the screen. Dracula films and sequels were less successful than many of the Frankenstein sequels. Many of the films in the horror genre from the mid 1930ís to the 1950ís were B-grade films, inferior sequels, or low budget gimmick films. During the 1950ís most of the films were cheaply made, drive-in teenage oriented films. To counter the popularity of television, experiments with 3-Dimensional films were made. These low budget films helped to keep the