A Nightmare on Elm Street

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A Nightmare on Elm Street
A Nightmare on Elm Street poster.jpg
Date of Release: November 9, 1984
Boogeyman: Freddy Krueger
Body Count: 4
Followed by: A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy's Revenge

A Nightmare on Elm Street is a 1984 American supernatural slasher film written and directed by Wes Craven and produced by Robert Shaye. It is the first installment in the A Nightmare on Elm Street franchise and stars Heather Langenkamp, John Saxon, Ronee Blakley, Robert Englund as Freddy Krueger, and Johnny Depp in his film debut. The plot concerns four teenagers living on one street in the fictitious town of Springwood, Ohio, who are invaded and killed in their dreams, and thus killed in reality, by a burnt killer with a bladed leather glove.

Craven filmed A Nightmare on Elm Street on an estimated budget of $1.1 million. The film was released on November 9, 1984, and grossed $57 million worldwide. A Nightmare on Elm Street was met with rave critical reviews and is considered to be one of the greatest horror films ever made, spawning a franchise consisting of six sequels, a television series, a crossover with Friday the 13th, and various other merchandise. A remake of the same name was released in 2010, and, aside from Stunts, Polyester, and Alone in the Dark, it was one of the first films produced by New Line Cinema, who by that point mostly distributed films, leading the company to become a successful film studio up till 2008 and was even nicknamed "The House that Freddy Built".

The film is credited with using many of the tropes found in the low-budget horror films of the 1970s and 1980s that originated with John Carpenter's Halloween (1978) and led this subgenre to be called the slasher film. The film includes a morality play where sexually promiscuous teenagers are killed. Critics and film historians state that the film's premise is the struggle to define the distinction between dreams and reality, manifested by the lives and dreams of the teens in the film. Critics today praise the film's ability to transgress "the boundaries between the imaginary and real", toying with audience perceptions.

The film was followed by A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy's Revenge.


Tina Gray awakens from a nightmare wherein a disfigured man wearing a blade-fixed glove attacks her in a boiler room. Her mother points out four mysterious slashes on her nightgown. The following morning, Tina's best friend Nancy Thompson and Nancy's boyfriend, Glen Lantz, console her. The two stay at Tina's house when Tina's mother goes out of town, but Tina's boyfriend, Rod Lane, interrupts their sleepover. When Tina falls asleep, she dreams of the disfigured man chasing her. Rod is awoken by Tina's thrashing and sees her dragged and fatally slashed by an unseen force, forcing him to flee as Nancy and Glen awaken to find Tina bloodied and dead.

The next day, Nancy's father, Lt. Don Thompson, arrests him despite his pleas of innocence. At school, Nancy falls asleep in class and dreams that the man chases her to the boiler room where she is cornered. She then deliberately burns her arm on a pipe. The burn startles her awake in class and she notices a burn mark on her arm. Nancy visits Rod at the police station, who describes Tina's death along with his own recent nightmares, making Nancy believe that the man killed Tina.

At home, Nancy falls asleep in the bathtub and is nearly drowned. Nancy then depends on caffeine to stay awake and invites Glen to watch over her as she sleeps. In her dream, Nancy sees the man prepare to kill Rod in his cell but then he turns his attention towards her. Nancy runs away and wakes up when her alarm clock goes off. The man kills Rod by wrapping bed sheets around his neck, staging it as a suicide via hanging. At Rod's funeral, Nancy's parents become worried when she describes her dreams. Her mother, Marge, takes her to a sleep disorders clinic where, in a dream, Nancy grabs the man's fedora (with the name "Fred Krueger" written in it) and pulls it into the real world.

After barricading the house, Marge explains that Krueger was an insane child murderer who was released on a technicality and then burned alive by parents living on their street seeking vigilante justice. Nancy realizes that Krueger, now a vengeful ghost, is killing her and her friends out of revenge and to satiate his psychopathic needs. Nancy tries to call Glen to warn him, but his father prevents her from speaking to him. Glen falls asleep and is killed by Krueger.

Now alone, Nancy puts Marge to sleep and asks Don, who is across the street investigating Glen's death, to break into the house in twenty minutes. Nancy rigs booby traps around the house and grabs Krueger out of the dream and into the real world. The booby traps affect Krueger enough that Nancy can light him on fire and lock him in the basement. Nancy rushes to the door for help. The police arrive to find that Krueger has escaped from the basement. Nancy and Don go upstairs to find a burning Krueger smothering Marge in her bedroom. After Don extinguishes the fire, Krueger and Marge vanish into the bed. When Don leaves the room, Krueger rises from the bed behind Nancy. Realizing that Krueger is powered by his victim's fear, she calmly turns her back to him. Krueger evaporates when he attempts to lunge at her.

Nancy steps outside into a bright and foggy morning where all her friends and her mother are still alive. Nancy gets into Glen's convertible to go to school and then the top suddenly comes down and locks them in as the car drives uncontrollably down the street. Three girls in white dresses playing jump rope are heard chanting Krueger's nursery rhyme as Marge is grabbed by Krueger through the front door window.

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