by Bob Grimm & r & & r & A Nightmare on Elm Street & r & & lt;span class= "dropcap " & I & lt;/span & remember how this one gave me a severe case of the creeps when it first came out back in 1984. The repugnant child-killing character of Freddy Krueger (played by Robert Englund) became a one-liner-dispensing joke, however, in all the sequels that would follow. Honestly, I've only enjoyed the character in this film, New Nightmare and the over-the-top Freddy vs. Jason.
Krueger was the ultimate bogeyman when he began haunting the nightmares of Nancy (Heather Langenkamp), Tina (Amanda Wyss) and Glen (Johnny Depp, in his screen debut) 22 years ago. Freddy was nothing but evil in Wes Craven's original vision. Yes, he fired off a couple of one-liners, but nothing like the stuff that would qualify him as somewhat of a clown in films two through six.
Still creepy are the blood-spouting bed and Tina's body-bag excursion in the high school hallways. The acting, with the exception of Depp and Englund, isn't all that great, but Craven was at the top of his game here, so a few flaws are acceptable. This one came out during a great stretch for American horror films that had Craven, John Carpenter (Halloween, 1978) and Sam Raimi (The Evil Dead, 1981) on a roll.
This was also the film that turned New Line Cinema into a player, something that would come to fruition when the studio green-lit and produced the Lord of the Rings trilogy 17 years later.
As for the special features on this two-disc "special edition," I hate commentaries that are just compilations of interviews played over the film -- like one of the audio channels here, with Craven and other participants offering various sound bites. But it turns out there's a fifth audio channel that offers a more traditional commentary with Craven, Langenkamp and other participants (even though it's a holdover from a prior DVD edition). If you never bought the film before, it's cool to have the commentary now.
This DVD follows the Infinifilm format, which can be a pain to navigate at first. Once you figure out where the features are, however, they're pretty good. New documentaries that study the film and Craven's career, deleted scenes and plenty of alternate endings make this a decent purchase, even if you already own the older edition.