not as good as friday the 13th, but in the same ballpark. the major defect of this film is that it was made right in the middle of the 80s which means it’s got a certain amount of cheesy dialogue, bad acting, bad wardrobe, and poor soundtrack choices…all of which distract me from my ability to be scared. that aside, though, the film is pretty good. i felt that friday the 13th earned its scares a bit more because the direction was so good, and more subtle. nightmare on elm street relied a bit more on sharp editing and a certain degree of gore to achieve its effect, but both had their moments.
nightmare on elm street was more successful at weaving in social commentary that was friday the 13th. both had the cautionary tale element, but nightmare took its commentary further. its most general theme is a warning against escapism. more specifically this relates to the mother who escapes through the bottle, or the parents who divorce (escaping their failure), or the teens who escape through sex (wyss’ character) or television/music (depp’s character). of course this is all manifested in the form of killer dreams – face your demons or else. it’s a commentary on our society that this battle must be waged in the deepest, most mysterious caverns of our mind. we have suppressed our problems and now there’s no escaping them. the end is another mindfuck which i couldn’t really make sense of. the protagonist realizes that she has the power to rid herself of the demons through a single thought, but the end suggests that nothing can ever return to normal. there is a fog and everything appears okay, but, in the end, freddy drives the kids off into the horizon and the mother is killed. perhaps craven feels that it’s too late, even for the courageous among us.