Sunday, October 6, 2013

A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)

Children: One, two, Freddy's coming for you.  Three, four, better lock your door.  Five, six, grab your crucifix.  Seven, eight, gonna stay up late.  Nine, ten, never sleep again.
On Elm Street, Nancy Thompson and a group of her friends are being tormented by a clawed killer in their dreams named Freddy Krueger. Nancy must think quickly, as Freddy tries to pick off his victims one by one.
"A Nightmare on Elm Street" made its premiere to limited theaters on November 9, 1984 and would make a broader release across the states a week later.  Audiences in the country of Greece would get to see the film three days later, but other countries such as France, Sweden and South Korea would have to wait until the following spring.  Everyone else would have to wait until the summer and even later.
Written and directed by Wes Craven, "A Nightmare on Elm Street" cost an estimated $1.8 million to make and would eventually earn over $26.5 million at the Box Office.  Out of a listed 100 films released in 1984, this film ranked #40.  Considering its broader release date of November 16th, its competition were films such as "Just the Way You Are" starring Kristy McNichol, "Night of the Comet", "Oh, Go! You Devil!" starring George Burns, and "Missing in Action" starring Chuck Norris.  Those films didn't do as well at the Box Office as "A Nightmare on Elm Street".  But chances are audiences were still flocking to the theaters to see previously released films including "The Terminator", "Terror in the Aisles" and "Body Double".  Some might think that what might have also hurt the success of this film is that it simply wasn't released to enough theaters.  However, what actually happened was that Wes Craven wrote the script and presented it in 1981 to try to sell it to a major studio, but no one wanted it.  He said that "It just flew around" for three years until New Line Cinema picked it up.
This was the second movie produced by New Line Cinema.  The first was "Alone in the Dark", directed by Jack Sholder and starring Jack Palance.  However the film was given a very limited theatrical release, and when it performed poorly and received bad reviews, it was released straight to video.  As such, "A Nightmare on Elm Street" was New Line's first genuine mainstream cinematic venture.  The movie almost folded before production had even begun. Initially, Smart Egg productions were supposed to put $1 million into the movie, but they dropped out several days before filming began, and producer Robert Shaye had to try to raise money elsewhere.  Two weeks into shooting, the production had no money left to pay the crew, so line producer John H. Burrows used his credit card.  Eventually, Shaye brokered a deal with a European company called Media Home Entertainment and subsequently persuaded Smart Egg to put up the final $200,000 needed to complete the film.  New Line Cinema was saved from bankruptcy by the success of the film, and was jokingly nicknamed "the house that Freddy built".
"A Nightmare on Elm Street" starred Heather Langenkamp as Nancy, Johnny Depp as Glen, Amanda Wyss as Tina, Jsu Garcia as Rod, Ronee Blakley as Marge, John Saxon as Lt. Donald Thompson, and Robert Englund as Fred Krueger.  This was the film premiere for Johnny Depp and Jsu Garcia.  All actors and actresses in this film went on to further their acting careers.
Filmed at various locations throughout Los Angeles, California including John Marshall High School where such Box Office hits as "Grease", "Pretty in Pink" and "Rebel Without A Cause" starring iconic and legendary James Dean were filmed, here are some other tidbits of behind-the-scenes information you might enjoy...
1.  The inspiration for the character of Freddy came from several sources in Wes Craven's childhood. Fred Krueger was a schoolmate of Craven with whom he had shared a paper route, and who had bullied him for several years.
2.  Wes Craven first came up with the basic idea for the movie from several newspaper articles printed in the LA Times over a three year period about a group of Cambodian refugees from the Hmong tribe, several of whom died in the throes of horrific nightmares. The group had come to America to escape the reign of Pol Pot, and within a year of arriving, three men had died, with the situation the same in each cases; the young, otherwise healthy, man would have a nightmare, then refuse to sleep for as long as possible. Upon finally falling asleep from exhaustion, the man awoke screaming, then died. Autopsy results revealed that they had not died because of heart failure, they had simply died. It was this lack of cause which intrigued Craven so much. Medical authorities have since called the phenomenon Asian Death Syndrome, a variant of Sudden Unexpected Death Syndrome (SUDS) and Brugada Syndrome.
3.  Wes Craven's original concept for Freddy Krueger was considerably more gruesome, with teeth showing through the flesh over the jaw, pus running from the sores, and a part of the skull showing through the head. Make-up artist David B. Miller argued that an actor couldn't be convincingly made up that way and a puppet would be hard to film and wouldn't blend well with live actors, so these ideas were eventually abandoned.
4.  Freddy Kruger was designed by Wes Craven to be the typical "silent" serial killer such as Jason Voorhees or Michael Myers. But in the sequels Freddy developed a cheeky persona that enabled him to be the black humored villain.
5.  In relation to the famous red and green sweater, in the script, the sweater was red and yellow. However, when Craven read an article in Scientific American in 1982 that said the two most contrasting colors to the human retina were red and green, he decided to alter the colors.
6.  The idea behind the glove was a practical one on Wes Craven's part, as he wanted to give the character a unique weapon, but also something that could be made cheaply and wouldn't be difficult to use or transport. At the time, he was studying primal fears embedded in the subconscious of people of all cultures and discovered that one of those fears is attack by animal claws. Around the same time, he saw his cat unsheathe its claws, and the two concepts merged, although in the original script the blades were fishing knives, not stake knives as in the finished film.
7.  In the original script, Freddy was a child molester, however the decision was made to change him into being a child murderer to avoid accusations of exploiting a series of child molestations in California around the time of production.
8.  Special makeup effects artist David B. Miller based Freddy's disfigurement on photographs of burn victims he saw in UCLA Medical Centre.
9.  Wes Craven had helped Sean S. Cunningham by working on a few shots for "Friday the 13th", in turn, near the end of the production of this movie, Cunningham directed a few shots when several units were working at once.
10.  Heather Langenkamp beat over 200 actresses for the role of Nancy Thompson, some of the other actresses who auditioned for the role of Nancy were Jennifer Grey, Demi Moore, Courteney Cox and Tracey Gold.
11.  Prior to making the film, Amanda Wyss had never seen a horror movie and Heather Langenkamp had only ever seen the film "Burnt Offerings".
12.  One of the main reasons Johnny Depp was chosen was because the producer's daughter thought he was "dreamy."
13.  Charlie Sheen was interested in the role of Glen, but according to producer Robert Shaye, he wanted more money than the production could afford.  Other actors considered for the role were John Cusack, Brad Pitt, Kiefer Sutherland, Nicolas Cage and C. Thomas Howell.
14.  According to Wes Craven, Robert Englund was not the first choice for the role of Fred Krueger; he had initially wanted a stunt man to play the part, but upon testing several stunt men, he realized he needed an actor.
15.  It would take about 3 hours to get Robert Englund into his Freddy make-up.
16.  The first time Robert Englund tried on the infamous Freddy glove, he cut himself.
17.  The fictional address of the house in the film is 1428 Elm Street. The actual house where filming took place is located in Los Angeles, California on 1428 North Genesee Avenue. The numbers "1428" on the side of the house were stolen, & never returned, according to present real life Elm Street House owner, Angie Hill, who was quite upset over it. This is shown on the 2nd disc of the Documentary, "Never Sleep Again-The Elm Street Legacy".
18.  The sparking glove effect seen throughout the movie was achieved by attaching the glove to a car battery. The famous scraping noise was created by scratching a steak knife on the underside of a metal chair.
19.  All of the boiler room footage in the film was shot in the basement of the Lincoln Heights Jail, which was condemned shortly after production wrapped, due to the high levels of asbestos.
20.  The scene where Glen (Johnny Depp) lies on the couch and can hear Tina (Amanda Wyss) and Rod (Jsu Garcia) having sex was based on an incident from Wes Craven's own life where he lay on a couch listening to a couple having sex next door.
21.  The scene where Freddy presses through the wall above Nancy was shot by stretching a sheet of spandex across a hole in the wall and pressing against it. In the shot, Freddy is played by special effects designer Jim Doyle.
22.  The scene were Freddy's arms elongate were achieved by having men with fishing poles on each side of the alley marionetting a set of puppet arms attached to actor Robert Englund.
23.  The opening scene of the film doesn't have Robert Englund playing the part of Fred Krueger, but special-effects man Charles Belardinelli, as Belardinelli was the only one who knew exactly how to cut the glove and insert the blades.
24.  The scene where Nancy (Heather Langenkamp) is attacked by Freddy in her bathtub was shot using a bottomless tub, which was put in a bathroom set that had been built over a swimming pool. During the underwater sequence, Langenkamp was replaced with stuntwoman Christina Johnson. Langenkamp spent 12 hours in the bath during filming.
25.  In her room after almost getting killed in the tub, Nancy looks at herself in a mirror and says, "Oh God, I look 20 years old." Many viewers find this humorous, thinking that Heather Langenkamp was 20 years old at the time of the movie. However, on the DVD audio commentary, she's quoted as saying, "I was 18 or I was 19. I can't remember."
26.  During the scene where Nancy is running towards her house with Freddy right behind her, Heather Langenkamp cut her foot and required stitches. When viewing this scene you can clearly see her limping as she enters her house. This wasn't acting, but rather a genuine reaction to her injury. If you look closely you can see the bandage she's wearing in the last shot of the "goo stairs" sequence, which takes place just moments later.
27.  According to the fact track on the DVD, the mixture on the stairs that Heather Langenkamp get stuck in was Bisquick.  The scene was directed by Robert Shaye who was on set pressuring for the film to wrap.  Craven told Shaye he could direct it, as it was based on a dream Shaye himself had once had.
28.  When Nancy's dreams are "examined", when her hair turns white, the nurse is played by Wes Craven's ex-wife, Mimi Craven.
29.  In an interview with Heather Langenkamp, she mentioned that Ronee Blakley really did slap her during the kitchen scene. However, if you watch the scene carefully, you can see that she must be referring to a previous take. It's obvious that the slap seen in the final take is artificial.
30.  Over 500 gallons of fake blood were used during the making of the film.
31.  The words "Elm Street" are not spoken at all during the movie.
32.  The film was shot in 30 days.

33.  During the production, Wes Craven stayed in a small apartment that belonged to Wim Wenders, the former husband of Ronee Blakley.

34.  The original glove was used in "A Nightmare on Elm Street Part 2: Freddy's Revenge", and was also seen in "Evil Dead II".  However, when Wes Craven loaned the glove to the "A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors" set, it was lost, and has never been located since.  
And now you know.
Just one last thing... Originally, it wasn't Johnny Depp's intention to audition for the role of Glen in this film.  He simply accompanied his friend Jackie Earle Haley to auditions.  Instead of Haley being chosen for a role, it was Depp who was spotted by director Wes Craven, who asked him if he would like to read for a part.  Depp, of course, got the part in the film and Haley didn't.  No harm, though.  Haley would go on to play Freddy in the remake 26 years later: "A Nightmare on Elm Street" (2010).

And now you know even more.

Please enjoy this preview to "A Nightmare on Elm Street" (1984) as well as picture stills introducing the characters followed by over 100 pictures following the story of the film.

First, the preview...


Now the key characters...


And finally the picture stills of the film...













Nancy: I know you're there Freddy.
Freddy Krueger: You think you was gonna get away from me?
Nancy: I know you too well, Freddy.
Freddy Krueger: Now you die.
Nancy: It's too late, Krueger. I know the secret now. This is just a dream. You're not alive. This whole thing is just a dream.
[she turns around and faces him]
Nancy: I want my mother and friends again.
Freddy Krueger: You what?
Nancy: I take back every bit of energy I gave you. You're nothing. You're shit.










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