I am sure everyone here has noticed the disturbing trend of all your favorite movies getting remade. Everyone bitches about it, but we keep going to them so they keep making them. Well, if they are going to keep making them, then I at least am going to keep complaining about them, right here on my very own website.
A Nightmare On Elm Street (1984) is a modern classic, a new kind of slasher flick at the time. Where Michael Myers and Jason Vorhees were hulking silent stalkers, Freddy was nimble, playful and funny. Here was a new kind of maniac, with no mask to hide his horrible face, who toyed with his victims before he slaughtered them in clever ways.
He was a cackling, unstoppable maniac, even more frightening because he came to you in your dreams. And everyone knows if you die in your sleep, you die in real life. The thing that always made Freddy the scariest, to me, was the fact that nothing could hurt him. In fact, the first time you ever even see the character, he cuts off his own finger then laughs about it.
Here was a true villain, a reputed child-killer that was wrongly set upon and put to death by angry, heart-broken parents. He was a killer, yes, but he had a reason to be pissed off. Fred Krueger’s spirit was so filled with rage that he somehow came back from death and haunted the dreams of his killer’s children to exact his vengeance. The details of his misdeeds and demise are purposefully vague, but you get the sense that Freddy was wronged in life, and that he wont rest until he settles the score.
In my opinion, this is where the remake (and most modern remakes) fails. The unknown and mysterious is what is scary, in all things. Wes Craven knew this in 1984, and deliberately kept Fred’s real motives and history vague and ambiguous. All you needed to know was that this monster was out to kill these kids, and he didn’t care about his own well-being, and there was no escaping it.
As the years passed, and the sequels and spin-offs piled up, the mystery was slowly deconstructed and explained to death, so much so that it didn’t even make sense anymore. It has happened to many of history’s fictional and real monsters ; once you know too much about the devil, he ceases to be frightening. It is a case of information overload that has infiltrated all parts of our society, the overwhelming desire to know WHY someone does what they do.
Which brings me to Nightmare On Elm Street (2010).
While I didn’t completely hate it, I did have many problems with this remake. The main problem is the one I mentioned before. The new script was written with the obvious intent to make the main character Fred Krueger more relatable and understandable. This is where the film gets it all wrong.
They remove all the mystery from the character, and he is no longer scary. The original 1984 film was about Nancy, and her struggle to adapt and survive against a new kind of monster. The new version focuses on Fred and his re-written origin story, trying to force us to like him because he was wrongfully-accused of his crimes. The original character’s crimes were always more ambiguous, which made his inexplicable popularity with children even more frightening.
To me, this is another clear example of the way the powers that be are softening things up for us consumers. Freddy Krueger is no longer the deranged boogeyman with a sense of wicked humor ; he is now a misunderstood monster, a persecuted man who is doing the best he can…
The next big mistake is in the casting. Obviously re-casting and re-designing a classic character took some balls, and like it or not, Robert Englund was forced to hang up his razor-glove. Jackie Earl-Haley, who was so good as Rorschach in Watchmen, takes over the role for the remake. He tries to make the character his own, adding new flourishes like rubbing the blades of his glove together as he approaches his victims, but as a whole the new Freddy is a failure. The new make-up job is meant to look like the more realistic scars of a burn victim, but who the hell wants realism in their slasher movie?
Which brings me to my next point : the only reason one could possibly have to remake an already effective, classic movie should be to improve on it. The great advancements made in special effects technology since 1984 should prove to enhance this new version, right? Surely the film-makers would take great advantage of this and blow us away with some outstanding nightmare-sequences, right? Not so. The dream scenes are weak and boring, the CGI really detracts from the whole film. For example, they try and replicate the great scene where Freddy pushes himself through the wall over Nancy’s bed while she sleeps…
In the original film, this effect was accomplished simply, with the actor pushing against cloth, to create this creepy effect. In the new version, this scene is done with jarringly obvious digital effects, that probably cost twice as much to be half as effective.
The 2010 version fails in almost every way, in my opinion, and pales in comparison to the creativity displayed in the original film. Watching it made me feel strange, like I had remembered my life wrong. Like someone had somehow taken my childhood memories and scrambled them all up to make something similar, but somehow just wrong.
This is why I prefer to stick with the originals….
Until next time, kiddies. Keep it real.
A Nightmare On Elm Street (1984) Grade : A
A Nightmare On Elm Street (2010) Grade : D
Faithfully submitted by Darth Biscuits.