The immense popularity of villain Freddy Krueger and the flood of ever-sillier sequels have obscured the fact that the original Nightmare on Elm Street is one of the scariest and best horror movies ever made. Besides its status as one of the most successful and iconic horror films of the modern era, Nightmare also elevated director Wes Craven to the top of the horror heap and introduced the world to the future superstar Johnny Depp. The now-familiar plot follows a group of teens who have to face a killer — but the killer exists only in their dreams, and he's all too capable of killing them there. The film draws its horror from the way it blurs the line between reality and dreams, tapping into the primal fear that real nightmares produce. It executes a smart theme with a minimum of silliness and features a number of unforgettable scenes — notably, the blood-fountain death of one character, another being dragged across the ceiling before being brutally dispatched, and the twist dream-within-a-dream ending. Also notable is the way the film treats its teenage protagonists as intelligent, capable people instead of the cretinous, one-dimensional slasher bait usually found in its genre contemporaries.
A Nightmare on Elm Street screens at the Esquire Theatre, 590 Downing Street, on Friday, October 31, and Saturday, November 1, at midnight. Call 303-352-1992. — Cory Casciato