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5 live review: Nightmare on Elm Street

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Mark Kermode | 10:51 UK time, Friday, 7 May 2010

5 live's resident movie critic Dr Mark Kermode reviews Nightmare on Elm Street.

Go to Mark on 5 Live for more reviews and film debate.

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  • Comment number 1.

    I think as soon as Dr. K saw Mr Bay on the credits this movie was dead in the water without redemption.

  • Comment number 2. you didn't like it then?

  • Comment number 3.

    Dr K. at his flappy armed, ranting, shouty best!

  • Comment number 4.

    There were so many brilliantly unnerving and inventive touches in the original film. A dog with a mans face, a goat running down a school corridor (well it scared me), a staircase made of marshmallow, Freddy's scissor hand emerging from the bath water. Like the Evil Dead the black humour never detracts from the horror but heightens it. Almost a perfect horror film.

  • Comment number 5.

    I might see this, actually. Apparently, Judith Hoag of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles fame stars - I recall being impressed with her in that (she played reporter April O'Neil). Good movie, too!

  • Comment number 6.

    I wish Dr. K would get off the fence and have an opinion. The review was a bit wishy-washy for me. Now I'm not sure whether I ought to see the remake; or not.

  • Comment number 7.

    I don't know when the UK annexed Ireland, but I'm seeing this just fine in Dublin ... 8)

  • Comment number 8.

    I thought you were pretty scathing in this film review but then I heard the Doctor's opinion of The Back-Up Plan.

  • Comment number 9.

    They are re-making "I Spit On Your Grave" a rather low budget video nasty from the 80's. Why, why oh why? Why don't they just go on and re-make the godfather part 2 and be done with it. Then re-make the re-makes. Is there a writers strike?

  • Comment number 10.

    That Robert Englund sounds like it must have been interesting. I saw the original Nightmare on Elm Street on videotape during a sleepover at the tender age of six. We were all too terrified to sleep after so one of my cousins created a makeshift Freddy glove by taping knives to his fingers (always safe) and we played hide-and-seek for several hours.

    I went to see the new Nightmare remake on Tuesday and while the rest of the theater appeared to enjoy it, I simply grew more and more frustrated as the film plodded along to it's inevitable end. There's not a single creative spark in it. Even the death scenes are unimaginative, forgoing the strangeness of the original for just a lot of hacking and slashing. I've seen other movies with that orange and teal tint to them before now as digital color grading has become more popular, but with this movie somehow they've reached the point where they've managed to exclude ALL OTHER COLORS. Do all people dream in orange and teal now? I must have missed that news break.

    At first I thought it was just nostalgia getting the better of me, but no. The movie is indeed a steaming pile and you could have a better time slamming your head in a door for two hours.

    Great review (but FYI - we Americans do know what a "bogeyman" is!)

  • Comment number 11.

    "Robert Englund interview" is what I intended to write. Sorry about that.

  • Comment number 12.

    I agree, the film could have been a lot better... But Mark is a bit too bias against anything in which Michael Bay is involved in.

  • Comment number 13.

    Go Dr K!!!
    I love having a visual version of your film reviews!
    The original movie was and still is terrifying. Orthodoxcaveman mentioned some of the classic scary moments (the Freddies's knife covered glove coming out of the bath water - Shudder!)
    I clearly remember this movie being a big deal at the time, and trying unsuccessfully to convince the box office staff that I was old enough to see it. Had to wait until it came out on video (which was a lot longer in those days!) and watch it at a friends house!

    Dr K's analysis of the surrealist aspects was on the money too. So many interesting horror movies at this time, that weren't just about the gore.
    An American Werewolf in London, The Evil Dead, Creepshow, The Thing, Videodrome, The Company of Wolves, Fright Night, Re-animator, The Fly, Hellraiser, Parents, Dead Ringers, and of course Wes Craven's other great movie that came a bit later, The People under the Stairs.

    It was a good time for horror and I have many fond memories of going to late night horror shows in the early 90's at my local theatre.
    They don't make'em like they used too!

  • Comment number 14.

    What's the betting Bay's got his eye on remaking The Exorcist but in 3D.

  • Comment number 15.

    I saw NOES and it wasn't a great film, but not in way the stinker Kermode made it out to be. I have not seen the original, so I probably didn't have an image of what the film should have been like.

    Films should be judged to what is on the screen, not to a preconception which could have been favoured by the original, or book or play which might have come first.

    Not that I am sticking up for NOES the remake, it wasn't a great film. The mighty John Landis said that he wasn't against remakes in the slightest bit, as it makes the original directors a lot of money. So if this shoddy remake made Wes Craven a lot of money which I imagine it did, then that's awesome. That's something to not feel guilty about if you are watching this film...

  • Comment number 16.

    I'm someone has commented on the colour of these horror remakes. They all look the same, dark and grey.

  • Comment number 17.

    Perfect review. You are 100% right. Damn!

  • Comment number 18.

    As a fan of the originals, I was really looking forward to this. I'd read all the negative reviews, so I went in with low expectations. So, what did I learn / think? . . .

    1) It ain't that bad really. Yes, there are plot holes, yes the acting is a little variable, but I've certainly seen worse.

    2) It was scary in places, and creepy too - given the subject matter, proper creepy. There were plenty of jumps to be had.

    3) Jackie Earle Haley's Freddy was interesting. Not sure about the voice, but the mannerisms, the sheer level of threat and leeriness - this is NOT a character you want to root for, and I mean that in a positive way for the film.

    4) This film would have benefited massively from being in 3D (and looking at some of the shots, part of me thinks the director did too). It is a concept that would have perfectly leant itself to the dream world / reality shift aspect.

    It's not perfect, and Englund remains the defining Krueger. But, I think it largely worked, and with improvements, I think part 2 (there will be!) could be very good.


  • Comment number 19.

    they're remaking 'i spit on your grave'? damn, they should AT LEAST release an uncut version of the original before doing a morally ambiguous, watered down remake.

  • Comment number 20.

    Question. Most people here seem to hate horror remakes and opin that they cannot be as great as the orginals.

    So why are you going to see them?

    You KNOW what Platinum Dunes do, so you cannot say you were not warned . . .

  • Comment number 21.

    Why so many remakes/reinventions/sequels etc etc?!?! I know that there have nearly always been movie sequels (thinking of the universal horror films and alike and even earlier to the silent films featuring the 'Golem') but at the moment things seem particularly bad.

    I prefer foreign language films, much more interesting than the dross coming out of Tinsel Town at the mo.

  • Comment number 22.

    Saw Ekow Eshun on Newsnight Review reviewing this film unfavourably in comparison to the original Nightmare film: he pointed out the Craven film was one of the original 'video nasties', that he first saw it on video when he was 14 (which would make his first viewing in 1982- spot the problem!) and his most searing criticism was that in the remake they had 'psychologized' it by giving Freddy a reason for being a monster- being a child abuser who had been killed by parents- which he declared wasn't in the original which had Freddy as a purer monster. He declared the original didn't have any backstory for the parents or Krueger!

    What on earth is going on when this can pass for informed criticism- with this level of cinematic knowledge I'm surprised he wasn't asked to front Film 2010!

    Personally, I find the current trend for remaking so many films a depressing indictment of the current paucity of ideas. Sequels and remakes have been the stock-in-trade of the horror-thriller genre since before the dawn of cinema, since Gothic literature however there's now a level of self-cannibalization of which Romero would be ashamed.

    The strangest part is so many of the remakes benefit from improved budgets, improved effects, improved filming and cinematography... they look far better but feel so anaemic; they lack the primal fire and, in the Craven cases, the intelligence of the originals- replaced by a Craven pursuit of money. I really hope they don't set about 'New Nightmare.

    (I always found the goat bit deeply unnerving: in hindsight, I've presumed it's symbolic, though whether for scapegoat, sorting sheep from goats or the tethered goat I've not worked out.)

    (I think I've still got C4's Fear in the Dark on VHS somewhere! That takes me back a bit.)

  • Comment number 23.

    People should leave the classics and re make movies that were bad but had great ideas and premise. rawhead rex, neon maniacs just two movies that bewildered me when i was young.
    When a movie has been a commercial and critical sucess then its already done its job, id rather see the original restored and up on the big screen instead of these insuffrable remakes.
    Please micheal bay... leave it

  • Comment number 24.

    Dr K correctly identifies the underlying mythology of ANOES: the urban myth, that sinister sense of corruption that inevitably corresponds to the overtly pasteurised façade of an idealistic street, a texture that inhabits the substance of the American Dream. A nightmare implies not only a terrible subconscious world of fantasy, but also a terrible world of material reality.

    What fascinates me about the remake is that it is a film that is not made to terrorise us but to make money, and this is the true nightmare - not in the conventional sense that the remake is a bad movie, but that the form of ‘steam roller’ capitalism that Dr K alludes to finds creative forms to justify its obvious capitalist function.

    The new Freddy has no face, the back story rotates about him either being innocent or guilty – the subjectivity of ‘the sins of the father’ is the kernel of this film. I agree that the new film’s muddled ideas are not important to the original, but in the context of a litigious society today, in which paedophiles are so demonically evil that mainstream newspapers represent them with blurry, jaundiced photos in double spreads, perhaps Freddy’s new ‘hyper real’ burns victim (aka Simon West from the Falkland Islands) is appropriate – he is faceless because the film does not clarify his guilty, and maybe in a Lacanian/Freudian sense, perhaps we are ‘post-oediepidal’ - we aren’t sure if we want to kill our fathers and have sex with our mothers anymore.

    The remake features a ridiculous but interesting ‘internet’ investigation plot. This to me is a basic mediation on the networked – dare I say it, post- kafka-esq rhizome of digital fantasy. Wes Craven is, As Dr. K points out, an analogue man playing in plastic reality. The new ANOES is a digital canvass that explores the new ideology of shock: Freddy is not the monster, the internet is. I can watch UK and US hostages being beheaded, car crashes and view pictures of corpses with a click of a button – as can, and do, many twelve year old kids. If anything the new Freddy is an artefact. The bogie man dances not in our dreams but in the conscious dream state of electronic interface.

    The stereotypes of the new films victims is of lazy, and one wonders if this generation is a bit to dull to slash up… perhaps kids these days are too busy thinking about Team Jacob or Team Edward, and their own feelings to be worried about who or what is creeping up behind them? Perhaps, in our era of Facebook, an omnipresent molester, in the form of the cyber bully, paedophile and stalker’s, is actively encouraged, for the products of social networking (us) actively seek the gaze of the Big Other.

  • Comment number 25.

    Oh i forgot to mention, here is a synopsis i made of the original ANOES in rap form:


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