The Remake Treatment – A Nightmare On Elm Street

It’s been a while horror fans but finally I’m back from across the pond for what I hope will be a regular article to get your debating hats on. We’ve had a fair influx of horror remakes through the years and it doesn’t seem to be stopping just yet, with Carrie and Poltergeist just two of the names set to hit cinemas in the near future. With this abundance of remakes/reimaginings what better to do than delve through them and pass judgement on whether they are at all worthy compared to their source materials.

Up first is the remake treatment of Wes Craven‘s classic A Nightmare On Elm Street.

As a horror fan it still baffles me as to the reasoning and sheer volume of remakes of movies we hold so dearly as classics of the genre. Throughout recent times, we have seen a major shift in ‘reboots’, ‘revamps’ and direct remakes of some history-making horror films and, keeping impartial at all times, I will trawl through these titles to give my own views on how these updates fare against the original material.

What better place to start than on a street so familiar with horror fanatics. A street terrorized in their dreams by a psychotic madman who wields a glove with blades for fingers and wears the aftermath of a fire as a face that is forever singed into the mind; our first stop is A Nightmare On Elm Street.

18 years ago marked the debut of one of the genre’s most terrifying yet engaging murderous characters in the form of Robert Englund’s Freddy Krueger. A Nightmare On Elm Street proved to be a sure-fire hit with fans and it all came down to originality. Never before had audiences witnessed a sadistic killer who had the ability to kill hapless teens in their dreams as opposed to real life, and the fear of falling asleep was all too enticing, thrusting Freddy into the limelight as one of the best known, even to this day, horror inventions ever. Amongst the sheer terror of the nightmares and the constant fear of our characters succumbing to sleep, the film was carried by a terrifying and, at times, very humorous, turn from horror legend Robert Englund. It takes a lot to provide viewers with a truly memorable villain and Englund hit the nail on the head with his own brand of evil.

Aside from Englund’s masterclass, Nightmare offers a whole range of positive points to garner the love of horror fans alike. At the centre of the presentation, a brilliant performance from Heather Langenkamp as the nightmare-ridden Nancy, almost reminiscent of Jamie Lee Curtis’ Laurie Strode in Halloween. Providing a memorable scream queen for the ages, Langenkamp injected both a vulnerability and a strong will to her character, therefore making Nancy one of the toughest and likeable females in horror, a far cry from a damsel in distress you will agree.

What set Nightmare out from the crowd was unique blend of sheer horror and creepy humour. Englund’s pizza-faced slasher at the centre of everything, the film jolted from moments of terror that stuck in the mind to Freddy’s monstrously laughter-inducing taunting of his victims that are bound to garner a smile and a chuckle. An iconic horror contains scenes which remain in the mind, ones that you look forward to seeing time and time again, and Wes Craven’s visionary masterpiece was not short of these instances. Sucking debutant Johnny Depp into a bed and unleashing a sea of blood into the ceiling and throwing young Amanda Wyss’ Tina around a bedroom only to be covered into claw marks and engulfed in blood, Nightmare never holds back in haunting the mind just the way its main character does.

Fast forward to 2010 and Michael Bay‘s production company Platinum Dunes get their grubby paws on a remake. Placing Watchmen’s Jackie Earle Haley in Freddy Krueger’s Christmas sweater and bladed glove and Rooney Mara as main protagonist Nancy, fans were up in arms over the supposed ‘reimagining’. Unfortunately, their fears were all too understandable.

Following Haley’s impressive outing as the outstanding Rorschach in Watchmen, he soon became favourite to play the role of Krueger, predominantly for his rough-edged voice and appearance. Laden with less-than-impressive make-up, the new age Krueger was less expressive, timid and short, providing a less than intimidating villain so coveted in the past. Low on sly quips and far from scary, Haley’s rebirth as Krueger fell short of Englund’s masterful reign and into the ashes.

In Rooney Mara, Elm Street potentially had yet another notable scream queen who possessed an iron will, but the young actress failed to even remotely match any sense of character she so wonderfully represented in future film The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo. Dull and lacking any real cutting edge emotion, Mara’ performance was sleep-inducing and almost made you feel like you wanted a Freddy-esque nightmare to free you from such tyranny. Disappointing too were Mara’s supports, some of the industries most fledging talents, aside from one Kyle Gallner. Gallner injected a much needed character to will on but unfortunately his effort alone was never enough to carry a sinking ship of a film.

Changing the back story of its most famous character and excluded the fear factor that character induces into the proceedings, 2010’s Nightmare is best left forgotten. Poorly acted, presented and, at times, merely imitating the original, it goes down as one of the worst horror remakes of all time. Michael Bay, once again, you fail miserably.

Next up on The Remake Treatment I take a look back at one of Platinum Dunes’ earlier remakes. A film starring Jessica Biel and featuring one of the craziest cannibal families ever to feature in horror. Oh and a chainsaw. That’s right, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre.

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