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A Nightmare on Elm Street

Year: 1984
Studio: New Line
Director: Wes Craven
Producer: Bob Shaye
Writer: Wes Craven
Cast: Heather Langenkamp, Robert Englund, Johnny Depp, John Saxon
Every decade or so brings a genre-redefining horror movie that shakes things up, announcing a bold new direction or a visionary new director with a thrilling spin on an old institution.

If you're a member of Generation X, you'll remember that Scream isn't the first time scare maven Wes Craven provided such a service to cinema.

His 1984 trailblazer had a simple enough idea. Years before a group of vigilante neighbourhood parents decided to take matters into their own hands concerning child murderer Fred Krueger (Robert Englund, till then only known as the dorky, lovable alien who couldn't quite master English in the alien invasion miniseries V), capturing and killing him.

A generation later, he's back to wreak revenge by turning up in the dreams of the surviving kids - now in their teens - to off them in the netherworld.

His crossover into the real world is never fully explained, but the movie cemented Freddy as an iconic horror character in the realm of Dracula, Jaws and Darth Vader. The plot deals with him meeting his match in Nancy (Langenkamp), mowing down her friends like an out of control bus, including a then-unknown Johnny Depp.

It's easy to forget not just how cool and clever the original move was after the series descended quickly into parody, but how striking and surreal some of the visuals were, like the phone that turns into a tongue, the fountain of blood that accompanies Glen's (Depp) demise and Nancy's friend visiting her in a vision, standing outside her classroom enshrouded by a body bag, calling plaintively to her.

It's cool in a teen horror way, scary in a classic horror way, and Craven sits near the crown of the horror pyramid to this day because of films just like it. Like The Blair Witch Project, Scream, Saw and every other revolution in horror, it's been endlessly imitated but never matched.

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