These days, we can’t get enough of the newly-revealed “Nightmare on Elm Street” trailer, giving us our best look yet at Samuel Bayer’s take on Wes Craven’s original formula. With only a few months left before the April 30th unveiling of the film, we took a look back at Craven’s 1984 “Nightmare” and lined up 6 key side-by-side images. Read on for our analysis of what’s better, what’s not, and who might become this movie’s Johnny Depp.
The Jump-Rope Girls
A longtime staple of the “Elm Street” series, there’s something undeniably creepy about three little girls skipping rope and singing a song about a serial killer. Clearly, their existence in the series is an update of “Ring Around the Rosie,” an upbeat kids’ dittie long-rumored to be about the black plague [interestingly enough, Snopes says it’s not]. In both movies, the three girls are dressed in white, and hauntingly indifferent to their own existence as heralds of Freddy’s impending arrival. The new film seems to have done a remarkable job at casting young actresses that look exactly the same – and personally, I’m just glad to know that after all these years, the girls have finally learned to get off the damn lawn. Sing along everybody: 1, 2 Freddy’s coming for you…
The Ol’ Coming-Through-the-Wall Trick
Arguably the most famous image to ever emerge from the “Nightmare” films, Wes Craven’s 1984 original summed up its premise with a great shot that had Freddy Krueger preying upon Nancy (Heather Langenkamp) as she slept; the new film similarly shows Freddy looking down upon the new Nancy, Rooney Mara. The biggest difference is that while the original shot was made by stretching a spandex sheet over a hole in the wall, this one is pure CGI. Considering how the original scene has haunted two generations of horror fans, take a close look and ask yourself: Have special effects really gotten better, or just easier?
In the ’80s, Wes Craven conceived a brilliant spin on Hitchcock’s famous “Psycho” shower scene. Once again, we have a woman alone, being hunted at the one moment when she could expect to be safe. We’ve got to give props to the new film, which seems to have done a better job of framing the shot. At the same time, Nancy’s baby blue bath pillow in the original is so endearingly cheesy – but honestly, if you’re trying to avoid falling asleep, why would you ever put your head on its air-cushioned goodness?
Scratching the Surface
Is there a more annoying, unsettling noise than fingernails on a chalkboard? Craven tapped into our primal repulsion by taking it one step further – giving Freddy long, razor-sharp claws and an affinity for running them along things. In another shot that parallels a Krueger trademark, the new film gives us a peek at the boiler room where he was killed – a recurring theme in his nightmares – and has him running his fingers along some pipes. Get ready for a familiar screech, this time in surround sound glory, when you hit the theater April 30th.
Dancing on the Ceiling
In 1984, one of the spookiest “Elm Street” scenes had a teenage boy helplessly reaching out while he saw his still-sleeping girlfriend cut open by invisible knives, dragged up the wall and across the ceiling – and then was accused of the murder. Loosely based on the original, the new “Nightmare” appears to have changed the character’s name from “Tina” to “Kris,” but Katie Cassidy seems certain to meet the same grisly fate. Like the wall scene described above, the original shot was accomplished with visual trickery that had the actress acting on a floor disguised as a ceiling; in the new “Nightmare,” computer work has been used to float Freddy’s hapless victim. Which do you find more effective?
The Next Depp?
Our last photo isn’t so much an homage, as it is a pic to click. When Craven’s original “Nightmare” hit theaters in 1984, few people were aware of Johnny Depp, a 21-year-old actor cast as ill-fated Glen “Morality Sucks!” Lantz. Nowadays, 24-year-old Kellan Lutz has a better head start as Dean in the new “Nightmare.” Does Kellan have what it takes to still be a Hollywood star a quarter-century from now? If any of Freddy’s new victims has the goods to become the next Johnny, our money is on him.
What do you think of the new movie vs. the old movie? Based on the footage we’ve seen so far, are there any improvements?