05 March 2011

Movies: A Nightmare on Elm Street (2010) vs. (1984)

A Nightmare on Elm Street (2010) http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1179056/
vs. A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984) http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0087800/

Why.   Why, why, why.

Yes, the remake looks more modern than the original. Yes the original and its effects looks dated, almost campy, compared to today's movies.

But dang, don't mess with it if you can't make it better.

I remember watching the original when it was first released to theaters. It was a new day in horror movies, Up to that point for modern horror fare we had A Texas Chainsaw Massacre, rehashes of Friday the 13th, Halloween, and shittons of cheap B-movie slasher knockoffs of those three. Then A Nightmare on Elm Street (ANoES) hit the screens and we had something new in horror. A bad guy that gets in your dreams and kills you.  I remember my friends and I over-the-top giddy with how new ANoES was compared to all the other repetitive horror movies at that time.  And my car window made that Freddy-knives-on-pipes noise when I rolled it down, so I did, just to freak out my friends in the car.

But this remake, it didn't scare me. I don't think it would've scared the 1984 version of me. I have to admit my scare threshold is way higher now, but it takes something that this movie just doesn't have to give me the wiggins. So my judgment may be clouded.

ANoES remake has Jackie Earle Haley as Freddy Krueger. He made a great Rorschach in The Watchmen. But we've never seen a live-action Rorschach before.  Whereas, invariably, one has to compare Jackie Earle Haley's Freddy to Robert Englund's Freddy. And Englund defined Freddy, he's the original. Poor Jackie didn't have a chance. He did admirably, but he's no Freddy.  Nothing negative about Haley on his performance, he just has a big sweater to fill. On a positive note I really liked the makeup+CGI job they did on Haley. It hearkened back to Englund's Freddy, but had nice nuanced touches that only CGI can give.

The 'kids' in the cast of the new version? None of them were terrified, not a one. They looked more tired and mopey than anything, and practically disassociated from the world around them. Not a lot of mourning their dead compatriots, just another day in nihilismville for them. They may have screamed some as knives went in, but none were really terrified. At least the original's cast conveyed more terror in it. Not only that, the original's young cast were all friends in some manner, whereas there seemed to be little connection between the remake's. 

The new story has Krueger as a pedophile that worked at a child care center, the kids told their parents he molesterized them, the parents chase him to some abandoned factory and set the building and Freddy on fire. So Freddy is getting his revenge. On the kids who told on him. Contrast that with the original story: Freddy is just your normal run of the mill power plant worker with the hobby of child torturer/killer that was arrested after killing about 20 kids, goes to trial, gets acquitted on a technicality, then is hunted down by the parents for a little street justice. Then years later Freddy is getting back at the parents who burned him alive by killing their kids. Slightly different motivation, no?
In the remake there's no real explanation for the glove. He just has it. Whereas in the original it makes sense that he has it because that's the way he rolled - it was a tool of his trade.
Same goes for the jumprope singsong of "One, Two Freddy's comin for you...". It makes sense that it exists in the first movie, a public trial and 20 kids dead and all. Of course kids would have some morbid nursery rhyme based in the times, a modern "Ring Around the Rosey". In the remake - nobody but a few parents knew because they took it upon themselves to chase him down and kill him before any law was involved.  Thus there's no way kids would've even come up with such a rhyme because there was no period of terror as 20 kids get snatched, tortured and killed by some madman who then goes on trial and puts a name to the monster.

Another story issue that didn't make sense. As the surviving members start comparing notes they all comment how they never met each other until high school, none had memories of a Freddy Krueger. Yet there's pictures of them all in the same class at that daycare center, before their parents tracked Krueger down and killed him.  How is it that out of 20-some little kids not a single one remembers day care molesterizing trauma? They all had traumatic amnesia? Really? Not a one remembered any other kids?  I was waiting for some cheesy "we had a therapist hypnotize you all to block your memories" but we weren't even treated to that BS.

One part of the movie, while Nancy is researching other kids who were at the preschool, she comes across videos posted by a kid who says he's afraid to sleep because of some scary guy in his nightmares. The final video has him fall asleep in front of the camera, then his limp body flings into the camera. Who the hell posted the final video if Freddy killed him then and there?  I'm sure it was his parents. "oh look - Johnny had one more video to post. Let's put it up in memory of him." Yeah, right.

Another thing that bugged me about the new flick was spending so much time on one gal at the start of the film that one might have figured her to be the central character, only she wasn't. We didn't even learn much about the heroine till much later in the film.  Whereas in the original ANoES we had a good idea from the start who the story revolves around.  Plus, the remake ANoES heroine has help 'defeating' Freddy at the end, from her friend. Even though he'd been all cut up and crap by Freddy, he somehow survives long enough to get in on the big real-world fight.  Contrast that to classic ANoES Nancy who boobytraps her house, drags Freddy out of her dream, then goes Home Alone all over his ass. All by herself because all her friends were already dead.

Another loss - no raging alcoholic mom in the remake. She's a doctor now.

If you're a Nightmare on Elm Street purist, watching this remake probably leads to disappointment.  If you've never seen either, see the original.  You're better off watching that than the remake.

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