By Christopher Roberts
Each month sound recordist and film buff Christopher Roberts talks to one of our members about ‘Their Favourite Film’.
Chris : Hi again and welcome to my first blog post for the new year. I figured I would write this months blog (after having a great weekend at the Horror-On-Sea film festival this weekend) with one of members I got to meet and chat with, Jamie Evans. Jamie is a writer, director, actor and a part of Impala films, an Essex-based production company. They are now currently working on their first feature length film, Candy Hart and the Fire of Catalan, as well as their first audio series The Haunted, which will be coming out later this year. You can probably guess from my introduction and Jamie’s previous work what genre we are going for today. So enjoy reading as Jamie and I talk about one of horror most iconic figures and the street that suffered his wrath.
Jamies Evans – Nightmare On Elm Street
Jamie : Like many of us, I find enjoyment and value in a range of genres, from mindless action flicks to cheesy romantic comedies, thought-provoking dramas to tense, edge of the seat thrillers, quirky art pieces to blood-soaked horror movies. However, when people ask me to name my favourite movie, I always return to the same answer; 1984’s A Nightmare On Elm Street.
This is the film that started it all for me. Previously I’d enjoyed movies on a surface level (mostly kid-friendly fare like The Little Mermaid or Hercules) but A Nightmare On Elm Street was the first time I realised that people make films, that there is a skill and an artistry to it. I was fascinated, obsessed even. The way the script blurred the lines between the narrative reality and the children’s dreams, the incredible effects such as Tina crawling up the wall and ceiling whilst in the grip of her night terrors, the blood geyser that erupts after a young Johnny Depp was killed. I watched the film over and over, researched online and watched the director’s commentary. My amazement only grew and deepened into massive respect at the marvels they were able to achieve on such a low budget.
Then there’s the villain. Freddy Krueger has become one of the most recognisable villains in cinematic history and with good reason. Wes Craven employed psychological tricks to help ensure his cinematic bogeyman would terrify audiences. Deliberately giving him a claw as a weapon to evoke man’s primitive fear of wild animals and dressing him in a red and green sweater after reading that the human eye doesn’t like processing those two colours together.
Unlike his contemporaries, Freddy wasn’t a silent behemoth but rather a killer with personality and a strange perverse charm. Even in the worst of the sequels, there is a charisma that makes him a villain we love to hate.
The influence of A Nightmare On Elm Street on my own work is undeniable even all these years later. Nancy was no ordinary, cookie-cutter final girl idly waiting around for all of her friends to die. She is a pro-active protagonist who actively seeks out Freddy and uses her intellect to scheme against him. These are qualities I’ve tried to bring to the role of Candy in Candy Hart and Abigail in HAUNTED. Whilst many might initially dismiss the film as another slasher movie, the truth is that A Nightmare On Elm Street is so much more than the contemporaries it is often group with. The film has a lot to say about absent parents and the rot that can spread through a community when people keep secrets. The film blurs the line between reality and dreams, and these are themes I find endlessly fascinating.
There is perhaps no closer experience we can have to waking dreams than the experience of sitting in a darkened movie theatre as stories play out on the screen in front of us. Dreams can be wild; they can be fun, horrifying, romantic and absolutely crazy. Dreams are powerful and mysterious and something we don’t fully understand. Wes Craven understood that this was the essential nature of films; they are communal dreams we share with friends and family. It is a privilege to make them, and I would never have gotten here if it weren’t for A Nightmare On Elm Street.
My thoughts – Christopher Roberts
Chris : When I was around 8 years old, I had a nightmare that I still remember to this day. In it, there was a girl that was kidnapped by a full-grown ventriloquist dummy (I blame goosebumps for that). I remember standing by the door as I heard the girl crying for help, and like the many characters from the books I’ve read, I decided to be a hero. However, when I jumped into the room ready to save her, she looked at me in horror and screamed. Then I realised the horrible truth: I was turning into a ventriloquist dummy. At that point, I woke up, terrified at what had just happened to me, but in the end, I was alright because it was just a nightmare, and no matter how terrifying a nightmare is, it can’t hurt you. Right? A few years later though, I learned that was not the case for the poor souls that were unlucky enough to live down elm street when I was introduced to the Bastard Son of 100 Maniacs, The Springwood Slasher, Freddy C Kruger.
By then, though, it was different for me. I wasn’t afraid when I heard tales of him or when I first watched Nightmare on Elm Street; instead, it was the start of what led me to have a love for the character and the film series in general. Though, when you’re introduced to someone like Freddy Kruger, who can blame me? Like Jamie mentioned, Freddy Kruger had a personality. He had one- liners and a twisted charisma that made him enjoyable to watch. It was a character brilliant played by Robert Englund that, even after nearly 20 years since his last performance, that no horror fan wishes for anyone to try and replace him. He is Freddy Kruger, no one else.
For me, though it was something else, it was how he killed them in their dreams. What could be
more terrifying than getting killed in your sleep? It wasn’t somewhere you could easily avoid or escape from, like an abandoned campsite or a creepy house. It’s the one place that we see from an early age as comfort, something we do to heal, recharge, and escape from the world after a long day. To have that now represented as somewhere dangerous, a place where evil lurks, I wouldn’t blame you if you decided to stay up a couple more hours after watching the film. For Wes Craven to twist something as comforting as sleep and dreaming into a new terror and give us a villain that represented this terror, it’s why this has become such an iconic film. It’s why I binged watch every movie he was in, getting my hands of all the spin of books and even dressed up like him for my 16th birthday. The first film I saw that led me to fall in love with horror and the slasher genre, like many other fans. Freddy once said that the only way there could truly defeat him was to forget about him and the carnage he caused, and I think I can safely say that want be something that’ll happen anytime soon.
My Favourite Fact
The idea for Nightmare on Elm street came to Wes Craven after reading news articles about a string
of deaths where the victims had terrifying nightmares and died in their sleep. One even said that
there were being chased by a mysterious figure in their nightmares.
Jamie Evans is a Writer, Director, Actor and co-founder of Impala Films. @jamie_evans_impalafilms
Chris Roberts has worked on many film projects across Essex as a boom operator and production assistant. Chris is a full time film trivia expert!