Arguably one of the most influential Johnny Depp films is set to return to Netflix on March 1st. No, we are not talking about Pirates of the Caribbean. Not Sweeny Todd either. This film is often forgotten in the plethora of movies that he has appeared in, likely considering since it was a smaller role in the grand scheme of things. Arguably the best slasher in horror cinema makes his way back to the streaming platform to scare the pants off all of us. A Nightmare on Elm Street and Freddy Kreuger return, and it happens to be the very first film in which Mr. Depp appeared. His career would go on to amazing heights, but he got his humble start in one of the best horror films ever created.
A Nightmare on Elm Street has one of the most horrible backstories of any of the old-school slashers. Fred Kreuger is a pedophile that is essentially murdered at the hands of a lynch mob. They corner the man and set him ablaze. Now that his spirit has essentially been sent to hell, it comes back to prey on the teenage children of the parents who hunted him down. The frightening aspect of the premise of this film is that Freddy Kreuger hunts people in their dreams. If you fall asleep, you are going to be killed. Staying awake for more than 24 hours is nearly impossible. The film stars Heather Langenkamp, John Saxon, Ronee Blakley, Robert Englund as Freddy Krueger, and Johnny Depp.
A Nightmare on Elm Street is arguably the best of Wes Craven’s masterpieces. The film received rave reviews when it came out in 1984. Critics praised the film for transgressing between the boundaries of what is real or not. The Johnny Depp debut film currently has a 95% critic rating on Rotten Tomatoes, with an audience score of 84%. Pretty sure that lower audience score comes from jaded people who are freaked out by this movie to this day. I get it. The classic slasher had a meager $1.1 million budget and was able to secure $57 million worldwide. Although that clearly doesn’t sound like a lot, this was a different era. According to Dollar Times, $57 million in 1984 would be worth nearly $157 million today. On a budget of one million, those are some massive gains. The film was a massive success.
Although Johnny Depp didn’t blow up until after, A Nightmare on Elm Street helped to pave his way. The initial film spawned a highly successful franchise that has produced six sequels, a crossover with Friday the 13th, a television series, a remake of the same name, and a host of other merchandise. Freddy Kreuger and his iconic red and green sweater, brown hat, and rake-like glove have become iconic. Every year there are tons of people who still dress up as our worst nightmare, and Robert Englund became horror royalty due to his performance. Wes Craven became known through his earlier works in The Hills Have Eyes and Last House on the Left but he became a horror legend after directing A Nightmare on Elm Street.
Johnny Depp would explode onto the scene after A Nightmare on Elm Street, with roles in Platoon, Cry Baby, and 21 Jump Street. However, he got his humble beginning by being mercilessly murdered by Freddy Kreuger. Sorry if that is a spoiler to you all, but you’ve had 40 years to watch the movie. Enough time has passed to allow the plot of this film to be openly talked about. Unless you’re scared to watch a man with long claws kill people in their sleep. You won’t have nightmares…probably. At least you’ll just die in your sleep. That’s likely not making it any better. Just go watch it.
A Nightmare on Elm Street has stood the test of time and remains one of the most influential horror films ever created. Although he was just another teenager that needed to be slain, this film was the reason that Johnny Depp got his start. Without this film, there would be no Captain Jack Sparrow, Edward Scissorhands, George Jung, and Ichabod Crane just to name some of his most captivating performances. Thank you for clawing the young Depp to pieces, Freddy Kreuger.