4. A Nightmare on Elm Street

Believe it or not, there was a time when Freddy Krueger wasn’t a ridiculous cartoon character who killed people with video games. In the first film in the series, he wasn’t even Freddy, except in the little sing-song rhyme. He was Fred Krueger and he was actually pretty scary, being a child murderer and all. Later films gloss over that whole thing, instead turning him into a general boogeyman type who farts around and makes dumb jokes because he feels like it or something.

This film, too, picks up on the aspect of horror in a suburban environment– that idea that security comes with picket white fences. But another, lesser-acknowledged concept that it plays with is that sleep is safety. When you’re a kid and you’re scared of the dark, you know that all you have to do is finally fall asleep and, assuming you don’t wake back up, you’ll be fine until morning. Anything that happens while you’re asleep is just your imagination. The original Nightmare on Elm Street took that and turned it on its head, though. The inevitability of sleep wasn’t a safety blanket to look forward to, but something to avoid and put off as long as possible, even fighting your own body to do so. (And that’s not even getting into the drug metaphors of popping pills to stay awake and unhinged behavior the characters seem to be going through.)

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