17 Feb 2014

SLASHER FILM RULES - A Nightmare on Elm Street

A Nightmare on Elm Street, the first film in one of the big three slasher film franchises.  But does this one follow the slasher film rules?

The following may include spoilers for

Nursery rhymes warnings are creepier.

Rule #1 - A Warning Will Come From...

A:  LOCAL LEGEND - via a children's nursery rhyme. 
E:  CHILDREN - via a children's nursery rhyme.  Rule #2 - There Will Be T&A
The final girl gets changed.
Pretty much, none.  Christina "Tina" Gray wears a slightly see through night gown and an unbuttoned shirt.  Nancy Thompson shows some sideboob when attacked in the bath and shows some bare back when changing.  While this film shows little nudity, the nudity it does show is that of the final girl, rather than that of the "bimbo" victim, reversing the subtextual innocence of the pair.  

Rule #3 - Death Will Be A Punishment For...

A:  SEX - Rod Lane and Tina have sex together.  Both die, Tina almost immediately after the act.  Tina's mother and her boyfriend also seem to have sex, but as adults seem to get away with it.  [2/2] or [2/4] B:  NUDITY - As mentioned above Tina and Nancy get slightly naked.  Tina after sex and dies, Nancy in "normal" situations (in the bath, changing in her room) and survives (although, ...'s father watches her change through her bedroom window).  While Nancy's nudity is more chaste than Tina's, more is seen by the viewer (more usually a sign of impending death).  But since there is so little... [0/0] C:  DRINKING - Nancy's mother, Marge Thompson, is has a drinking problem and dies.  Being an adult doesn't save her like it saved Tina's mother.  Although they are at Tina's with no parental supervision they don't drink. [0/0] or [1/1] D:  DRUGS - Nancy takes, presumably legal, drugs to stay awake. F:  CRIMINAL BEHAVIOUR - Rod is a thug, carries a knife, but nothing much more than that.  The parents of Elm Street all participated in a vigilante killing years before the film.  Only Marge dies. G:  SLEAZY GUY - Rod is incredibly this.  Glen Lantz hits on Nancy once and is annoyed by rejection.  Both die.

Rule #4 - Never Go...

A:  DOWN TO THE BASEMENT - Going to the basement was actually advantagous to Nancy. B:  UPSTAIRS - Did not cause any issues. C:  FOR A SHOWER - Nancy was attacked in the bath. F:  ANYWHERE ALONE - Nancy attempted to find people to wake her, but failed. Rule #5 - Order of Death...
Freddy appears first.
A:  THE FIRST PERSON ON SCREEN - Parts of Freddy (legs & feet, hands) appear first, followed by Tina - the first victim.
B:  THE BLACK MAN DIES FIRST - There are no minority characters. D:  THE BIMBO - Tina fits the bimbo role.  She is the first to die. F:  THE MACHO JERK - Rod is the macho jerk.  He is the second to die. G:  THE PROTECTOR - Nancy's father, Lt Donald Thompson, is the protector (although she tries to recruit Glen for the job, but he keeps falling asleeep).  Lt Thompson survives. H:  THE SENSITIVE GUY - Glen is the sensitive guy.  He is the third to die.
Victim #1 appears second.
J:  THE FINAL GIRL - Final Girl, Nancy, survives the film. Order of Death: 1.  Tina Gray [A, D] 2.  Rod Lane [F] 3.  Glen Lantz [H] 4.  Marge Thompson [?]

Rule #6 - Especially When They Are Most Needed, The Following Things Cannot Be Relied On…

Freddy kills in and controls dreams, so lights and communication are pretty meaningless.  In the dreams, nothing can be relied on.  Glen's father does leave the phone off the hook, stopping her from calling him for help. E:  AUTHORITIES - Lt Thompson is a policeman and a parent.  The parents caused the problem by initially killing Freddy (failed by the authorities who let him free).  The police in general (and Lt Thompson in particular) keep looking for a non-supernatural cause.

Rule #7 - The Final Girl

NANCY THOMPSON is the final girl. A:  FINAL - She is the final surviving target of Freddy.  However, the twist ending suggest her dreams are still haunted by him.
B:  GIRL - Yes.
C:  MASCULINE - Not very masculine, longer hair than Tina wears skirts more often, but both are feminine.  Nancy is a feminine name and a insult of effeminate (especially gay) men.
D:  WELL DRAWN - She is the most well-drawn character.  She is the one who puts things together and works out who Freddy is and how to stop him.  Unless she didn't.  She also booby traps the house.
E:  VIRGINAL & INNOCENT - Nancy refuses sex with Glen (a character played by Johnny Depp.  I mean, really?  Turn that down?).  Whether this is a one off refusal, or their relationship is unclear, Nancy does site the current situation (there to keep Tina company) as the excuse so it is possibly that they have a sexual relationship.  She is not shown drinking or taking illegal drugs.
F:  WILL BE REBORN - Nancy goes hunting Freddy in her dreams and drags him out.

Rule #8 - The Killer has a connection to...

A:  LOCATION - Freddy Kruger was killed by the Elm Street parents and so targets the teens of Elm Street.
B & D:  THE FINAL GIRL & OTHER VICTIMS - The teenagers of Elm Street are targeted because of their parents murder of Freddy, Marge was one of the killers.
C:  THE PROTECTOR - Lt Thompson was also one of the killers.
E:  FEMININITY - Freddy shows no real side of it.
F & G:  SPECIFIC LOOK & WEAPON - Freddy has a very specific weapon (knife glove), although he kills a number of ways and a very specific look, a fedora, red and green striped jumper and a burnt visage.

Rule #9 - Evil Never Dies...

Literally the case as Freddy is a murdered child killer, haunting teenagers' dreams from beyond the grave.
A:  ALWAYS KILL THE BAD GUY TWICE - Nancy thinks burning Freddy solved the problem.  It didn't/
B:  THE BAD GUY LIVES ON - Nancy's victory over Freddy is short-lived as the film ends with her seemingly captured by him again.
C:  EVIL IS IMMORTAL - As noted above, it's the initial premise.

Rule #10 - The Sequel Will Be Bigger/More Formulaic

This is the first film in a series of films.  For future reference the following should be noted:
A:  THEY WILL FOLLOW THE RULES MORE - As the first film in a series, no real series formula exists to follow or break.
B:  THEY WILL BE MORE FORMULAIC - As the first film in a series, no real series formula exists to follow or break.
C:  THERE WILL BE MORE T&A - As noted above, there was limited nudity.
D:  MORE AND BIGGER DEATHS - There were 4 murders by Freddy in the film.


The following rules were followed:  1a; 1e; 4c; 4f; 5a; 5d; 5f; 5g; 5h; 5j; 6e; 7a; 7b; 7d; 7e; 7f; 8a; 8b; 8c; 8d; 8f; 8g; 9.
The following rules were partially followed:  2; 3a; 3b; 3c; 3d; 3f; 3g; 5b; 6a.
The following rules did not apply:  1b; 1c; 1d; 1f; 1g; 1h; 1i; 3e; 3h; 4d; 4e; 4g; 5c; 5e; 5i 6b; 6c; 6d; 10.
The following rules were not followed:  4a; 4b; 7c; 8e.
~ DUG.


  1. I think this was the first slasher film that actually made me sit up and take notice. That quickly subsided and I sat back again but it was superior in my mind at the time.

    1. I think it's interesting how different it is to the other films. As detailed above the nudity and the number of kills are quite limited, these are things that are generally thought to be the selling point to the intended audience. However, rather than the faceless (figuratively), emotionless killers, Freddy has quite the personality. And being set in dreams the killing are much more imaginative.