A Nightmare on Elm Street is an R-rated horror movie that runs one and a half hours. It was written and directed by Wes Craven. It is set in California and tells the story of two 15-year-old girls who are terrorized by a serial killer. The girls are played by Heather Langenkamp and Amanda Wyss. A Nightmare on Elm Street made over US$25 million at U.S. box office (keep in mind that this figure is in unadjusted dollars. It is a very respectable sum). It was a very popular movie and led to many sequels. In spite of all this it has very little to offer female viewers.
The aspect of the film I want to shine a spotlight on today is clothing. Typically my film commentaries focus on either language, the sexualization of the female characters or VAWG but for once I’d like to talk about the actors’ costumes. In A Nightmare on Elm Street they weren’t brilliant and they couldn’t have won any awards but they do merit some discussion.
Robert Englund, the actor who plays the infamous serial killer Freddy Krueger, is always fully dressed: he wears pants, a sweater, shoes and in most scenes a hat. The girls he hunts, on the other hand, are not so fortunate. The first time he chases Wyss she is barefoot and appears in nothing more than a nightgown. The next time he attempts to murder her she is barefoot and appears in just panties and a shirt. And when he hunts Langenkamp she is barefoot and wears nothing more than a pyjama. Although it is commonplace for men to be dressed more generously than females in film I found this case to be particularly remarkable.
It is also worth noting that when Wyss is murdered (in just her panties and a shirt), she appears covered in blood and her ordeal is drawn out. Also, there is no funeral for her. The next murder victim is her boyfriend. This murder involves no blood and he wears jeans, a T-shirt, a leather jacket and running shoes. He also gets a funeral even though he is suspected of murdering Wyss. I imagine this is the type of thing males take no notice of but I would be very surprised if I were the only woman who found this strange.
In my upcoming film guide for women, which contains 500 feature film reviews, I point out all kinds of things about A Nightmare on Elm Street. There was much to comment on. I’m still in the process of looking for a literary agent or a publisher but I hope to get my film guide out to you soon. There’s really nothing like it in bookstores and I’m looking forward to sharing my findings about mainstream movies of the 20th and 21st centuries and what they have to offer female viewers.
Copyright © 2020 Alline Cormier