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What Went Wrong? A Nightmare On Elm Street

Lewis Budden

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Reviewing a bad movie that could’ve been better

Nightmare on Elm Street (2010) image
New Line Cinema

The 1984 version of A Nightmare on Elm Street is a horror classic. It created a legendary villain that crossed over in the popular culture and spawned multiple sequels. No shock then that it would some day be rebooted. However, when this happened in 2010 the new version of A Nightmare on Elm Street was just a bad movie. With a score of just 15% on Rotten Tomatoes it fell well short of expectations. So what went wrong?

Fredrick Charles Krueger AKA The Springwood Slasher has been terrorising sleepy children on the big screen for over 26 years. Wes Cravens’ cutlery clad icon has been the villain throughout an extensive horror franchise. However, this revamped film, in particular, remains a stand out disappointment.

A Nightmare on Elm Street (2010) took a classic introduction to a once in a generation cinematic legend and remade it into a hollow pastiche of its former self. It’s easy to question how something so established could possibly go wrong? So put on your best stripy murder jumper, as we take a closer look.

Recipe for success

At the helm of this 2010 reboot was none other than the master of the multi-generational gloom rock music video, Samuel Bayer. He’s famous for directing music videos such as Nirvana’s Smells Like Teen Spirit’, Green Day’s American Idiot’ and My Chemical Romance’s Welcome to the Black Parade’. They elevated everyone involved. They engaged their adolescent audiences. All whilst embedding each project firmly into that generations zeitgeist.

You then give Bayer a modest budget of $35 million and a cast of young attractive actors and you have exactly what the original A Nightmare on Elm Street had to make their classic… and more!

Let’s not underestimate the size of this project. Yes, it’s a remake of a horror classic, but if you were going to do it, on paper this is how you should do it.

A director who has a proven track record of creating timeless visuals that inspire a generation, a small but decent budget, a fresh cast… oh and one of the most famous characters of all time. How could something that looks so right, go so wrong?

SPOILERS: There are some spoilers in places. So beware!

The Final Girl

What made Heather Langenkamp’s Nancy so special in the 1984 original? Well not only did she conform to the horror trope of the final girl’, but she was built to be a genuine rival to Krueger.

In defence of the remake, many of Nancy’s original scenes that made the film so special are recreated. From the glove and bath scene to the body dragged along the school floor. All the hits are played, but they just go through the motions.

The original Nancy has a psychotic breakdown in class. Leading to an extensive medical test before she is forced to try and save her ragtag bunch of teen friends. Whilst, modern Nancy learns of her childhood trauma at the hands of Krueger, yet reminds the pray until the very final scenes of the film.

This rushed character arc and lacklustre delivery simply makes Nancy less engaging overall, and by the final scenes… you don’t really care if she survives.

Freddie Kroug-urgh

Much like the updated version of Nancy, the films main character has a lot taken away, only to be replaced by a vast chasm of nothingness. Reworked Freddy doesn’t pay homage to the campy style. He doesn’t use new effects to heighten his gruesome nature and doesn’t even try to invert that by using realism.

The iconic original line from Jesse “oh god” matched with Freddie’s reveal of the knifed glove and the line “no, this is god.’ Is replaced by “oh god” and the response of “no… just me’. Safe to say this falls flat and deliberately abandons a great moment in favour of nothing; a running theme throughout this remake.

The tone is off throughout the 2010 horror. Producer Brad Fuller revealed that they were abandoning some of the franchises’ campy nature for this reboot. “Freddy would not be “cracking jokes” as had become a staple of his character in later sequels-and focus more on trying to craft a horrifying movie.”.

The imagery of this film does follow this mission statement in all fairness. The overuse of gritty, dark lighting that plagued so many films in the late 2000s runs throughout this remake. And yet the silly double entendres and one-liners’ still creep in.

For every battle in a boiler room, there is a how’s this for a wet dream’ line to take the sting out of it. At least the original films kept to one tone. Either full-on slasher flick dialogue or darker realism. The attempt at both is just juxtaposing.

A Slasher Film to Sleep Too

One main issue with this remake is that there is a lack of anything memorable happening. In a film about a maniacal daemon trying to kill people when they fall asleep… it ironically becomes a snooze fest.

Apart from the recreation of the original films dream sequences, there isn’t much of note. The tension that is slowly built up throughout the scenes of the original film are done so perfectly, yet replaced by cheap jump scares in 2010.

A perfect example of this is the scene with Rufus the dog. In the 1984 film, there is an insinuation that Freddy is at Tina’s house as the barking stops and the dog goes missing. In 2010 Kris just finds her murdered canine on the grass… There is no mystique, no tension, just straight to the reveal. Of all things to keep in this film… that method of storytelling was crucial.

A Fresh Take Toned Down

Jackie Earle Haley was set to play the new Freddy that, whilst not a full origin story, was getting a refreshed background. Instead of a maniacal child killer, Freddie was going to be a sadistic child molester. This was Cravens original intention for the character, however, he went with simply alluding to this in favour of mystery. The remake spells it out and uses it as a narrative device to explain how all the main characters are survivors of Freddie.

Throughout the 2010 remake, the teens of Springwood battle their dead abuser that’s set out to claim his victims in a dream world. One that’s pretty much the same as their reality. A horror film that tackles the topics of sexual abuse could have been poignant. But the studio of Platinum Dunes scaled this back in favour of wider appeal and in fashion’ tropes of the genre.

This again sums up the missed opportunity of this remake. They wanted to make Freddy a sexual predator, yet compromised with a half-baked version that offers very little. In reality, this removes all purpose of a remake if you’re not retelling the old story or really telling a fresh one.

Actor Thomas Dekker told Screen Geek, “Okay, we’re going to open up the mythology of Freddy Krueger. We’re going to make him darker and actually explore the idea of child sexual abuse and those are all the things that interested me. Of course, at the end of the day when you have to put it in 1,000 theatres or more, you have to shy away from those things and just make it a sell-able entity. So I think you can’t really start judging the leaves of a tree if the seed is f**ked.”

Studio interference is often the scapegoat for bad movies. But Platinum Dunes’ long for a payday may have held back a much darker and daring Elm Street remake.

Uncomfortable Undertones

Due to the new undercooked backstory, Freddy was given in 2010, a strange and unnecessary undercurrent is clear. Since they quickly speed through the reveal that Freddy was a child abuser. All before we see him fleeing from an angry mob. It’s almost as if seeds of doubt are deliberately placed to make Freddy the victim. So justifying why he’s hunting these teens in their sleep.

A decade later and I’m still not sure what the purpose would be to try to add sympathy to one of the most recognisable serial killers in cinematic history. This section of the film casts doubt on why we should invest in the character. It’s another hearty shake of the already flimsy narrative of this film.

We could have gotten updated sequences of Freddy shapeshifting through weapons and objects to torment his victims. Yet instead, we were offered a crying paedo running from a mob…

A New Nightmare

From dream warriors and sleep daemons, the Elm St films have a rich cannon to pull from. The groundwork was already laid which made the 2010 output feel like an unsatisfactory, pointless cash grab.

Whilst there were many wrong turns throughout this movie, I can suggest not one, but two alternative ways this could have been a better story.

The first, you make the film they intended to make. Yes, this may not have been under the official Elm St’ banner, but it could have been a dark origin story of Freddy and vigilante justice. It could have followed the young outcast, played on the early sequels by introducing his mother, the nun. Then introduced his fascination with the paranormal. This could introduce his supernatural transformation following his death.

In return, a cast of teens that the audience are invested in is built by having a more sincere reveal of their past. Rather than spoon-feeding the narrative in a monologue, a character could discover they have a deceased older sibling that was one of Freddie’s first victims. Thus tying the two narratives together.

Or, you go full Freddy’ and play of the supernatural element by having a shapeshifting daemon become larger than life. This could be thanks to modern technology in cinema. The reality of the teen’s world and Freddie’s psychedelic nightmare land remain separate until they are required to merge. And his prey are engulfed into Freddie’s own fairground. The mystery of the character remains, yet we have a fresh paranormal tale that firmly establishes a new era of Krueger.

A Fresh Freddie?

It’s only a matter of time before we all return to Elm Street. Elijah Wood has mentioned that he would like to take a pop at recreating original Freddy himself. Also, Robert Englund suggested he could dust off the fedora one more time. “I could do one more, probably, if you shot me up with Vitamin C. I can’t do eight more, so we need a new actor that you guys believe in and trust and love that can go the distance.”

Overall, the 2010 film planned the right moves, yet failed to deliver by falling into the money-hungry traps of its 2000s remake-obsessed bedfellows. Whilst this will remain a disappointing reimagining, a classic franchise much like Freddie, is immortal.


Thanks for reading this edition of historic movie bombs that could have been better aka A Nightmare on Elm Street (2010), a bad movie. Do you agree or disagree with our points or have anything to add? If so, leave us a comment below.


More of our bad movie reviews HERE

Read IMDB information on A Nightmare on Elm Street HERE.

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The 9 Greatest Spoof Movies Ever

Aaron Phillips

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This is Spinal Tap image
Embassy Pictures

There have been so many great spoof movies over the past four decades. So, sit back and buckle up as we countdown the nine greatest spoof movies of all time. And “don’t call me Shirley”.

9. Team America: World Police

Ok, so it’s all-puppet action as opposed to real-life actors, but it’s still up there. Written by the guys behind South Park, it parodies an American counter-terrorism force as they take on global terrorists. As you would expect, there are some cracking scenes throughout the movie. Kim Jong-il singing about being “so roney, so roney” is a highlight that isn’t easily forgotten. You also have to feel sorry for poor old Matt Damon. Although he’s had a glittering film career it’s still hard not to say “Matt Damon” in that monotone way every time you see him on screen. According to writers Matt Stone and Trey Parker, Damon’s puppet looked so vacant that they decided to make his character only able to say his name. Poor Matt. Add in some fantastic one-liners, over-the-top violence and sex scenes with puppets, you have a great film that will make you laugh, and cringe.

8. Blazing Saddles

Mel Brooks is the king of spoof and parody. He’s directed and written many a great spoof over the years, but Blazing Saddles was only his third movie in the director’s chair. This 1974 offering takes the proverbial from all the great western movies from the 40s and 50s. The film throws joke after joke at you, along with anachronisms aplenty. Lead actors Gene Wilder and Cleavon Little also deliver comedic gold performances that help make this film great. Brooks also does a clever job of dealing with racism throughout the movie; something that hadn’t really been done before. One of those moments is where Wilder and Little confront two Klan characters, before stealing their white gowns. Clever, and poignant. It’s also interesting to note that execs wanted to pull the plug before release, but soon realised they got it wrong. It was a financial success and has firmly sealed its place in history as an iconic piece of filmmaking. Not only that, but it’s also still rated very highly on Rotten Tomatoes and IMDb today. Just goes to show that a classic stands the test of time.

7. Spaceballs

Yep, our old friend Mel Brooks features again in the director’s chair. This time he delves into the world of sci-fi; more specifically, Star Wars. Although it only made a small profit at the time, it’s gone on to become a cult classic and holds a fresh rating at Rotten Tomatoes. The key to its success is it’s genuinely funny. The jokes are good enough to make you belly laugh. And the characters are so close to those on Star Wars, it’s amazing George Lucas gave his blessing for it to be made at all. He even went a step further and sent Mel Brooks a note to say he almost fell apart laughing through it. Praise indeed. Brooks’ other golden touch was casting Rick Moranis as Dark Helmet. I think you’ll struggle to find a funnier bad guy. There are also rumours of a sequel, predicted in the film itself as ‘The search for more Money’, although nothing has been greenlit at the moment. We live in hope.

6. Scary Movie

Ok, so there have been five films in the Scary Movie franchise but the first one from 2000 makes our list of spoof movies. Written by Shawn and Marlon Wayans and directed by Keenan Ivory Wayans, it’s definitely a family affair. Although later films parody a wide range of films, this one heavily relies on Scream, and I Know What You Did Last Summer. This works in the film’s favour as you don’t spend the entire movie wondering what film they’re parodying for each joke. You know that Ghostface from Scream is going to feature a lot. And he does. The scene where he gets stoned with a bunch of guys and prank calls people is still funny today. The later films just feel like a collection of forced jokes as they ran out of horror movies to parody. Although it received mixed reviews, it made a monumental profit at the box office.

5. The Naked Gun: From the Files of Police Squad

No spoof movies list would be complete without at least one that features the brilliant Leslie Nielson. The Naked Gun, released in 1988, was based on the short-lived TV series from 1982. Created by the legend of deadpan comedy David Zucker, it follows Lt Frank Drebin on his escapades. The original Police Squad series was a spoof of 60s police dramas; particularly M Squad, and The Naked Gun follows the same theme. Plus, it ends with one of the best death scenes in film history with Nielson waving his arms and calmly addressing the crowd with “nothing to see here”. With superb writing and acting, The Naked Gun was released to critical acclaim. It also made a healthy profit at the box office and is often listed as one the greatest comedy films ever made.

4. Hot Shots!

Released in 1991 and directed by Jim Abrahams, Hot Shots! keeps things simple by purely being a spoof of Top Gun. And a very good one it is too. Not only is the writing funny and sharp, but it also has a fantastic cast. Playing the lead roles are Charlie Sheen and Cary Elwes as the two feuding pilots. Both actors are masters of comedic timing and they deliver their lines with razorlike sharpness. The plot revolves around a mission to Iraq, with the added love triangle involving Sheen and Elwes’ characters and a female therapist. This sub-plot lends itself to some genuinely hilarious scenes between the two actors. Credit also has to go to the fantastic Lloyd Bridges. He plays a commander who seems to have had every part of his body replaced due to it being blown off in various battles. His lines in the movie are comedy gold. A great film that hits all its spoof targets with absolute aplomb.

3. Monty Python’s Life of Brian

Written and performed by legendary British comedy troupe Monty Python, Life of Brian had a controversial start. Being a satire of Jesus’ life was always going to cause some angst among some religious communities. In fact, some countries including Ireland and Norway banned it from being shown on release. In some cases that ban the latest decades. Life of Brian is often quoted as one of the greatest comedy films ever made. The writing is as good as you would expect from the Monty Python crew, and the jokes keep coming all the way through. Who can forget the immortal line, “he’s not the messiah, he’s a very naughty boy”. It made a modest box office profit at release but has gone on to earn iconic status. Rotten Tomatoes have it as a 95% certified fresh rating and it’s still raved about today.

2. This is Spinal Tap

This is the film that kicked off a new genre of filmmaking – the mockumentary. Parodying band biopics from the Rolling Stones and Led Zeppelin, it follows fictional band Spinal Tap on their debut American tour. If you’ve ever played in a band – as I do – so much of what’s in this film is true. I can personally attest to getting lost in venues and playing shows where no one turns up. Director Rob Reiner was sending up the pretensions of rock and roll bands and he nailed it. What’s also interesting is the majority of the dialogue throughout the film is improvised. Credit to the actors for pulling off some truly iconic lines. Whether it’s the Stonehenge scene or the legendary amp up to eleven scene, this film has embedded itself in our culture forever. It was only a modest success when it was first released, but its impact has left a lasting impression.

1. Airplane!

Well, we’ve flown; shot and rode our way to number one on our list of spoof movies. Once again, we arrive at a film directed by the dream team of the Zucker brothers and Jim Abrahams. Loosely based on air disaster movies of the 50s and 60s, it follows a plane whose crew are taken out with a sickness bug. Cue disgraced former pilot Ted Striker to save the day. Released in 1980, this was the film that set Leslie Nielson on the path of spoof comedy. He only has a fairly minor role as the doctor, but he delivers some of the best lines in the movie. ‘I am serious. And don’t call me Shirley’, is iconic. Lloyd Bridges also features as the man on the ground at air traffic control and turns in a chaotic but brilliant performance. Upon release, it made a whopping $168 million dollars at the box office and received critical acclaim. It’s also certified fresh at Rotten Tomatoes, along with ranking as one of the best on IMDb. It’s one of those films that make you cry with laughter thanks to clever writing and some fantastic performances. A timeless classic.


That’s our list of the nine greatest spoof movies. Did we miss any? Which is your favourite? Let us know in the comments below.


Read about movie remakes that should never have happened HERE.

Read IMDb information about Airplane! HERE.

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