A New Masterpiece in Fantasy Terror: Wes Craven’s A Nightmare on Elm Street

By Christian Gay

Wes Craven’s classic A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984) is a masterful and horrific exploration of the surreal world of dreams, which also introduced the world to an iconic slasher villain: Freddy Krueger. Krueger and the film’s premise terrified me as a child growing up in the 80s, long before I ever sat through a screening. Now, having seen the film many times, it’s evident that its wealth of bloodcurdling imagery and symbolism could keep a psychoanalyst or film critic busy for days. In this most recent viewing, I found myself preoccupied with subjectivity in the film— which scenes are meant to occur in the dream world and which are real? Whose dreams are whose? Are we to believe the film’s ingénue?, Nancy, in her final confrontation with Freddy, when she realizes that “this was all a dream”—presumably her dream?

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The Void

By Christian Gay

Jeremy Gillespie and Steven Kostanski’s recent horror outing The Void might be more aptly titled The Cypher – the film is filled to the brim with winks and nods to horror and sci-fi masterworks, rewarding diehard genre fans while managing to deliver some wholly original horror imagery.

The film’s ultraviolent prologue, wherein the occupants of a country home are slaughtered in the still of the night, hearkens to The Amityville Horror (1979) before the film shifts to introduce us to rural police officer Daniel Carter, dozing in his patrol car. Carter soon discovers the bloodied man who has fled the prologue massacre and drives him to a local hospital that has been all but gutted by a recent fire. The hospital’s skeleton crew of four admit the man and begin treating his injuries. At this point, the film suggests a remake of John Carpenter’s Halloween II (1981): a small, ill-equipped rural hospital is besieged by a killer who picks off victims one-by-one. While the film more-or-less follows this trope, other horror references are quickly added to the mix.

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Twin Peaks: Lynch’s Fire Walk with Hitchcock

By Christian Gay

There’s nothing quite like the experience of watching David Lynch’s Twin Peaks. Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me, his prequel and epilogue to the ABC television series, allowed Lynch to connect plot points (albeit loosely, and with tangled string), answer some lingering questions, and make explicit some of the more taboo themes of the network television series. Filmgoers unfamiliar with Lynch or the series will immediately get a sense of his surreal style as the film opens – the screen is blurry and blue, eventually revealed to be a static-filled television screen, which is then destroyed with a baseball bat to the sound of a woman’s terrified screams. Could this be Lynch’s signal to the audience that he is through with television, and here, returning to film, ready to smash all preconceived notions of his work?

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