Tuesday, October 16, 2018

In Dreams... I Am Forever!

One of the most captivating elements of the Nightmare on Elm Street films are the surrealistic moments. Horror and surrealism are very closely linked, as in the opening eye slice from Un Chien Andalou (1929) will attest. It is a statement that exposes the viewer to a moment that is both literally and figuratively boundary crossing, which is something good horror strives for as well.

There are a number of horror films that may have been an influence on the Nightmare films, if they were not directly referenced, they may have drawn upon the same collective sea of bad dreams.

Meshes of the Afternoon (1943) is a surrealist short film that evokes nightmare logic, a strange central figure, and is often paired with an atonal score. It even addresses the idea of a nightmare leading to the actual death of the dreamer.

Valerie and Her Week of Wonders (1970) is a surrealist horror film from Czechoslovakia that delves into the fragile and often shifting narrative of dreams. Like many slasher films, it focuses on a young girl and her burgeoning sexuality. It also features a strange deformed man who weaves in and out of her dream world.

Carnival of Souls (1962) offers a more traditional horror story, but it is steeped in a gloomy world where dream-like visions of the dead continually assault a woman who seemingly survived a car crash. Here again we have a strange ghoulish male figure who features prominently in her waking nightmares as he draws further and further to her doom.

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