As an 80’s baby, the decade’s teen culture has had an intellectual grasp on me for quite sometime. In regards to horror films, the biggest cash grab during this period, the slasher film, helped teenagers come to terms with their visceral and latent anxieties. I’ve read some amazing positions on the sub-genre, but I don’t think I’ve ever come across a position as radical as Freddy Krueger as a protective figure.
L.J. DeGraffenreid’s “What Can You Do in Your Dreams? Slasher Cinema as Youth Empowerment,” opens by stating that the A Nightmare On Elm Street films are about more than a psychotic killer murdering teenagers and Final Girls. Creator and director Wes Craven composed his original film to speak on “the generally troubled relationship between parents and their rebellious offspring” (954). For those of us who know the films or at least has seen two of them can recall adult authority figures as dismissive, commanding, and even abusive.
This relationship makes the slasher itself, “underage society’s revenge-seeking doppelganger, its desire for rebellion made manifest in the murderous tendencies of powerful, sadistic Freddy” (954). How so? Consider Elm Street’s “heroes” as they “rebel against abusive authority figures by relying on the dream-induced Krueger as their avenger” (954). With a Freudian approach to film analysis, DeGraffenreid feels through dreams, the Elm Street characters are allotted their emerging sexual desires through the symbol of Freddy, who makes them manifest in a reactionary rebellion against those “abusive adults” (955). Generally, the dreams symbolize a struggle between sexual autonomy and the moral authority of the adults in these teenagers lives.