American actor Robert Englund poses, in character as Freddy Krueger, New York, New York, circa 1986. (Photo by Larry Busacca/WireImage)
Movies - TV
How A Nightmare On Elm Street Inspired A Whole Genre Of 'Rubber Reality' Horror Films
"A Nightmare on Elm Street" was a turning point for its writer and director, Wes Craven, and also provided a brand new template for the industry to follow. Its use of surrealism gave birth to an immediate wave of "rubber reality" that can still be found within the horror genre today.
Craven sought to recapture the spooky surrealism on display in Jean Cocteau's 1946 adaptation of "Beauty and the Beast." In “Nightmare,” he removed the safety of reality for the characters and the audience by blurring the lines between the dreaming and waking world in increasingly upsetting ways.
Craven injected surrealism into the slasher genre’s prevalent "dead teenager" structure, without going overboard. At a 1986 Fangoria Weekend of Horrors convention, Craven observed “Nightmare’s” influence on horror films as they’d grown to be “[...] more hallucinatory, which I think is basically what films are, anyway."
Many films quickly adopted rubber reality, and horror maestro Clive Barker adapted his novella "The Hellbound Heart" into the masterful "Hellraiser.” Due to the story’s distinct rubber reality elements, the sequels went on to mimic both Freddy’s dreamland and wisecracking dialogue.
Craven failed to replicate his own success until "Wes Craven's New Nightmare” re-established the unsettling and beguiling rubber reality from the original. His influence on surrealism’s usage, style, and technique in horror films is undeniable, as evidenced by current films like "Malignant" and the "Fear Street" trilogy.