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A college assignment to modernize a classic movie A Nightmare on Elm Street is a 1984 American horror film directed and written by Wes Craven, and the first film of the A Nightmare on Elm Street franchise. The film features John Saxon, Heather Langenkamp, Ronee Blakley, Amanda Wyss, Jsu Garcia, Robert Englund and Johnny Depp in his feature film debut. Set in the fictional Midwestern town of Springwood, Ohio, the plot revolves around several teenagers being terrorized in their nightmares by the ghost of a serial child murderer named Fred Krueger.

Craven produced A Nightmare on Elm Street on an estimated budget of just $1.8 million a sum the film earned back during its first week Grossing $25.5 million at the United States box office. A Nightmare on Elm Street has become one of the most popular entries in the horror genre and the film's villain, Fred Krueger, has become one of the most well recognized villains in cinema history. Both critics and Craven have mentioned that the film owes some of its success to John Carpenter's Halloween (1978), which was very influential in spawning a long line of slasher films and originating many clichés found in low-budget horror films of the 1980s and 1990s

The film's premise is the question of the distinction between dreams and reality. The villain, Fred Krueger, exists in the "dream world" yet can kill in the "real world". Sequels to the original would continue to confuse dreams and reality, before finally confusing art and reality by showing Heather Langenkamp, playing a fictionalized version of herself, haunted by the villain of a series of films in which she has had a major part in reality. Critics praised the film's ability to transgress "the boundaries between the imaginary and real" toying with audience perceptions Some movie historians interpreted this overriding theme as a social subtext, "the struggles of adolescents in American society", and their overwhelming need to confront "the harsh realities of life".

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