Everyday Nightmare: the Rhetoric of Social Horror in the Nightmare on Elm Street Series

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THE RHETORIC OF SOCIAL HORROR IN THE Nightmare on Elm Street SERIES The Nightmare on Elm Street movie series has enjoyed six successful theatrical releases since 1984, and a seventh installment was released in time for Halloween in 1994. It and other successful horror movie series, such as Friday the 13th and Halloween, are frequently analyzed from Freudian psychological perspectives and characterized as allegories of the psychological dynamic underlying the return of the repressed. Although the return of the repressed, especially repressed sexuality, is clearly the major theme in many stalker movies, this approach does not completely explain movies like A Nightmare on Elm Street, in which sexual repression is not a major conflict.…show more content…
In fact, many incoherent horror movies code the dominant culture itself as a source of horror. For example, Freaks and the Basket Case series show the status quo, with its inability to accept the physical mutations of the main characters, as the real monster. Incoherent horror movies also can be characterized by a lack of definite closure or conflict resolution. Coherent horror movies leave us feeling safe and secure in the knowledge that the monster is destroyed and all is right with the world. Incoherent ones are meant to leave the audience feeling uneasy because the source of the horror is not really gone. This is perhaps one reason why incoherent horror movies are "open-ended to allow for sequels and to tease the audience into expecting a closure it never delivers" (Modleski 160). Despite the obvious economic rationale for movie sequels, the ideological impact of a horror that never really goes away is profound in such movies. As such, incoherent horror movies are subversive because they do not reinforce the dominant themes and values of the culture--rather, they function as a cultural critic by pointing out limitations, hypocrisies, or omissions in the coherent master narrative, thus unveiling the social roots of horror. In this way, incoherent
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