A Nightmare on Elm Street

by: Charles Bernstein

Charles Bernstein's score to Wes Craven's 1985 slasher cult classic A Nightmare on Elm Street is very much a product of its time, eschewing traditional orchestral approaches while employing state-of-the-art synthesizers and sound effects to convey the horror of Craven's suburban dreamscapes. Bernstein's unsettling cues utilize technology to strong effect, creating sinister atmospheres that effortlessly communicate the threat posed by the film's ghoulish antagonist, Freddy Krueger. The inorganic, dehumanized tones produced by the composer's synthesizers underscore the narrative's detachment from waking reality. That said, taken on its own terms the music is more than a little dated. While the best Hollywood scores boast a timelessness that transcends their origins, A Nightmare on Elm Street is immediately recognizable as a product of the mid-'80s, and whether that's a positive or a negative is left to the listener to determine.

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