“Hey, have you seen this movie? What did you think about THAT SCENE?!” We have all used that phrase at one point during our discussions of movies with the other person’s eyebrows raising, “Oh yea, THAT SCENE!” You go on to pick that memorable scene apart by listing what you loved or didn’t like, how it made you feel and the impression it left on you.
In this series, we will do just that. We will take a scene from a movie and discuss its impact on us. Some of these scenes may be frightening, weird, iconic, controversial, hilarious and everything in between. Let us know your impression of the scene and the impact it left on you the first time you watched it down below in the comments. Enjoy!
*Warning: May Contain Spoilers*
Movie: A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)
Scene: Death of Tina Gray
Director: Wes Craven
Characters: Freddy Kreuger (Robert Englund), Tina (Amanda Wyss), and Rod (Jsu Garcia)
We first meet Tina while she is having a nightmare and is confronted by a badly disfigured man that has a glove with knives for fingers. She wakes up and her mother notices that here nightgown was slashed. The next day she is consoled by her best friend Nancy and Nancy’s boyfriend Glen. They decide to have a sleepover that is interrupted by Tina’s boyfriend Rod. After some naughtiness, Tina drifts off to sleep where she is confronted again by this disfigured man in her dreams. This brings us to our scene.
This feels like Freddy Kreuger’s real introduction. I mean we see him stalking Tina in the opening but here we get to really see what this monster is all about and how he can manipulate his victim’s dreams. With his long freaky arms, the screeching of his knives, the delivery of “this…is god”, and his maniacal running, we learn a lot about this creep in a span of a few seconds. Wes Craven and Robert Englund create such a creepy atmosphere, it’s hard not to be drawn into what’s happening. Now for the good stuff. Tina’s death is one of the most elaborate and brutal deaths ever filmed.
Craven would employ mechanical special effects designer Jim Doyle to construct a complex death scene where you see the victim being torn to shreds without seeing the killer. Craven had an idea of wanted he wanted from Fred Astaire dancing on the walls in Royal Wedding. This would give vision to his rotating room idea to help this scene be effective. A month later Doyle constructed the rotating set that would need four men to rotate it by hand. Everything in the room was either bolted or tied down so they wouldn’t move while rotating, even the actor playing Rod. Actress Wyss would be the only thing not bolted down in order for her to roll around as if Freddy was carrying up the walls. The action was so intense it gave the actress vertigo to the point Craven needed to direct her which way was up and down.
Finally, we see a stuntwoman in place of Wyss, dropped from the ceiling down to the bed as Tina lands in a pool of her own blood. Two crew members were holding the stuntwoman on the ceiling and let go when they heard “action”. The revolving room was the most expensive and complicated special effect of the film. They reused the room again when they filmed Glen’s death scene which was also Craven’s homage to The Shining. Jim Doyle actually kept the room in order to rent out and was used in later films like Larry Cohen’s The Stuff to recoup some of the costs he put into building it. It’s a shining example of how the film’s low budget proved to be a source of inspiration and innovation that is sorely missed today.
All of this combined in one of the greatest deaths ever filmed with Craven pulling the rug out from viewers who thought Tina would be the main character to go up against Freddy for the rest of the film. There is a reason A Nightmare on Elm Street is considered one of the greatest and original horror films out there and this scene helps prove why.
What do you think of this scene? Did you find it intense and well done?