A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984) *** and An Open Letter to Drug Dealers

A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984) *** From Memory, Saw Many Times

I’m pretty sure I saw this one in the theater, summer of ’84. I might have even been on a date. I always say when I see stuff in a theater, somehow my feeble brain thinks this gives the review more credibility. Scrabbling for credibility, another weak grasp in a series of poor autobiography titles.

More than I remember the date, I do remember the buzz before the movie came out in my high school crowd. It wasn’t the Porky’s buzz of a few years earlier, but everyone was fully expecting a new Jason or Mike Meyers (not the scary Canadian kind, but the other one) bogeyman. ANOES did deliver on that front. I’d even say Freddie Krueger was in the zeitgeist even before the movie opened. Lunch boxes and the like.

And for the time, the oooey-gooey special effects wowed. They were front and center in the marketing campaign. Boy, they look so dated now. At least it wasn’t the abomination that is any movie with early CGI. Yea, you suck, 90’s horror/CGI-fests.

I have a joke-based memory, meaning I make jokes to remember things, and I definitely remember comparing Freddie Krueger to James Bond. He quips, he kills. The quippy nature of the villain represented a minor change in popular horror movies. We were encouraged to root for Freddy, not fear him. He’s the funny one. Although we may have secretly rooted for Mike Meyers or Jason to slaughter the stupid teenagers–as we are at heart all a bit of a psychopath–we weren’t encouraged by the filmmakers to do so. Wes Craven knew that franchises needed a likable lead, even if that lead was slaughtering you in your sleep. So, Freddy, the Catskills Killer and funny-man was born.

Halloween was mostly the Jamie Lee Curtis story, not Jason’s. ANOES was Freddy’s show. Quick, besides Heather Langenkamp, name the human leads in ANY of the sequels which were more interesting than Freddy. John Saxon, hardly.

ANOES actually kicked off a feeling in me that I should root for the bad guy in horror movies, that horror movies were mostly about the visceral thrill, the special effect, the shock. Call it the MTV-ization of horror movies, the quick jolt over building the mood. As a budding young psychopath, I looked for the bad guy winning in horror movies for years. It wasn’t until after college that I began to appreciate the build-up and it wasn’t until a child was born that I began to root for the hero again. Full psychopathy averted.

And Heather Langenkamp and the whole set-up of the movie was pretty solid. She’s a sympathetic character like Steve McQueen in The Blob trying to warn her friends of the dangers unseen. And like a Poltergeist, darkness lies underneath the sunny, suburban surface. However, this time the primal danger is terrifying—everyone has to sleep. Add to that, your parents held a secret that could get you killed and it’s nightmare fuel time.

BTW, who didn’t secretly think their parents were helping the bad guy or at least covering for a dismembering, ratty sweater-wearing, quip-spouting, horribly burned janitor with a manicure problem?

Well, what teenagers didn’t secretly think that?

Do It: The Humble Indie Bundle V. It’s the last day to get eight great indie games for just under nine bucks. Bastion, Amnesia, Swords and Sorcery, Braid, Super Meat Boy, I’ve played them all and you can connect them to your Steam account as well.

Avoid It: Smokie Beef Sticks. Sometimes, I think my diet is Dollar Store sponsored. I read the following disclaimer on my 99 cent food-like snack, Smokie Beef Sticks, smoke flavor added. Dipped in a solution of potassium sorbate to retard mold growth. This means THERE IS mold growth, it’s just retarded. More like fucktarded, am I right my beef-stick-eating ladies?

The Tweeter: So, CEO Jamie Dimon just apologized to Congress. Great, when exactly is he going to jail? Jerry Sandusky may have a new strategy. #allshallburn

The Facing Book: Great news! I can finally touch my knees. WITH my hands! And WITHOUT bending my knees! Look out Mr. Presidential Physical Fitness, you’ve just been ousted!

True Facts: Last week in an interview, a Coke executive said that Coke’s true competitor isn’t Pepsi, but tap water. True Fact. Well, mission accomplished in my house, Mr. Coke Executive. Have you met Mr. Presidential Fitness? No?

Bryan Gahagan, Man of Letters:

Dearest Drug Dealers,

I know times are hard. The economy is down and kids just aren’t looking ‘for kicks,’ as you say. But this is not a time to stagnate. This is not a time to pack up your meth kit and go home. No good sirs and ladies, this is the time to innovate. This is the time to reintroduce quality craftsmanship back into this time-honored profession that you call The Game.

America is not in decline, we’re only regaining our wheezing, flem-spittled breath.

And you can be there to help usher this new age. Drug dealers matter. We shall not crumble under the Third World aggression of a Mexico, of an Afghanistan.

And we shall do this by doing what Americans do best. We shall innovate. How do we innovate? How do we wrest the mantle of Drug King, of Drug Leaders, away from the oily foreign hoards currently yapping at our well toned heels?

The answer is simple. One word. Packaging.

How often has a fresh-faced, bright-eyed junkie–nay, customer–come to you eager for your wares, only to be rendered sullen and disheartened by the whole transaction a mere hour later? More times than you can count on your blinged-out posse’s fingers and toes, I imagine.

Let me explain. You’ve built a multi-million dollar processing facility in the basement of an abandoned factory somewhere. You’ve hired the best men to process your goods. Security is flawless. You have a multi-level distribution system with the right tentacles in all the right corridors of power. Everyone is handsomely paid off, with you at the top, rightfully basking in success. There’s only the best quality in ingredients, the highest of ammonias, the premiumiest of filtration systems, the double-lined crackless ceramic tubs.

However, when your product, certainly the Cadillac of Methamphetamines, is delivered to your customer, it’s in a three cent cellophane bag. A three cent bag.

Think about that. The cheap cell phone burner you used to make the deal came encased in hard plastic, form fitted and nearly indestructible. Yet, the dime bag of quality blue sunshine costs way less than a dime for the bag. It’s the first impression a client has of your product.

Even McDonalds knows you need to spend more on packaging than food. It’s why, they are McDonalds and you are an unknown in the business world.

Let’s think for a second about practicality and how a lack of oversight can ruin your business. An excited customer, ready to relax with your premium wares after a hard day, quickly grabs a cheap Baggie of product and it rips. Product falls from the packaging and slips away into the crevices of the customer’s shopping cart. Later, a passing police dog easily sniffs out your product. It’s a pretty well known product, you know.

Well, it’s one less customer if you’re lucky, one lost empire if you’re not.

How do you change the current production models? First, secretly lobby those companies that make your containers. Ziplock. That other one. They know that upwards of 80% of their business is dependent on you. You are their valued customer. These companies know how to make quality containers. It’s their business interests to protect your business.

Thick, multi-threaded, color-coded, secure Baggies. Right-sized and with ornate labels that appeal to each user. The kingpin who has not considered all the options will not be a kingpin for long.

Consider cardboard inserts for heft, security and a bag that stands up. What customer hasn’t fumbled with loose product because he couldn’t obtain its precious contents exactly when he so desperately needed it? Individual compartments, single serving sizes, and problem solved.

Someone who takes daily medication doesn’t just chuck it all in a loose Baggie, they have a hard plastic container with each day separated for convenience, for clarity. Think about it. Consider all your packaging options. For holidays, perhaps gift wrapping or a small box. As always, details make the business.

I’m positive that if you ponder all the options, your business and your loyal customer base will be limitless, like the imagination and energy of those you wish to serve.

America has always been about, not just the steak, but the sizzle. The sizzle of a million brains on fire with desire. The crisp snap of a new bag, a new habit.

So, fuck you, Mexico! Fuck you, Afghanistan! America will always be number one as long as we continue to innovate and as long as we continue to rule in the lucrative packaging arena.

High quality, drug-resistant, resin-lined space-aged bifurcated methamphetamine containers. It’s a no-brainer. Literally.


Bryan Gahagan
Lover of Breaking Bad and
Ziplock Baggies.

Next Week on Bryan Gahagan, Man of Letters:

Dearest Kleenex,

Have you considered the needs of 95 percent of your current market, that is the chronic masterbater and his friend, the humble masterbater?

Next Up: 200 Motels (1971), A Tale of Two Sisters (2003), The 400 Blows (1959), or Abbey Road by The Beatles (1969).