In the nightmarish netherworld of horror, there's often a fine line between something simply scary and something truly disturbing that rattles your core. Witness this unsettling new A Nightmare On Elm Street fan film titled In Dreams, created by amateur Italian moviemakers Silvio Marotta and Cristian Tomassini for the Anima Film SRL production company.
This six-minute, grindhouse-style fright film is a nerve-jangling tribute to the original 1984 classic written and directed by the late Wes Craven, who delivered the initial horrific offering before the franchise became a bit of a pun-tastic camp fest with the numerous sequels. Marotta and Tomassini completed the entire eerie project in eight days in honor of their horror-master hero, Craven, and the results are most impressive.
Be mindful that this is a no-budget labor of love shot in less time than it takes to properly binge-watch three seasons of Castlevania, so open your eyes wide and enter into its somnambulistic sensations. What these horror enthusiasts lacked in fat production funds they more than made up for in the short's supreme sense of dread, creepy SFX, and haunting soundscape. One, two, Freddy's coming for you!
"The project was born entirely by chance," Tomassini tells SYFY WIRE. "Silvio Marotta contacted me saying that he had just ordered a Freddy Krueger mask online and that he wanted photos of him while wearing it. He’s a huge Nightmare fan. As soon as I saw him all dressed up as Freddy I said to myself, why don't we make a fan film? With little money, quickly, let's see what we can do! I was involved in this Anima Film for the whole production. We make commercials and company videos in the everyday life, but we never dared to make a fan film."
Tomassini, his partner Marco Businaro, and director of photography Beniamino Gelain, decided to give In Dreams a slick '80s style — not in the American way, though, but in an Italian fashion employing handcrafted inventions, dirty camera movements, and more than a little bit of craziness.
Italian horror films over the decades have long been noted for their dark gothic beauty, innovative cinematography, and a surreal visual style that distinguishes them from more traditional fright films emanating from the U.K. and America.
Directors like Mario Bava in the '60s (The Mask of Satan, Black Sabbath) and Dario Argento (Deep Red, Suspiria) in the '70s punctuated their classic films with haunting shades of black-and-white and violent flashes of technicolor gore.
"This is obviously an homage, a tribute to one of the most iconic films in the history of genre cinema," Tomassini explains. "You can't do a remake or a sequel to a movie like A Nightmare on Elm Street, you could only do it worse than the original. So often these fan films are more rewarding because they are raw. There is nothing to lose in making them. So you invent new things without being afraid, like for example using a Freddy Krueger with an Italian accent like we did. The special effects of In Dreams are all handcrafted, and are deliberately fake. But they make you smile. They work in their own way because they're not afraid of being cheap. Once again, it's all Italian cinema craftsmanship."
Tomassini and Marotta mined the rich history of their country's horror heritage to craft an exemplary fan film that delivers on every level. Actor Alicia Shortman plays the tortured teen, Cheyenne, whose sleepwalking habits lead her into a hellish dungeon where her dying mother is resurrected as a demented wraith, and the specter of "the gloved one," Freddy Krueger, is lurking just beyond the veil of reality. Let's hope we see more from this talented film crew.
"Silvio Marotta has written a complete 100-page script for a possible sequel," Tomassini reveals. "What you see in the short film is just a small piece."