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‘A Nightmare on Elm Street,’ ‘What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?’ Among 2021 Entries Into National Film Registry

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'A Nightmare on Elm Street,' 'What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?' Among 2021 Entries Into National Film Registry

At the close of every calendar year, the National Film Registry, as part of the Library of Congress, chooses twenty-five films to preserve within its hallowed halls. This year’s inclusions will bring the total in the registry to 825 films spanning all genres and eras. Generally speaking, there’s at least one horror classic among the lineups, be it Rosemary’s Baby (selected in 2014), War of the Worlds (a 2011 pick), or Alien (chosen in 2002). For 2021’s selections, though, we have two timeless shockers going into the registry.

First and foremost is the 1984 Wes Craven original A Nightmare on Elm Street, joining the original Halloween, a 2006 selection, as a golden age slasher chosen to be preserved. The Registry had this to say about our first taste of Freddy Krueger:

The great horror maestro Wes Craven, as both writer and director, gave a generation of teens (of all ages) terminal insomnia with this imaginative and intense slasher scare fest. Freddy Krueger (played by soon-to-be legend Robert Englund) is the burn-scarred ghost of a psychopathic child killer, now returned to haunt your dreams and take his revenge! Heather Langenkamp stars as the heroic Nancy, who figures out who Freddy is and must be the one to stop him. Also in the cast: Johnny Depp, John Saxon, Ronee Blakley and Charles Fleischer. Made on a budget under $2 million, “Elm Street” became a box office sensation and has inspired numerous sequels (including a film that pitted Freddy against Jason of the Friday the 13th films), a 2010 remake, a TV series, books, comic books and videogames, making it one of the most successful film franchises in the history of any cinematic genre. The film established New Line Cinema as a major force in film production with some calling New Line “The House That Freddy Built.”

Also among this year’s preservations is the Joan Crawford and Bette Davis classic What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? The 1962 psychological horror was perhaps solely responsible for the “psycho-biddy” subgenre, and features some of the most quotable lines in all of horror history (“But ya are, Blanche”). The real-life rivalry between its stars was arguably its biggest selling point, and helped breathe new life into the careers of both Davis and Crawford. The Registry had this to say about the film’s inclusion:

Despite a memorable, long-running feud, two of classic cinema’s greatest grand dames united for the first, and only, time in this 1962 horror dark comedy which delves into the redundant worlds of fading film stardom and the macabre. Directed by Robert Aldrich, “Baby Jane” recounts the tattered lives of two now aged former stars: the dominating Baby Jane (played by Bette Davis) and her disabled sister Blanche (played by Joan Crawford) as they live out their lives in a decaying mansion, loathing one another as Jane torments Blanche. The film, even today, remains vivid and often uncomfortably terrifying. Along with showcasing two powerhouse actresses, “Baby Jane” ignited — for better or worse — the “psycho-biddy” subgenre: films featuring older female stars in similar, grand ghoul enterprises.

The full list for 2021 reads as follows, and features some iconic pieces of cinema outside of the horror genre as well:

Ringling Brothers Parade Film (1902)
Jubilo (1919)
The Flying Ace (1926)
Hellbound Train (1930)
Flowers and Trees (1932)
Strangers on a Train (1951)
What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? (1962)
Evergreen (1965)
Requiem-29 (1970)
The Murder of Fred Hampton (1971)
Pink Flamingos (1972)
Sounder (1972)
The Long Goodbye (1973)
Cooley High (1975)
Richard Pryor: Live in Concert (1979)
Chicana (1979)
The Wobblies (1979)
Star Wars Episode VI — Return of the Jedi (1983)
A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)
Stop Making Sense (1984)
Who Killed Vincent Chin? (1987)
The Watermelon Woman (1996)
Selena (1997)
The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001)
WALL•E (2008)

For the full breakdown of this year’s entries into the National Film Registry, check out the Library of Congress’ press release on their website.

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