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Home > Movies > 31 Monsters #1: Freddy Krueger

31 Monsters #1: Freddy Krueger

October 1st, 2009

It’s October, and what better way to celebrate Samhain season than with a month of monsters? For the next 31 days, I’ll be profiling notable beasts, ghouls and menaces!

Do you hear that? Sounds like a couple of creepy little girls singing…

One, two; Freddy’s coming for you
Three, four; better lock your doors
Five, six; grab a crucifix
Seven, eight; gonna stay up late
Nine, ten; never sleep again

After decades of merchandising, spin-offs and sequels that increasingly played him as the Borscht Belt comedian of the undead, it may be hard to remember that once upon a time, Freddy Krueger was scary as all Hell. I saw the original A Nightmare on Elm Street at a midnight movie screening back in college, and spent the rest of the night imagining the sound of razor knives scraping metal pipes.

According to the movie lore, Krueger was a child murderer when he was alive. Once he was burned alive by a vengeful mob of parents, he became something much worse: a demon who inhabited the dreams of the remaining Elm Street children and killed them in their sleep.┬áDirector Wes Craven cleverly blurred the line between the real and dream worlds, leaving audiences unsure of whether his plucky teen protagonists had slipped into Krueger’s nightmare realm.

As the movies progressed, Freddy became a perverse hero figure, with the audience invited to join him on a spree of ever more outlandish “kills.” Of the sequels, the best was the third in the series, subtitled Dream Warriors*. In it, a group of kids locked in a mental institution took on powers of their own in the dream world, and the whole thing became a sort of horror-adventure.

After running its course through the meta-movie Wes Craven’s New Nightmare (in which Krueger haunted the director himself) and the underrated monster mash-up Freddy vs. Jason, A Nightmare on Elm Street is the latest of the ’80s slasher films to get a fresh start. A remake starring Jackie Earle Haley is coming soon.

The trailer promises a slavishly faithful remake, but honestly, if it’s going to be the same movie, why not just pop in a DVD of the original? Freddy’s waiting for you…

* Fun fact: During my year in Hollywood, I actually worked on the set of Dream Warriors for one night. It was the auto graveyard scene in which Nancy’s father (John Saxon) attempted to give Freddy’s remains a proper burial. I’m not in the credits, and my main job was touching wires to a car battery to make the headlights of the haunted automobiles flash on and off. However, I did at one point have to climb a huge pile of cars at three in the morning, their bodies slick with dew. As I looked down at the twisted metal and shards of glass twenty feet below me, I began to wonder whether a career in showbiz was for me.

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