Horror’s Icons: Freddy Krueger
ONE, TWO, FREDDY’S COMING FOR YOU
The name Frederick Charles Krueger is not a name that sounds like it will strike fear in people when it is mentioned. Freddy Krueger, his nickname, however, is synonymous with fear. Freddy Krueger entered the world of horror in 1984 with the release of A Nightmare on Elm Street, the brainchild of horror director Wes Craven. And after countless sequels, a mash-up, a reboot, and a TV series, Freddy’s still a pop icon and more importantly, a horror icon.
Almost 30 years after his screen debut, Freddy is still as popular as he ever was. Ask anyone about Freddy and they will at least be able to describe the madman from Springwood, OH. Freddy Krueger was a child-murderer in the small Ohio town. He was eventually captured and went to trial for his crimes. He was released and freed of legal prosecution due to a technicality in the trial. But that did not mean that he would escape the people of Springwood. After he was freed, the townsfolk trapped Freddy and took justice into their own hands and burned him alive.
But this is horror and you can’t keep a good killer down that easy. Freddy would return from his fiery demise and begin to haunt the children of the people who burned him. The children of Elm Street were now paying for the sins of their parents. But, unlike most horror villains, Freddy did not do his work in the normal world. No. Freddy would haunt the teenagers when they were most vulnerable: when they were dreaming. Once the kids would fall asleep, Freddy would attack them in their dreams which would kill them in real life. And in their dreams, Freddy was able to contrive some very unique ways to kill.
Freddy is the daughter of Amanda Krueger, a nun. While working at the Westin Hills mental hospital, she was accidentally locked in during the Christmas holidays. Once she was locked in there with the patients, she was repeatedly raped by them and became pregnant with Freddy. This gave him the nickname “Bastard son of 100 maniacs”. And you wonder why he ended up the way he did!
Freddy Krueger is easily remembered by his simple, yet iconic look. Sporting a pair of pants, a red and green sweater, and a brown fedora, Freddy is dressed like an everyday man. Yet, no normal man has a scarred, disfigured face from being burned alive. The scars from his human-death remain to give Freddy a haunting, vengeful look. But besides his scars and clothing, Freddy is best known for his unique weapon of choice. On his right hand, Freddy sports a glove armed with razors on the fingers. This is probably the most unique weapon of any horror villain. Since the knifes are attached to the glove, there is no need to carry anything extra to get the job done.
While his glove is his typical weapon of choice and his usual look is simple, Freddy’s ability to enter the dream world allows for some unique kills and changes to the icon himself. Throughout his film series, Freddy has turned into a snake-like and worm-like creature. He has come through a TV. He has been a puppet, a chef, a witch, and sausages on a pizza.
When looking for another way to kill some of his victims, Freddy has the most imagination of all his horror peers. Fear is Freddy’s source of fuel and he will turn what people fear against them. He is also known to use a person’s personality as a way to torture them. One of his victims wanted to be on TV, so he smashed her head into a television set. Another was notorious for sleepwalking. When Freddy got a hold of him in his dreams, he made it look as though the kid was sleepwalking right off the edge of a building. While the adults went with this theory, Freddy was actually playing puppet master with this young man and cut his strings loose while the kid fell to his death. My personal favorites are the girl with asthma and girl that was afraid of bugs.
The girl with asthma fell asleep in class and awoke with Freddy in her dreams. Freddy took her life by kissing her and sucking the air out of her body. When we go back to real life, she is suffering from an asthma attack and dies. My other favorite deals with the girl who hated bugs. When Freddy got into her dreams, he turned her into what she hated most. With her body falling apart, she turned into a cockroach and Freddy smashed her in a glue trap. When he was about to smash her to death, he delivered the classic line, “You can check in, but you can’t check out.”.
WELCOME TO PRIME TIME, BITCH!
Freddy made his debut in the original A Nightmare on Elm Street. He was a mean, sinister killer that wanted revenge against the families that took his life. After killing a few of the kids on Elm Street, the remaining kids caught on and knew that they could not fall asleep because if they did, they would never wake up. Then, the heroine of the film, Nancy, realized that Freddy can be brought into the real world if he is held onto and then that person wakes up with Freddy in their clutch. Once in the real world, Freddy loses his powers and is as vulnerable as any human. Once Nancy figured this out, she was able to bring Freddy right into her house on Elm Street and dispatch of him, for now.
Freddy would return in many sequels. A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge saw Freddy try to get a young man to do his killings for him by instilling fear in him. A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors, A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master, and A Nightmare on Elm Street 5: The Dream Child all saw Freddy come back to attack the kids of Elm Street while, in the end, attempting to pour his evil into an unborn child. These films were good, but the plots were basic and typical. Freddy also turned into a wise-cracking killer, spitting out one-liners with each of his kills. After these films, Freddy returned for the last time (sure) in Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare and the audience learned that Freddy has a daughter. After dispatching all the kids of Elm Street except one, Freddy had big plans. He made this kid, named John Doe, forget his past and sent him out of Springwood, Then Freddy used John Doe to track down his daughter, now named Maggie. Maggie, with the help of others, fought her maniacal father and sent him to hell. Freddy was indeed dead.
It was around the time of parts 4 and 5 that Freddy also came to your living room. Freddy’s Nightmares was a spin-off television series that aired for two seasons. It featured Freddy Krueger introducing various horror segments, following the format of television series like Tales From the Crypt and The Twilight Zone. The pilot episode did however focus on Freddy’s trial and the acts that followed it. The series did not last long but Freddy wouldn’t take long to get back on the big screen.
Although Freddy was dead, that did not mean the movies would stop. Wes Craven’s New Nightmare would take the franchise and spin it on it’s head. Basically, it was written that Freddy was fictional. The cast and crew from the film series played themselves. But then something weird happens. People begin to die. And Freddy looks like the culprit. Heather Langenkamp, the actress who played Nancy in the original series, believes Freddy is real and everyone thinks she is crazy. But she is right. Looking more demonic than ever, and not making any of his typical jokes, Freddy is in the real world. And he is just as deadly, if not more deadly than before.
After Wes Craven’s New Nightmare, Freddy looked to be done on the big screen. But that was far from the truth. In fact, his biggest opponent was just about to appear. After years of waiting, fans got what they wanted when the two of the biggest horror villains faced off in Freddy vs. Jason. After spending some time in hell, Freddy decides to resurrect Jason and use him to instill fear on Elm Street. When enough people fear Freddy again, he returns to his old stomping grounds. But there is one problem. Jason doesn’t want to stop killing. Freddy has to battle the killer from Camp Crystal Lake, resulting in a battle to the death. Or not.
After the battle with Jason Voorhees, Freddy stayed silent for a while. Then, in 2010, he was reborn. The remake of A Nightmare on Elm Street was released and the audience saw a new Freddy for the first time. Replacing Robert Englund was Jackie Earle Haley, a veteran actor that is known best for playing Rorschach in Watchmen. While most people could not accept that Englund was not Freddy again, it was a reboot of the series and rebooting Freddy also made sense.
HOW SWEET, FRESH MEAT
The remake roughly follows the original film as far as the story. Freddy, this time a child molester, was burned and returned to haunt the dreams of the children of Elm Street. Freddy was also back to being the no-nonsense killer that he originally was. The most striking difference in this film is the look of Freddy. He was made to look more like a burn victim and the make-up was great. It was definitely a reboot all the way around.
Since then fans have waited for Freddy to return again. There has been no definitive answer on whether he will or not even though Haley was signed on to do multiple films. The talks of a sequel has been on hold for now. But, no need to worry, there is plenty of Freddy out there and even if you get tired of the films, check out Never Sleep Again: The Elm Street Legacy, a great documentary on the Elm Street series.
NEVER SLEEP AGAIN
Jackie Earle Haley was the Freddy Krueger of 2010. I thought he did a great job as the actor. Well, about as good as you can do while playing a character that another person made iconic. Freddy is not like most villains. Many people have been put behind the mask of other horror icons and the audience barely notices. But Freddy was “created” by one man that took an average killer and made him popular. That man is Robert Englund.
Robert Englund was a small-time actor that had mostly minor film and television roles before 1984. But that year changed his life forever when he was cast as Freddy Krueger in the original A Nightmare on Elm Street. Englund took the character seriously and made Freddy what he has become. All of Freddy’s mannerisms, movements, and witty remarks are all attributed to Englund. If he had not been cast as Freddy, who knows how that character may have ended up.
Englund has since become one of the most well-known actors in the horror community. He has been featured in movies such as The Mangler, Wishmaster, Urban Legend, 2001 Maniacs, Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon, and Zombie Strippers (about as blunt a title as there is). He also got the chance to get in the director’s chair with his 1988 debut effort 976-EVIL.
While Englund has never been the mainstream actor that is in big-budget blockbusters, he really doesn’t need to be. The horror community holds him in such high regards that he will always be a legend. He is in rarified air when it comes to placing an actor’s name with a horror icon. The only others may be Doug Bradley (Pinhead), Kane Hodder (Jason Voorhees), Tobin Bell (Jigsaw), and Tony Todd (Candyman). It is rare, but that is what has made Freddy, and Englund, so special.
Well, there you have it. That is my look at Freddy Krueger, the only man who could scare the crap out of you while wearing what looks like a Christmas sweater. But, we are not done with the horror icons here at Blog 4 Dat. Not even close. We will go from classic to new school in the next episode. We will look at a killer that’s first victim was none other than Robert Englund himself. I’m talking about New Orleans’ own Victor Crowley from the Hatchet series. So, see you next time as we go from Elm Street to Bourbon Street on Horror’s Icons.