The endearment “Sweet Dreams” changed drastically in 1984 when audiences met Freddy Krueger for the first time.
Happy and carefree high school students in Springwood, Ohio transformed overnight into terrified teenagers afraid to fall asleep. It all started when Tina dreamed of being chased by a horribly burned man wearing a green and red striped sweater, teasing her with his razor-sharp knives in lieu of fingers on his right hand. Tina escaped his clutches just in time, and woke up with tears in her night-gown. How can something that occurs in a dream actually happen?
Tina’s best friend, Nancy (Heather Langenkamp), experienced a similar dream the very same night. Nancy dismissed her nightmare as just that, a nightmare. Being the good friend that she was, Nancy agreed to spend the night with Tina so that she wouldn’t be alone. Joining the girls, of course, was Tina’s boyfriend, Rod, and Nancy’s boyfriend, Glen (introducing Johnny Depp, ladies). Tina fell asleep feeling safe with her friends nearby, and Freddy appeared again; only this time, Freddy didn’t miss slashing Tina with his razor-sharp claws.
Do you remember that scene? Tina, wearing the oversized, white button down shirt, flailing about, blood spraying everywhere, levitating, crawling on the ceiling, and finally crashing into her bed — dead. Her boyfriend standing helplessly by, watching an invisible knife slash through his girlfriend, screaming her name, “Tina!” – completely terrified and confused.
The nightmares continued for Nancy, finally convincing her that she and Tina were dreaming about the same man. Continuing to have nightmares, Nancy saw the burned man kill Rod; and, later found Rod dead in reality too – just like Tina.
Finally, Nancy’s mother confessed that the man haunting and stalking her in her dreams was Freddy Krueger (Robert Englund) – a child murderer that was burned and killed at the hands of the children’s parents. Together, Nancy & Glen devised a plan to trap and kill Freddy, but Glen made one fatal mistake – he fell asleep.
Do you remember that scene? Glen lying on his bed in his midriff jersey t-shirt with his television & gigantic head phones, sinking through the bed as Freddy sucked him in, the blood rushing through the mattress with the velocity of a fire hydrant.
Alone, Nancy battled Krueger to the end, living to see another day; actually, Nancy survived to see another few installments of the Nightmare franchise: Nightmare 3 and New Nightmare.
Do you remember the eerie nursery rhyme? The little girls dressed in beautiful white baby-doll dresses playing hop-scotch and jumping rope in the parks?
“One, Two, Freddy’s coming for you.
Three, Four, Better lock your door.
Five, Six, Grab your crucifix.
Seven, Eight, Gotta stay up late.
Nine, Ten, Never sleep again.”
Say what you will, that rhyme still spooks me to this very day! Not to mention the fact that I have a hard time remembering the actual lyrics to the peaceful, children’s song.
Wes Craven created the Nightmare franchise with his horrifying screenplay and his directing brilliance. Robert Englund may still be recognized today as his character, Freddy Krueger, more than he is as Robert Englund, the actor.
A Nightmare on Elm Street opened the door for nine feature films, including a 2010 remake produced by Michael Bay, Andrew Form, and Brad Fuller. The original Nightmare will always be great; but, the remake included more of the back-story of Freddy Krueger, and the children he preyed on, making the 2010 film very exciting for a Nightmare-aholic like myself.
The Nightmare franchise has also featured an array of popular actors over the years in addition to Langenkamp, Englund and Depp, such as Patricia Arquette, Laurence Fishburne, Jason Ritter, Breckin Meyer, and Lochlyn Munro. Additionally, Rosanne Barr and Tom Arnold appeared briefly in Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare. The 2010 movie successfully catered to today’s teenage audience by casting the brilliant Jackie Earle Haley as Freddy (in an absolutely FaBOoolous performance assuming the role from Englund), Katie Cassidy (Gossip Girl), Kellan Lutz (The Twilight Movies), Kyle Gallner (Jennifer’s Body), Rooney Mara (The Social Network), and Thomas Dekker (Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles).
Hopefully, the franchise will live on.
Do you believe that if you die in your sleep, will you die in real life? Do you prefer the 1984 original or the 2010 remake? Do you fear Freddy, Jason, or Michael more? What’s your favorite scary movie? I’d love to hear from you!