The first film I explicitly remember seeing as a child was The Jungle Book. The second? A Nightmare on Elm Street.
I was four. This may explain a lot, but that’s for another piece.
Freddy Krueger has been a part of my pop culture diet for as long as I can remember. I knew about 1428 Elm Street before I was old enough to know what street I lived on myself. The fun thing about the Nightmare on Elm Street series, was that Freddy could move smoothly between hilariously campy to deadly vicious. The Nightmare films were great that way. Freddy was all about the gags, but when he was done toying with his victim — he knew how to kill a mofo.
Hey, I’ll be the first to admit that not every film was great, but I’ll also gladly say that no matter how bad they got — I could still always find a little kernel in there to love. With the reboot of A Nightmare on Elm Street hitting theaters April 30th, I thought it fitting to pay homage to the legacy of Freddy Krueger by highlighting ten of my favorite things about the Nightmare series.
10. “You forgot the Power Glove!” – Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare
Freddy’s Dead was a pretty weak entry into the series, save for a few gems sprinkled in that made it worth viewing. This entry, in particular, tickled my funnybone and made me nostalgiac for Nintendo peripherals that barely functioned. If you grew up in the eighties like me, you most likely had an NES, and if so — perhaps had the misfortune of owning the asstacular Power Glove. This thing makes the Wiimote look like a laser scalpel. I eventually cut the cord on mine and used it to punch neighborhood kids. I was popular.
Fortunately for Freddy, his version of the power glove works swimmingly, as he uses it to control a very young Breckin Meyer. “BOING-BOING-BOING!’
9. The Freddy Worm – A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors
One of my favorite things about horror flicks from the eighties, good or bad, are the special effects. Without benefit of the digital effects we have today, the visual effects folks had to be creative. Due in part to the world Freddy inhabited, the films were laden with them. These weren’t just gore shots, however. There was a production to Freddy Krueger’s killing. One of my absolute favorite uses of practical effects in any Nightmare film is the giant Freddy Worm. His almost-victim Kristen, Patricia Arquette in only her second film role, is halfway eaten, then regurgitated. Below is a behind-the-scenes look at how they brought the Freddy Worm to life.
Gross — and so awesome.
8. Freddy Likes Italian Snack Food
Not every Krueger moment can be found on the silver screen. I just recently came across this weird, Italian snack food commercial. No matter that the last Freddy offering in the media had been three years prior, 2006 was as good a time as any for Fonzies to use our favorite undead child killer to advertise their finger-licking good treats. It’s good times.
7. Freddy Grabs The Hockey Mask – Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday
Also worth noting, not every great Freddy moment happens in one of his own films. Perhaps equally as iconic as the bladed glove, was the mask of Jason Voorhies. Jason Goes to Hell was a weird movie, even by the standard set by Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan (wait, what? There is a little boy living inside of him?). Regardless, the entire film was worth sitting through for the final scene — Jason’s mask, caked in dirt lying in the middle of a field. You knew something was going to happen, but nobody ever would have guessed they’d see what happened next.
I geeked out so hard I couldn’t feel my face.
6. Johnny Depp Makes a Cameo – Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare
Folks that have followed the slashers of the eighties know that many of our stars today got their start being killed by the bad guy. Johnny Depp was a noteworthy member of the club, having christened the Nightmare series with his presence as Glen Lantz, Nancy Thompson’s boyfriend. Dude is eaten by a bed — blood fountain soon follows. Killer.
As great as that is, however, it’s Depp’s return to the series seven years later in a quick but amusing cameo that I appreciated the most. Giver ‘er a look.
5. Does This Guy Ever Lose? – Freddy vs. Jason
No matter what the situation, no matter how utterly defeated Freddy Krueger may seem — he always comes out on top in the end, and you sort of want it that way. Ignore him, burn him(again), bury him, stab him, absorb his gross infant body into yours — whatever you do, Freddy comes back laughing.
Hell, even a beheaded Freddy in the paw of Jason Voorhees is positively jovial.
4. Jason and Freddy Rumble – Freddy vs. Jason
The story was lame, the supporting cast immediately forgettable, but when Freddy and Jason finally squared off — it was pretty stinking cool. Rebar pincushions, nut shots, elbow drops, Freddy shot put; the battle had it all.
Pardon the bad acting interspersed between the fun parts.
3. A Bigger, Badder Freddy – Wes Craven’s New Nightmare
A lot of folks didn’t care for Wes Craven’s new direction in the series, but I dug it. Krueger was more sinister and dark than he had ever been portrayed, and I liked that, even if I did miss some of the goofier elements I had grown to expect from the series. I loved the dull light used during the movie, that made everything look flat and harsh.
Even the clawed glove was overhauled to great effect.
2. “Welcome to Primetime!” – A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors
You know what I loved more than anything about this scene? That Freddy had rabbit ears on top of his head.
It’s the little touches, people…
1. “You Can Check In…” – A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master
The death of Debbie via cockroach transformation is on this list because it is one of the few scenes that I literally could not watch for years. I’m terrified of roaches, and they did this scene so well…well, I was horrified. I had this film kudos for making my skin crawl as much today as it did the first time I saw it.
There you have it folks, my top ten list of Freddy Krueger related goodness.
Feel free to share your favorite Krueger related items below. Here is hoping come April 30th, Jackie Earle Haley and cast will add a page to the list of the awesome that is the Nightmare on Elm Street universe.
Editor’s Note: Check out Robert Fure’s Rebuttal-tastic 10 Worst Freddy Moments List.