Freddy mania didn’t take off until the late ‘80s. It was in that period between Dream Warriors and The Dream Master that he broke through into the mainstream and cemented his place as a major cinematic icon. But the horror fans, those people not nearly connected with one another in the ‘80s as they are today, the ones who would rent every horror film they could get their hands on, who collected tapes and T-shirts and posters—in other words, Fangoria readers—they loved it. The magazine had championed Wes Craven from its debut, and while they were a little skeptical in their initial set report on A Nightmare on Elm Street, they celebrated the freshness it brought to a slasher formula that the magazine was never shy about calling stale and tired. The magazine played a massive role in promoting the burgeoning series, championing Elm Street—and Freddy as a character, in particular—by the time the first sequel was in development.
The original film spread by word of mouth. By 1985, many had caught up with the first movie. People knew what A Nightmare on Elm Street was, even if Freddy hadn’t become a massive icon yet. So, for some, those Fangoria fans especially, the two year wait between Freddy’s Revenge and Dream Warriors was excruciating. Fangoria, to their credit, smartly played to that and kept Freddy content running in the interim. One of the best examples of that coverage, easily, was an interview by Carr D’Angelo in The Bloody Best of Fangoria #6 with Robert Englund in the downtime between Nightmare 2 and Nightmare 3, just before the third movie was finally gearing up to enter production, in which he broke down his own rejected treatment for the sequel.
Englund’s treatment had been written before Wes Craven came aboard to write his wild first draft with Bruce Wagner, which over the course of many rewrites evolved into the fan-favorite Dream Warriors we all know and love. While Craven’s original script is a totally different beast from the movie we got, it’s still telling—for the most part—the same basic story.
That is definitely not the case with Robert Englund’s treatment for A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Freddy’s Funhouse.
While it’s been reported a couple of times (he mentioned it in an interview last year that he had written it at one point) all that he really said about it at that time was that it had been planned to revolve around Tina’s sister. This Fango interview seems to be the only time Englund actually went into detail about what his treatment entailed.
Titled Freddy’s Funhouse, Englund’s third movie would have indeed revolved around Tina’s sister, but that would only have been the jumping off point for a much more ambitious and inventive story. According to Englund, the treatment began with the sister “being away at school and having horrible dreams about the specific carnage that happened to her sister. It bothers her so much that she decides to find out the truth about this whole thing.”
Naturally, her traumatic dreams bring her home to Springwood and to Elm Street, where the movie would have apparently taken on the more traditional look and feel of an Elm Street flick. Like the second movie, Nancy’s house would still be a key component and is—in fact—the genesis for the title. “The title of my script was Freddy’s Funhouse,” Englund noted in the interview, “because Freddy has booby-trapped the Nightmare house’s dreamscape. It’s like Freddy’s own demented art direction mindset of the house’s interior—like a carnival’s funhouse, madhouse or spookhouse, but with all the debris and detritus of the prior movies lying around.”
With that in mind, though it’s not booby-trapped, it’s worth noting that Dream Warriors did wind up heavily featuring a nightmare version of the house from the first two films.
Englund, who has always been a fan of the idea of a prequel going back to explore Krueger’s days as the Springwood Slasher, naturally included some of that into his treatment as well. “The film would open with her going through all the microfilm at the local library, and the newspaper clippings pertaining to both Nightmare on Elm Street and Nightmare on Elm Street 2, as well as some local news station footage of Freddy on the City Hall steps with his lawyers after he got off from the very first case. So you would see me playing Freddy as this disgusting janitorial Lee Harvey Oswald-type. I liked that sense of summation. Maybe we’ll still do something like that.”
Englund wanted his story to reflect the unnerving phenomena that had sparked the inspiration for Nightmare on Elm Street as a whole. Thinking back on the series, it’s actually incredible that no one has ever actually done that in any of the later sequels, or even tie-in novels or comics. Although, on the other hand, it introduces another disturbing element to the series to start making actual references to real-life instances of sleep-related deaths.
The actor also noted in the interview that he just wanted to go bananas with the third act. “The story was OK but I didn’t have an ending. I got it right up to the ending, but I didn’t know where it would go, so I opted for a David Cronenberg type of ending. I think that’s one of the things that hurt me, although the producers really loved one of my ideas. I had the characters coming out of the dreams, waking each other up and writing down everything they had seen so that when they went back into the dreamscape, they could hide weapons to use against Freddy.”
That is actually a great idea, the notion of using a dream journal as a way of fighting back against Freddy. Even now, the concept of a dream journal is sort of the last dream-related thing that the franchise has yet to find a way to exploit. Englund noted that the producers loved this aspect in particular, saying that they said, “’Ooh, we love it,’ so they’ll probably borrow that idea.”
The idea did not make it into Dream Warriors, nor any of the later Elm Street films. However, an incredibly similar concept does come into play in a major way in Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure, which was indeed produced by one of the Nightmare producers, Michael S. Murphey. So it’s still entirely possible that Englund could have been right about that.
Ultimately, it sounds like the producers weren’t sold on Englund’s idea for Freddy’s Funhouse in general, though it’s hard to say exactly what kept it from being made. On an obvious level, it does sound like it probably would have been expensive, so if there’s anything that kept it from happening, it’s likely that. Even at the time of the interview, Englund had absolutely no hard feelings about the producers passing on the story because, as he said, “Wes Craven coming back to write it sure makes me happy.”
One of the most fascinating things about this treatment in general is the idea of Englund writing it before “Mainstream Freddy” took off. The Krueger of the first two movies is still very dark, very far from the comedic, easily digestible villain who would start appearing on MTV and have his own hotline around the time of Nightmare 4. The idea of Englund working with that early, sinister, shadowed Freddy on a creative level is kind of fascinating.
While Englund’s treatment boasts some great ideas, we can’t be too sad it never saw the light of day because we eventually got A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors, the most celebrated sequel of the franchise and probably one of the most beloved horror sequels of all time. Still, it’s impossible not to be excited at the prospect of an Elm Street sequel conceived by the man in the sweater himself. Even if it never happened, it’s fantastic to see Englund’s love (and ownership) of the character was established so early on, and so deeply that he wanted to try his hand at telling one of these stories himself.
Each month in Horror Queers, Joe and Trace tackle a horror film with LGBTQ+ themes, a high camp quotient or both. For lifelong queer horror fans like us, there’s as much value in serious discussions about representation as there is in reading a ridiculously silly/fun horror film with a YAS KWEEN mentality. Just know that at no point will we be getting Babashook.
As two gay men, we have opted to use the moniker “Horror Queers” for this series of articles. It is a word that has a complicated history due to its derogatory use by bullies and hateful people, but has increasingly been adopted as a term of empowerment and a unifying term that recognizes the many complex identities that make up the LGBTIQQ community. Queer has become commonplace in academia, politics and pop culture over the past three decades. We understand and recognize that the term is still very hurtful for some people, but we believe that the more people that proudly reclaim it, the more the wounds and stigma surrounding the term are reduced. Using the word “queer” is intensely personal, but it is a decision that we are committed to. Please don’t be an asshole when using it and we’ll get along fine.
***SPOILERS for NOES 2 to follow.***
Synopsis for NOES 2: A teenage boy named Jesse (Mark Patton) is haunted in his dreams by deceased child murderer Freddy Krueger (Robert Englund), who is out to possess him in order to continue his reign of terror in the real world.
Queer Aspect: I mean…literally everything?
Well Trace, here we are: we are tackling what may just be the most queer horror movie ever created. We’ve been doing this series for eleven months and this has been by far the most requested movie that readers ask us to cover, so we’re doing it. I’m so excited, I can literally feel Freddy inside of me!
In all seriousness, there’s very little question that this film has a queer subtext. Some would even claim that there is no subtext; it’s actually just text. According to the film’s production, Freddy’s Revenge was never intended to be explicitly gay – at the time of the film’s release (one year after Wes Craven’s original) everyone claimed they were simply making a sequel that took the franchise in a different direction. Later, star Mark Patton claimed that he was essentially thrown under the bus when homophobic fans complained about his effeminate “scream queen” performance. Meanwhile, screenwriter David Chaskin and director Jack Sholder denied any awareness of the underlying queer themes (Chaskin has since admitted that he actually beefed up the subtext in rewrites throughout shooting). A quick Google search about the film indicates that there remains a great deal of tension between Patton and Chaskin/Sholder about how they and New Line handled the fallout after the film was released. The blame wound up significantly affecting Patton’s career and his self-identification as a gay man, though his appearances at conventions and his long-in-development documentary Scream, Queen! My Nightmare On Elm Street suggest that he’s in a better place now.
Let’s return to the film itself to consider whether its reputation is earned. Here’s a bullet list of the quote/unquote gay stuff contained within the film that fans/detractors have identified:
Patton’s overall performance
Dialogue like “He’s inside me and he wants to take me again!”, “Something is trying to get inside my body”, etc
Jesse’s high pitched screaming
Grady (Robert Rusler) pulls Jesse’s pants down and they wrestle provocatively
Mentions of an S&M club and how Coach Schneider (Marshall Bell) likes pretty boys
Freddy caresses Jesse’s body in their first encounter
Jesse’s impromptu dance session, including a close up him using his butt to close a drawer
Jesse’s door sign, which reads “No Chicks”
The Probe game in Jesse’s closet
The shower death of Coach Schneider, including some light bondage with skipping ropes and a towel whipping
Jesse leaves a makeout session with Lisa (Kim Myers) to jump on a shirtless Grady in bed
Freddy literally emerging from within Jesse’s body
Grady’s short shorts
All of the literal “flaming” imagery
There’s probably some other stuff, but I got tired of mining the depths of the internet for big ol’ homo signifiers. In all honesty, it feels like the pendulum has swung so far the other way that people delight in finding something gay in every little thing about the film; Freddy’s Revenge is no longer considered a slasher film or an oddball entry in an emerging powerhouse horror franchise – it’s now simply a gay horror film. While I appreciate that there’s a canonical queer horror text, this categorization diminishes the other (often more interesting) things going on in the film.
So Trace, now that I’ve stolen all of the identifiers, what else did you pull out of Freddy’s Revenge? Are you able to watch the film without playing “spot the homo” or is that where the film’s power lies? And what do you make of the film’s historical trajectory from maligned Nightmare entry to queer icon?
*sigh* I haven’t necessarily been looking forward to covering this movie, Joe. Not because I don’t like it (I rank it above The Dream Master, Freddy Vs. Jason, The Dream Child and Freddy’s Dead…in that order), but because I don’t really know what we can possibly add to the discourse on this very, very gay horror film.
Writing about Freddy’s Revenge seems so….unoriginal. Countless discussions have been made about this film. Tonsofarticles have been written about its queer (sub)text. As you mention, Patton has a full-blown documentary about the very topic that we are discussing (though it hasn’t been released yet, something that is a bit disconcerting since I donated to the Kickstarter over three years ago).
Does anyone really want to know what we have to say about A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge? I don’t know. Let’s see!
Before I jump into the film’s undeniable queerness, I do want to point out one thing that has always bothered me about this film: the rules about how Freddy operates are very ill-defined. Most of the film takes place in the real world, with Chaskin & Sholder opting not to utilize a creative premise to their advantage like Craven’s original did. This makes sense, as Sholder has admitted that he doesn’t like the original very much, but it makes Freddy’s sudden ability to possess someone and use his powers in the real world a bit unrealistic. It’s no big deal, as the film never ceases to entertain, but it’s always bugged me.
Now on to the queerness!
While Jesse’s sexuality is never really in question, I’m more concerned with how the film links Krueger’s obsession with being inside/becoming him and the first film’s implication that he is a child rapist. Before readers come after me in the comments with pitchforks: yes, I’m fully aware that Freddy’s pedophilia is never explicitly stated (at least, not until the atrocity that is the 2010 remake). Wes Craven admitted that his original script described Freddy as a child molester, but the explicit reference was removed to avoid exploiting a wave of highly publicized child molestations occurring in California in 1984. So while it isn’t explicitly stated, it is heavily implied.
If we assume that Freddy is a child molester, then what does it look like when you have him possess a queer man? Linking Freddy’s urge to molest and murder children with Jesse’s queerness (or really, Freddy’s queerness – if you view him as representative of homosexuality) is a dangerous path to take, especially in 1985. This film isn’t really sympathetic to queerness, and the less said about predatory Coach Schneider the better (Sidebar: What even is that character?)
Freddy’s Revenge is a product of its time, so the fact that any queerness was injected into the proceedings is a minor miracle, but it is troubling watching it through a 2018 lens.
My reading of the film is that Freddy is representative of Jesse’s homosexuality. When Jesse is confronted with it (running into the Coach at the BDSM bar, freaking out after kissing Lisa and running into Grady’s arms), he/Freddy kills. Is the film trying to imply that homosexuality is evil, then? The ending would certainly have you think that, since it is Meryl Streep Lisa’s love for him (and/or his love for Lisa?) that exorcises Freddy from Jesse’s body. Again, the rules are ill-defined, but that seems to be the case. Does heterosexuality save the day? Or are we to believe that their friendship is what saves Jesse?
I realize I’ve taken a negative approach to the film’s stance on homosexuality, but it’s more me playing devil’s advocate. I don’t think the intention was to condemn Jesse’s queerness or queerness in general. I’m merely suggesting that it could easily be viewed that way, especially at the height of the AIDS crisis when this film was released.
What can be appreciated about Freddy’s Revenge is that it does what a sequel should do: try something different. Freddy’s modus operandi is completely different and the overall tone is much darker from the first film, while simultaneously leaning into its camp elements (i.e., the aforementioned dance scene).
The world in the film also feels rather contained. The first film did a good job of fleshing out the world around Nancy, but Freddy’s Revenge focuses so closely on Jesse and his own private world that you don’t really get a sense of the town around him. If this was intentional, it’s a brilliant way of mimicking how lonely growing up queer can be. You feel contained in your world. You feel alone. You feel like a freak. Freddy’s Revenge stands out among the pack of NOES sequels because it is a freak. It is the red-headed stepchild of the franchise. It is different. Thank god for girlfriends like Lisa; they make the loneliness bearable.
I didn’t really get to answer your questions, Joe, so I may just tackle them in my next response, but what do you think the film’s stance on homosexuality is? Is there a positive message that can come out of this film? Or does the final product make that impossible? Also: do you think the film can be excessive at times? I mean, the title card has three different fonts, for Christ’s sake.
Ugh, let us never speak of the 2010 remake again! I just rewatched it for another piece on lessons learned from Halloween 2018 and that attempt to reboot Freddy is completely insufferable.
Despite your uncertainty about bringing something new to the conversation, I think you’ve distilled a nuanced interpretation of the film. I looked at it a little differently, though I confess that I don’t have all of the finer points worked out.
I wound up seeing Freddy as a threat to Jesse’s burgeoning queerness. He is a manifestation of Jesse’s own internalized homophobia, so when sexual situations arise that might naturally encourage Jesse to consider his “unorthodox for the 80s” sexuality, Freddy pops out. Consider that in a film with very few murders, the two explicit ones both involve men that Jesse has a sexualized relationship with: predatory Coach Schneider and potential love interest Grady. I appreciate, however, that we’re essentially using the same scenes to argue for different readings; a big problem (or opportunity) with this film is that it is so open that you can argue for either side.
I do want to seize on your observation about Jesse’s isolation, though. What really stood out to me on the rewatch is the way that Jesse’s family, and in particular his father, treats him. The entire Nightmare franchise is founded on the idea that the parents of Elm Street are terrible. This began when the Elm Street parents chose to burn Freddy in an act of vigilante justice rather than care for their own kids. The original Elm Street is filled with latchkey kids: teens whose parents aren’t around to watch over them. Arguably this isn’t because they’re neglectful parents, however, it is because they’re too wrapped up in their own shit (Nancy’s father is overwhelmed with the murders and her mother can only process her role in Freddy’s murder with booze).
The Walsh parents in Freddy’s Revenge introduces a new narrative: sequel after sequel confirms that the Elm Street kids have been abandoned, dismissed or medicated into oblivion by their guardians.
Jesse’s parents establish the tropes that dictate how parents in the series are portrayed moving forward. His mother (Hope Lange) is a doormat and his father (Clu Gulager) is a belligerent, demanding dick. (In reality, the mother is barely even a character. The closest thing she and Jesse have to a legitimate moment in the film is her wry smile when she and Lisa catch Jesse dancing in his room).
Jesse’s father, however? Well we could delve deeper into some antiquated psychology about how masculinity is associated with a (queer) boy’s relationship to his father figure, but let’s just accept that Jesse’s father routinely disregards his opinions, bosses him around and relegates him to his room at the expense of making social connections with his peers (Seriously, why is Jesse’s dad so desperate for him to unpack his damned room? Who cares that much about a room that they don’t spend any time in?!)
The reason that I think that Jesse’s father is important is because he typifies the unsupportive parent of a gay child. He doesn’t know anything about his son and seemingly has no interest in rectifying that. His domineering bossiness, his antiquated “father knows best” approach to addressing the mysterious circumstances befalling the household and his dismissal of Jesse’s claims do nothing to encourage Jesse to open up or involve his parents. How can Jesse possibly come out to them in such a restrictive, repressive environment?
In the queer community silence = death, but in the Walsh household, that’s just business as usual. Watching the film through modern eyes and considering the studies that correlate mental health and well-being among queer youth with parental acceptance, it’s not hard to imagine a variant (or modern) draft of this film where Freddy’s Revenge ends with Jesse self-harming, possibly even committing suicide.
I think there’s one other integral queer component of Freddy’s Revenge that we need to discuss and that’s how the film alters Freddy into much more of a wisecracking smartass and, in so doing, (unintentionally?) turns Freddy into a queer icon. Why do you think so many queer audiences prefer Freddy over his mute ‘80s franchise companions, Trace? And what is the legacy of Nightmare on Elm Street 2?
It’s curious that the openness in the film bothers you, as that is what I find to be its most interesting aspect. The fact of the matter is that we will never truly know what the real intention behind the film was. Such is the case with all forms of art, right?
A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge is open to interpretation. I view Freddy as a physical representation of Jesse’s queerness and you view him as a physical representation of Jesse’s internalized homophobia. Neither one of us is wrong, but it’s fascinating that we are having this discussion over what is arguably a cheap cash-in sequel to a very good, original slasher film. Have any of the Nightmare sequels been discussed as much as Freddy’s Revenge for their (sub)text? Maybe New Nightmare, but only Freddy’s Revenge has the distinction of boldly going where no Nightmare film has gone before (or ever would again, thanks to the poor reception of the film at the time).
To go back to your original questions, Joe: will this film only ever be known for its blatant homosexual themes? Sadly, yes, that’s always going to be the case. Even when queerness becomes more normalized in the future, the film will be viewed (or even commended) for being the ‘80s slasher that was brave enough to tackle themes that, at the time, were not common in mainstream cinema. Intentional or not, Freddy’s Revenge is just as topical today as it was in 1985. Oh, to have been a fly on the wall in movie theaters when this film was playing! Will this be its legacy? I think so…but I also don’t think that that’s a bad thing.
You have to feel bad for Patton. As much as this film (and the people behind it) supposedly hurt his career, it is an important landmark in queer cinema. This film is and will always be his legacy. It’s a rather sizable contribution to the genre. He seems to have taken it all in stride, though. His Jesse is one of the more interesting Final “Girls” to come out of the ‘80s slasher boom.
Is Freddy a queer icon, though? That’s up for debate. The debate being how you view Freddy in this film (and the films after it). The five sequels that followed eschew any and all queer themes that Freddy’s Revenge introduces. That being said, Freddy is a sassy little fucker. That sassiness would become the hallmark of the franchise by the time Freddy’s Dead came around (that image of him getting jiggy with the chalkboard will forever cement for me the moment that the franchise died). In my experience, Freddy hasn’t gelled as much with queer audiences as much as, say, Scream’s Ghostface has, but that’s a conversation for a future Horror Queers article. Freddy’s Revenge is the outlier of this franchise, not the norm.
People like Freddy for the same reason that they like Chucky and Ghostface: because they talk. There are two types of horror fans: those who prefer talkers and those who prefer the silent type. Jason and Michael are scary because they are mindless killing machines. Freddy and Chucky (and to some degree, Pinhead) are scary because they do have minds and taunt their victims. Sure, much of that taunting involves humor, but facing a killer who knows what he’s doing is scary. The Nightmare sequels gradually increase that humor, making Freddy increasingly campy, which is quite possibly what many queer audiences latched on to (I’m more into Freddy’s darkness than his harsh digs, but to each their own).
What else can be said about Freddy’s Revenge? As I mentioned above, I was loathed to discuss the film because doing so just felt so….basic. A queer series of horror articles tackling what has been frequently referred to as “the gayest horror film ever made?” Please. But I am glad that we were finally able to talk about it. It only took us 11 months! Hopefully, we’ve added something to the discourse that our readers can appreciate and, if not, well, there’s always next month!
Next time on Horror Queers: Now that A Nightmare On Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge is off our bucket list, it’s time to turn our attention to a kooky off-cycle entry about…killer dolls? That’s right, we’re diving into Leigh Whannell and James Wan’s terrible/awesome 2007 film, Dead Silence!
No, we’re not talking about a fan film or a comic book crossover—this actually happened!
Even the most studied fans of the Nightmare on Elm Street and Halloween movies are probably unaware of Robert Englund’s connection to both franchises. Everybody knows that Englund is synonymous with the Springwood Slasher aka Freddy Krueger, but the actor actually spent some time in Haddonfield on the set of John Carpenter’s Halloween in 1978, though very much behind the scenes—and only for a single day.
“It’s so funny, I actually had a roommate, back when they did the original Halloween… the John Carpenter one. And he conned me into going to Pasadena one day, with garbage bags full of dead leaves. And we were working on the set of the original Halloween, throwing the dead leaves around. So it looked like Autumn… it looked like Fall back in the Midwest.”
Englund was able to reprise Freddy recently on an episode of the sitcom The Goldbergs.
While a new Nightmare on Elm Street movie remains elusive, a sequel to 1978’s Halloween has been slaying the box office since its release on October 19th. If you’ve yet to check it out for yourself, give the synopsis and trailer a look-see below.
Synopsis: It’s been 40 years since Laurie Strode survived a vicious attack from crazed killer Michael Myers on Halloween night. Locked up in an institution, Myers manages to escape when his bus transfer goes horribly wrong. Laurie now faces a terrifying showdown when the masked madman returns to Haddonfield, Ill. — but this time, she’s ready for him.
It’s hard to believe it’s been 15 years since the release of Freddy vs Jason. Not only was it a critical and box office success at the time of its release, fans of the Nightmare on Elm Street and Friday the 13th franchises have been begging for a rematch ever since. In a new video, the folks are Screen Rant explore what it took to bring Jason vs Freddy to fruition as well as the lasting impact of the crossover.
While most people are aware that getting Freddy vs Jason to big screens was a monumental task, many are unaware of the full extent of this nightmare (pun intended). Plans for the flick began way back in 1987; while New Line and Paramount wrangled over creative control of the project, the studios commissioned and rejected at least 7 scripts!
Though we may never get a sequel, the film’s impact can’t be overstated. Most immediately, it led to additional horror crossovers in the form of Alien vs Predator and Puppet Master vs Demonic Toys (among others). Now, over a decade and a half later, crossovers are commonly utilized in today’s cinematic landscape (the Marvel and DC multiverses being the most obvious example).
Give Screen Rant’s video a spin below, followed by the synopsis and trailer for Freddy vs Jason. The film was directed by Ronny Yu from a script penned by Damian Shannon and Mark Swift; it stars Robert Englund, Ken Kirzinger, and Kelly Rowland.
Synopsis: Two horror icons face off in this supernatural movie. Disfigured serial killer Freddy Krueger (Robert Englund), who attacks his victims in their dreams, has lost much of his power since citizens of his town have become less afraid of him. Enlisting the help of fellow violent murderer Jason Voorhees (Ken Kirzinger), Freddy orchestrates a new killing spree. However, when the hockey-mask-wearing psychopath won’t stop chopping up Freddy’s intended victims, the two ghouls start to battle each other.
Are you a fan of Freddy vs Jason? What do you think of Screen Rant’s retrospective? Sound off in the comments below or on Facebook, Twitter, and/or Instagram!
The Youtubers at Consequence of Sound have just put together an interesting video retrospective of the iconic villain from the A Nightmare on Elm Street franchise: How Freddy Krueger Went From Child Killer to MTV Rock Star. While most of it is an analytical examination of the marketing tactics used to create Freddy’s unique brand, there’s an especially interesting reveal about the video shoot for Dokken’s “Dream Warriors”.
The song was written for A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors and Englund participated in the video in full Krueger makeup. Between takes, however, the boys parties it up like true agents of rock and roll excess; guitarist George Lynch recounted snorting lines of cocaine off of The Springwood Slasher’s bladed glove!
Give the video a spin below for more juicy details and interesting factoids. After that, you can check out the video for Dokken’s “Dream Warriors”. Just remember kids: Freddy’s glove was designed for murder—not drugs, m’kay.
Synopsis: Consequence of Sound dives into the evolution of Freddy Krueger from movie screen’s most gruesome child killer to the 1980’s biggest rockstar. From MTV spots to an NES game, Wes Craven’s character was bigger than Jesus, and remains a pop culture phenomenon to this day.
Are you a fan of Freddy Krueger? What do you think of Consequence of Sound’s video? Sound off in the comments below or on Facebook, Twitter, and/or Instagram!
Flashback to February 2009. Rob Zombie had already debuted the Dimension-backed first installment of his polarizing revisionist take on Michael Myers in 2007 and he was preparing to shoot the August 2009 sequel. At this point, Michael Bay, Andrew Form and Brad Fuller’s production company Platinum Dunes was three films into their remake frenzy, including 2003’s The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, 2005’s The Amityville Horror and 2007’s The Hitcher. On February 13, Friday the 13th was released in theatres; a little over a year later on April 30, Platinum Dunes released the 2010 remake of A Nightmare on Elm Street.
The situation we find ourselves in 2018 is not new: we’re on the cusp of another cycle of remakes. The question is not whether we will see Jason or Freddy again; it is when and in what form? As industry insiders closely follow Halloween’s box office, however, they would do well to consider history. If new installments of our favorite 80s monsters are on the horizon, now is the time to investigate where the previous attempts to reboot Jason and Freddy back in 2009/2010 went wrong in order to ensure the same mistakes aren’t made.
Let’s dig in…
By 2009 it had been six years since horror audiences saw the two icons butt heads in the oft-delayed cross-over film Freddy vs Jason. While this was not the longest time gap in between films for either franchise (there were nine years between 1993’s Jason Goes To Hell and 2002’s Jason X, and nine between 1994’s Wes Craven’s New Nightmare and 2003’s Freddy vs Jason), 2009’s Friday would attempt something new: it was the first attempt to reboot the franchise as an origin story.
Platinum Dunes was clearly taking a page from their successful Texas Chainsaw Massacre playbook, which revitalized that long-dormant franchise. The TCM remake adopted a desaturated yellow colour scheme, a gritty aesthetic and a liberal dose of gory violence. Bay, Form and Fuller had the good sense to bring back Tobe Hooper and writer Kim Henkel as co-producers; Daniel Pearl as cinematographer; and John Larroquette reprised his role as the film’s ominous narrator.
Friday 2009 shares the same director as TCM – Marcus Nispel – and brings back Freddy vs Jason writers Damian Shannon & Mark Swift (despite near universal disdain for FvJ‘s script). It also repurposes part of the iconic Friday the 13th score. The yellow colour filter is swapped out for blue, but TCM’s lean/mean mentality towards kills and gore remains intact. Example A: that sleeping bag kill in the early section of the film is still brutal nearly a decade later.
NOES 2010 leans even further into these ideas. The most substantial difference is that Friday’s script is an amalgamation of what Shannon and Swift consider the best parts of the first four films of the franchise (which explains why the film plays like three films spread across different time periods). NOES’ script was initially going to follow suit, but eventually, the decision was made to focus exclusively on Wes Craven’s original film, shifting the film into explicit remake territory. Importantly, while the film had Englund’s support for recasting the role of Freddy, Craven was publicly vocal about his lack of consultation on the new film.
Horror is arguably one of the genres that is most immune to reviews. As sweeping generalizations go, there is a perception that horror fans are less discerning about the quality of the films that they will support, including films with poor reviews. While this isn’t a hard and fast rule, there is a long and storied history of horror films with low critical aggregate scores that have done well and over-performed at the box office.
It is important to raise this point because it highlights a disconnect between the way horror fans engage with films, which is particularly relevant for the Friday and Nightmare franchises. Consider that by the time of the 2009/2010 remakes, these franchises had a combined 18 films between them over 29 years, as well as hundreds of millions of dollars of box office revenue (to say nothing of lucrative licensing and merchandising deals).
We can consider two points of entry when examining the “success” (or lack thereof) of 2009’s Friday and 2010’s NOES: critic reviews and audience scores/box office. On Rotten Tomatoes, Friday is rated 25% Rotten, while NOES fares even worse at 15% Rotten (for comparison TCM sits at 36%, Freddy vs Jason is 41%, and Zombie’s Halloween is 26%). Critics from traditional (read: non-horror) outlets criticized both films for failing to distinguish themselves from their predecessors, for replicating sequences from the original source material and for relying too heavily on “shock” cuts (ie: jump scares). One obvious distinguishing factor that made Friday go over a little better with critics is the inclusion of humour, while NOES is criticized for being unnecessarily dark and gloomy.
Horror critics weren’t much more favourable:
Friday the 13th:
BC’s review praises the physicality and presence of Derek Mears as Jason, likens the violence to the “torture porn” trend that was popular with Saw films at the time, and struggles to engage with the opening sequence that functions too much like an extended prologue
A Nightmare On Elm Street:
David Harley’s review suggests the new film moves briskly and follows the same story with some slight modern updates, but they (and the characters) don’t resonate. Harley’s verdict is that the film fails to offer anything innovative
Jeff Otto’s review laments the lack of character development, the speed with which characters (and by proxy the audience) know everything and Jackie Earle Haley’s diminutive status, which hampers his ability to scare and intimidate
Cinemascores (exit polls collected over opening weekend) reinforced the audience preference for Friday (B-) over NOES (C+) although the final domestic grosses were nearly identical (approximately ~$65M). The gross, however, is extremely underwhelming when opening weekend figures are considered: Friday opened to $40M while NOES opened slightly lower with $32.9M. The incredibly small difference between opening weekend and final gross for both films indicates that they were both extremely front-loaded (hardcore fans rushed out), but neither film had legs (repeat viewers). Considering Friday’s $19M and NOES’ $35M budget (the latter is quite high for horror) and the subdued response from fans, New Line ultimately pulled the plug on sequel options.
A cursory glance at the key distinctions between Blumhouse’s Halloween, Friday 2009 and NOES 2010 reveal several lessons to be learned:
1) Sequels sell better than remakes:Halloween is a continuation of the original franchise, not a hard reboot (which is sometimes seen as a cynical cash grab by horror fans). Consider this: Zombie’s Halloween remake opened to $31M and ultimately earned $80M, which is slightly better than (but still in line with) Friday and NOES. It appears that there may be a financial ceiling on remakes/reboots.
2) Make the film an event: The fervor surrounding the release of Halloween has dominated horror water cooler talk for nearly the entire year. Not only does the film celebrate the 40th anniversary of John Carpenter‘s original film, it brought back original actress Jamie Lee Curtis to the franchise for the first time in 20 years (still not counting Resurrection). The same argument can be applied to two other franchise entries: 1998’s Halloween: H20 (which played to many of the same strengths to the tune of $55M) and Freddy vs Jason (which capitalized on years of pent-up demand to see the icons face off and ultimately grossed $114M). Even Halloween 2007 was able to capitalize on the odd and unusual choice of Rob Zombie’s involvement to help garner extra attention.
Compare this with Friday and NOES, both of which had much more muted, anxious, and trepidatious reactions from fans. Neither franchise brought back key players such as Kane Hodder or Robert Englund and, in NOES’ case, actually irked Craven, which did not sit well with loyal fans.
3) Reviews matter: Although there are plenty of horror films that have performed admirably without the benefit of strong reviews, Halloween has been able to appeal to a broader audience thanks to its 80% Fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes and sparkling endorsement from horror critics. The B+ Cinemascore also indicates that audiences who see the film are mostly liking what they see.
4) Reputation matters: One intriguing new development that was not in play when the Friday and NOES remakes were made is the power of Blumhouse. The production company has been around since 2000, but didn’t break out until 2009 with the release of Paranormal Activity. Since then Blumhouse has developed a reputation for producing good to great films on small budgets, which ensures high profitability. Their association with well-liked genre auteurs such as James Wan, Leigh Whannell, and Oscar winner Jordan Peele has generated audience goodwill and faith in the brand, which undoubtedly helped to sell Halloween as a reverent property that fans could trust to deliver the goods.
5) Be selective with the homages: One of the consistent complaints in nearly all of the reviews for both Friday 2009 and NOES 2010 is their slavish devotion to previous installments. This is especially apparent in A Nightmare on Elm Street, which lifted whole sequences from Craven’s original film and then failed to differentiate, modernize or improve upon them. Friday the13th‘s cheeky playfulness — incorporating elements of the first four films — likely would have been better received if they were spread out throughout the film, rather than starting the film with a series of false starts. Compare this with the (mostly) appreciative response to the Blumhouse Halloween‘s visual references to its predecessors, even those it has disavowed in its retconned timeline; several reviews applaud its efforts to pay homage without literally recreating the original set pieces.
6) Make it timely: This lesson is apt to be the most controversial. Halloween has generated a fair amount of press due to its political and cultural relevancy in the era of #MeToo. The film’s focus on female trauma, recovery and (to a certain extent) vengeance against a male oppressor has been a persistent theme in reviews, media interviews and think piece articles published in the wake of the film’s release. This has undoubtedly helped to raise the film’s profile and may have encouraged audiences who were uninterested in seeing the film to make an effort to support it. Attempting to anticipate trends years in advance can be dangerous and films run the risk of being out of touch, overly topical, appearing disingenuous or turning off potential audiences.
Whether future iterations of Friday The 13thand A Nightmare On Elm Street will heed these lessons is uncertain, but it is clear that horror audiences are less welcoming to remakes of their favourite franchises, particularly those that eschew the actors and creators that helped make the originals so memorable. Warner Bros and New Line would do well to consider their scripts, their release dates and keep Hodder, Englund, Heather Langenkamp, John Saxon, Kevin Bacon, and Victor Miller on speed dial before they pull the trigger on a new film.
What are your thoughts? Do any of the lessons stated above stand out as reasons why Halloween succeeded where Friday 2009 and NOES 2010 failed?
The tremendous critical and box office success of Blumhouse’s Halloween no doubt has studios across Hollywood itching for the opportunity to invent or reboot the next great slasher flick. Halloween fever is likely to fast-track other potential remakes, including the long-brewing Nightmare on Elm Street reboot (or, more accurately, a re-reboot). Robert Englund had previously stated he’d never return for another Freddy flick, but after reprising the Springwood Slasher on a recent episode of The Goldbergs, he seems open to the idea—and he’s not the only original Elm Street star willing to give the franchise one last spin.
Heather Langenkamp played “final girl” Nancy Thompson in the original Nightmare (1984) and reprised the role in 1987’s A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors. Now, she’s telling Entertainment Weekly that she’d love one last opportunity to go toe-to-toe with Freddy Krueger.
“I’m sitting here like any other scream queen in Hollywood, hoping that they revive their franchise. I’m not alone! I know of lots of other horror heroines who have this little bit of spring in their step thinking about the chance of perhaps being in [new versions of] the movies that they helped make famous as young people. It’s kind of crazy, but it’s definitely something I would love to do.”
Of course, bringing Nancy back from the dead will take some creative scripting—unless she returns as a sort of Dream Angel sent to foil Freddy’s next slaughter. It’s all just conjecture at this point, so who’s to say? In any case, we’ll keep our ears to the ground in order to bring you all Nightmare on Elm Street-related news as details emerge. Stay tuned!
Would you like to see Heather Langenkamp play Nancy once more in a new Nightmare on Elm Street movie? Sound off in the comments below or on Facebook, Twitter, and/or Instagram!
After *the real* Freddy Krueger’s return on the small screen, it’s time to go bigger.
Believe it or not, we’re now 15 years removed from the last time Robert Englund played Freddy Krueger in a feature film, that film of course being 2003’s mashup fight flick Freddy vs. Jason. Of course, we haven’t gone completely without Freddy in those 15 years, as Jackie Earle Haley took over the role for 2010’s A Nightmare on Elm Street. But we don’t talk about that.
For the last several years, Englund has repeatedly vowed that Freddy vs. Jason was his swan song as the character, despite a couple of convention appearances in Freddy makeup. Every time he’s been asked about returning to the role, Englund has shot it down, repeating over and over again that he’s just no longer interested or even capable of going full Freddy.
“I’m too old to do another Freddy now,” Englund bluntly stated just last year.
But then something miraculous happened. Just a couple months back, it was announced that Robert Englund actually *would* be playing Freddy Krueger one more time, in a special Halloween episode of “The Goldbergs” that was to spoof/pay tribute to the Nightmare on Elm Street franchise. To make a long story short, series creator Adam F. Goldberg was able to convince Englund to slap on the makeup and striped sweater for the fans, and that episode of the ’80s-set series (humorously titled “Mister Knifey-Hands”) aired tonight on ABC.
Not only did Englund’s brief appearance on “The Goldbergs” this week deliver the goods, but more importantly, it may very well have been the catalyst for what we all really want.
One… more… movie.
But first, the big question heading into the Halloween episode of “The Goldbergs” was simple: Does Robert Englund still have it in him, or was he right to retire from his most iconic role in the wake of Freddy vs. Jason? In his cameo appearance, the 71-year-old Englund reprised the role of Freddy for a fun nightmare sequence, which saw him share the screen with actress Wendi McLendon-Covey. Not that it came as any surprise, but Englund proved that yes, he’s still got it, disappearing back into the character for a revival performance short but oh-so-sweet.
If you missed it, check out Englund’s scenes from “Mister Knifey-Hands” below. Turn up the volume and revel in a 71-year-old actor still slaying a role he first played in his thirties.
If Robert Englund’s cameo on “The Goldbergs” left you hungry for more, the best possible news here is that it seems to have made Englund himself hungry for more. Earlier this week, Englund teased during an interview that he *might* have one more Nightmare on Elm Street movie left in him, the fire seemingly re-lit within him in the wake of filming “The Goldbergs.”
Adam F. Goldberg even tweeted directly to New Line tonight after the episode premiered, doubling down on Englund’s exciting comments: “Robert said he’d never be Freddy again, but had so much fun when we shot he’s now open to it. I did my job, now you do yours!”
As Goldberg stressed, he’s hopeful that Englund’s cameo on “The Goldbergs” will lead to one more full-on performance in a reboot of the original Nightmare on Elm Street franchise, and the stars sure do seem to be aligning for that to happen. After all, the smash hit box office success of Halloween this past weekend has surely compelled New Line to at least consider bringing back Elm Street, and the fact that Englund is now open to coming back for at least one more movie puts the studio in a no-brainer situation. I beg of you, New Line. Make. That. Call.
New Line is the house that Robert Englund built. It’s time to let him back in one last time.
Side note, even if the last we see of Robert Englund’s Freddy was on “The Goldbergs” this week, the good news there is that Goldberg hopes to release an “uncut version” of the episode at some point in the near future. What does that mean, exactly? According to Goldberg, “So much amazing Freddy stuff had to be cut to make our 21 minutes of air time.”
In October 1978, the world was first introduced to Michael Myers in John Carpenter‘s slasher Halloween. An independent production, the film was a huge box office success and was the catalyst behind the creation and introduction of future slasher films such as Sean Cunningham‘s Friday the 13th in 1980 and Wes Craven‘s A Nightmare On Elm Streetin 1984. All three franchises would become a huge phenomenon that penetrated deep into pop culture in such a way that Michael, Jason Voorhees and Freddy Krueger have become the faces of horror.
This is not to say they were the first. In fact, another slasher icon was birthed back in 1974 when Tobe Hooper gave birth to Leatherface in The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, another independent horror feature that would become a horror staple. This would carve an earlier path to the aforementioned “big three” that dominated much of the 80s.
Over the years, many filmmakers attempted and failed to recreate this magic, although a few have poked through: Clive Barker‘s directorial debut, Hellraiser(1987), which introduced Pinhead and the Cenobites to horror audiences; the Tom Holland-directed Child’s Play(1988), created by Don Mancini, about a serial killer doll named Chucky; and lastly, Wes Craven‘s ultra-meta Scream, spooking newer/younger horror fans with Ghostface.
While most of us horror fans are continually begging for “original” horror, it still brings a tremendous amount of joy to see our favorite characters slashing back on the big screen. Last month, we learned of Orion’s remake of Child’s Play. Then, just this past weekend, Michael Myers slashed up the box office with Halloween, while tonight ABC’s “The Goldbergs” brings the return of Robert Englund in his iconic Freddy Krueger makeup. Shit, we also broke the news that LeBron James‘ SpringHill Entertainment is producing a reboot of Friday the 13th.
The slasher icon has returned from the dead in a big way.
Speaking to the latter, this is where Freddy Krueger and the A Nightmare on Elm Street franchise currently resides. The last we had heard, David Leslie Johnson-McGoldrick (Conjuring 2, Orphan) has been developing the franchise’s return, although it’s been dormant for a few years now. However, the success of Halloween should have jostled it loose.
This brings us to this week’s breaking news that Vertigo Entertainment and LeBron James’ SpringHill Entertainment are in talks to reboot the Friday the 13th franchise with original screenwriter Victor Miller, who is now the sole owner of the U.S. rights to the first film in the franchise (Horror, Inc. is appealing the ruling). While the pieces are still falling into place, Vertigo did just remake Stephen King’s It with New Line Cinema. This is an important piece to the puzzle because New Line Cinema still carries the international distribution rights to the Friday the 13th film franchise. In short, it appears that Vertigo and SpringHill, with the approval of Victor Miller, can make a new movie with New Line Cinema and see it distributed worldwide without any issues.
With Texas Chain Saw Massacre at Legendary and A Nightmare On Elm Street at New Line, it’s 100% possible that we could one day see a newly assembled shared universe between Jason Voorhees, Freddy Krueger and Leatherface, which was once a possibility when New Line controlled all three properties years back.
This brings us to Halloween. After escaping from Dimension Films and The Weinstein Company, Miramax and Trancas producer Malek Akkad made a deal with Blumhouse to produce the next installment that would be distributed through Universal Pictures. While the franchise had originally been handcuffed at Dimension/TWC, it’s now believed to be a free-floater. While there’s no doubt that Halloween currently resides at Universal Pictures with Blumhouse producing, there’s a world in which Michael Myers could eventually slash his way over to New Line Cinema or work something out with the several producers and Universal on some sort of mega-collaboration. This is just wishful thinking on my part, but there’s always the possibility. For now, Blumhouse is currently hard at work developing a sequel to this past weekend’s smash hit. Maybe we’ll be lucky and get a new Halloween by next October?!
Speaking of Dimension Films and The Weinstein Company… Lantern Entertainment’s $289 million purchase of The Weinstein Co. assets has officially closed. We have it on good authority, although unconfirmed, that Lantern is the current rights holder to both Wes Craven’s Scream franchise and Clive Barker’s Hellraiser. There was hope that Pinhead may have escaped in the midst of the legal battle and eventual bankruptcy of TWC, but the asset appears to be locked by the new owners. With that said, we’re hearing it can be pried loose if the right party were to come along. As for Scream, a third series in the can awaiting new distribution after Netflix terminated the output deal they had in place for the show. New series and/or films can be produced in partner with Lantern Entertainment. It’s a major, major property and we don’t expect it to stay dormant for too long.
Lastly, there’s good ol’ Chuckster, who now exists in two separate universes. Franchise writer and creator Don Mancini is not only developing a television series based on the Child’s Play films, but also further sequels, all of which remain canon from the very beginning. Meanwhile, Orion and MGM have already begun filming a remake of the first film with Lars Klevberg in the director’s chair and starring Aubrey Plaza (Life After Beth) and Brian Tyree Henry (“Atlanta”), with Gabriel Bateman (Lights Out) as our new Andy Barclay. Yes, there are two franchises alive and well at the exact same time. This is evidence of just how hot horror and 1980s slashers are at the moment.
While our younger readers will experience this as the norm, us older horror fans have suffered quite a bit over the years, which is why this horror boom is so exciting. In 2003, Freddy vs. Jasongave us a taste of what could be, only to have the horror world collapse under the feet of the J-horror remake craze. We’ve never recovered as found-footage eventually took hold and left our beloved horror icons in the rearview mirror. Mainstream wants horror to go away – except when they’re busy writing their Halloween-themed listicles all October long – and it’s taken a string of miracles and big-boy-pants risks (It: Chapter One) to reveal to the world that horror is bigger than their hatred of it. It may feel like we’re deep-rooted into what’s to come, but the truth is that we’re just beginning. There’s a horror explosion coming so big that it’s going to surprise everyone… except us.
We hope literally everyone reading this right now is planning on tuning into “The Goldbergs” tonight, as tonight’s the night that Robert Englund guest stars in the ’80s-set series as none other than the horror icon he made famous, Freddy Krueger! This year’s Halloween special is full on Elm Street-themed, and it promises to be one hell of a treat.
In this latest clip, Beverly Goldberg runs into an eerie corn maze to look for her Schmoopie. Instead, she comes face to face with her worst nightmare: Freddy Krueger!
Tonight’s episode is titled “Mister Knifey-Hands”…
“Despite Beverly’s wishes, Jackie’s parents allow Adam to watch A Nightmare on Elm Street and a disagreement between the families ensues. But Beverly dreams of facing off with horror icon Freddy Krueger (guest star Robert Englund), which teaches her an important lesson about her son’s relationship with Jackie. Meanwhile, Erica realizes she’s not as popular as she once was as she starts hanging out at William Penn Academy despite the fact she’s no longer a student there.”
Don’t miss it TONIGHT, October 24 at 8pm EST on ABC!