Origin Of A Horror Icon – Part 3: Freddy Krueger *Contains Spoilers*

If your parents were as cool and hip irresponsible as mine, you were allowed to watch horror films from a young age. Donnie Darko told us infants can’t remember their infanthood however I have a clear recollection of watching Nightmare on Elm Street: Freddy’s Revenge as well as the follow up Dream Warriors.

Though a little dated, the original concept remained frightening enough. Local child killer (yes killer, not paedophile) Freddy Kreuger escaped justice through a technicality that set him free. Not that the parents of Springwood stood for that as they took it upon themselves to form a lynch mob and burn Freddy alive. However, his thirst for revenge was so great, he came back from the dead and started killing the children where no one could protect them…in their dreams. Brilliant. Simple. Inevitably ruined.

At first they kept his origins relatively simple. Dream Warriors reveals Freddy’s dear mother was a nun who was accidently locked in a mental asylum with all the inmates. It was here she was repeatedly raped leading to her being impregnated with Freddy, earning him the nickname of “the bastard son of a 100 maniacs”. No we don’t know how this gives him supernatural powers but it just does. And that should have been the end of it until, ironically, the studio decided they wanted to kill Freddy off for good.  This new backstory was introduced in the 6th film, audiences had bared witness to him being whacked more than once only for him to come back a couple of years later without so much as a plot. So, in their infinite wisdom, a new origin was created for his evil complete with added plot holes.

Steroids being the source of his power apparently

Whilst burning to death at the hands of the parents of Springwood, Freddy is visited by three demons that offer him immortality. Not only did the demons just happen to be in the neighbourhood that night, they’d also been conveniently forgotten about through the series until now when Freddy decides to reveal his secret. This plot device serves no purpose other than to kill him off and the only person qualified to kill him (for good) is a family member. If it sounds familiar it’s because the same plot device that was later used in Jason goes to Hell. He even had a similar looking snake like demon(s) inside of him. It was also the same studio (New Line) that produced both films.

To be fair though, that probably isn’t the greatest crime inflicted upon Herr Kreuger. For reasons unknown to, well anyone, Freddy became less scary as the films went on and more comical. He even became a rapper and released a single. Think I’m joking?

By the time we got to Freddy’s Dead they weren’t even pretending it was a horror anymore. Freddy was killing people in video games, parodying the Wizard of Oz and even breaking the fourth wall. Why the studio decided to rebrand a dead deformed child killer as a comedy icon is fucking baffling in itself, it’s best not trying to work out why it also starred Tom and Roseanne Arnold.

Truly terrifying

The studio quickly dropped the comedy Freddy after Freddy’s Dead in spite of it having the most successful opening weekend of the series (A feat which would be beaten by Freddy vs Jason). Wes Craven’s: A New Nightmare went back to basics and made the villain frightening again, even touching on the absurdity of why he is so popular?

As already mentioned by Moviescramble, toys were even produced. An inevitable remake surfaced in 2010 where Freddy was re-imagined (badly) as a paedophile. He’s a resurrected demon who’s killing people in their sleep, by revealing he molested children doesn’t add anything to his character, the plot or anything at all in the known universe. They even attempt to add this as a twist while earlier in the film alluding to the fact that maybe he was innocent all along.

Wes Craven and Robert Englund created one of the most recognizable and frightening movie maniacs in cinematic history. Hollywood put his arse for sale on the corner then bitch-slapped him when he came up short. At least Freddy vs Jason was good.

Thomas Simpson
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