No more Freddy?
By Anthony Timpone
Published in Fangoria #108.
“What do you think the appeal of Freddy is?” a writer from People magazine asked me today during a phone interview. The guy was writing an article on Robert Englund and the imminent release of Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare, and wanted to know this editor’s take on the whole Freddy phenomenon.
“Freddy’s just a classic monster character,” I answered, “the perfect nightmare figure for the ’80s, and perhaps for the ’90s if the latest film’s a hit. Wes Craven created a uniquely frightening and original character, who also exhibited personality and style.”
The questions then took a more serious tone.
“But isn’t it disturbing that audiences are sympathizing with, and making a hero out of, a child molester/murderer?”
“No,” I replied. “Moviegoers have always rooted for monsters. They don’t think he’s cool because he kills kids, but because he’s so omnipotent and powerful and says witty things.” Later, my cohort Michael Gingold put his valuable two cents in, adding that no one ever went to a Dracula movie to see Van Helsing.
So at presstime, nearly a month before The Final Nightmare opens, Freddy Krueger’s hot news again. That’s some accomplishment for the New Line marketing and publicity staffs. With the dreary Nightmare on Elm Street 5 and the abysmal Freddy’s Nightmares television series just painful memories now, fans seem anxious to give the dream stalker another chance. And he deserves it.
Freddy Krueger has done a lot for this magazine and vice versa. We were the first publication to ever run features on the Nightmare films and put his burnt mug on the cover, thanks to the tireless lobbying efforts of visionary publicist Gary Hertz. We gave the series a core audience that New Line Cinema built upon to make the character a cultural icon and mass audience success. To date, I have edited 19 horror publications with that familiar scarred visage gracing the whole cover. STARLOG’s publisher has called Freddy Krueger Fango’s Mr. Spock. And as Freddy’s popularity continued to grow, so did FANGORIA’s. Many of those issues set sales records for the company.
Despite all the success and notoriety he has garnered, Robert Englund remains the same good-natured, working-man’s actor that he always was. We first met here in the Fango offices when he dropped by, in full costume no less, to promote Nightmare 2. Since then we’ve worked together on The Horror Hall of Fame and a few Fango cons, and chatted at New Line’s rockin’ Christmas parties. On each occasion, he has always had a kind word for his fans and the magazine.
So is this truly The Final Nightmare? I kinda doubt it. Jason’s Final Chapter didn’t exactly turn out that way. The box office gods will ultimately decide the final answer. Whatever happens, I extend hearty thanks to all those at New Line Cinema and the makers of the Nightmare series for producing several influential and innovative films and keeping the genre strong; congratulations to Robert Englund for becoming the most memorable horror actor since the heyday of Karloff and Lugosi; and last but not least, I salute Wes Craven for being the genius who started it all. They couldn’t have done it without him.