DVD Boxset Commemorative Booklet
It wasn’t so much that I loved horror films. In fact, they scared me. My father even forbade me from seeing “Abott and Costello Meet Frankenstein” when I was seven because he said I would get nightmares. No matter. I had them anyhow.
When Wes Craven told me about his script though, I got really excited. It was an original idea, dying in your dreams meant really dying. And four kids all had the same monster come to them while they slept. The key to horror for me is lulling the audience into a trance, having them totally believe that the story being told could really happen, happen to them. Here was the perfect common denominator. We all have to fall asleep. Oh oh. Don’t let that happen.
Not only was this a wildly imaginative, inspired concept and script, it was a solid commercial genre for the dating crowd, an audience we at New Line understood. And I hope we could make it for under a million. It ended up costing $1.2 million, but that didn’t matter. We had no money to invest in production anyhow.
The production and financing sagas that came out of that first Nightmare are as horrific as the film itself, and they were as real for me. I woke up in many cold sweats during those months. Fortunately with Wes’ clever and assured direction, a wonderfully talented cast, and a few of my own worst nightmares thrown into the story (like the sticky steps) our nightmares turned out to be the nightmares of our audience. We are proud to have delivered a film that proved to be wonderful populist entertainment.
Robert Shaye, Producer
Founder, CEO New Line Cinema
A Nightmare on Elm Street, The Blood Bath.
Our F/X man, Jim Doyle, had designed and constructed an ingenious full-scale gyro rotating room to achieve the “Johnny Depp Gets Eaten By and Then Regurgitated From His Bed” sequence. You know how evil beds can be. Beds are from whence all nightmares spring.
Using gravity and a little elbow grease, the room with all the furniture plus cameraman and director fixed in place, would spin upside down thus allowing the rigged room to appear right side up while thousands of gallons of fake blood would seem to gush, erupt, okay, vomit upward form the bed. Actually, it was a blood waterfall shot upside down. Clever, huh?
The day to use the gyro set came. The morning was spent on the first half of the big effect—the “Sucking Johnny into the Mouth of His Bed” part of the gag. Then the room was reset for the big spin.
It’s important to remember that this was a low budget feature film, and as is true on all such projects, all departments were overworked and exhausted. This is especially true of the F/X guys who never seem to sleep anyway.
Heather Langenkamp and I, in full Nancy and Freddy drag, secured front row seats for the show by crawling over cables, giant feeder hoses and under the supporting structure of the rotating bedroom set.
Director Wes Craven and Director of Photography Jacques Haitkin were strapped into their interior mounted bucket seats, the camera was bolted to the “floor” and the loading of rivers of movie blood through conduits coiled in the rafters of the studio began. We could hear the coursing blood filling the hoses like so many giant veins.
The gyro set was so perfectly balanced that one man could spin it to the upside down position. The moment came, the cue to turn the room was given. Whoever spun the room, probably tired and maxed out, sent it circling in the wrong direction, clockwise or counter clockwise, who knows or remembers now. But sending the room in the wrong direction was enough to prematurely release a deluge of liquid at the wrong point in the room’s rotation, causing the blood to spill out sideways. Gravity now took control and the gushing gallons began to fill the room.
From my vantage point I saw a door, now in the belly of the tilting rocking room, burst open like a dam breaking and a cascade of blood hit the studio floor. And hit all those sparking cables, I grabbed Heather, turned tail and ran for the high ground and comfort of the make-room. What a wuss.
Everyone was uninjured, although Wes and Jacques got drenched in blood, and the editors were able to salvage enough footage to make the sequence work on film. But for a few moments there, I experienced true terror. Not the kind created with smoke, mirrors, foam latex and computer-generated images—but the real thing, human, acrid smelling, full of panic and threat.
“Freddy Krueger” Actor
The following production notes are from each film’s original theatrical press kit.
A Nightmare on Elm Street
Release Date: November 9, 1984
Nancy Thompson is a typical American kid growing up in a clean, middle-class California suburb. She’s a good student, outgoing and well liked.
Her idyllic existence is abruptly shattered by a series of horrible nightmares—the monstrous stalking by a fierce cold-blooded killer.
When describing her haunted, sleepless nights to her closest friends, they suddenly realized that they too have been jolted awake by screams and cold sweats; they too have been plagued by the same hallucination—the same awful madman.
That night one of her friends is brutally murdered in her sleep. The police suspect the girl’s boyfriend. Nancy, however, begins to suspect something far more sinister; she fears that the walls separating fantasy from reality are crumbling and the nocturnal monsters of their unconscious minds are hunting them down.
Their only defense, she claims, is to stay awake. Her family fears that her sanity is slipping away, even as her friends are systematically slaughtered in their sleep.
After many sleepless nights of fighting off well-meaning adults armed with pills, warm baths, hot milk and calming lies, Nancy resigns herself to the fact that she must give in to her exhaustion and face the terror of her nightmares in a life-and-death battle for control. In an exciting and startling climax, Nancy confronts her tormentor and discovers the dark, decade-old secret of Elm Street and the heinous events that triggered the creation of the nightmare.
A Nightmare on Elm Street is a story of the courage and resourcefulness of one extraordinary girl—a psychological fantasy/thriller that rips apart the barrier between dreams and reality. It will make us all think twice before settling onto our pillows for a night of sweet dreams.
FREDDY-FACT: The hand coming up between Nancy’s legs as she bathes in A Nightmare on Elm Street is that of special effects artist Jim Doyle, who is actually submerged in a 450-gallon tank.
“Tingling, one of the scariest of its kind… Nightmare delivers.” — Chicago Sun-Times
FREDDY-FACT: In A Nightmare on Elm Street, Nancy runs up quicksand stairs, which in reality were coated with Bisquick and chopped carpet.
A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge
Release Date: November 1, 1985
It’s been five years since Nancy Thompson waged her last battle with Freddy Krueger in that sinister house on Elm Street. Five years…
The Walsh family—Jesse (Mark Patton), a 17 year-old, with his father (Clu Gulager), mother (Hope Lange) and sister, Angela (Christie Clark)—has just moved in. Right off the top, Jesse starts having bad dreams. His parents assume this is due to the pressure of being the “new kid in town.” Jesse knows otherwise. Something evil is alive in this house.
The signs are unclear but disturbing. The house becomes unbearably hot suddenly on one of the coolest nights of the year. Appliances take on a mentality of their own, and abruptly burst into flames. The pet parakeet has an anxiety attack and turns into a roman candle.
Mark turns to Lisa (Kim Myers), his new girlfriend, to try and figure out what’s happening. They piece together assorted rumors and old news clippings of the house’s homicidal past, and discover the grisly details about the local child-murderer, Freddy Krueger (Robert Englund), who was killed—burned to death—by town citizens years ago.
Meanwhile, Jesse’s dreams are turning frighteningly real, and perhaps blurring into reality itself. Freddy Krueger appears in the darkness, muttering black threats about the “plans” he has for Jesse. Lisa tells Jesse he’s just having a series of intense psychic episodes, but something tells him the situation is far more odious. Slowly, he feels himself succumbing to Freddy, and his own darker impulses rising within.
Then, a bloody nightmare. Jesse finds himself observing the brutal slaying of his gym teacher, Coach Schneider (Marshall Bell). The next day, he learns the murder has, in fact, occurred. Jesse is convinced it wasn’t Freddy Krueger but himself who was the murderer. The fear starts to build inside Jesse like never before. He feels his sanity starting to unhinge.
Panic-stricken, Jesse cuts himself off from his family and friends. But Lisa seeks him out and refuses to leave, comforting him. Jesse begins to relax. They start to make love when, abruptly, Freddy seizes hold of Jesse: a long-tongued demon is suddenly staring hungrily at Lisa. Fearing for her, Jesse tears himself away and bolts outside.
Jesse visits his friend, Grady (Robert Rusler), and begs him to stay awake with him. He tries to tell Grady about Freddy’s possession of his body, but his friend shrugs and dozes off. Soon after, Jesse doubles over in terrible pain, and Grady wakes up to see him being ripped apart by a savage force—a beast within, Freddy Krueger, clawing his way out. The glistening killer emerges and eyes Grady. Grady screams and tries to run out of the room. The door is locked. Freddy reaches out and, within seconds, Grady slumps to the floor, blank-eyed, wasted. And there, standing over Grady’s body, is Jesse.
He finds Lisa and falls into her arms, bloody and agonizing over Grady’s murder. Lisa listens with a numbing realization: these aren’t dreams, and Freddy is no shadow. As Jesse feels another transformation coming on, he warns Lisa to run away. But she stands by, trying to help him fight it. Still, Freddy wins out.
Freddy attacks Lisa and begins chasing her through to house. In his clutches, Lisa begs for her life and pleads with Jesse to come through. Poised for the kill, Freddy is about to slash at her when… something stops him. A glint of recognition in his eyes, his features contorting into confusion. Freddy scrams out and runs away from Lisa and into the night.
A rampage of terror follows. Freddy invades a pool party and spreads flames everywhere, slashing at random at the young party guests. Lisa’s father (Thom McFadden) attempts to fire at Freddy with a shotgun but Lisa, knowing it’s really Jesse, stops him. Freddy turns and stalks away, right through a hedge fence.
Lisa follows him to the old factory where Freddy Krueger used to work. She confronts Jesse/Freddy and offers her love to him. Jesse feels an inner strength of his own welling inside him. Freddy begins to weaken, and then gives up his possession. The horror is over, not with a bang but with a whisper.
FREDDY-FACT: Wes Craven named Freddy Krueger after a real-life school bully.
“A stylish scare-’em-up!” — The Hollywood Reporter
FREDDY-FACT: Wes Craven, Freddy Krueger’s creator, was a former fundamentalist Baptist who didn’t allow himself the pleasure of seeing a film until college.
A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors
Release Date: February 27, 1987
Freddy’s status as a screen menace with heavy Freudian undertones has given him, and the Elm Street movies, worldwide notoriety. Teenagers in Yugoslavia tell Freddy jokes; young people in India see him as the contemporary manifestation of a traditional evil spirit; young audiences in the States and Europe dress up in Freddy drag for midnight showings; a heavy metal rock group has a song entitled “The Ballad of Freddy Krueger” and actor Robert Englund is frequently besieged by fans wanting him to autograph “hands, arms, knife handles, cheerful things like that.”
Convinced of Freddy’s staying power, New Line’s Robert Shaye decided to embark on another sequel with a slightly higher budget: just under $5 million. Wes Craven, who conceived, wrote and directed the first movie, came up with a concept even more terrifying and thought-provoking than the other two.
“We decided that it could no longer be one person fighting Freddy. It has to be a group because the souls of his victims have made Freddy stronger,” says Craven, who was a humanities professor before he turned to filmmaking. “It’s about consciousness and accepting responsibility on a very deep level. It’s about taking responsibility for the reality you see no matter what anyone else around you sees. You can surmount anything if you truly want to. To me, the first Nightmare was a very heartfelt and long-term view of the world and I feel we are expanding on that view in Part 3.”
Chuck Russell makes his directing debut with Nightmare 3. “I connected very deeply with Freddy from the beginning,” he says. “We are never quite sure if we’re scared to death or cheering him on. Different people play Jason (Friday the 13th) each time, but you can’t double Freddy. He’s unique and the most precocious character since Bela Lugosi’s Dracula.” He’s also one of the wittiest, plying his victims with dark humor as he zeros in for the kill. “Freddy has this ghoulish way of making puns that is very endearing,” says producer Robert Shaye, “but people don’t laugh at him. He’s a hero people love to hate.”
Since the film delves deeper into Freddy’s “reality,” the production designers had to come up with effective and genuinely scary ideas for the nightmare scenes. Construction began three months before the movie went into production. Art directors Mick Strawn and C.J. Strawn designed an eerie, rotting replica of the Elm Street house; a long, blood-spattered tunnel; rooms with collapsing walls; and most spectacular of all, Freddy Hell, where the kids meet Krueger for a final, bloody battle. Freddy Hell took eight weeks to build, with as many as 30 people working at one time. Huge broken-down boilers and dripping pipes are a chilling reminder of the way Freddy met his own death (he was burned by a vigilante mob) and the boiler room in which he used to work. The charred and rusted remains of children’s tricycles, dolls and playthings are scattered among the skulls of his victims; bones lie half submerged in stagnant pools.
Filming Freddy Hell was a nightmare in itself. Artificial smoke filled the air while the combination of lights and a fire in the central boiler made the enclosed space almost unbearably hot. Cast and crew got into the diabolical spirit of it all during their extensive shooting at the warehouse. One dressing room door was decorated with a skull. The make-up department created a sign reading “Phreddy’s Beauty Shop,” while in the stairwell leading to the art department an axe was buried unceremoniously in the wall.
Nightmare 3 was shot over a period of eight weeks in and around Los Angeles. Other locations included a specially-built house of some of the Elm Street interiors, an auto junk yard north of Los Angeles, and a graveyard in East L.A. The crew had to be careful which gravestones they included in the shots—the cemetery was in an ethnically mixed neighborhood and many of the inscriptions were in Japanese.
The now-famous Freddy make-up, created for Part 2 and Part 3 by Kevin Yagher, takes almost four hours to apply and one hour to remove. Each make-up session entails the fitting of 18 pieces of foam latex which have to be kept moist during shooting. Englund speaks highly of Yagher’s talents, noting that the 24-year-old, self-taught artist went home every night after shooting to design and make additional Freddy “items” such as a ten-foot snake with a huge Freddy head.
“Many of the crew have worked on every Nightmare movie,” says Shaye. “Rachel Talalay was assistant production manager and production accountant of the first one, and has worked her way up to producer on Part 3.” Sara Risher is co-producer and casting is by Annette Benson, both of whom served the same functions on the earlier Nightmare films.
“A carnival ride full of terrors.” — L.A. Weekly
A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master
Release Date: August 19, 1988
This time it’s A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master, New Line Cinema’s latest installment in the highly successful series that has broken box office records and made Freddy Krueger a phenomenon throughout the world. Unlike many sequels, which seem to fade into oblivion, each chapter in the Nightmare series has gone on to become a box office record-breaker. New Line’s Robert Shaye feels the reason is a six letter word: Freddy.
“Freddy Krueger is the man audiences love to hate,” he explains. “Freddy has become a great anti-hero. The world was ready for a character like him. He struck a chord in a large number of people.” Shaye also feels that while the Nightmare films are certainly entertaining, there’s more to them than just thrills. “We’ve tried to give the films a certain intelligence,” he noted. “There is a certain wit and an understanding of fear and how it affects people. That’s what entertainment and art are all about.” According to actor Robert Englund, who’s Freddy, the character has become a worldwide phenomenon. The reason for the film’s enormous popularity is simple: Freddy is absolutely evil—and there is nothing that can beat him or best him. Renny Harlin, director of the newly released horror thriller Prison, comments, “To make a great sequel, you’ve got to do everything a little better and with more originality. For this film, I wanted to develop stronger characters and relationships. A film can have all the special effects, but if the audience doesn’t care about the characters, you are lost. Great films need great characters.”
Harlin is convinced that he has found a great character in Alice, played by Lisa Wilcox. In the latest film, Alice, a shy and introverted teenager, watches as Freddy destroys all of her friends one by one. Realizing that she can control her dreams, Alice absorbs her friends’ good qualities and uses them to take on the ultimate villain, Freddy Krueger. For Wilcox, who is making her feature film debut, the role was an exciting one. “I’d always been a fan of the films,” she explained, “and I knew it would be a great experience working in one. This was a very unique role for an actress.” She admitted that the special effects in the film presented a challenge. “Doing a film with as many complicated special effects as this one had does make the job of acting a little more difficult,” she noted. “Not only did I have to concentrate on acting, but at the same time, I had to always be thinking about the various special effects, many of them which would be added after we were through filming a scene.”
Principal photography began in 1988 in Los Angeles. In addition to on-location shots throughout the city – including an auto junk yard, a graveyard and a specially-built Elm Street house—many of the film’s interiors, special effects and stunts were filmed on stages in Valencia, north of Los Angeles.
It was especially fortunate for all, including Robert Englund, that most of the film was shot on a sound stage. While filming in a park in San Pedro, south of Los Angeles, the cast and crew experienced first hand Freddy’s enormous popularity. The part, which was made over to look like a beach, complete with 30,000 tons of sand and dozens of palm trees, was the setting for a scene where Freddy attacks a victim. Word of Freddy’s presence in San Pedro soon spread. By afternoon a large crowd had formed. In full make-up, Robert Englund talked with his fans and signed autographs. The next morning, over three hundred people came to see Freddy. The local police were called in to escort Freddy to the set. When he was finished filming for the day, Englund went back to his trailer only to find it covered with dozens of people. Englund and his make-up man had to dive into the trailer. By this time the people were pounding on the roof. Englund threw pieces of Freddy mask out the window and eventually signed more autographs to quiet the rioting fans. Undoubtedly, Freddy is a giant among horror heroes.
“A superior horror picture that balances wit and gore…” — Newsweek
A Nightmare on Elm Street 5: The Dream Child
Release Date: August 11, 1989
With a claw-like hand of steel blades, signature fedora and a disfigured face that mothers find difficult to love and audiences find impossible to forget, Freddy Krueger emerged as more than just a major movie star—he is a cultural icon. The stuff that nightmares are made of, Freddy Krueger is not merely a quintessential villain, but an unlikely hero whose dark sense of humor remains his saving grace.
In the annals of movie making history, Freddy Krueger occupies a singular place in the tradition of such anti-heroes as Dracula, Frankenstein and the Wolfman. Like those memorable figures, his antics have no doubt inspired more that a fair share of terror. Yet Freddy has also found his way into the hearts of moviegoers by remaining, in a word, human.
Freddy Krueger is much more than a mere movie star—he is a one-man growth industry. According to Forbes magazine (2/6/89),”Freddy Krueger has generated nearly $300 million in domestic and foreign box office receipts and videocassette sales, plus over $3 million in licensing fees for Freddy posters, T-shirts and other paraphernalia. As of last fall, Freddy even has his own hour-long syndicated television series, Freddy’s Nightmares, which airs in 159 markets around the country.” Krueger has translated nightmares into a dream business.
Not only has he been profiled endlessly in many diverse publications, Freddy Krueger has rapped with the Fat Boys and had his own special on MTV. This year, Freddy and A Nightmare on Elm Street were included in the Whitney Museum Suburban Life Show. Both Freddy and A Nightmare on Elm Street were featured within the show in “The Living Room Tableau” which consisted of a television in a living room with a couch. The television continuously aired A Nightmare on Elm Street. As further proof of his popularity, he gets thousands of fan letters each week. Perhaps even more remarkable, this undeniable appeal is evidenced by frequent proposals of marriage. A product of our times, Freddy Krueger has also suffered defeat at the hands of a woman in each chapter of the Nightmare series.
With a success that has been assessed by Wall Street analysts and analyzed endlessly by prominent psychologists, the phenomenon of Freddy Krueger is as open to interpretation as dreams themselves. According to Rolling Stone magazine (10/6/88), Dr. Stephen LaBerge, a Stanford University research psychologist whose specialty is sleep, said of the Freddy films: “Freddy is an intriguing dream character. Ordinarily in our dreams, dream characters do not have more power over you than you have over them unless you give them that power. That was shown quite well in the third film, where Freddy overcomes each of his opponents by finding their own weakness, which is something they already know about themselves. They were always trying to overcome this monster from the id, so they would fail for some reason having to to with failing in themselves. You see, you can’t fool Freddy, because he knows what you know. And so Freddy just keeps coming back, no matter what. Actually, that’s probably what he would do until you accepted him, or tried to love him. In my approach to nightmares, that is the whole key: you stop trying to get rid of these frightening characters; instead, you accept them as a part of yourself, and the moment that you love them, they transform.”
While he has seemingly been killed off in each of his last four films, Freddy Krueger is living proof that, according to Dracula himself, “To die, to really be dead, that must be glorious.” Though he has by no means reached the zenith of his ever-growing popularity, Freddy concluded that “fame may come and go, but there will always be nightmares.”
FREDDY-FACT: Talking Freddy Krueger dolls were pulled from the marketplace because they scared children.
“Freddy’s 5th is a symphony of screams!” — USA Today
FREDDY-FACT: In college, Wes Craven wrote a thesis on dreams and kept a diary of his dreams, many of which were recreated and featured in his early films.
Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare
Release Date: September 13, 1991
On November 9, 1984, the nightmare began in the town of Springwood, U.S.A. when the innocence of Elm Street was violated for eternity. The Springwood PTA ignored their children’s claims that an evil man named Freddy Krueger was the Dream Monster responsible for the mysterious and often violent death of their friends. The PTA knew the Krueger name, and they knew he was a killer once. They also knew that Freddy Krueger was killed in a vigilante action that many of them participated in: how could he possibly be responsible for the inexplicable terror plaguing the Springwood’s youth?
With Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare, they’ve saved the best for last. Evil dreamstalker Freddy Krueger is dispatched forever in this thrilling, final installment of the phenomenally successful Nightmare series. The trademark striped sweater, fedora, and metal rapier hand are gone for good, and Freddy’s fire-scarred countenance along with them.
Time and time again, the recurrent and inexplicable terror of Freddy Krueger has gone to battle in the unconscious dream world of Springwood’s youth. With each apparent defeat, and with each renewed sense of security, there lies the uneasy threat of Freddy’s nocturnal return to Springwood.
Now, with all the children gone, and the entire community of Springwood completely repressed by the controlling influence of Freddy’s evil spirit, it’s time to end his reign of terror. It’s time for a real battle with Freddy Krueger. Not to drive him back or to control his strength. Not to become more powerful than he is, but to put an end to him. Once and for all, it’s time for The Final Nightmare.
On Freddy’s timely death, the embodiment of this American pop icon, Robert Englund commented, “It’s finally time for me to hang up Freddy’s glove. While I’ve enjoyed developing Freddy’s character to icon status, I think it’s time for me to move on, I am extremely pleased that so much effort has gone into The Final Nightmare, making it, I believe, the most outstanding installment yet.”
Dream Master Freddy Krueger, as portrayed by Englund, has become a horror film phenomenon. Audiences flocked in ever-increasing numbers to each of these horror-fests and identified with the teenagers who fought to the death to vanquish Freddy.
As Rolling Stone noted: “The A Nightmare on Elm Street films are helping define a new timely vision of horror: the horror that is buried inside, that dense, dark web of troubled history and garbled fears and desires that help us make up our internal lives. This horror is so internalized that it can only visit the characters in those moments when they are most susceptible to their own private complexities—in their dreams.”
New York Times critic Caryn James noted: “You never know when the teenagers will wake up from a nightmare, terrorized but alive. That eerie slide between dreams and reality—and the teenagers’ power to pull their friends into their nightmares—is just the kind of twist that allows filmmakers to redefine a genre.”
Critics have suggested that Freddy’s “blatant contempt for authority and his penchant for sarcastic wit” hold great appeal for moviegoers. “It feels good to hate Freddy because he’s done so many thoroughly despicable things without the teeniest bit of remorse, cracking sarcastic jokes all the while,” said one writer.
If Freddy’s sarcastic, murderous style earned him notice as a classic horror villain, it also prompted psychologists nationwide to express concern about Freddy’s ever growing popularity.
One clinical psychologist in Southern California noted, however, that for all of Freddy’s terrifying qualities, he provided teenagers with a valuable service… of sorts. “Freddy Krueger is the king of scary movies. Kids often get obsessively involved with horror-related subjects because… going to a horror film is one of the new highs they have in life to jack up their metabolism.”
With this last, and best, Nightmare, those pulses will surely quicken again…for the last time.
“Ghoulishly ingenious!” — Janet Maslin, The New York Times
Wes Craven’s New Nightmare
Release Date: October 14, 1994
When Wes Craven began dreaming up his New Nightmare, he knew he wanted to make a movie about 25 to 30 year-olds and how they as parents see Freddy. “Since the audience that saw the first Nightmare is now that age, I wanted to make a movie for them,” he explained.
After Craven targeted his audience, the script began to take on a life of its own. “I thought that it would be interesting to break through the ‘fourth wall,’—to jump outside the paradigm of the story and into the actual world of the filmmakers, the actors, the writer, the special effects team and the world in which they live. With them we could show how the spirit of Freddy could be freed by the story not being told.”
To add to a familiar dimension to his film making journey, Craven began the complicated task of reuniting several original Nightmare cast members including Heather Langenkamp, Robert Englund, John Saxon, and Nick Corri.
After his team was in place, Craven began the task of recreating Freddy. “He’s silent and scary, fast, and powerful. We kept a lot of the things that were originally Freddy, but we made them different and much more scary. I found great pleasure in being able to put Freddy back where he belonged—in the arena of the truly frightening villains of cinema.”
“The original A Nightmare on Elm Street was inspired by an extraordinary series of unnoticed stories in the Los Angeles Times.” recalls Craven. “A young immigrant male, early 20’s, usually from Southeast Asia, a son, would have a severe nightmare where he would wake up screaming. The next day he would tell his family that it was the worst nightmare he’d ever had, and he had been terribly shaken by it. The next night when he went to sleep—he died. Six months later I looked in the paper and there was another very similar story. I clipped it out, put it with the other one. Then the third one appeared about a year and a half from the first one, this time in Northern California. And the elements were the basis for the film.” The rest is horror history.
Though ten years have passed since Craven first visited Elm Street, Craven’s New Nightmare was familiar territory. “I had been thinking about this project for a long time and I could feel the film asking to be born. I just stopped fighting it. It’s good to get it out of my system—this is one of those healing nightmares. It’s about children and love. It’s about terror persisting. And it’s about dealing with things that are painful but have to be dealt with. I like that kind of story.”
Production began in the fall of 1993 utilizing locations in and around Los Angeles, including the New Line Cinema offices on Robertson Boulevard. Virtually unhampered by rain or any of innumerable variables that could set a production schedule behind, the cast and crew felt blessed as they neared the end of the shoot.
But within days after the team created their own earthquake in L.A.’s historic Rosedale cemetery, life imitated art when a 6.8 magnitude earthquake struck southern California. Sadly, several crew members lost their homes. The production was set back only two days, but the crew realized their depiction had been hauntingly real. Footage of the earthquake’s actual aftermath appears in the film.
Production designer Cynthia Charette and her team of craftspeople and decorators worked for over two months with carpenters and plasterers to create the eerily fantastic 25x40x100 foot set that represents hell over the millennia. “We began with the concept that evil has been there since the beginning of time,” says Charette. “We started by studying the history of hell through such works as Dante’s Inferno and the writings of the Roman poet Virgil, among others. We found a parallel in each ancient civilization that was represented by entering hell through an opening and landing in water.”
Since the history and mythology Charette studied heavily featured the number 7 in its descriptions of hell, she created a room with 7 openings, each leading into a lower, more vile part of the underworld. “It should look as if it begins as a Pompeiian ruin, growing more primitive with each room as though you are stepping further back in history until the final place is more like ancient Mesopotamia.”
The finished product is perhaps the best Nightmare yet says Craven. “There is an ancient entity that is evil and storytellers over the centuries have giving in different names. In our time, one of the names given it was Freddy Krueger. Yes, Freddy died in the last film and he’s still dead. Just because you stop Freddy doesn’t mean you stop evil, you just free it up. I think that’s an important lesson.”
FREDDY-FACT: September 12, 1991, was proclaimed “Freddy Krueger Day” in Los Angeles.
“…will scare the daylights out of you!” — New York Daily News
“The most popular cinematic maniac since Darth Vader.” — Newsweek
One, Two, Freddy’s Coming For You
Three, Four, Better Lock Your Door
Five, Six, Grab Your Crucifix
Seven, Eight, Gonna Stay Up Late
Nine, Ten, Never Sleep Again…