Not only has Freddy Krueger made his mark in the realms of horror cinema, but his popularity has transcended pop culture itself. Even those who aren’t fans of horror know his name and recognize his burnt face and “dreamy” M.O. And while there’s an entire franchise behind him, it’s hard to believe that it all started with a little independent film released 35 years ago today!
So in honor of that, we thought it would be fun to take a closer look at his franchise and reveal 35 fun facts (one for each year) about Freddy Krueger. We tried to avoid ones that are too well known, such as the original being Johnny Depp’s first film, or the entire “homoerotic” subtext of the second one.
We just thought it would be more fun to look at facts that maybe aren’t as well known. Each one was also fact checked for accuracy, due to the myriad of urban myths persisting. So, without further ado, here are 35 fun facts about A Nightmare on Elm Street!
1. While many theories persist as to why the name “Elm Street” was chosen (Wes Craven himself says he grew up near one, and that every town has one), there’s another infamous Elm Street from history. On November 22, 1963, President John F. Kennedy was assassinated while in Dallas, Texas, while his car in the parade was on none other than Elm Street!
2. Over the years, a popular urban myth has circulated that Mark Hamill was living on Robert Englund’s couch in 1977, and after Englund auditioned for Luke Skywalker in Star Wars, he suggested Hamill audition as well.
In recent years, Mark Hamill has set the story straight stating that while he and Englund were acquaintances, and Englund did tell him about the Star Wars audition, many others already had (including Hamill’s agent). It was just something that many in Hollywood were talking about at that time.
3. One of Freddy’s infamous prop gloves was stolen from the set at some point during the franchise, and even popped up in Evil Dead II in 1987. Years later, Robert Englund admitted that he was the one who took it, but it’s unknown how it wound up in Sam Raimi’s famous horror sequel.
4. The iconic “Freddy Lullaby” was in fact composed by Heather Langenkamp’s boyfriend at the time, while filming the original Nightmare on Elm Street. He was a musician and sat down at his piano, toying with the minor keys, and the infamous song was born!
5. Despite only playing a very minor role as Nancy’s teacher, Lin Shaye gain notoriety and even appeared again in New Nightmare as a nurse. Lin is none other than the sister of New Line head Bob Shaye, and gained even more fame in the horror community as the medium Elaine in the Insidious franchise.
6. Wes Craven himself admits that the idea for the original Nightmare came from a series of articles he had read in the LA Times about Asian teenagers who were terrified of sleeping, and in fact died in their sleep due to horrific nightmares.
7. On the subject of Freddy Krueger’s origins, the original concept was that he was a child molester, however this was strategically changed in the film to “child murderer” since there had recently been a wave of child abuse allegations during what would come to be known as the 80’s “Satanic Panic”.
8. Freddy’s iconic look was initially going to be more gruesome and realistic, doubling down on the burnt flesh look. However, the special effects team took inspiration from pepperoni pizza, and the way that the cheese melts and slides off the crust.
9. While filming Johnny Depp’s death scene in the original film, the rotating room had to be flipped upside down, and when the gallons of fake blood poured out, it flipped the room back, and became electrified by the lighting equipment, even giving some of the crew members a shock!
10. Not even Freddy Krueger was immune from the Bollywood treatment as two “remakes” were made called, Khooni Murda in 1989, and Mahakaal in 1994. It seems that the concept of a dream demon was appealing to an international audience as well!
11. Initially, when planning the sequel, A Nightmare on Elm Street II: Freddy’s Revenge, New Line toyed with the idea of simply recasting Freddy as an extra in the mask. However, they soon came to their senses and realized what a terrible mistake this would be, as Englund’s performance is truly what makes the character iconic.
12. Long before he was the unofficial king of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Robert Downey Jr. played a small role in this franchise. The auditions for Freddy’s Revenge were held on the last day of shooting for Weird Science. And Downey gave a ride to his costar Robert Rusler to the audition, who would go on to be cast as Ron.
13. While filming Freddy’s Revenge, New Line head Bob Shaye had an awkward encounter when he brought his young daughters to an S&M shop to purchase his costume for his cameo as a bartender in the gay bar. In all likelihood, he probably didn’t look up the shop before he went.
14. During the famous Dick Cavett scene in Dream Warriors, Cavett himself was asked who he wanted his guest to be for the dream scene. He personally chose Zsa Zsa Gabor because he thought she was an idiot, and he would never actually have her on the show, and he didn’t mind seeing her get killed by Freddy!
15. While filming Dream Warriors, it seemed that many male cast member developed crushes on Patricia Arquette, and for some reason they all went to Robert Englund for advice on how to ask her out. So, when Freddy Krueger isn’t killing people in their dreams, he moonlights as a demonic Hitch!
16. When casting Will for Dream Warriors, actor Ira Heiden was picked because he himself was an avid Dungeon Master and brought that knowledge and enthusiasm to his role as Wizard Master.
17. We all love the catchy “Nightmare on My Street” by DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince, but many don’t know that this song was written and recorded without any involvement and permission from New Line Cinema. In fact, they were even sued for it, but settled out of court. Admittedly, New Line did consider incorporating it into Dream Master, but ultimately decided against it.
18. Renny Harlin got the job directing Dream Master simply by refusing to back down. He reportedly kept showing up at New Line’s office and asking to see Bob Shaye. Shaye claims that each time he showed up, he looked more and more homeless, and finally he relented because it didn’t work out with any other directors, and Harlin was still there.
19. Nancy is remembered as the quintessential final girl of the Nightmare on Elm Street franchise, but Alice actually has a better claim to that title. Nancy defeated Freddy in the original, but was sadly killed in Dream Warriors. Alice on the other hand faced Freddy in both Dream Master and Dream Child, and beat him twice! Admittedly, Heather Langenkamp won in New Nightmare, but she was playing herself, not Nancy.
20. Of the many scripts considered for Freddy’s Dead, one of them was written by none other than Peter Jackson, coming fresh off of Bad Taste and Meet the Feebles. While they would up not using his script, he would go on to bring immense success (and Oscar wins) for New Line with the Lord of the Rings trilogy a decade later!
21. While filming Freddy’s Dead, actress Lezlie Deane was filming scenes about child abuse, and starting having actual flashbacks to tragic abuse that occurred in her childhood. While it was initially traumatizing, she later admitted that it gave her an opportunity to confront that trauma and overcome it.
22. The infamous Power Glove scene in Freddy’s Dead was done without the knowledge (or permission) of Nintendo. However, they didn’t seem to mind and probably understood it fell under parody.
23. Robert Englund himself has claimed on multiple occasions that his favorite film in the series is Dream Warriors, Dream Master, and the New Nightmare. Perhaps just changes his mind a lot, and who knows what is actual favorite is?
24. Wes Craven admitted that the earthquake scene in New Nightmare was inspired by Repulsion, however, while filming, an actual massive 7.1 earthquake struck LA during production. Craven even had a 2nd unit crew go around and get shots of the damage to use in the film.
25. Many of the cast from the franchise popped up in New Nightmare’s funeral scene, but one notable exception was Johnny Depp. Wes Craven felt too shy to ask Depp, since he was becoming a massive star.
But several years later the two ran into each other and when Craven asked Depp admitted that he would have gladly come back. It’s a shame that we missed that opportunity, which should have been obvious to Craven because Depp had previously popped up for a cameo in Freddy’s Dead!
26. In a precursor to Scream, New Nightmare features Heather Langekamp receiving creepy phone calls, which was partially inspired by a real life stalker she had. Apparently a fan of her sitcom Just the 10 of Us, was upset at the show’s premature cancellation. Craven even remarked how ironic it was that it was her sitcom that yielded her a creepy stalker rather than her role in such a famous horror franchise.
27. The inception of New Nightmare was something of a reconciliation for Bob Shaye and Wes Craven. In an interview at the time, Craven lamented that he felt like the Nightmare series had gotten away from him, as he had no involvement following Dream Warriors. In an attempt to rectify this, Shaye reached out to Craven and thus began the process of making New Nightmare!
28. Heather Langenkamp admitted that the backstage scene in New Nightmare was very close to real life as everyone wanted Robert Englund’s autograph, but not hers. Apparently, this is usually the case at conventions as well. But it makes sense, considering that Freddy is very much the face of the franchise.
29. Despite hating most slasher and horror films in general, Roger Ebert gave New Nightmare a positive review, stating that he really enjoyed the self-reflection and critique on the Hollywood system. His reviewing partner Gene Siskel however disagreed (as was usual), and argued that it was just another excuse for more blood and guts. But honestly, that’s what most of the fans love about it.
30. Fans of Pet Sematary will recognize Heather Langenkamp’s son Dylan in New Nightmare. Miko Hughes also played the incredibly creepy Gage Creed and Pet Sematary, and both films even involve him being on the road with trucks coming very close to him!
31. After spending longer in development hell than most movies, Freddy vs. Jason went through many script iterations before settling on the final film we got. Some of these abandoned ideas included Jason being on trial for his murders, a cult of Freddy worshippers who resurrect him, and Freddy “violating” Jason’s mother, thus motivating him to fight.
32. Just as Freddy vs. Jason went through countless screenplays, the same was true of potential directors. Those considered included Peter Jackson and Rob Zombie. Eventually they chose Bride of Chucky’s Ronny Yu, specifically because he wasn’t really a fan of Freddy or Jason. New Line felt that because of this, he would bring in a fresh, unbiased perspective to the story.
33. Long before she was cast as Lori in Freddy vs. Jason, actress Monica Keena watched the original Nightmare on Elm Street and was incredibly traumatized. Her fear of Freddy got so bad that she stopped eating and sleeping, and even the school got involved when they noticed her drastic drop in weight. She swore that she would never make a movie that scares people like that. But perhaps her starring in this was cathartic as she got to help defeat Freddy.
34. After the less than stellar reception of the 2010 remake, Robert Englund shared his idea for what would make a reboot work. His idea involved Freddy being played by different actors for each character’s dream as it would be based on what they’re afraid of. In a weird way, this would make Freddy more similar to Pennywise, both of whom prey on fear!
35. Amidst all the movies, fans, and memorabilia, perhaps the greatest contribution Freddy Krueger ever made was propelling New Line Cinema from a tiny independent company barely staying afloat into a powerful player in Hollywood.
The success of the Nightmare films gained the company enough money and prestige to go on to produce such other franchises as Austin Powers, Rush Hour, and of course The Lord of the Rings. To this day, many refer to New Line as “the house that Freddy built”.
Which of these did you already know or not know? Were there any that surprised you? Let us know in the comments below. And for more reviews, rankings, and other fun horror content, follow Halloween Year-Round on Facebook and Twitter!