#20: FREDDY KRUEGER
How exactly did a shabbily-dressed undead child molester become the star of a hugely-successful movie franchise? Parent groups did what they could to stop the Nightmare on Elm Street series, but the films and their merchandise were everywhere in the late 80s. Granted, they did pull a beautiful talking FREDDY KRUEGER doll off Toys R Us’ shelves in 1989, and New Line Cinema did downplay the "molester" aspect in later films…
…but they’re still movies about a burned-up zombie with razor-sharp fingers who kills you in your own dreams.
Freddy was genuinely nasty in the first few films, and was a great kick in the ass for the slasher genre, which had been getting pretty stale by that point. The kids of Friday the 13th’s Crystal Lake were basically safe as from Jason Voorhees as long as they didn’t skinny-dip or have sex. But the Elm Street victims found themselves trapped in Freddy’s dank boiler room, slashed to death for nothing more immoral than falling asleep.
Part 3 (Dream Warriors, featuring a title track by the ever-so-hair-metal Dokken) introduced a new, more pop-friendly Freddy, who wisecracked like Don Rickles as he dispatched teens in dreams specific to their one character trait ("I am an ex-junkie…Freddy will make me O.D." "I am a comic book fanboy…Freddy will kill me in a black-and-white comic book world"). This led to tons of slashers-with-gimmicky-powers (Wishmaster, Leprechaun) in the early 1990s.
A lot of Freddy’s appeal lies in the great screen presence of Robert Englund, who was nowhere near as good in The Adventures of Ford Fairlane…or V…or, really, any other piece of dogshit you’ll find him in at Lackluster Video). He follows a basic principle of acting: "if you’re gonna overact, you should wear tons of latex makeup and a jointed metal glove."
Random Freddy Tidbits:
--- The best films in the series are the ODD ones. Number 2 is too generic slasher, 4 is too goofy, and 6 too aware that the franchise is about to end.
--- That scene in the first one where a girl is dragged up walls and killed on the ceiling by an invisible Freddy? It used a rotating room which was later used in BREAKIN’ 2: ELECTRIC BOOGALOO for a scene with kids breaking on the walls (the filmmakers slipped in a framed picture of a clawed glove to represent for Elm Street).
--- Long-standing rumors of a FREDDY VS. JASON movie circulate on the Web, and here’s my "spoiler": Jason falls asleep in his weirdo hut after lighting candles for his mother’s altar. Freddy then kills him.