“Are you ready for Freddy?” It would appear that everyone is. The offspring of a thousand maniacs is still up and about since his debut in 1984. He has had a similar cinematic arc to his old foe Jason Voorhees, complete with its highs and lows. He went from been a stone cold psycho killer to a comedian prankster killer in the blink of an eye and even though we got tired of his antics, we still loved him. He has survived a post modern turn and a revamp and just barely escaped a run in with Jason Voorhees and Ashley Williams. He is a multi layered killer. But what is it about Freddy that we really like and why does he give us the willies so much?
Most of Freddy’s fright charms come from the actor who plays him, Robert Englund. At the start Englund gave a truly horrific performance, with a dark side to him that made Freddy seem so real and utterly terrifying. The scene when he chops his own fingers off just to freak out his prey is a very disturbing piece of cinema. That’s how Freddy sees us at the end of the day. His excuse of murdering teenagers to get revenge on his murderer’s is understandable to a point (though he did start it by killing their children in the first place), but really the real reason this sicko sends a shudder down our spines is because he gets off on murdering so much. Jason Voorhees and Michael Myers don’t seem to know any better, their soul less faces seem in a state of confusion most of the time, they don’t know any better in a way. With Freddy he picked this life style, starting to kill kids for kicks (or worse depending on which continuity you follow), that even death cannot stop his lust for killing. Though Jackie Earle Haley tried his best to get the vibe of the original movie when he had his turn playing Freddy, it just felt to this writer like he was channeling the spirit of Mr. Englund. But fair play to him for attempting to bring the chills back into The Nightmare series. To see someone get so much joy out of murdering people, is something which just is not right! Damn you for making us like you, you sicko Freddy!
Freddy’s iconic look has also become something to talk about. The dirty ragged jumper, the dirty hat, the burnt up and scarred face and the metal clawed lined glove are all the things of nightmares. He looks a nasty piece of work. In the original nightmare there was an oozy factor to his make up that made us feel squeamish, his love of worms and slime turned many a stomach. When he became more of a prankster his makeup softened up a bit, but that evil claw still remained. The sound of it screeching over metal pipes is like nails on a blackboard. The revamped Freddy from the remake keeps much of the same design, but adds a more demonic touch to the eyes. The shorter stature of Jackie Earle Haley made Freddy’s character become more like a crazed wolverine, while Roberts performance is like a tall, thin predator stalking or chasing his prey as he pleases. In between this we have post modern real life Freddy, who though striking a slightly different look never quite gave off the chill of the original killer.
What makes him such a Halloween treat is the way he likes to kill people. He attacks in our dreams (unless he is dragged into the real world where he normally does not fair to well) when we are defenseless. Wes Craven, this monster creator used a real life news story of a poor chap who was so scared of their dreams, they died because of it. Being unable to defend ourselves from our own body, means Freddy is never to fair away. We all have to sleep right? Though a few clever teens have managed to trick him in the past, he always manages to sort them out in the end. He is always hiding at the surface ready to strike, and when he does strike he does it in style. He likes to be a show man does our Freddy. If he is not turning into a giant mouth and swallowing people whole, he is being an ironic son of a gun and injecting ex junkies to death with his own brand of drugs, and then if you are unlucky he may throw your slashed up body around your bedroom so your loved ones get splashed with blood. Or he will get your bed to eat you. Depends how he feels.
There has always been a great mix between reality and the dream world in the elm street pictures. Just a brief closing of the eyes can mean that you think you are awake, but you have moved into Freddy’s world. This is where the character comes into his own, playing the audience and his prey like a violin, with both of us unsure if this is real. The creepy tension this brings is intense, even in the more comedic Freddy films the fact a TV show host can be slaughtered in front of you by Freddy shocks you up a bit. We can never really trust our own mind when he is about. It is a safe bet though, if you see some young girls in pig tails skipping in slow motion and singing a song that starts “one, two” you are pretty much screwed!
Freddy unlike any other screen killer has an ever evolving back-story, which means every adaption of his work brings something new to the table. He started out as a child killer who was burnt alive, then a possible paedophile angle has been thrown in, he has dallied with the devil to keep his evil alive, his mothers ghost (a nun) turns up to tell us he was her offspring after she was raped by thousands of maniacs, then Freddy himself fancies having a child and moving into the realm of comic books he has his own relatives who he has a very strange relationship with. Each new thing we learn about his character (no matter how silly) adds something new to the mythology of the Freddy Krueger universe.
People just seem to embrace this guy. His merchandise is all over the place, with t-shirts, board games, water shooters, bubble gum, masks, comics and computer games all expanding Freddie’s influence over us and keeping his character alive. He even hosted his own Tales from the Crypt style TV show, with Freddy popping up to mess with people’s heads on the small screen. Hell he even survived a meeting with The Fat Boys and did a little musical number with them (which I am not going to lie, I blooming love).
That’s the thing about Freddy you see, love him or hate him, he just keeps on coming back to scare the heck out of you.
Keep an eye out as another character on the Countdown will be revealed every night at 12:01 am for the rest of the month. You’ll also be able to find them HERE.