This one’s for all you “Fred Heads” out there!
Last week, in the days leading up to Friday the 13th, I published a list of lesser known facts about Jason Voorhees. It illustrated how little we actually know about some of our favorite horror movie villains. It inspired me to delve into the history of another terrifying icon: Freddy Krueger. Sure he’s a child killer, a victim of mob justice, and a consummate wise-cracker, but what makes him tick? Is he just a personification of nebulous evil, or is there a human being somewhere under those layers of charred flesh? The truth may surprise you!
Freddy Only Had 7 Minutes of Screen Time in the First Nightmare
As Hannibal Lecter in The Silence of the Lambs (1991), Sir Anthony Hopkins had less than 16 minutes of screen time. In the original Nightmare on Elm Street (1984), Freddy Krueger had less than half of that, clocking in at just over 7 minutes. Obviously, it was enough time for Robert Englund to work his terrifying magic, launching Freddy into the upper echelon of horror movie villains.
That Time Freddy Rapped with Will Smith (Kind of)
Everyone knows that Freddy’s been celebrated in popular music, most notably in Dokken’s Dream Warriors, Alice Cooper’s Welcome to My Nightmare, and The Fat Boy’s infectious Are You Ready for Freddy? But many don’t realize that the clawed-one participated in a hip-hop collab with Will Smith back when the rapper/actor was known as Fresh Prince. A Nightmare on My Street was written for the Nightmare IV soundtrack, but New Line wisely passed on the ultra-syrupy ditty. After a couple court battles, however New Line allowed Smith to release the track with the following disclaimer: “[This song] is not part of the soundtrack…and is not authorized, licensed, or affiliated with the Nightmare on Elm Street films.”
Tobe Hooper’s Nightmare Prequel
Most fans are aware that the Nightmare franchise spawned an anthology television series called Freddy’s Nightmares that ran for 2 seasons between 1988 and 1990. What’s not widely known, however, is that the pilot episode, No More Mr. Nice Guy, is actually a Nightmare on Elm Street prequel; it stars Robert Englund and was directed by Tobe Hooper of Texas Chainsaw Massacre fame. Nice Guy covers Freddy’s trial, his release on technicality, and his murder at the hands of an angry mob.
Freddy FM: Kruger Radio
One of the most infamous scenes in the original Nightmare on Elm Street is Glen’s death: After falling asleep, Glen (played by Johnny Depp) gets pulled into his mattress, resulting in a literal geyser of blood. Before he dozes off, however, we’re given a hint of what’s to come when the DJ on the radio announces: “”It’s midnight and you’re listening to station KRGR.” KRGR is, obviously, “Krueger” without the vowels.
Freddy’s Oedipus Complex
Sigmund Freud would have had a field day delving into Freddy’s deep-seeded psychological dysfunctions; the Springwood Slasher actually has a model Oedipus Complex. Freddy’s very first victim (seen in flashback in Freddy’s Dead (1991)) was his adopted father, Edward Underwood (played by Alice Cooper). His relationship with his mother, Amanda (aka Sister Mary Helena) is even more complicated; she’s the only character strong enough to neutralize Freddy’s powers and, in Dream Master she imprisoned Freddy (briefly) by trapping him back in her womb. Yeah…
Freddy’s Baby Mama
While it’s difficult to understand his appeal to the opposite sex, Freddy was actually married when he began his reign as The Springwood Slasher. Not much is known about poor Loretta Krueger (played by Lindsey Fields in Freddy’s Dead), but it’s suspected they met when she was still in high school, where Freddy worked as a janitor. Still, it seems like she was actually in love with him; they had a child together and, upon discovering her husband’s killing room, she promised to keep his crimes a secret. Her sincere affections weren’t enough to save her life, however; Freddy strangled her to death in front of their young daughter.
The Technicality that Got Freddy Off
In the first Nightmare on Elm Street, it’s explained that Freddy beat the murder raps in court because a cop forgot to obtain a search warrant before gathering evidence. In the pilot episode of Freddy’s Nightmares, however, we’re told that the officer who arrested Freddy forgot to read him his Miranda rights. Police in horror movies are ridiculously ineffectual, aren’t they?
Freddy was Stood-Up on Prom Night
He’s one of the most terrifying monsters ever imagined, but back in high school, Freddy Krueger was an ineffectual loser. In the final episode of Freddy’s Nightmares, It’s My Party and You’ll Die If I Want You To, Krueger crashes his high school reunion seeking vengeance against a woman named Denise Charlotte; her transgression: Standing Freddy up on Prom Night. Taking a page from Carrie’s playbook, Freddy kills the entire class in a bloody finale.
The Real Reason Freddy’s So Pissed Off
Being immolated alive by an angry mob must have totally sucked, but there’s another factor fueling Freddy’s explosive rage. When he went on trial as The Springwood Slasher, his daughter Kathryn Krueger was put up for adoption. In Freddy’s Dead, it’s revealed that in addition to seeking retribution for his murder, Krueger’s still steaming over the loss of his progeny, suggesting there was something in this world he actually loved. While an adult Kathryn (renamed Maggie Burroughs after her adoption) would be the instrument of Freddy’s “Final” demise, the two would reunite in the comic book series Freddy vs. Jason vs. Ash; unbelievably, the daughter would don her own razor claw, becoming a killer sidekick for dear old daddy.
Freddy’s Cartoon Cameos
Freddy Krueger’s impact on popular culture can’t be denied or underestimated. He’s an icon in every respect and has even popped up in some unlikely places—like cartoons. In an episode of Family Guy, Quagmire pays Freddy to tell Peter a joke in his dreams, resulting in an involuntary bowel movement. He’s appeared in South Park twice: First, in the Imagination Land Trilogy where he kills Morpheus and participated in the torture and murder of Strawberry Shortcake; he next appeared in Insheeption where he’s recruited by the government to murder Woodsy Owl (it’s complicated). Freddy’s appeared on The Simpsons three times and inspired the Treehouse of Horrors episode A Nightmare on Evergreen Terrace, where Groundskeeper Willy became Springfield’s version of the Springwood Slasher.
“Fred Heads”: The Cult of Freddy
Bringing the crossover hit Jason vs. Freddy to fruition was a literal nightmare. New Line Cinema spent over $6 million on 18 unused scripts before finally settling on the one penned by Damian Shannon and Mark Swift. One of the unused stories centered on a cult of Krueger worshipers known as “Fred Heads” who pay tribute to their master by sacrificing children. “Fred Head” has since entered popular vernacular as a term for any hardcore Nightmare on Elm Street fans.
Springwood Slasher vs. Springwood Chopper: Freddy’s Competition
Freddy Krueger wasn’t the only murderous maniac to savage the fictional town of Springwood, Ohio; in a Season 1 episode of Freddy’s Nightmares (Do Dreams Bleed?), Krueger goes toe-to-toe with “The Springwood Chopper”, a fiend who targets teenage lovers. Obviously, Freddy doesn’t appreciate the competition. Guess who wins their showdown?
Freddy Krueger the Ice Cream Man
After walking out of court a free man in No More Mr. Nice Guy, Freddy returned home and pulled a tarp off of ice cream truck; it hints, perhaps, at a planned career shift, since it’s doubtful he’d have been welcomed back as a janitor at Springwood High School. Clearly, he chose a profession that would keep him close to a bevy of potential new victims. Mob justice sent him into Nightmare World before he could hit the streets, but it’s still fun to imagine the hijinks Freddy Krueger the Ice Cream Man might have gotten into!