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|“||1, 2, Freddy's coming for you... 3, 4, better lock your door... 5, 6, grab your crucifix... 7, 8, gonna stay up late... 9, 10, never sleep again...||”|
- Freddy Krueger about his origins
Frederick Charles "Freddy" Krueger is a main fictional character and the primary antagonist of the A Nightmare on Elm Street series of horror films. He first appears in Wes Craven's A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984) as a disfigured dream stalker who uses a glove armed with razors to kill his victims in their dreams taking their souls, which ultimately results in their death in the real world. However, whenever he is put into the real world, he has normal human vulnerability. He was created by Wes Craven, and has been consistently portrayed by Robert Englund since his first appearance. In the 2010 remake, however, Krueger is portrayed by Academy Award-nominee Jackie Earle Haley.
Krueger is an undead man, and can attack his victims from within their own dreams. He is commonly identified by his burned, disfigured face, red and dark green striped sweater, brown fedora, and trademark metal-clawed brown leather glove. Wizard magazine rated him the 14th greatest villain, the British television channel Sky2 listed him 8th, and the American Film Institute ranked him 40th on its "AFI's 100 Years... 100 Heroes and Villains" list.
Robert Englund has said many times that he feels that the character represents neglect, particularly that which is suffered by children. The character also more broadly represents subconscious fears. For example, Englund is on record as saying that in A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy's Revenge, Freddy represents the main character's repressed homosexual desires.
In 2010, Freddy won the award for Best Villain at the Scream Awards.
Freddy Krueger is in all the A Nightmare on Elm Street films, and was officially killed off in part six, Freddy's Dead: The Final Nightmare. The character was brought back in Wes Craven's New Nightmare by Wes Craven, who had not worked on the film series since the third film. The silver screen is not the only place Freddy Krueger has appeared; there are literary sources that have expanded the universe of Freddy, as well as adapted the films and adjusted various aspects of Krueger's backstory. The character has also hosted his own television show, Freddy's Nightmares, which was an anthology series similar to The Twilight Zone. Freddy also made several guest appearances on the syndicated puppet show DC Follies in 1988. In 2003, Freddy battled fellow horror icon Jason Voorhees from the Friday the 13th film series in the theatrical release Freddy vs. Jason, a film which officially resurrected both characters from their respective deaths and subsequently being sent to Hell in their respective 'last films'. The ending of the film is left ambiguous as to whether or not Freddy is actually dead, for despite being decapitated, he winks at the viewers. (A sequel featuring Ash from The Evil Dead franchise was planned, but never materialized on-screen. It was later turned into comic book form in Dynamite Entertainment's Freddy vs. Jason vs. Ash).
Freddy Krueger's first appearance was in A Nightmare on Elm Street. The story focused on Krueger killing Nancy Thompson (Heather Langenkamp) and her friends in their dreams, successfully killing all but Nancy. Krueger’s back-story is revealed by Nancy’s mother, who explains he was a child murderer whom the parents of Springwood killed after Krueger was acquitted of police charges on a technicality (He was discovered torturing a child by a police officer who entered his house after hearing the child's screams, but since the officer didn't have a valid warrant to enter the house all evidence was inadmissible in court). Nancy defeats Krueger by pulling him from the dream world into the real world, and setting up a series of booby traps, finally stripping him of his powers when she stops being afraid of him.
Freddy returned in the sequel, A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy's Revenge (1985), terrorizing the Walsh family, who had moved into Nancy’s old home. Krueger possesses the body of Jesse Walsh (Mark Patton), using his body to kill through his dreams. Jesse is saved by his girlfriend Lisa (Kim Myers), who helps Jesse fight Krueger's spirit.
Wes Craven returned to give Krueger life for a third time in A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors (1987). In the second sequel, Krueger is systematically killing the last of the Elm Street children. The few remaining children have been placed in the Westin Hills Psychiatric Hospital, for reasons of attempted suicide. Nancy Thompson arrives at Westin Hills as a new intern, and realizes the children are being killed by Krueger. With the help of Dr. Neil Gordon (Craig Wasson), Nancy helps Kristen (Patricia Arquette), Joey (Rodney Eastman), Taryn (Jennifer Rubin), Kincaid (Ken Sagoes), and Will (Ira Heiden) find their dream powers, so they can kill Krueger once and for all. Neil, unknowingly until the end, meets the spirit of Krueger’s mother, Amanda Krueger (Nan Martin), who instructs him to bury Krueger’s remains in hallowed ground in order to stop him for good. Neil completes his task, but not before Freddy kills Nancy.
The character’s fourth appearance in film came with A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master (1988). This time, Kristen (Tuesday Knight) unwittingly releases Krueger, who immediately kills Kincaid and Joey. Before Kristen is killed she transfers her dream power to pull others into her dreams to her friend Alice (Lisa Wilcox), who begins inadvertently providing victims for Krueger. Alice, who has taken on the traits of the friends who were murdered, confronts Krueger and uses the power of the Dream Master to release all the souls Krueger has taken; they subsequently rip themselves from Krueger’s body, killing him in the process.
A Nightmare on Elm Street 5: The Dream Child (1989) picks up shortly after the events of The Dream Master. It involves Krueger using Alice’s unborn child, Jacob (Whitby Hertford), to resurrect himself and find new victims. The spirit of Amanda Krueger (Beatrice Boepple) returns, revealing that Krueger was conceived when she, a nun working in a mental asylum, was accidentally locked in a room and raped hundreds of times. Amanda Krueger convinces Jacob to use the powers he was given by Krueger against him, which gives her the chance to subdue Krueger long enough for Alice and Jacob to escape the dream world.
Krueger made his sixth appearance in Freddy's Dead: The Final Nightmare (1991). The film reveals that Krueger has a daughter, Kathryn (Cassandra Rachel Friel), who was taken away from him during his trial. Krueger sends the sole surviving teenager of Springwood to bring his daughter back to him. Krueger needs Kathryn (now named Maggie Burroughs) (Lisa Zane), who is unaware that she is his daughter, so that he can leave Springwood and create new "Elm Streets" to begin his killing spree again. Maggie, utilizing new dream techniques, uncovers Krueger’s past—child abuse, cruelty to animals, murdering his own wife, the moment the Dream Demons offer him eternal life—and eventually pulls Krueger out of the dream world. She uses a pipe bomb, embedded in his chest, to blow him up, leaving the Dream Demons unable to resurrect him in reality.
Freddy's clawed hand appears at the end of the film Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday, the ninth installment of the Friday the 13th film series. His hand is seen bursting from the ground to drag Jason Voorhees' iconic hockey mask into Hell, setting the motion for the events in Freddy vs. Jason.
Wes Craven's New Nightmare (1994) focuses on a real life setting, where Craven, Langenkamp, and Englund all play themselves, and where the character of Freddy Krueger is an evil entity that has been trapped in the realm of fiction by all the Nightmare films. When the films are stopped, the entity, which enjoys the form of Freddy Krueger, tries to escape into the real world. The only person in its way is Heather Langenkamp, whom the entity sees as "Nancy" (despite the character being killed off in the third movie), the first person who defeated him. Langenkamp pursues "Freddy", who has kidnapped her son (Miko Hughes), into the dream world as "Nancy". There, she and her son trap Freddy in a furnace until he is finally destroyed.
|"Jackie is not big, and I think that Jackie’s size is gonna really work [...] One of the metaphors [...] I’ve used for Freddy is a little rabid dog that just bites your ankle and holds on. [...] And I think Jackie brings that, with his own physicality, to the role, without ever having to work it a little bit. [...] He brings that naturally with who he is, which I think is really part of the way I see it."|
|— Robert Englund on Jackie Earle Haley as Freddy Krueger.|
Krueger's next appearance was in Freddy vs. Jason (2003), in which Freddy battles Friday the 13th's villain Jason Voorhees (Ken Kirzinger), an undead mass murderer who uses a hockey mask to hide his facial deformities. In the film, Krueger has grown weak, as people in Springwood have suppressed their fear of him. Impersonating Pamela Voorhees, the mother of Jason Voorhees, Krueger resurrects Jason and sends him to Springwood to cause panic and fear. Jason accomplishes this, but refuses to stop killing. A battle ensues in both the dream-world and Crystal Lake. At first Freddy was winning but he was soon attacked by a young girl. The winner is left ambiguous, as Jason surfaces from the lake holding Krueger's severed head, which winks and laughs.
Krueger appears in a 2010 remake of the original film, with Jackie Earle Haley taking over the role in Robert Englund's stead. In this film instead of a power plant worker and a child murderer, Krueger was the groundskeeper at Badham Preschool and a child molester (a recycled idea that was abandoned by director Craven himself while making the 1984 original). In this version, he has a more personal connection with the protagonist Nancy Holbrook (Rooney Mara); in life, he molested her and some of her friends, and thought of her as his "favorite". Though Freddy initially appears to have been wrongly accused, the parents, after hearing about the abuse from their children and observing slashes on their skin and clothes consistent with his trademark glove, burn him to death rather than turn him into the police to spare their children the trauma of having to testify against him in open court. During the climax, Nancy pulls Freddy into reality and apparently kills him by severing his gloved-hand and slashing his throat with a broken paper cutter blade, only to have him reappear and drag her mother into the mirror to some unseen horror.
Robert Englund continued his role as Freddy Krueger on October 9, 1988 in the television anthology series entitled Freddy's Nightmares. The show was hosted by Freddy Krueger, who did not take direct part in most of the episodes, but he did show up occasionally to influence the plot of particular episodes. The series ran for two seasons, 44 episodes, ending March 10, 1990. Although most of the episodes did not feature Freddy taking a major role in the plot, the pilot episode "No More Mr. Nice Guy" depicts the events of Krueger's trial, and his subsequent death at the hands of the parents of Elm Street after his acquittal. In "No More Mr. Nice Guy", Freddy's acquittal is based on the arresting officer, Lt. Tim Blocker, not reading him his Miranda rights, which is different from the original Nightmare that stated he was acquitted because someone forgot to sign a search warrant in the right place. The episode also reveals that Krueger used an ice cream van to lure children close enough so that he could kidnap and kill them. After the town's parents burn Freddy to death he returns to haunt Blocker in his dreams. Freddy gets his revenge when Blocker is put to sleep at the dentist's office, and Freddy shows up and kills him. The episode "Sister's Keeper" was a "sequel" to this episode, even though it was the seventh episode of the series. The episode follows Krueger as he terrorizes the Blocker twins, the identical twin daughters of Lt. Tim Blocker, and frames one sister for the other's murder. Season two's "It's My Party and You'll Die If I Want You To" featured Freddy attacking a high school prom date who stood him up twenty years earlier. He got his revenge with his desire being fulfilled in the process.
Freddy Krueger's first video game appearance was in the Nintendo's 1989 game A Nightmare on Elm Street. Freddy later appeared as an extra downloadable character for Mortal Kombat in 2011. His design is not based on either actors (Jackie Earle Haley or Robert Englund); according to creator Ed Boon, "When I look at him, I think of the original Freddy: he’s got the striped sweater and is instantly recognizable. He’s Freddy in general, we don’t really identify him as one version or another." Freddy is featured with two claws, and is voiced by Patrick Seitz.
Wes Craven says his inspiration for the basis of Krueger's power stemmed from several stories in the Los Angeles Times about a series of mysterious deaths: All the victims had reported recurring nightmares beforehand about a man named Mr. K., thus the name Fred Krueger, and died in their sleep. Additionally, Craven's original script detailed Krueger as a child molester, which Craven said was the "worst thing" he could think of (this idea was later recycled for the character's background in the 2010 remake). The decision was made to instead make Krueger a child murderer in order to avoid being accused of exploiting the spate of highly publicized child molestation cases in California around the time A Nightmare on Elm Street went into production. Craven's inspirations for the character included a bully from his school during his youth, a homeless man who had frightened him when he was eleven, and the 1970s pop song "Dream Weaver" by Gary Wright. In an interview, he says that (after hearing some noise): "When I looked down there was a man very much like Freddy walking along the sidewalk. He must have sensed that someone was looking at him and stopped and looked right into my face. He scared the living daylights out of me, so I jumped back into the shadows. I waited and waited to hear him walk away. Finally I thought he must have gone, so I stepped back to the window. The guy was not only still looking at me but he thrust his head forward as if to say, 'Yes, I'm still looking at you.' The man walked towards the apartment building's entrance. I ran through the apartment to our front door as he was walking into our building on the lower floor. I heard him starting up the stairs. My brother, who is ten years older than me, got a baseball bat and went out to the corridor but he was gone."
In Wes Craven's New Nightmare, Freddy was more a symbol of something more powerful and ancient, and was given more stature and muscles. Unlike the six movies before it, New Nightmare shows Freddy as closer to what Wes Craven originally intended, toning down his comedic side while strengthening the more menacing aspects of his character.
Throughout the series, Freddy's potential victims often experience dreams of young children, jumping rope and chanting a rhyme to the tune of "One, Two, Buckle My Shoe" with the lyrics changed to "One, Two, Freddy's coming for you", often as an omen to Freddy's presence or a precursor to his attacks.
Freddy's physical appearance has remained largely consistent throughout the film series, although minor changes were made in subsequent films. He wears a striped red and green sweater (with solid red sleeves in the original film, and red-and-green striped sleeves from the second film onwards), a dark brown fedora, his bladed glove (see below), loose brown trousers (blue jeans in the original film), and worn working boots, keeping with his blue collar background. His skin is scarred and burned as a result of being burned alive by the parents of Springwood, and he has no hair at all on his head as it was presumably all burned off; in the original film, only Freddy's face was burned, while they have spread to the rest of his body from the second film onwards. Additionally, his teeth are in rather poor shape; in the first three films, they are simply filthy and brown, but from the fourth film onwards, he is missing a lot of them, and in Freddy vs. Jason his teeth are razor sharp to make him have a more monster-like appearance. His blood is occasionally a dark, oily color, or greenish in hue when he is in the Dreamworld. In the original film , Freddy remains in the shadows and under lower light much longer than he does in the later pictures. In the second film, there are some scenes where Freddy is shown without his glove, and instead with the blades protruding from the tips of his fingers. As the films began to emphasize the comedic, wise cracking aspect of the character, he began to don various costumes and take on other forms, such as dressing as a waiter or wearing a Superman inspired version of his sweater with a cape (The Dream Child), appearing as a video game sprite (Freddy's Dead), a giant snake like creature (Dream Warriors), and a pot smoking caterpillar (Freddy vs. Jason).
In New Nightmare, Freddy's appearance is updated considerably, giving him a green fedora that matched his sweater stripes, skintight leather pants, knee-high black boots, a turtleneck version of his trademark sweater, a dark blue trench coat, and a fifth claw on his glove, which also has a far more organic appearance (see above). Freddy also has fewer burns on his face, though these are more severe, with his muscle tissue exposed in numerous places.
In the remake, Freddy retains his iconic attire, but his burns are even more disfiguring than his 1984 counterpart, with misshapen facial features and portions of his face missing, including a sizable portion of flesh on his left cheek. Compared to his other incarnations, this Freddy's injuries are more like those of an actual burn victim.
Wes Craven claims that part inspiration for Freddy's infamous glove was from his cat, as he watched it claw the side of his couch one night.
In an interview he said, "Part of it was an objective goal to make the character memorable, since it seems that every character that has been successful has had some kind of unique weapon, whether it be a chainsaw or a machete, etc. I was also looking for a primal fear which is embedded in the subconscious of people of all cultures. One of those is the fear of teeth being broken, which I used in my first film. Another is the claw of an animal, like a saber-toothed tiger reaching with its tremendous hooks. I transposed this into a human hand. The original script had the blades being fishing knives."
When Jim Doyle, the creator of Freddy's claw, asked Craven what he wanted, Craven responded, "It's kind of like really long fingernails, I want the glove to look like something that someone could make who has the skills of a boilermaker." Doyle exclaimed, "Then we hunted around for knives. We picked out this bizarre-looking steak knife, we thought that this looked really cool, we thought it would look even cooler if we turned it over and used it upside down, we had to remove the back edge and put another edge on it, because we were actually using the knife upside down." Later Doyle had three duplicates of the glove made, two of which were used as stunt gloves in long shots.
For New Nightmare, Lou Carlucci, the effects coordinator, remodeled Freddy's glove for a more "organic look." He says, "I did the original glove on the first Nightmare and we deliberately made that rough and primitive looking, like something that would be constructed in somebody's home workshop. Since this is supposed to be a new look for Freddy, Wes and everybody involved decided that the glove should be different. This hand has more muscle and bone texture to it, the blades are shinier and in one case, are retractable. Everything about this glove has a much cleaner look to it, it's more a natural part of his hand than a glove." The new glove has five claws. In the 2010 remake, the glove maintains its original look, but is metal brown and has four finger bars.
Freddy's glove has appeared in the 1987 horror-comedy Evil Dead II: Dead by Dawn above the door on the inside of a toolshed. This was Sam Raimi's response to Wes Craven showing footage of The Evil Dead in A Nightmare on Elm Street, which in turn was a response to Sam Raimi putting a poster of Craven's 1977 film The Hills Have Eyes in The Evil Dead. The glove also appears in the 1998 horror-comedy Bride of Chucky in an evidence locker room that also contains the remains of the film's villain Chucky, the chainsaw of Leatherface from The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, and the masks of Michael Myers from Halloween and Jason Voorhees from Friday the 13th.
References to Freddy have occurred on three of The Simpsons' non-canon Treehouse of Horror episodes. These include "Treehouse of Horror VI": In a Nightmare on Elm Street parody, Groundskeeper Willie has become Krueger; "Treehouse of Horror IX": during the couch gag, Freddy and Jason sit on the couch wondering where the family is (Robert Englund supplying the voice), and "Treehouse of Horror V": after Homer makes a pact with Moe (now a ghost) he attempts to kill the family and Marge locks him in a pantry where an un-happy Moe and his ghoul friends come in and attack him, among the group was Freddy, Jason and Pinhead. Freddy's glove has also been featured in the episode, Cape Feare, in which a paranoid Bart is frightened by Ned Flanders as he leaps out at him brandishing his new "finger razors" for trimming his hedge. In The Critic, Jay's girlfriend Alice is taking her daughter Penny to "Elm Street Preschool" (A moved tree branch revealed it was actually "A Nightmare on Elm Street Preschool") After saying she did not want to nap the director turns into Freddy Krueger and says that she will nap or be swallowed by the worm from hell. The worm then shows up, after leaving he says "It was the worm from hell wasn't it. He's not that bad once you get to know him."
Eminem in a song underground said "Walked up Elm Street with a fuckin' wiffle bat, Drew Fought Freddy Krueger and Edward Scissorhands, too."
Nicki Minaj can be seen wearing Freddy Krueger-like claws in the video for Ludacris' song "My Chick Bad" in addition to a line that even references Krueger and the franchise.
Other references include the last episode of The Plucky Duck Show, Plucky is seen watching a horror movie containing the villain "Eddy Cougar". Cougar then recites the line "how sweet, fresh meat" as heard in The Dream Master. In the end of Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday, Freddy sets up Freddy vs. Jason (released a decade later) by grabbing Jason's mask and dragging it underground to hell laughing manically, where Freddy currently is (portrayed by Kane Hodder, who had also portrayed Jason in the film). In the South Park episode "Imaginationland Episode II", he is seen with a group of evil imaginary characters, with each one claiming to be the most evil imaginary character of them all. Also, in the South Park episode "Insheeption", Freddy, who is shown as now being retired and living with a wife and kids in a log cabin deep in the woods, is persuaded to infiltrate Mr. Mackey's dream in order to rescue Stan, Randy, and several other people who are trapped inside the dream from a sinister man in an owl costume who molested Mackey as a child. In episode 70 of Robot Chicken, Freddy (voiced by Seth Green) appears alongside Jason Voorhees, Michael Myers, Ghostface, Pinhead, and Leatherface in the Big Brother show, where his sweater is shrunk by Ghostface, and he is later stabbed by Michael, which doesn't damage him but annoys him. In Family Guy, Quagmire gives Freddy a joke to tell Peter in his dreams. Peter wakes up and says a line from the 2010 remake, If you die in your dreams, you die for real, and another episode of Robot Chicken where it is shown that Freddy made the claw glove to scratch an itchy sweater his daughter bought for him (a clear spoof of his origin). In an episode of The Fresh Prince of Bel Air, Will scares Carlton dressed up as Freddy Krueger while in the back seat of a car, a game show from CBS in 2005 that ended up never airing called A Nightmare on Elm Street: Real Nightmares. As Freddy hosts, he makes contestants come face to face with their nightmares in an attempt to help them overcome their fears. In the Supernatural episode "Dream a Little Dream of Me", a killer is using dream root to invade people's dreams and kill them. Sam states "You take enough of it (dream root), with enough practice, you can become a regular Freddy Krueger". In the Nickelodeon cartoon Danny Phantom, there was a female movie monster called Nightmarica, whose appearance and name were obvious parodies of Freddy. Freddy is also parodied in the film Stan Helsing.
A comic magazine story featuring Mickey Mouse written by Carol Mcreal centers around one of Mickey's foes, who breaks into his dreams as a figure called "Teddy Sluger". "Teddy Sluger" closely resembles Freddy, but have claws on both hands.
Krueger is also a musical topic. Eminem has mentioned Freddy numerous times in many of his songs such as, "Insane", "Underground" in which he says "Walked up Elm Street with a whiffle bat drew, fought Freddy Krueger and Edward Scissorhands too". For example, In 1985, "Freddy Krueger" by Stormtroopers of Death, 1988, "Are You Ready for Freddy" by The Fat Boys (the video actually features Robert Englund dressed up like Freddy chasing the band around in his house), "Nightmare on My Street" by Fresh Prince, and in 2004, "Freddy Kreuger" [sic] by the band Reuben.
|A Nightmare on Elm Street|
| Films: A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984) • Freddy's Revenge • Dream Warriors • The Dream Master • The Dream Child • Freddy's Dead • New Nightmare • Freddy vs. Jason • A Nightmare on Elm Street (2010)
Related topics: Freddy's Nightmares (Eps) • Never Sleep Again: The Elm Street Legacy • Nancy Holbrook • Comics • Freddy vs. Jason vs. Ash • The Nightmare Warriors • "Dream Warriors" • "Are You Ready for Freddy" • "Nightmare on My Street" • Boiler Room • Nightmare Realm • Dream World
| Universal Monsters: Quasimodo • Gwynplaine • Doctor Jekyll and Mr. Hyde • The Phantom • Count Dracula • Frankenstein • The Mummy • Invisible Man • Wolf Man • Gill-Man
Slashers: Freddy Krueger • Jason Voorhees • Ghostface • Norman Bates • Leatherface • Harry Warden • Cropsy • Horny • Victor Crowley • Shivers • Fisherman • Leprechaun • Leslie Vernon • Pamela Voorhees • ChromeSkull • Billy • Michael Myers