Wes Craven’s A Nightmare on Elm Street franchise is, without a doubt, one of the most influential and enduring series in horror history. The property wouldn’t have been as popular without its lead villain, Freddy Krueger, who stood in stark contrast to slashers of his decade; the sadistic wise-cracker was a foil to mute brutes like Jason Voorhees, Michael Myers, and Leatherface. And “The Springwood Slasher” wouldn’t have struck such a powerful chord were he not portrayed by Robert Englund, whose gait, mannerism, and smile (iconic even through layers of latex) became as integral to Freddy as the core mythologies Craven penned.
Proof of Robert Englund and Krueger’s inseparability was aptly illustrated when fans soundly rejected 2010’s A Nightmare on Elm Street reboot produced by New Line/Warner Bros. When another actor (Jackie Earle Haley) donned the infamous sweater, fedora, and bladed glove, hardcore “Fred Heads” had none of it. “If it isn’t Englund, it isn’t Freddy,” was their inflexible consensus. It’s a shame, considering Englund has stated (repeatedly) that he has no interest in reprising the character who made him a household name (besides occasionally appearances at horror conventions). And that’s why we live in a world that’s produced 8 Evil Bong movies since 2006, while the Elm Street franchise gathers dust on a shelf.
Still, Englund has his own ideas for a rebooted Nightmare on Elm Street if he had the money and the means. He shared them at this year’s Summer Television Critics Association gathering where he participated in a panel promoting Eli Roth’s History of Horror, a docu-series in the works at AMC targeting a fall premiere. In his own words:
“If I had an Eli Roth budget I would have cast different actors to play Freddy for every potential victim, because Freddy is only alive in the imagination of his future victim. They would talk about it at a slumber party or in a locker room at school, or on the bus going home. All we know about this Fred Krueger is he wears a hat, wears a red and green striped sweater and has a clawed hand. That’s the specifics.”
Still, he seems to acknowledge the facts that fans simply wouldn’t be completely satisfied without his involvement:
“At the end, it would be the ultimate victim and we see Freddy peel [his face] open and maybe it’s yours truly revealed. And it’s the essence of Freddy. I don’t think Freddy is an ’80s villain. There’s a huge nostalgia for the eighties for a variety of reasons, but so many horror films and characters transcend that decade.”
He’s right; though the Friday the 13th franchise is currently hobbled by a litigious rights struggle, Halloween arrives in theaters on October 19th. Director David Gordon Green has revealed that his film is a direct sequel to 1978’s Halloween, the film widely credited with igniting the slasher craze of the 1980s. If it turns out to be a hit with fans, our collective thirst for nostalgia may be nearly unquenchable, paving the way for another rebooted Nightmare. It’s also worth noting that Englund isn’t the only franchise alum to pitch his own take on Craven’s classic. John Saxon, who played Nancy’s father in the original Elm Street wrote a script in which Krueger was framed by member of the Mason family, retconning both the character’s origins and his motivations. Clearly, there’s no shortage of ideas for a villain as versatile and durable as Freddy.