Yesterday, the horror world lost one of the greats. Rest in peace, Mr. Craven, though your handiwork did little to pass on peace to the rest of us. It makes me too sad to know the darkest corners of your mind are now beyond quiet.
Thirty years ago, Wes Craven, Bob Shaye, and New Line Cinema launched the face that would scare millions of kids. Their parents tried to kill him, but now the children of Elm Street in Springwood, USA are being haunted in their dreams by the villainous child killer, Fred Krueger. Fire, a dream master, and even his own daughter couldn’t really kill him. A dream demon returning to fulfill a quest of vengeance; they took his life, now he’s taking their children: one nightmare at a time.
I want desperately to talk about the legacy of this movie; I mean, 30 years, is a long time for anything. Marriages don’t even last that long anymore, and this movie has managed to stay relevant, timely, and creative for the past three decades. I have enjoyed these movies my entire life–I was born just two years, one month, and 25 days before its debut. They held me captive, helped me escape, and taught me that things aren’t always what they seem. The nature of reality is viscous, liquid at best, and Nightmare on Elm Street uses that against us in every incarnation, in every sequel.
Let’s not overlook the power of women in Nightmare on Elm Street. Nancy, Kristen, Alice (and Alice, again), Maggie, Heather, and Lori all stand up to Freddy and come out on top. Each one of them “kills” him and walks away (though Nancy doesn’t make it in Dream Warriors after a valiant fight), even though death isn’t really permanent for Fred. That isn’t anything the ladies could have changed, though, he’s a demon now. Killed by vigilante justice and coming back over and over again to serve up poetic justice–the irony being Fred is still tormenting and killing children, only now the parents won’t believe the cries of warning from their haunted children. Because they have to believe he’s already dead. But, death means nothing to evil, to revenge.
Even though the remake was kinda crappy in my opinion, I don’t think Freddy is going anywhere. Even if we only ever have the originals–God forbid! /sarcasm–Krueger has made his mark, and the world will never be the same.
Some ultra-creepy, retro horror movie music. Enjoy!
So, I left this post for the end of the week because I thought it was going to be the easiest post. I’ve watched (and re-watched) so many different horror movies that I thought at least 5 or 10 would just come rolling off the tip of my tongue. But proverbials aside, I found myself stumped this morning. I mean, you already know that I pretty much adore the character of Freddy Krueger, and because of my feelings for the remake…before it even got to theaters. I don’t really want to retread a known rut in the road. But, I don’t want to drop a bunch of names because they’re expected names. Of course, Jason, Michael, and, hell, even Chucky are classics, but they are not the end-all, be-all of the horror world.
I mean, this t-shirt image from Fright Rags (click the link for image source) even includes Leatherface, who is an intimidating and frightful villain! But, when I say Leatherface, you know immediately who I’m talking about.
What about the villains who get almost no mention at all? Not because they weren’t scary, but because there may not have been as many movies made. Or maybe they only reach a niche market. It’s possible that I’m merely a sheltered child (even in the shadow of the Internet), and I just don’t realize how popular or widely known these figures really are.
All I know, is that I won’t be mentioning the villains that I assume people will expect to see here. Granted, I know what assuming can do, but in this case, I’m willing to take a risk and talk about movie villains that I rarely think of, though have enjoyed watching in the past.
So, where do I start? I’ve finally got a couple names boiling up in the old gray matter… I’ve got two pair and three queens. No, I’m not cheating at poker…
Angus Scrimm does little work at being ultra-creepy in the series of films that follow this dark mortician and his hunt for the young man, Mike, who mistakenly uncovers his dark tendencies toward the small town they live in. Mike’s brother and best friend, Reggie, work and try to survive at uncovering Tall Man’s tools for destruction.
I coupled these two characters, because they remind me of each other. Reverend Kane could easily be Carol Anne’s Tall Man. Towering over her, casting her in his shadow every time he arrives — he might as well be dragging a team of dagger-sharp silver balls around with him. Though, that wide-brimmed black hat and skeletal scowl does quite enough for rendering Kane creepy as Hell!
Julian Beck and Nathan Davis, in Poltergeist II and III, respectively, frighten poor little Carol Anne Freeling and haunt her supportive family members as the demons try their best to get the little bulb of heavenly light to guide them to the other side. She’s just so pure, so blonde — they simply cannot help themselves. Though the sequels catch plenty of flack for not being up to snuff in comparison to the first, I cannot deny that Reverend Kane gave me nightmares for a week!
Now, you might think I have this backwards. Because you’re seeing the movie name, but the villain listed is a set of human beings — not Cenobites. Well, in the first two movies, I don’t think the Cenobites are the villains. Frank and Julia are more villainous in this case, because it is their thoughtless and selfish actions which bring about the Cenobites anyway. Kirsty certainly didn’t call them (not until later, anyway) and Larry couldn’t have had a clue. He certainly didn’t seem to notice when his wife and brother started knocking boots. Though, for the sequel, it’s Julia and the good doctor who rescues her. That evil seductress!
Annie Wilkes, on the other hand, was no seductress. Though, she did fall in love with her favorite writer of all time, Paul Sheldon. The source of the image is a wonderful detailing of not only the movie (with book comparisons), but the character of Ms. Wilkes herself. She is certainly unstable, monstrous, and dedicated to the man who provides her with the stories she loves. A number one fan, of course, and a nurse, she takes care of Paul after a major car accident. Then, Annie finds out that Paul killed off her heroine — that’s when the story truly takes off. Though I’ve always wanted a number one fan, Annie makes me kind of wonder why.
If it is a Spoiler Alert for you, have my humblest apologies. But it has been almost 10 years since it was released, maybe it’s about time you knew.
Judy Greer really brought this character to life for me; I don’t know another actress who could have pulled this off the way she did. Joanie, a Type-A publicist, was so bright, bubbly, and blonde, that to reveal the bleak hairy beast beneath felt really defamiliar to me. I wish it could have been played up more monstrously, like the werewolf movies of the ’50s, but she definitely gives good gore and generous bite marks! (Plus, counter-pointing her with Scott Baio — which just kind of made me chuckle — was brilliant.) I assumed Jake from the beginning, but never did I see Joanie coming, which is what made her transformation and methodical killing scary. Though, this is another movie that is laughed at as often as watched (only 4.9/10 on IMDB), I loved that surprise element, that unexpected reveal, and it really redeemed the movie for me. On top of all of that, it’s got great atmosphere, and, you know, because Joshua Jackson and Christina Ricci and Wes Craven. C’mon, what was I supposed to do?
Betsy Palmer is damn creepy, and I don’t care who knows it. She really breathed some dark life into the mother of all villains. Her son, driven by the demons of vengeance and negligence, is eternally resurrected to take the lives of those who “were supposed to be watching.” And it is clearly her drive to avenge him that provides him the otherworldly power. But, there is truly no fury like the wrath of a mother scorned, and Pamela Voorhees is no exception to the rule. Taking the initiative, she begins offing her “old friends” and the counselors they hired because they had the audacity to start the camp back up where her son so tragically perished. I mean, who wouldn’t get pissed off about that?
Well, this is my list of favorite horror movie villains. I’ve seen each of these movies numerous times, but they aren’t always the names that pop up when I first think of horror movies. And I hope that maybe I inspired you to watch something other than the standard fare on this All Hallow’s Eve.
I hope the mood music lasts the life of the read, or hit repeat. It’s what I would do.
So, I’ve spent the majority of my life as a t-shirt and jeans kind of girl. I know I’ve mentioned this here before, and it probably won’t be the last time I mention it–because I wholeheartedly believe that people could trade stocks and run businesses in jeans if they wanted to, they just don’t. However, I think they should. What’s wrong with a little bit of comfort in the workplace, after all; but I digress… I’m telling you (again!) that I would live in a tee and jeans in order to introduce you to my favorite Halloween and horror merchandise web retailer: Fright Rags.
These are just a sample of the good works this company is doing, and they are all available for pre-order right now! There is also the option of voting to resurrect old designs, from the Graveyard. So, if it’s a first-time visit for you, make sure you stop by the Graveyard and vote on the designs you never even got a chance to shop for! They send regular emails detailing their plans for future (and past!) designs, and they love to hear how their fans feel about their designs, often taking fan suggestions and ideas. I love that they’ve incorporated baseball tees and zippered sweatshirts.
They are willing to represent every age and genre within the horror realm, and the designs are bright, clear, and educated for being so dark and demented. Unfortunately, I have yet to purchase a t-shirt, but I love getting their regular emails and seeing all the beautiful items of attire that would fill my closet in a paradise of my own making. I would wear nothing but horror tees if I could–imagine that in an interview!–and I could be the happiest girl in the world. Because fashion was not made for me unless it features my favorite villains!
I think I’m going to start each of these off with a little bit of mood music…
Freddy Krueger has been a constant in my life from a very young age. One of the first scary movie images I recall seeing as a child was Joey Crusel thrashing around in a waterbed. But I didn’t know why until much, much later…
That was the only scene I managed to see of the Nightmare series for a long time. It wasn’t until early middle school when I saw the original Nightmare on Elm Street for the very first time. It would have come after I saw Edward Scissorhands for the first time, because I recognized Johnny Depp’s name in the credits. Not even the credits of the movie; no, I purchased a novelization of the first three films and noticed his name there, then went to find the movie. Which, wasn’t too hard considering I lived within walking distance of two places that rented videos at the time.
At this stage in the game, I’ve seen each and every movie with Freddy Krueger’s name on it at least 1000 times. With exception to the 2010 remake, because well, Jackie Earle Haley just didn’t do it for me the way Robert Englund does.
This movie series has everything: revenge, love, lust, blood, and laughter. If anything, Freddy can make you laugh. He’s got great one-liners and whip-crack wit. Wouldn’t the Devil need to be charming? Considering he’s basically the embodiment of the concept that the sins of the fathers will be paid by the sons–and, in this case, the daughters. Every child on Elm Street is paying the price for the vigilante justice performed against one child killer extraordinaire, Mr. Krueger. They set him on fire (please, with the “spoiler alert” crap, it’s been 30 years! There’s an entire Wikipedia network established for NOES, for Pete’s sake!) and he becomes an even bigger problem: a dream demon. Still killing kids (there’s a lesson for adults, vigilante justice only exacerbates the problem!), now the parents just don’t believe it’s happening anymore. They’ve solved the problem, after all, right?
Wrong. And for seven total movies, plus face-off and remake films, Freddy gets to keep telling those adults they’re wrong, eventually moving out into the greater world, “Every town has an Elm Street!” So much so, even the potential of reconnecting to his own child only made the blood lust stronger. Coming out into the “real world” only made him loom that much larger above us. (Happy 20th Anniversary, New Nightmare, as of October 14th, by the way!!)
Freddy’s presence has become a mainstay and a constant, not only at Halloween. For all of his evil, disgusting ways, he’s charismatic, dynamic, and nigh unstoppable. I see images of Freddy’s mug with “RIP” next to it, and I always have to wonder. Could a personality like Freddy’s, seated so deep, made so tragic, and of the darkest bile found in the human condition, ever really be dead? Good thing there are Dream Warriors, just in case he isn’t.
Since I mentioned it in the last post, I thought maybe I would flesh it out here: My Top 5 All-Time Favorite movies. If I were headed to a deserted island, these are the five I would want with me for all eternity. However, having said that, let’s pray I never, ever have to resort to just five movies forever.
I would like to present this list in “no particular order”, but in all honesty that’s only because my favorite would change from day to day–depending on which one I wanted to see. As soon as I want to peg one for the coveted top spot, a reason why another one should be there springs to mind. So, alas, in no particular order, my top 5:
This move struck me from the first time I viewed it, when I was in the fifth or sixth grade. It spoke to me on several levels: the strong sisterly connection, feeling helpless in a situation not of your choosing, and finally finding the power within to demand justice for pain suffered. “Until you do right by me everything you think about is gonna crumble!”
I spoke about this in the last post in remembrance of Robin Williams’s performance as John Keating, but this was not the only aspect that secured its placement here. The story of the boys at the academy, bucking tradition and stifling parental/societal expectations to follow their dreams, their hearts. It is uplifting, full of passion and heart, and being sad at the end does not hinder the message that following your heart is what brings you joy, true and fleeting.
I remember feeling like I might be too young to watch this when I was 12, having only heard the title and seen the movie cover; but after “The Time Warp” dance number I was sold. Following dreams and being the beauty you wanted to see the world resonated with me. Not to mention breaking out into song every time you had a different emotion. I’d been introduced to lots of other musicals long before seeing this in middle school, but hearing Brad Majors (Barry Bostwick) practically shout at his new fiancee Janet Weiss (Susan Sarandon), “Damn it, Janet, I love you!” made me a fan of the movie musical forever.
The first horror movie I ever watched was Night of the Living Dead, and simultaneously it scared the crap out of me, incensed me, and taught me that some things just aren’t what they initially seem. A Nightmare on Elm Street scared the crap out of me and taught me that sometimes evil will stand up, spit you dead in the eye, and then laugh while it hacks you to bits. Pulling from stories about death while sleeping and that old adage about sins of the father, Freddy Krueger was born to remind us just how real dreams can be.
I remember working hard to try and see this movie. When I first heard about it, no one I knew owned it. It certainly wasn’t available at my local public library–or any college libraries I’d checked into at the time. The internet was a fledgling concept and not the network of media geeks it is today (LOVE YOU GUYS!!!). So, I had to wait a bit before I ever saw it. When I did, finally, watch it; I was immediately hooked. I remember thinking of it as a darker version of The Who’s Tommy, which I’d been long familiar with. They both followed an iconic male figure, overcoming severe familial trauma, to determine who they were on a grander world stage. Oh, and there’s the kick-ass rock music.
fuck this up. I swear to God and all that is holy in the horror world…
The very first scary movie I ever saw was “Night of the Living Dead” – all black and white, dramatic, and featuring some very ugly, very “dead” cannibals. I loved every second of it because it scared the bee-jeezus out of me. Ever since that moment, a moment in my life full of upheaval and some very scary real things going on, I have devoured a horror/gore/thriller genre movie when it’s been presented to me.
Horror movies have always held a very dear and special place in my heart. Personally, they are my favorite form of escape. I love to listen to music, to read, and write; but when it comes to really burying my head in the sand I select a good scary movie. As you might assume, I have my favorites, the tried-and-trues that get me through a really bad day: A Nightmare on Elm Street.
If you already clicky-clicked my little link up there you knew where this was going! 🙂
I started out frightened of Mr. Englund, not knowing that was his alter-ego of course. I didn’t have Internet Movie Database (IMDB) or even fan mags back then (Like Fangoria or Rue Morgue) to introduce me to the faces behind the masks, scars, and rot I’d come to love. I don’t know that I would have wanted them if they were available. It may have ruined the illusion that Freddy existed, living in my dreams, and was pissed off at my mom for making him go away. For burning him alive.
As I’d grown older, I came to better understand Freddy and his desire for revenge. His need for belief and fear to work his delightfully dubious magic. If you can’t kill the one you hate, hate the one you can kill, right? He went after the children because he knew he could get them to believe – start knocking off a teenager’s buddies (the drinking, smoking, having-sex buddies to boot) and you’ll get their attention. Freddy knew the parents weren’t scared of him anymore because they had “killed” him. In Adult Land, if I douse someone with gasoline and set them ablaze they are dead. Not so in the Imagination World of children. That’s where Freddy needed to lurk, in the fears that the parents had inadvertantly passed down to their children.
See? Not only is Freddy scary, he’s an educational tool. If you’re a teenager who does dirty, nasty things – you will die. Further, adults have this tendency to pass on nasty things from their own generation to the next one… but I digress…
While I would love to analyze Freddy until he’s blue in the face, my point in all of this is: He’s an icon. At least in The Melissa Bubble, where he’s existed as a force to be reckoned with and a force to wash out all the other scary shit I really have to face day-to-day. And now, like his Brother in Arms, Jason Voorhees, he’s being made into a remake.
Who can take Mr. Englund’s place? Why would anyone bother? There have been multiple Jason’s because his identity, morbid and twisted as it is, is hidden behind a hockey mask. Mr. Voorhees is still Mr. Voorhees no matter who is donning the mask and machete. But Freddy – FREDDY – is Robert Englund. He made Freddy his own and gave him a kind of black heart that I don’t think anyone else could. For 8 movies, Robert stood up and gave us the sarcastic lines; the dark, twisted humor; the willingness to remove his own limbs just to scare the shit out of his victims. While Freddy can still be written and depicted (hence the link to the poster) as “Robert’s Freddy” that doesn’t mean he can still be portrayed as such.
Now that I know Jackie Earle Haley (JEH) is portraying my dark prince, I’m definitely going to have to see Watchmen and make sure he’s going to be scary enough. He needs to be dark enough, vicious enough. There can be no morals, no holding back, no second-guessing yourself or the fear in your potential victims. JEH doesn’t have to be Robert Englund; this is a new spin of course. He just needs to be aware of the glove he needs to fill.
I had hope for the Friday the 13th remake. With graphic effects and the potential for mounds of gore and a bigger, scarier Jason, I was excited. I anticipated it, was hopeful for it. Then I saw it. Yeah, the characters were fist-magnets and the kills were okay. There was one exceptional, long-distance kill that I loved. But watching that makes me scared for this Nightmare remake.
No matter what happens, or who plays him, Freddy will go down in history as one of the scariest movie villains of all time. I am excited to see what a new perspective and a fresh spin on Freddy will generate, but I’m also scared they will royally fuck this up… and they should be too.