Whatever you do, don't. fall. asleep. Such was the refrain in the movie "A Nightmare on Elm Street," which was written and directed by Wes Craven and produced by Bob Shaye. In the movie, the townspeople enact justice on child murderer Freddy Krueger -- played by Robert Englund -- by burning him to death. Clad in his trademark hat, burnt face, and red and green striped shirt, Freddy seeks revenge by killing the children of the townspeople through their dreams.
Wes Craven states that he got the idea for the movie from multiple stories in the LA Times about men who all complained about having nightmares and subsequently died in their sleep. One man stayed awake for several days, despite being given sleeping pills. When he finally fell asleep, his family put him to bed. Later they heard him thrashing and screaming. By the time they arrived, he was dead. They found the sleeping pills that he'd hidden, along with a coffee maker in his closet. The doctors said he died of unknown causes.
Wes Craven conceived the character of Freddy Krueger from events in his childhood. The name Freddy was based on Wes' nemesis in school named Fred. He based the name Krueger on a character named Krug, the villain in Wes's first movie, "Last House on the Left." A man wearing a hat once terrorized Wes as he looked out his window. The hat became Freddy's hat. Wes created Freddy's glove based on the fear people have of animal claws.
The ending shown in theaters was not the ending Wes Craven had written. In his ending, Nancy turns her back on Freddy and succeeds in defeating the evil creature. However, Bob Shaye convinced Wes Craven to allow an ending that suggested Freddy wasn't dead to ensure a chance for a sequel.
"A Nightmare on Elm Street" spawned six sequels. In addition, people wrote novels based on the movies, such as the series "Freddy Krueger's Tales of Terror" and the "Black Flame" series. Various publishers such as Marvel, Innovation, and Wildstorm created comic books. A TV show called "Freddy's Nightmares" aired in October 1988. Although the Freddy character hosted the show in the vein of the Twilight Zone series, most of the plots didn't include him. Finally, in April 2010, New Line Cinema released a remake of the original movie.
Wes Craven's name is synonymous with the Nightmare franchise; however, because of creative differences, he only worked on "A Nightmare on Elm Street," "The Dream Warriors" and "Wes Craven's New Nightmare." When Jackie Earle Haley went to audition for "A Nightmare on Elm Street," his friend, Johnny Depp went with him. Johnny got a part, but Jackie did not. However, Jackie later played Freddy Krueger in the 2010 remake of the movie. King of Horror, Stephen King, admits having seen all the Nightmare movies and states that "A Nightmare on Elm Street" scared him.
- Cinefantastique; Wes Craven on Dreaming Up Nightmares; Steve Biodrowski
- Nightmare on Elm Street Films; Creating Freddy: A Talk with Wes Craven; William Schoell
- Nightmare on Elm Street Films; Wes Craven and a Nightmare of Sequels; Brian J. Robb
- Internet Movie Database: Trivia
- Nightmare on Elm Street Films; Always They Come Back; Stephen King
- Internet Movie Database: A Nightmare on Elm Street 2010
- Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images