Out of all the horror movies I saw when I was a kid, none could compare to the "A Nightmare On Elm Street" series. I think it was mainly because they didn't even come off as real "horror" flicks. Michael Myers, Jason Voorhees, Leatherface... these guys were all brutal killers, sure... but none of them had that certain je ne sais quois which Freddy Krueger had. Yep, good ol' Freddy killed his victims with charisma and I loved every bit of it! Whether he was killing D&D "Wizard Master" geeks by gutting them and saying "Sorry kid, I don't believe in fairy tales," or he was turning a bunch of victims into meatballs on a pizza which he then consumed, Freddy did everything with style!
I don't know any horror fan that didn't try making their own "Freddy glove" at some point, whether it was by taping kitchen knives to their hands or actually stealing one of mom's gardening gloves and poking some of dad's screwdrivers through it. And for me, that was just the beginning. I collected Freddy posters, trading cards, and I've even got issue #1 of the short-lived Nightmare on Elm Street comic book series. Many of you probably remember DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince's hit song, "Nightmare on My Street" right? Well I had a tape with nothing but that song on it. A full 60 minutes of "Nightmare on My Street", and believe me, it drove the family nuts. I also tried to be Freddy on several Halloween's, but I'm convinced that there isn't a decent Freddy costume kit out there. You can get the glove and the striped sweater no problemo, but when it came to his face, there was no hope. All of the masks sucked, and if you tried getting one of the DIY latex kits, you ended up looking more like "Somebody Crapped On My Face! man" rather than Freddy Krueger. I even tried smearing oatmeal all over my face folks, and while it might have been good for my pores, it sure as hell didn't make a convincing Freddy.
Anyway, back to the movies... a lot of Elm Street "purists" out there will tell you that all the Elm Street films after the first one were crap because Freddy was no longer scary. Well don't you listen to them. Frankly, I never found Freddy scary... he just was a guy with a hand full of knives and endless witty remarks to torture the Springwood kids with. That being said, most people don't even know of (or have purposely forgotten) the Elm Street series "Freddy's Nightmares" that ran on television for a whopping 2 full seasons. It came out right after Elm Street 4 "The Dream Master" which was pretty much the peak of Freddy-mania. The TV show mainly had Freddy playing a similar role to what the Crypt Keeper did on the "Tales From The Crypt" series. He'd appear at the beginning of the show to introduce the story, and then he'd appear at the end to mock all of the stupid bastards that died. Always fun, but the best episodes of Freddy's Nightmares were the ones in which the story was all about him and the people he was killing.
One of the most memorable ones was the season pilot "No More Mr. Nice Guy", which was basically a prequel to "A Nightmare On Elm Street" and provided a good chunk of background information on Freddy Krueger. It was also directed by Tobe Hooper, the same guy who did "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre" and "Poltergeist". Now keep in mind, there are definitely some plot holes in this baby. If you remember in Elm Street part 1, Nancy's mom explained the story about what really happened to Freddy, and it's definitely different from some of the stuff in this show. But hey, Nancy's mom was a friggin' lush anyway. I'm not really inclined to trust the murderific recollections of a booze-hound like that lady, so I can easily overlook any of the inconsistencies between this pilot episode and the first movie...
The first thing we see is an impressive "Nightly News Break" graphic that looks like it was created in "Paint". I've seen better effects on karaoke videos. Way to kick off the series by setting a precedent for high quality standards there, Tobe. Actually, I can't blame the guy, as I'm pretty sure this show was given a budget that's smaller than my fucking grocery bill. So it starts off with a newscaster reporting with the latest stories when all of a sudden he begins to flicker off the screen. OMG what on earth could be happening!?!?!?!?!?
Our eyes are blitzed with bright neon stripes that I can only assume are supposed to represent Freddy's infamous sweater. Then a "Please Stand By" message appears, which Freddy quickly tears to shreds. Then he introduces the story and explains, "No, no, no! Don't be afraid! This time it isn't one of your nightmares. This one... was mine." Oooooooooooooooooooooo!
As the initial credits roll, we find ourselves in a courtroom with Freddy Krueger in his "pre-burnt-up-like-a-weenie", mortal days. He's on trial and they're showing slides of all of his child victims, but naturally, we only see faint reflections of them because this was a regular cable TV show. I'd also like to say that for a guy who supposedly lived in a boiler room and worked with dirty, dingy metal, Freddy sure did have a nice manicure going for him during the trial.
The prosecuting lawyer pretty much rests his case after he's done showing the slides as everybody is pretty sure that Freddy is going to be found guilty. Lucky for Freddy, his sleazy defense lawyer gets him off on a technicality because the arresting officer didn't read him his rights. Makes sense to me. But really, would you remember to read someone their rights if they were trying to turn your two daughters into shish-ka-bobs? Yeah I'd probably remember too, but this cop didn't, so Freddy is back on the streets.
As Freddy walks out, we get a close-up shot of his psycho red eyes and we then get to see what he's fantasizing about. Everybody in the courtroom is dead, and the only ones left alive are the twin daughters of that bumbling cop. Why they aren't dead too is beyond me, maybe they're the ones who gave him that nice manicure and he wanted to save them for last?
Now here's a nifty little addition to the story. When Freddy gets back home, he removes a tarp and unveils an Ice Cream Truck! I can just see him handing kids a "Nutty Buddy" and then yanking them into the truck and taking them home for some slicing 'n dicing. Then again, why a guy who worked in a boiler room would own an ice cream truck might come off as a bit suspicious, so it's probably a good thing he had it covered with a tarp.
As he makes his way further into his lair, he comes across a toy clown that apparently belonged to one of his victims. Now, I know this part was supposed to be all "evil" and "spooky-looking", but let's be realistic here. How scary is it when a scrawny little guy (Robert Englund) mashes a toy clown up against a brick wall which makes a "SQUEAK!" sound? It's not scary. In fact, it's pretty damned laughable.
Ahh, Freddy has finally found what he was looking for, THE GLOVE! He slowly puts it on and then cackles, "Freddy's Home!" as he moves his fingers around. They never completely show Freddy's face in this show either. As you can see above it's halfway covered up by shadows, and if it's not that, they'll cover it up with smoke or other crappy effects. I'm not sure if he just had bad acne or they wanted to add an aura of mystery to Freddy. Sorry, but I'm not mystified by mister "mash-the-squeaky-clown".
The bumbling cop we saw earlier in the show leaves an officer at his house to guard his wife and two daughters, just in case ol' Freddy should arrive. Seeing that the officer has been standing out there for a while, the wife comes outside and brings him some chicken. Naturally, this sets up a classic TV death scene...
Freddy sneaks up on the cop and slashes him several times, but we don't get to see the wounds on the cop. Nope. Instead, we get to see him look dumbfounded with a big piece of chicken in his mouth, and then it cuts to him dropping his plate on the ground and blood dripping all over it. What's worse is his feet keep wobbling back and forth while the blood keeps dripping, he's practically doing a tap dance while Freddy is slashing him up. Acting at its finest folks.
With the house guard kaput, Freddy sets his sights on the twin daughters inside the house. He starts scraping his glove on a metal pipe simply to scare... or at least annoy them. His plans will have to wait though, because an angry lynch mob has just arrived at the house and he makes a run for it back to the power plant. You see, the parents of all the kids that Freddy already killed have lost all their faith in the justice system. Since the courts didn't convict Freddy, they've decided to take matters into their own hands and punish him themselves.
Sure enough, they track Freddy down back at his home in the boiler room. The lawyer guy is just about to shoot him when that damned bumbling cop steps in and stops him. Then Freddy cackles some more and we get a wonderful close-up of his teeth. I'm not sure what Freddy has been eating all these years, but I'm pretty sure that dirt and mulch are in his diet, cuz his teeth are covered with it. Take my advice Fred, try some of those Crest Whitestrips, they'll do ya wonders pal.
Welp, Freddy somehow knew that he'd be able to comeback and torment everybody if he was killed, so he taunts the bumbling cop. "Hey cop, you've got pretty little girls. We uh, we got interrupted before I could get to know 'em. They'll like me a lot better next time." This off course pisses off papa cop, and he decides that shooting Freddy is too good for him. He pours a can of gasoline all over Freddy and then lights him on fire. Freddy laughs as he burns, "I'll be back! I'm free, free, freeeeeeeeee!"
Now cut to the Freddy that we've all grown to know and love, burnt face and nightmares galore. He cuts himself up and proclaims, "That was then, this is now", as gobs 'n gobs of karo syrup pour out of his chest. "Springwood's problems are just beginning!" he laughs.
Moving on, we head into an obvious dream sequence, I say "obvious" because most homes don't come with neon lights and smoke machines. So the bumbling cop guy receives a package with wrapping that looks like... are you ready for this? FREDDY'S SWEATER! And even more surprising, when he goes to open it, Freddy's glove bursts from it and starts clawing at his face. Then our poor cop friend wakes up gasping for air. Whew! Thank goodness, it was just a dream. It was just a dream!
The cop shrugs off the scratches on his face and heads into work, and amazingly those scratches are no longer on his face. I guess reapplying some basic scratches would be going over budget for a show like this. Anyway, he gets a nice little letter from Freddy, "I'm burning in Hell. Wish you were here." But before he can show it to anybody, it bursts into flames, so he's just left there questioning his sanity.
Next, he's driving down the road in his squad car when we he sees Freddy's ice-cream truck headed straight for him. He swerves off the road and bashes his face on the steering wheel, chipping his tooth in the process. What's worse, is when he checks his mirror, Freddy's truck is nowhere to be seen. The cop is pretty much convinced that he's lost it by this point. But sanity isn't nearly as important as dental care, and a chipped tooth is no laughing matter (unlike this pilot episode).
He arrives at the dentist, and the assistant gives him some gas to calm him down before they go to work on his teeth. Apparently he's already asleep though, because he believes he can see through her outfit. In all honesty though, it was just a quick excuse to show some cleavage on TV. Believe it or not, at the time, this really was one of the most risqué shows on television.
Just like whenever Joey was having a dream about some girls in the Elm Street movies, Freddy pops up here and has the cop strapped into the chair. And what grim fate does he have in store for our poor little cop? Like you couldn't have guessed... he whips out a brand new glove, complete with twirling drill bits just itching to do some dental work. The best part about this scene is all of the tooth chunks that fly everywhere. I guess since you can't show someone's mouth getting ripped to shreds on national television, "flying teeth chunks" is the next best thing. "Now there's a smile every mother could love!"
Next comes the inevitable "he died in his sleep" spiel and then we cut to Freddy walking away as he ponders who his next victim will be. He points to us and laughs as he walks into the shadows. Yeah, not very scary, but still classic Freddy.
All in all, I always thought it was cool seeing Freddy in real life before he got all burnt up and became the man of our dreams. The acting and effects could have been better, but I never expected that much from a TV show anyway. I should also note that later on in the Freddy's Nightmares series there was a sequel to this pilot episode entitled "Sister's Keeper". It continues the story with Freddy stalking the twin daughters of the dead cop, and it was probably my favorite episode they ever did. I'm already working on getting a copy of it on VHS, so you can expect to see a full feature about it on here soon enough. After that, I plan on covering all of the Elm Street movies... the good ones, and the bad ones. And believe me, I know it can be hard to distinguish 'em, but I love cheesy crap like this, so let me have my fun damnit. In the meantime, enjoy some of the extra bonuses I've thrown in at the bottom of this page for all you kiddies to enjoy. Now run along, and sweet dreams. Fuck, did I really just say that?
If you enjoyed this piece, be sure to check out:
(Emulator required to play game. I recommend Nester.)
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