Today we continue our year-long celebration of A Nightmare on Elm Street‘s 30th anniversary here on Halloween Love, having previously covered such topics as an unaired reality TV show from the early 2000s called Real Nightmares, Wes Craven’s New Nightmare, the Nightmare on Elm Street remake and even the 90s series Nightmare Cafe, created by Craven and starring Robert Englund.
Rolling right along, it’s now time to shine the spotlight on Freddy’s Nightmares, the spin-off TV series that kicked off with a particularly awesome pilot episode, detailing the backstory of the burnt up demon himself, Freddy Krueger.
An anthology series in the vein of Tales from the Crypt and The Twilight Zone, Freddy’s Nightmares premiered on October 9th of 1988, airing for two seasons before coming to a close in March of 1990.
An attempt to capitalize on the smash-hit success of the Nightmare on Elm Street franchise, which was up to its fourth installment at the time it began airing, Freddy’s Nightmares saw Robert Englund reprising the role of Freddy Krueger, serving as a Crypt Keeper-type character, rather than directly taking part in the stories.
That said, the wise decision was made to launch the series with a pilot episode that very much featured the character, with New Line using Freddy’s Nightmares as a way to delve into an aspect of the story that the movies really hadn’t; the origin of Freddy Krueger, from child murderer to supernatural monster.
True, the origin story was relayed in various installments of the movie franchise, but up until that point – and still to this day, in fact – those flashbacks have only briefly been featured and explored in the movies, telling us mere snippets of the story. It is for this reason that the Freddy’s Nightmares pilot episode is an incredibly important piece of the Elm Street puzzle, and to date the best exploration of Freddy’s origin story that we’ve yet seen.
“Don’t be afraid,” says Freddy in the opening segment of the pilot. “This time, it isn’t one of your nightmares. This one… was mine.”
Directed by Tobe Hooper – yes, THAT Tobe Hooper – the pilot episode of Freddy’s Nightmares was titled ‘No More Mr. Nice Guy’ and began with the trial of Fred Krueger, accused of murdering several young children in the town of Springwood, Ohio.
Though all evidence points to Freddy being the murderer, the judge ends up dismissing the case because of the mishandling of his arrest, leaving the parents of the murdered children shocked and angered, as the Christmas sweater-wearing monster is set free from his shackles, and unleashed back into the world.
After the law fails to deliver justice, in most epic fashion, the bereaving parents take matters into their own hands, getting together and forming a lynch mob. Meanwhile, Freddy returns to his lair at the local power plant and adorns his hand with a familiar looking glove, eager to resume the murder spree that the court isn’t interested in punishing him for – sounds like the American justice system to me!
While the vengeful parents hunt Freddy down, he’s out and about on a little hunt of his own, intent on slaughtering the two twin daughters of the police officer who almost got him locked away for life. After taking out the chicken-eating cop providing security outside the house, Freddy readies to make his move on the girls, but is driven off when the lynch mob converges on the property.
Chased back to his creepy dwelling, the parents soon come face-to-face with the man who murdered their children, and he responds to their angry faces and pointed guns with that iconic evil laugh, taunting them to take their best shot.
The cop – whose daughters Freddy has it out for – arrives on the scene just in time, and though he at first plans on following the book and hauling Freddy back off to jail, repeated threats over the well-being of his daughters prompt him to send the law on a tropical vacation, joining the mob and deciding that vigilante justice is precisely what this particular case calls for.
The officer douses Freddy in gasoline and sets him ablaze, being taunted by Krueger all the while. It’s almost as if Freddy knows that the flames will only make him stronger, remarking in his final moments that he’d rather burn out than fade away; he’s a Neil Young fan, apparently.
All parties involved vow to keep what they’ve just done a secret, not realizing that they’ve just ensured that Springwood’s nightmares are only beginning…
in the latter half of the episode, Freddy is in his full burnt-up glory, plaguing the nightmares of the cop who sent him into a fiery grave. Shaken by Freddy’s post-death mind games, the cop comes clean about what he did, unable to move past the fact he killed a man. Rather than slap him in cuffs, the cop buddy he confesses to instead calls him a hero and promises to properly dispose of the body – now that’s a good friend!
After entombing Freddy’s remains in the trunk of a car, the body mysteriously vanishes, leaving only deep slash marks behind. In the place of Freddy’s body? The corpse of the lynch mob’s leader, with the same slash marks torn into it.
The cop becomes driven further and further into a state of pure insanity, eventually realizing that Freddy is completely in control of Springwood and deciding that the only way to avoid his wrath is to pick up and move. But first, he stops off at the dentist to fix a dental issue, because that’s of course the kind of thing you do when your life is being threatened by a dream demon.
Under the influence of a medically-induced high, the cop creepily envisions the dental assistant in her underwear before passing out, at which point the sexy nurse turns into Freddy, who exacts his gruesome revenge – his bladed fingers transforming into crude dental tools.
“Who’s next?” Krueger asks in the episode’s outro, paving the way for the two seasons to come, which focused on the nightmares of unrelated characters.
While there’s no denying that the episode is quite corny, full of shoddy dialogue and bad acting, it’s nevertheless a must-watch piece of entertainment for all fans of the franchise, as it’s again the closest we’ve come to a true Freddy origin story. It’s a lot of fun watching Robert Englund play Freddy, outside the makeup – even if he’s mostly shrouded in darkness, his screentime kept to a minimum – and I think it’s really awesome that New Line used the series to tell a story that they never would’ve gotten away with telling on the big screen.
After watching ‘No More Mr. Nice Guy,’ it’s hard not to wish that all of the Freddy’s Nightmares episodes were about Freddy, as they could’ve really explored some interesting territory with the series, and expanded upon the overall mythos of the character. Unfortunately, the pilot ended up being the only episode that Freddy truly played an active part in – aside from hosting duties, as previously mentioned.
So, where can you watch Freddy’s Nightmares? Well, the series has unfortunately never been released onto DVD here in the states, though five different VHS tapes came out back in the day, each containing a single episode – ‘No More Mr. Nice Guy’ was included on the first of the VHS releases.
Aside from that, the recently released Nightmare on Elm Street: Complete Collection Blu-ray set contains two random episodes of the show, and that’s to date the best we’ve ever gotten, in terms of a home video release. At the moment, there are currently no plans in motion to bring the complete series to DVD, forcing fans to either buy bootleg copies on the convention circuit or track down episodes online.
They’re out there, if you want to see them. So get out your shovel and do a little digging!
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