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Nightmare on Elm Street: Real Nightmares – The Reality Show That Never Saw the Light of Day

Freddy Krueger

This year marks the 30th anniversary of Freddy Krueger’s arrival on the scene, and you better believe that we’re going to be celebrating his birth here on Halloween Love, throughout the year.

The festivities kicked off with a look at Wes Craven’s New Nightmare, which itself turned 20 this year, and continued with a post where I desperately tried to find the good in a particularly bad movie; 2010’s Nightmare on Elm Street remake.

Tonight, we continue the fun by shining the Halloween Love spotlight on a little known piece of Elm Street history, which still to this day has never seen the light of day…

Freddy Krueger has made his presence known on all forms of media over the years, from comic books to a video game, the big screen to the small screen. After a handful of big screen sequels, the burnt up dream demon arrived on the small screen in the form of Freddy’s Nightmares, a spin-off anthology series that aired from 1988 to 1990, and was comprised of 44 episodes.

The show was Freddy’s first and only television venture, right? Well. Yes and no.

Real Nightmares

Back in 2005, two years after finally engaging in an epic battle with fellow slasher icon Jason Voorhees, Freddy was set to star in his very own reality show, courtesy of CBS. Titled A Nightmare on Elm Street: Real Nightmares, the idea behind the show was to force contestants to face down their most terrifying nightmares, and the host was none other than Robert Englund, who of course played Freddy in all of the original Elm Street films.

Described as “a groundbreaking new reality series,” the saga of Real Nightmares began when CBS posted a casting call online for the show, which asked fans to send in videotaped auditions, so to speak, vividly describing frightening nightmares that kept them awake at night. As the casting call described, each episode was going to center around three separate contestants, who would each confront those nightmares, with Englund serving as a “dark guide for the dreamers,” to help them in their quest for a restful night’s sleep.

Though that internet casting call is the greatest source of information about the failed project, you might be surprised to learn that several episodes of the show were actually shot, before being filed away on a shelf somewhere. From what I’ve heard over the years, up to six episodes were filmed at the tail end of 2004, one of them featuring a woman confronting her crippling fear of clowns and another contestant finding himself in a maze with a minotaur, in an attempt to overcome his fear of bulls.

Real Nightmares was set to air in early 2005, but CBS pulled the plug, feeling that it was just too similar to NBC’s Fear Factor, which was popular at the time. Nearly ten years later, and not a single second of the show has seen the light of day, on television or even on the internet. The show has seemingly dropped off the face of the earth, quite possibly never to return again.

If anyone who was a contestant on the show, or played any part in it, finds their way over to this post, please leave us a comment below, with an e-mail address where you can be contacted. Would love to learn more about the show, and give you a platform to tell stories about your experience with it!

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If you don't get enough of me here on Halloween Love, you can also find me on Dread Central, iHorror and Shock Till You Drop. Contact me via john@halloweenlove.com.
  • Yeah, I’ve been trying to track these down for a while too. I’ve never heard of something being so utterly impossible to find. My thoughts are that CBS either completely destroyed them or locked them down tight, deep in the vaults where no one could access them.

    It’s a shame when studios are embarrassed by projects or don’t think they’ll be profitable and just bury them from the fans, that let’s face it, they usually only see $ $ in their eyes and don’t really care at any creative level whatsoever anyways.

  • David Langill

    I was a contestant. I happened to search the title because the 6th was Englund’s birthday and was curious what would come up.
    I have many stories about my experience. It actually gave me the “acting bug” and shortly after became a producer on indie films in the MA/RI area.
    I’m more than happy to talk about it (I’m pretty sure the nda is expired at this point).

    David Langill

  • John Squires

    Hey David, would love to talk. Check your e-mail!

  • Tickdom

    I was also a contestant on the show. I had a crippling fear of heights that interfered with my daily life. I heard that John Kroll, who essentially produced it, had it “in his closet”. There were actually 6 episodes filmed and completed, that’s correct. But CBS pulled the plug at the last minute. A real shame. But a great experience.

  • IncompleteUserna

    Are you allowed to share the footage of your appearance on the show now?

  • Tickdom

    I agree. I never saw my episode.

  • Tickdom

    None of us have footage. The only thing I have are pictures I took of the crew at my house and in my trailer before the challenge.

  • Oh man. Would you send those to me?: black@halloweenlove.com

    I’d love to share them on the site.

  • Tickdom

    I’ll see if I can locate them in my files. I could actually post them here, even.

  • If you find them, make sure to email me the original, raw image files, to make sure I have the highest quality copies for sharing. Many services tend to compress, crop, and resize upon uploading, degrading quality.

    We could make it a guest post if you like, so you can share your story as well. Either way, I’ll definitely make sure to credit you and link to your site if you have one.

    Thanks. :)

  • Tickdom

    I downloaded them from my old dinosaur computer. They aren’t that good, but……I’ll send some tonight then look for the rest as I go.. The originals? Who knows. I have changed computers 4 times since then. I’ll try.

  • Tickdom

    Go check your inbox. LOL. they are still coming. Originals.

  • Tickdom

    Check out this link I found of the original advertisement.

  • Tickdom
  • Tickdom

    And here is my personal account of what happened as a contestant on this show.

  • Hurray! Thank you!

  • Tickdom

    You got em now, dude!!!

  • Adam

    I had footage of my wife’s but I lost it when my laptop died.

  • Most of the time, when a computer dies, it’s just one small component that’s gone bad either with the hardware or operating system that makes it impossible to turn on or reach the contents of your hard drive, but the hard drive itself is almost always just fine.

    If you didn’t toss the computer out (hopefully), the hard drive can be pulled out and its data accessed very easily. You can buy an “internal hard drive adapter” or “internal hard drive dock” off Amazon for dirt cheap.

    If you still have it, I’d be happy to help. Thanks!

  • Tickdom

    How did you get the footage of your wife’s challenge? I never heard from them again after they shelved it. Nothing.