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Hollywood Hidden Stories: How A Nightmare On Elm Street Began

by  |  May 8th, 2012  |  Blog

Between the late 70s through the 90s saw the height of release for some of Hollywood’s most prolific horror movie villains! Such characters from, ‘Michael Myers’ from John Carpenter’s, Halloween (1979), to Jim Gillespie’s, I Know What You Did Last Summer (1997)! With another classic horror movie villain being, ‘Freddy Kruger’ from Wes Craven’s, A Nightmare On Elm Street!

Nancy (Played by: Heather Langenkamp) as she is being attacked by, Freddy Kruger (Played by: Robert Englund) in 1984's, 'A Nightmare On Elm Street'

Now we all know about the classic movie and the people who made this series the true Hollywood Horror icon that it is today, but before Johnny Depp (Edward Scissorhands), Heather Langenkamp (Shocker) Amanda Wyss (Fast Times At Ridgemont High), Jsu Garcia (Collateral Damage), Ronee Blakely (The Driver), John Saxon (Battle Beyond The Stars) and Robert Englund (Eaten Alive) were tearing up the big screen in, A Nightmare On Elm Street (1984), the basic idea had started off from  a series of news pieces!

The basic idea for, A Nightmare On Elm Street started coming to, director Wes Craven (Deadly Friend), when a series of stories came out in the LA Times back in the 1970s having to do with a group of Cambodian

refugee’s, who after they escaped the Khmer Rouge Genocide, and had come to America, were afflicted with terrible dreams that seemed like had killed them! (In reality it is believed that these men had actually been afflicted with Brugada Syndrome).

Along with the eastern religion that Mr. Craven was studying at the time, an Idea was born!

Wes Craven with the glove that helped make him a legend in horror movies!

Now Wes Craven started writing the project around 1981, and when writing the script Craven  used many biographical circumstances in the creation of the most prolific character from the movie, Freddy Kruger! (Played by Robert Englund in the original series and by Jackie Earle Haley in the remake.)

One such example is Fred Kruger, a person whom when Craven was a kid, was the bully that bullied Craven around!  (As a matter of fact, Craven used Fred Kruger as the inspiration for the character ‘Krug’ a crazy serial killer from the movie that both Sean S. Cunningham and Wes Craven made together in the 70s called, The Last House On The Left!) Another inspiration for Freddy was a homeless man that had creeped Craven out when he was a kid!

Well after Craven completed the script and finished filming, Swamp Thing (1982), Craven started shopping around the script to the various studios, but after a few years of shopping the script around, and most all of the major studios passing on the script.

I thought that I should mention that as a side note, that Paramount Pictures was one of the Production studios that passed on, A Nightmare On Elm Street. But around the end of the 80s Paramount would sell the rights to almost everything having to do with the Friday The 13th horror movie series (with the exception of the actual name, ‘Friday The 13th’) to New Line Cinema, who has owned the, A Nightmare On Elm Street franchise, since the first movie!

The logo that New Line Cinema used when they made, 'A Nightmare On Elm Street'

Now speaking of New Line Cinema, New Line Cinema started off as a distribution company that mostly distributed Art House and Foreign Films to U.S. College Campuses.  Now they did have some full length films under there belt before producing, A Nightmare On Elm Street, like Stunts (1977) with Robert Forester (Jackie Brown) and Alone In The Dark (1982) with Donald Pleasence (Halloween).

But it wasn’t until acquiring, A Nightmare On Elm Street, that they got their first commercially successful movie franchise!

With that said, after circulating the script for about 3 years, New Line Cinema did end up picking up the movie!

Now there is many more fascinating stories after New Line picked up, A Nightmare On Elm Street, and we might go in to them in future editions of, ‘Hollywood Hidden Stories’, but The truth is that, like a lot of horror movies that had been made from the 1960s through the 1980s, this movie was made for a very low budget, by an at the time small time production company, and had helped to jump start the careers of Johnny Depp, Heather Langenkamp. Catapulted Jsu Garcia and Heather Langenkamp in to horror movie legend, and helped further the careers of John Saxon, and Amanda Wyss!

I thought that you guys would enjoy these trailers for the, A Nightmare on Elm Street movies that Wes Craven was involved in:

The first one of course being, A Nightmare On Elm Street (1984):

The next one being, A Nightmare On Elm Street Part 3: Dream Warriors (1987), a movie which he both co-wrote and co-executive produced!

The last one of course being, Wes Craven’s New Nightmare (1994).  A movie which Mr. Craven wrote, directed, executive produced, and had a small part in!

And the rest as they say, ‘is history’

Nathan Strack


I am a huge Horror/B-Movie/Grindhouse movie fan! Rather it be Writing/Acting/Directing or just watching one I love it all!

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