With films like The Last House on the Left and The Hills Have Eyes, Wes Craven had already established his position in the horror genre. However, his performance in A Nightmare on Elm Street catapulted him to fame, and he has not looked back since.
The dark and twisted notion enthralled horror lovers, and even critics praised his unusual storytelling technique. A Nightmare on Elm Street was the start of a hugely successful franchise, and it also heralded the arrival of Freddy Krueger, one of the most famous horror villains of all time. During the 1970s, it was considered that iconic supernatural characters had taken a backseat, but The Nightmare on Elm Street swiftly changed that.
Even diehard movie fans, however, are unaware of some of the behind-the-scenes rumors. We present you with some mind-blowing facts from the filming process in this video, which will give you a whole new perspective on the movie the next time you see it!
The Apparently Bizarre plot was actually inspired by real-life events
Now, this might be hard to digest for many, but the storyline of A Nightmare on Elm Street was actually inspired by a strange real-life incident. Wes Craven later revealed that when they were working on the story and the nature of Freddy Krueger, there were some disturbing reports in the Los Angeles Times that elaborated on a series of deaths. These deaths apparently resulted in people who were known to be suffering from extensive nightmares.
Some of these people were a group of Khmer immigrants, who moved to the US from refugee camps. There were a series of newspaper articles on the same, and it even prompted the federal government to look into the matter. It was reported that they suffered in their sleep, and they passed away while sleeping. It immediately struck a chord with Wes Craven, and this became the foundation of Freddy Krueger, the demon-haunting victims in their dreams!
A Compilation of things that terrified Wes Craven
It must be creatively satisfying to use certain unpleasant things from one’s past and craft something incredible out of it. Wes Craven took up the challenge in A Nightmare on Elm Street, and some of the things that you see on screen are literally the portrayals of his worst memories as a child. Fred Krueger, for example, was a notorious bully who used to make life difficult for young Wes Craven, who was only 11 years old at the time.
This schoolmate bullied him regularly, and he was so scarred by this childhood trauma that he used the name to depict one of the most terrifying horror villains! The only subtle change was making the name Freddy instead of Fred. Also, you must be remembering his unique hat! This hat was inspired by a drunkard in his locality who used to be quite intimidating when Wes Craven was a little boy. What a fine way to find an outlet for your fears, and what an end result!
The debut of Johnny Depp wouldn’t have happened!
Johnny Depp might be a Hollywood legend today, but this is where he started his journey. However, this screen debut was not really supposed to happen, at least not from the character description in the screenplay. Wes Craven had written about a big, blond, foot-player guy, and Johnny Depp was none of those! In fact, when he appeared for the audition, he looked pale and sickly with his nicotine-stained yellowish fingers, and he hadn’t showered for a while. You would be further surprised to know that he hadn’t even come for the audition and only accompanied a friend.
However, the director did notice something special about this young man, and finally, he was selected for the role. There is another side to the casting of Johnny Depp, and how he almost got the role accidentally. The role was supposed to go to Charlie Sheen, who was originally cast to play Glenn. But he demanded a bit too much money and wanted around $3000 in a week, and the budget allocations did not permit for such luxuries. Thus, turning to the debutant Johnny Depp seemed like a feasible option, and it surely worked like magic!
The boiler room scenes were shot in real locations
Wes Craven ensured the best locations for the movie, and the idyllic suburbs of Los Angeles made the perfect home for the nightmares to unfold. Most of the filming locations still remain intact, but one of the most infamous locations can be found in the boiler scene, where Freddy takes down victims inside one. The boiler room scenes were actually shot inside a real location, and the former Lincoln Heights Jail provided the ideal spot. The boiler room was located in the basement, and shortly after the filming was complete the building was rejected because of various issues.
The Make-up was quite troublesome!
Looking like Freddy Krueger comes at a cost, and Robert Englund learned this the hard way. The makeup involved an extensive process that took almost four hours every day to be completed. Besides, the actor would have to remain under all those layers of makeup for 12 to 15 hours every day, and it took a toll on his skin.
You also cannot ignore the fact that the sets would be unbearably hot and teeming with people, and Robert Englund had to endure extreme heat under all the makeup. However, no one can doubt how effective the makeup effects were! One day, the cast and crew went for a meal at a restaurant across the street. Robert Englund was still in his makeup, and it shocked and frightened a waiter so much that he ran out of the eatery!
Freddy Krueger’s design was scientific
If you study enough about human fears and emotions, you will eventually figure out a scientific way to get the best out of a character intended to scare people. Such is the case with Wes Craven, who paid particular attention to the design of Freddy Krueger.
Apart from the fact that he looked absolutely intimidating, Freddy had the perfect combination of fedora, gloved hand, and a sweater, that made him look like just another person walking down the road, but with a distinction. The difference came from the interesting choice of colors used on him. Wes Craven was aware that the colors red and green are the hardest to perceive, and these were used to a good effect because it was the best way to portray his control over the nightmare world!
The Secret behind Freddy’s Glove
They had three different versions of the bladed glove, and Robert Englund had to wear each one of them in turns. One of them was made of rubber, one of balsa wood, and the last one was made of fish knives. This was called the hero glove, and it was actually sharp enough to cut through objects! Robert Englund himself ended up dealing with minor accidents because of the glove, and cut himself on multiple occasions.
The gloved hand was actually inspired by Wes Craven’s cat, and it was supposed to imply that Freddy could reach out to his victims in the dream world. The hero glove was also quite heavy, and Robert Englund had to take the trouble of wearing it for extended hours during the shoot. As a result, the heavy glove caused his shoulder to droop slightly, and this actually became something that we associate with Freddy Krueger’s look. When you see Freddy standing in the shadows, you will always find his gloved hand slightly lower than the freehand, and the next time you see it you will know that it is simply because of compulsion and not done purposely.
Robert Englund wouldn’t have been Freddy – if not for fate!
He is the kind of horror villain that you keep seeing in your nightmares and the man behind the iconic Freddy Krueger is just as important in this regard. This role might have helped Robert Englund rediscover himself, but few are aware of the fact that he wasn’t really the first choice for the role. He had already worked with some of the biggest directors, but no one had the impact on him as Wes Craven did. However, he had initially cast David Warner, an English actor for the role, and it was only after a major scheduling conflict that the actor left the project and it opened up an opportunity for others.
When Wes Craven wrote the original script, he always had an old man in mind for the role. This was because the inspiration behind Freddy Krueger came from a traumatic childhood memory, where he was scared by a creepy old man outside his window. While David Warner fit the bill perfectly, the scheduling conflicts meant that Robert Englund went in for an audition. Wes Craven was so impressed by his performance that he immediately decided to mask the age difference with makeup, and the rest is history!
Freddy Krueger is actually a strong metaphor
You know this character as one of the most terrifying antagonists ever, but there is something much deeper to this scary monstrosity. This killer and dream demon were actually intended to be a strong metaphor according to Robert Englund, who perceives the character to be a representation of the kind of neglect that children often have to deal with because of apathetic parents. Their subconscious fears become uncontrollable and they have no guiding figure or someone to confide in. Freddy is simply an expression for all these fears and he just turns their worst insecurities into realities. If you think about this argument for a while, you will be shocked to find how rational the logic seems!
The movie became a savior for New Line Cinema
New Line Cinema is a big name in Hollywood, and when they swept the Oscars for The Lord of the rings: The Return of the King, not many remembered the struggles of their past. Before such high-grossing films, the studio was in some serious danger of going bankrupt. New Line Cinema started way back in 1967, and they enjoyed some cult hits through the 70s. They tried to balance arthouse cinema with enjoyable trash, and the formula seemed to be working until they got into producing their own movies in the 80s.
Slowly, they dug themselves a hole in terms of the financial losses, and A Nightmare on Elm Street was their make-or-break project. No other studio was willing to take a risk for this movie, and New Line Cinema put everything on the line and took up the challenge. During filming, they often ran into trouble with funds, but after the grand success, New Line Cinema got a new life. Since then, they have come leaps and bounds, and they surely have a special place in their hearts for this movie that saved their business!
The impact of the glove, and the character
A Nightmare on Elm Street is an icon in the horror genre, one that has greatly influenced pop culture. The fans do acknowledge that much of the attraction of the movie is courtesy of Freddy Krueger, and his killing methods using the bladed glove. Since then, the glove has become a popular horror prop that has appeared in numerous cameos. You can see the glove in Jason Goes to Hell, during the iconic moment where Freddy drags the mask of Jason to hell. You will also find the glove in Evil Dead II, and even Bride of Chucky has a glimpse of this iconic glove.
As for Freddy, besides spawning a successful horror franchise, he can be seen as a character in various games. The gamers were pleasantly surprised to find Freddy Krueger as one of the playing characters in Mortal Kombat, where he can be used to fight the likes of Liu Kang and Scorpion. In a nutshell, the impact of this movie, the character, and even the glove has been a long-lasting one, and we the hardcore horror fans aren’t complaining one bit!
It became a theme park attraction
It is no surprise that popular horror movies become instant attractions at theme parks. The same happened with A Nightmare on Elm Street as well. During the Six Flags Fright Fest, Freddy made an appearance in the form of his own haunted house in the park. Even Universal Studio’s Halloween Horror Nights presented Freddy alongside Jason Voorhees, and the audience loved watching their favorite horror icons!
Those were the good old days! You could expect such innovative horror classics to come your way, and they kept coming one after the other. The legacy of the franchise is unquestionable, and the position of Freddy Krueger in the horror genre is right up there with the likes of Dracula or Wolfman. Do let us know in the comments below about the facts that surprised you the most, and don’t skip telling us about your favorite moments in the movie.