Ed. note- Hell of Famer Freddy Krueger had his own syndicated TV show in the 80s. Chad kindly looks back at it for us.- P.F.
I feel like most people who know me are aware of my deep and long lasting love of everything Freddy Krueger. Usually I’m the one they ask, “Hey, which movie did Freddy kill that kid this way?” or, “What was the name of the blonde girl in ELM STREET 4?” or, “Did Freddy really beat Jason?”. They’re all generally harmless questions that I enjoy discussing with casual fans or those who haven’t seen the series in a while. And now that we’ve reached 30 years of the first Elm Street movie, there’s going to be a lot of questions. But one question I usually have a split reaction to is this one: “Hey, remember that Elm Street TV series?” I usually have to stop myself from shuddering at the mere mention of it.
Ok, for the uninitiated, Freddy’s Nightmares was a Tales From The Crypt/Twilight Zone-like show that was split into an hour of tales. After the first episode reached its conclusion, the second part would begin, thanks to a minor character that was usually in the background of the first episode, and things would carry on from there. Freddy would pop in maybe once in a while to be a part of the episode, but other than being the host to some odd segments, he didn’t really do much but set up the story. A few witty comments here, a cameo there. It was more of a “Freddy reads us a story from his book of Springwood history”.
The first episode served as a way to set up Freddy for the series. Tobe Hooper, who had done EATEN ALIVE (a movie that starred Robert Englund early in his career), and THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE, directed this first episode. Cleverly, Robert’s face was shrouded throughout the whole episode so you couldn’t entirely see Freddy’s real face. It was a good effort and a very entertaining hour to watch, especially since up until this point, we had no true scenes of Freddy being burned.
Sadly, that’s where the fun already starts to decline. After the first episode, despite many future stars like Mariska Hargitay and Brad Pitt and familiar faces in horror like Jill Whitlow starring in episodes, the seasons just went downhill. The episodes felt boring. They dragged on. The effects were awful (as a resulf of a budget that was lower than most other shows at the time). The creativity wasn’t all there. We got corny stories and bad acting, despite directors such as Mick Garris, Tom McLoughlin and even Freddy himself, Robert Englund for an episode. The problem was, this series was meant to be nothing more than an attempt to put Freddy more in the public eye. And to a degree, it worked because by 1989, the Krueger machine was rolling. Freddy was EVERYWHERE and became a huge public figure.
Even though it didn’t last beyond two seasons (mainly due to its racy content, budget and scheduling in syndication), some of the episodes were worth at least one watch. The greatest episode may just well be Mick Garris’ episode. “Killer Instinct,” which starred Lori Petty. Petty finds a magic stone that makes her a better athlete.. Normally, out of frustration, I’d spoil it further. But it must be appreciated as top level 80s cheese, so watch it and discover why the line, “I’m a bullet, I’m a missile, I’m a rocket to the moon” comes up in NIGHTMARE fans’ discussions. It truly is worth watching this episode for the cheese alone.
On a personal note, here’s a fun story: After my 7th birthday, I decided to invite my next door neighbor to stay over after the party to sit and play with my new gifts (it was a Ninja Turtles party in 1990, so imagine all the amazing Turtles figures I received.) and also enjoy the Freddy’s Nightmares marathon that was being played on our local station. It was a pretty fun afternoon and served as a solid memory of Freddy invading my childhood.
Years later I’d buy the entire series in a bootleg set for $35 dollars. It had been almost 20 years since I saw the show last and for a good few months, I watched at least 3 episodes every night until the full series had been completed. That’s right. I’m admitting to watching the ENTIRE SERIES. My favorite line, even more so than the Lori Petty line, came after an episode involving drugs. The final shot is a sad Freddy saying “Drugs. Now that’s a REAL nightmare.”. I’m assuming Freddy’s feeling remorse only because drugs killed someone and he didn’t. Other than that, I have a hard time thinking Freddy truly cares for anyone in Springwood considering they turned him into a human s’more.
The show was popular enough to get a few VHS releases in the late 80s/early 90s. I actually own one. Which one? I really don’t know. I’m too terrified to play it. The series has yet to see a legit digital release in America, but the first series got released in 2003 in Ireland with promises of the second series to follow. As you can imagine, the first series didn’t sell, so no dice on the second series. Thankfully, two episode, the memorable “Killer Instinct” and “It’s A Miserable Life” were included on the BluRay set released in 2011.
So. If you ever, EVER get bored and decide you need to kill either an hour or yourself, this is a good way to do both. The show is as a bad as it gets. But I gotta say, as tried and true Fred Head, it’s still better than FREDDY’S DEAD.
-Chad E. Young