Everyone’s favorite child killer isn’t as horrifying as he seems when it’s time to lay down a sick rhyme or rocking guitar solo…
When Wes Craven cast Robert Englund to play the terrifying antagonist of his new slasher film, A Nightmare On Elm Street, I doubt anyone expected Freddy Krueger to become an enduring film mascot. This was a child murder who was burned to death and now stabbed troubled teens in their dreams.
Krueger has been the star of nine films, so we thought it appropriate to choose his nine best murders… even though three of the films, one-third of the franchise, don’t make it anywhere near this list. Obviously, we go into further detail on An Elm Street Nightmare, but you’re free to argue with me in the comments.
Yet, perhaps thanks to Robert Englund’s incredible charisma or the character’s signature look, Krueger became a highly marketable murderer, selling toys and t-shirts to the same kids Freddy enjoys killing, Hell, there’s even a sexy Freddy Krueger from Japanese figure maker Kotobukiya (pictured next to sexy Jason).
Krueger got so big that numerous sequels weren’t enough for the late-80s demand for Freddy, so scarred demon did what any superstar would do: make music. Glam metal bands and kid-friendly rappers alike flocked to Freddy for musical collaborations, and while it definitely weakened what remained of Krueger’s scare appeal, it makes for fun viewing. With all his camp, gay subtext, and wild mood swings to go along with the music, is it too much to consider Freddy the Judy Garland of horror? I don’t think so after watching these.
Dream Warriors – Dokken
We’ve covered this before in Top 7 Cheesiest Music Video Crossovers With Movies, but it bears repeating: this ridiculous video begins the defanging of Freddy. After the first sequel was made with a smaller budget and gay subtext many missed, Wes Craven returned to Elm Street in the hopes of ending things in Dream Warriors. He even brought back Heather Langenkamp as Nancy Thompson to pass the torch to a new generation that included the film debut of Patricia Arquette. Dream Warriors features some of Krueger’s goriest and most theatrical kills, and it was also the first to have a soundtrack full of hot new artists, like Dokken, whose title track video featured both Arquette and Englund in full costume.
Unbelievably, in Patricia’s dream, Dokken’s somewhat rocking falsettos are enough to defeat Freddy, banishing him and saving Arquette. There’s even a Thriller-esque finale to reveal it was all Freddy’s own nightmare, though I like to read his running away from Dokken is that he simply can’t stand their music. This video, coupled with the success of the film, proved that Freddy wasn’t going away soon, even if Craven intended Dream Warriors to be a finale.
Freddy’s Greatest Hits – The Elm Street Group
Hot off the success of his third film, in 1987 Freddy did the same as dozens of celebrities before him – he made a quickie cash-in novelty record! Back in the days before executives had meetings about “brand management,” corny albums like Freddy’s Greatest Hits were all the rage. Just hire cheap studio musicians, have the famous person record a few quick lines over the music, and watch the stupid kids spend away. This out-of-print album mainly featured Freddy laughing over covers, such as Wilson Pickett’s In The Midnight Hour.
The entire album has the feel of being recorded over a weekend, and was only ever released on vinyl – is it too much to hope for a future Record Store Day reprinting. Freddy’s Greatest Hits makes for campy background music at your next hipster get together, but if it’s about as stupid as Freddy ever got. I just wonder if the kids who bought it felt ripped off that Freddy barely sings on it, or were they happy to be spared Robert Englund singing in character for nine full songs?
Love Kills – Vinnie Vincent Invasion
When it came time to make a fourth Elm Street film, New Line Cinema was ready to really cash-in, tying in a couple music videos with Freddy. First up is a band no one under 40 likely recalls. See, Vinnie Vincent was an early ’80s member of Kiss who felt he wasn’t given his due while being overshadowed by Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley. So Vincent started a band of his own where he’d be the one overshadowing the other members. Vinnie Vincent Invasion’s Love Kills wasn’t conceived as a Freddy song, though the video definitely makes up for it with numerous Dream Master clips added in.
I almost didn’t include this because it lacked a true crossover moment, like Englund showing up. Then Vinnie Vincent rocks out in full Freddy cosplay, winning over my heart. All Vincent wants is to be a star, but the close-up of his grinning face shows he’s just a goofy guitar virtuoso dying for recognition. This was sort of a last hurrah for Vincent, as by the end of 1988 his band would break up, mainly blaming Vinnie’s ego, and lead singer Mark Slaughter would form a band named after himself, continuing the circle of egotistical metal excess.
You know you want to hear Freddy rap, so the next page click to the next page already!