I can remember the first horror movie I ever saw. I was five and visiting one of my mom’s friends. They had HBO, which at the time seemed like such a foreign entity. My family lived in a trailer and couldn’t afford basic cable, let alone the premium stuff. My childhood consisted of watching G.I. Joe: The Movie and Pippi Longstocking films on repeat because we at least had a VHS player and an account at the local video store.
So, there I am. Five years old, filled with ambition and wonder and curiosity. I don’t remember the particular circumstances that brought me in front of the television that fateful day, but I do remember the imagery. A steamy boiler room, a burned madman in a ratty striped sweater, and a hand that was made of knives that was busy scraping on metal and producing one of the most horrifying noises in existence. That movie was A Nightmare on Elm Street of course, and the character was Freddy Krueger; one of the most recorgnized horror icons of my generation.
I wasn’t allowed to watch rated-R films, so I didn’t see another Freddy movie until years later. I believe it was the USA Network that was running a Nightmare marathon and I was visiting my grandparents at the time; and I can clearly remember Part 5: The Dream Child being on. They also were not fans of the horror genre, so I watched it in secret after they had gone to bed. I wasn’t as impressed with his creepy child, but as a Chef was hilarious!
A few years after that, I was able to go into my local video store and rent the rest of the series. At this time, Freddy had been declared dead and his “last” film had just left the theatre. It was a huge deal in the horror community, and Fangoria Magazine put out a huge spread on it. I HAD to see that film. So, I did my homework, watched all the movie and eagerly anticipated the FINAL A Nightmare on Elm Street.
A lot of people hate on that film, but at the time, it quickly became my favorite. I have always had ear problems growing up, and the death with the kid with the hearing aid has always stuck out to me. Also, being an 80s kid and a video game fan, who couldn’t love Freddy and The Power Glove? Years later, I realize that Part 3: Dream Warriors is my favorite movie in the series, but at the time; Freddy’s Dead was king.
The series has gone on to make New Line Cinema a household name, make hundreds of millions in Box Office Revenue, and spawn countless pop culture reference and collectibles. Freddy is just as recognizable as any superhero, and in many ways Super Freddy is a reality. How could Wes Craven ever guess that his creepy child molester in a fedora and striped sweater would spawn a legend that every culture around the globe recognizes?
One more little aside. When I was a kid, I had a bed that was high off the ground. You had to kinda jump to get up on it and there were drawers in the front. On the back end there was a gap where it didn’t touch the wall and you could stick your hand down there and store toys, comics, whatever you wanted back there; if you were so inclined. For me, that’s where Freddy lived. It was super weird, but I always thought of Freddy as more than a horror icon; I thought of him as a friend. He was just as important to me as Spider-Man and Batman.
I hope that each and every one of you can connect to a character like a Freddy, Jason, Michael Myers, or even…dare I say it? A Leprechaun.