We all know the story of Wes Craven’s 1984 horror classic A Nightmare On Elm Street. Terrifying dream demon Freddy Krueger stalks the teenagers of Springwood through their slumber – torturing them to death in gory and disturbing ways before they wake. Freddy (originally played by Robert Englund) is one of the most iconic villains of modern cinema – with his red and green striped jumper, knifed glove, and burned visage. But that first film is also notable for the way in which it dealt with the killer’s origin story.
There’s no lengthy, explanatory pre-credits sequence, nor is there a great deal of exposition designed to explain Freddy’s presence. Instead, his story is gradually revealed through snippets of information provided to heroine Nancy Thompson (Heather Langenkamp) by her mother (Ronee Blakley). It transpires that, in life, Freddy Krueger was a child murderer who terrorized the Elm Street community. He was apprehended, but released due to a technical issue during his trial. Enraged at his liberty, the Elm Street parents took matters into their own hands – capturing him, and burning him alive. His lethal return to the dreams of Elm Street’s next generation is an act of revenge.
Later instalments revealed that Freddy’s conception was the result of the brutal gang rape of a nun working in a psychiatric facility, and that he was mercilessly bullied at school. It also transpired that Freddy married and had a daughter named Maggie (Lisa Zane) – who tries to kill him in 1991’s Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare. That film also included reference to Freddy’s youthful cruelty to animals, and the fact that he murdered his wife after she uncovered his crimes. A 2010 remake of the original, meanwhile, – starring Jackie Earle Haley as Freddy – altered his origin story slightly to make the villain a child abuser, instead of a child killer, which was reflective of the original idea of Wes Craven.
Now, a script for an unmade prequel has surfaced and has just been sold on eBay. Its story essentially turns that well-known origin on its head. Apparently written by Golden Globe winning actor (and co-star of A Nightmare On Elm Street) John Saxon in 1987, the plot is set in 1969 and introduces franchise heroine Nancy Thompson as a five year old child. Nancy has a much older step-sister named Betsy, who runs away to join a ‘hippie commune’ and is brought back home after a time.
Once home, her family take her to see a therapist named Frederick Krueger. Betsy’s step-father (and father of Nancy), Police Lieutenant Donald Thompson (played in A Nightmare On Elm Street by John Saxon) is investigating the murder of a child at the time – which is noted as having been committed with a specially crafted stabbing implement. Betsy is eventually murdered, too, and Krueger is implicated – leading the Elm Street parents to kidnap him to extract a confession. As the situation escalates, and the parents begin to burn him alive, Krueger maintains his innocence and it turns out that the real killers are actually Charles Manson and his followers.
Krueger states that the disinterest the parents show toward their children pushed the offspring toward the ideology of the notorious cult leader, and so they’re ultimately responsible for the deaths of their progeny. Suffice it to say that such a twist has ramifications for the entire franchise. In the most general sense, it leads the viewer to reassess the ideas of ‘heroes’ and ‘villains’ that have appeared in the movies, and most specifically, it re-frames the entire subplot featuring Freddy’s daughter, Maggie in The Final Nightmare – which was made four years after this script was penned. It also draws fascinating connections with historic events in the late 1960s and early 1970s, while also delving into social issues such as vigilantism, and trans-generational trauma.
Whether this script ever got anywhere close to becoming a reality, or simply remained a terrifying dream, this prequel to A Nightmare On Elm Street is certainly the biggest and most refreshing injection of fresh blood into what’s now an aging and cliched horror franchise. As such, it seems like New Line Cinema may well have missed a trick here, wouldn’t you say?
Source: Bloody Disgusting