A Nightmare on Elm Street: A pop culture phenomenon with no backstory

A Nightmare on Elm Street is perhaps one of the most well-known horror films of all time. A franchise that struck fear into the hearts of entire generations, it left viewers scared, on-edge and unable to sleep. Today, the films are still regarded as highly as they were when they were released and they have spawned a number of spin-offs. Films, TV shows, books, comics, slot games, video games, and even song titles – Freddy’s influence can be felt throughout the whole pop-culture spectrum.

A Nightmare on Elm Street

A Nightmare on Elm Street was first released in 1984. Written and directed by the slasher-king himself, Wes Craven, it was an instant success. The film’s protagonist is the infamous Freddy Krueger – a merciless and disfigured serial killer who targets teens through their dreams. The original film starred a young Johnny Depp alongside lesser-known actors such as Heather Langenkamp, John Saxon, and Ronee Blakeley. The lines of what is real and what is a dream are blurred throughout, leaving viewers unsure and toying with their perceptions.

The film was made with a budget of just $1.8 million and managed to gross an impressive $57 million at the box office. It is considered one of the greatest horror films ever made, and received reviews full of praise. It also won a number of awards including Best Horror Film at the Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror Films awards.

Its place in pop culture

Thanks to the success of the films, Freddy Krueger has become a pop-culture sensation. Perhaps one of the most famous serial killers from any horror film, he is known and feared by most film connoisseurs. Despite the first film being released over 35 years ago, Freddy is still considered as a great choice for Halloween costumes and song names.

The reason for his popularity was due to his sense of humour, quick it, and the (at-the-time) great special effects used to create him. As the film became a cult classic, revered by horror-fans everywhere, Freddy cemented his place in the slasher hall of fame. The films and the characters served as the influence for countless other horror films over the subsequent years.

Photo: @kike_borland on Unsplash

Sequels and spin-offs

Due to the film’s success, a number of sequels and spin-offs followed quickly. In 1985, A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge was released, followed by A Nightmare on Elm Street 3, 4, and 5  in 1987, 1988, and 1989 respectively. In 1991, Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare was released. Then, in 2003 Freddy vs. Jason was released, featuring Jason from the Friday 13th franchise. A remake was then filmed in 2010, entitled A Nightmare on Elm Street. Rumours are circulating that yet another remake could be in the works, but no dates have been confirmed as of yet.

In addition to films, Freddy has been immortalised in multiple books, short stories, novels, and comics. A 44-part TV series was also made, called “Freddy’s Nightmares”. It ran from 1988 until 1990.

Not surprisingly, A Nightmare on Elm Street has also been used as the premise for a number of different games. In the late 90s, two video games based on the series were released for the NES, Commodore 64, and the IBM PC. Freddy has also made the transition into the world of online gambling. Fans of the series can follow Krueger and other characters from A Nightmare on Elm Street in slot games as they spin for fun, for money, or both.

Why hasn’t there been a prequel?

When you look at the success of the original franchise, and the current industry penchant for prequels and sequels, it seems odd that A Nightmare on Elm Street hasn’t had this treatment.

According to some media reports, a prequel had been considered and even written. It was just never realised. Even some of the original cast members said they wanted to see a prequel produced, explaining Freddy’s life before the original films. While the TV series did touch on some aspects of his past, fans were left wanting more.

For now, the trend is very much focussed on psychological horror and terror films. In terms of Hollywood, slasher flicks are very much out at the moment, with more suggestive themes enjoying popular success. But this could all change. Trends in what viewers want often change, and it is likely that this genre of film will become popular in the mainstream once again.

When it does, die-hard fans are sure to be happy at the chance to see Krueger on the big screen after so many years lying dormant. Elm Street might be quiet now, but who knows what the future may hold!

, but who knows what the future may hold!