You know what I’ve been thinking about lately? Freddy Krueger, remakes, and new Nightmares.
When I was in junior high I became mildly obsessed with the Nightmare on Elm Street movies. Don’t ask me why. It’s one of the few parts of my life that I haven’t taken the time to deconstruct. Plenty of teenagers take a shine to horror films, but my love of A Nightmare on Elm Street went a little beyond merely liking the movies. I hung Freddy Krueger posters on my bedroom wall, wore Freddy t-shirts, joined the Freddy Fan Club, and even dressed as the finger-knived serial killer for Halloween in the 8th grade. In hindsight, I’m surprised my mother wasn’t a little more concerned.
And now, twenty-six years after the original was released (and spawned a parade of sequels – each one worse than the previous installment), a remake is set to hit theaters this Friday. And even though I still feel a warm nostalgia for the first few Nightmare films, I’m okay with the remake and may even want to see it myself.
This might not seem like much of a revelation, but I’m a guy who joined a Facebook group named “Protesting the remake of Teen Wolf….Long Live Michael J. Fox.” You see I hate 98.2% of all remakes. I hate the fact they remade Psycho (worst remake ever?) and Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (A pasty Johnny Depp is no match for a subtle Gene Wilder). And I HATE that I live in a world where The Karate Kid can be remade with Jackie Chan and Will Smith’s kid.
SIDE NOTE: Why the hell is Jaden Smith a child actor? Both his parents are actors. They’re rich. Really rich. They don’t need the money. So why would they subject this kid to a business that has destroyed the childhood and futures of so many under-aged thespians? This doesn’t get talked about enough.
So why am I at peace with this particular remake? It has nothing to do with the genre. I don’t think horror movies are any less dignified than any other genre. And I feel some of the most regrettable remakes are those of classic horror films. As mentioned above, the Psycho remake is, for my money, one of the worst decisions Hollywood has ever made. I refuse to see Rob Zombie’s version of Halloween because the original is as perfect a horror movie as there is. And I absolutely detest the fact that an Americanized version of Norway’s Let the Right One In is currently being produced. It will inevitably be the worst stateside remake of a European classic since Wings of Desire became City of Angels.
Perhaps the reason I’m willing to look past my remake self-righteousness is because a part of me is looking forward to seeing one of film’s most notorious serial killers scary again. As the years went on, Freddy Krueger became a joke. Robert Englund’s performance as the grotesquely deceased child molester in the original was pretty terrifying. But at some point along the way, Freddy started treating every film like it was open mic night at the Chuckle Hut. Each teen slaughtering was punctuated by corny one-liners. The only thing missing was a well-timed rim shot and a reminder from Krueger to make sure we tipped our waiters.
Mercifully, this new version appears to be humorless. Freddy is back to being a burnt-faced murderer and is played by Jackie Earle Haley, a man who looks so creepy in real life they could’ve shot the film without a makeup artist.
It should also be noted that while the original A Nightmare on Elm Street was a classic, it was far from perfection. I’ve seen the film more times than I can remember and yet I still have no functioning understanding of what happened at the end.
Did Nancy actually defeat Freddy and get her friends back? Or was she dreaming her death in the convertible? And if so, then how did she get resurrected in time for the 3rd movie? And why did her mom suddenly turn into a doll before she was pulled through that tiny window in the front door?
So I say welcome back Freddy Krueger. With any luck, some talented future filmmakers will come along and return Indiana Jones and Darth Vader to the respectable characters I remember from my youth as opposed to the bastardizations I’ve been forced to endure in the last decade.
I won’t hold my breath.