Saturday, December 13, 2008

Freddy Mania

Now that a Nightmare on Elm Street remake is officially set to be filmed next year, courtesy of Platinum Dunes - the producers of the new Texas Chainsaw Massacre and the new Friday the 13th - I'd like to say upfront that I'm all for it. As with Texas and Friday, my thought isn't one of "how can this ever be as good as the original?" but rather "how could it be worse than the sequels?". Sure, I wish that Hollywood would spend more time creating new nightmares instead of recycling old ones but good luck waiting for that to happen. Personally, I'm less sick of remakes at this point than I am of hearing people whining about them. As far as relaunching the Elm Street franchise goes, even with seven films to the old series' credit, the concept of a killer that stalks you in your dreams still has plenty of potential and if nothing else, the promise of seeing Freddy Krueger restored to the scary presence he was in Craven's original is appealing to me.

I can't say that the Elm Street films were always favorites of mine but Freddy's cult hero status was part of what made '80s horror fun. There's a whole generation of now-twentysomething horror fans who bought their first issues of FANGORIA because Freddy was on the cover. Sure, the character quickly became corny but looking back, I'll take his one-liners and cruel heckling of dysfunctional teens over the stultifying philosophising of Jigsaw in the Saw movies any day.

For some, it might be an automatic deal-killer that Robert Englund won't be playing Freddy but I think it's time to pass the sweater and glove onto someone else. I mean, they change James Bonds, and Draculas, and Dr. Whos, and Batmans all the time - just because Englund has been the only Freddy to date doesn't mean the role has to stay with him until he's in a nursing home. At least he got to be in 2003's Freddy vs. Jason, which was as good a way for him to take a bow and kiss the role goodbye as possible. The dude's in his 60s now, let's let him retire gracefully and keep our memories intact - not like when Sean Connery went back to being Bond for Never Say Never Again. Or when Roger Moore hung around one damn film too long with A View To A Kill.

But even though I think Englund is better off not returning, it does make me a little sad to know that whoever they get to play Freddy in the new film won't be as consumed with the role as Englund was. Part of what I liked about Englund was that he was Freddy. Sure, he had a few other roles - mostly TV work - during the hey-day of Elm Street but essentially his job then was to be Freddy. He guest hosted hosted MTV as Freddy, he appeared in the TV spin-off Freddy's Nightmares - he worked his Freddy shtick wherever they needed him to. And I liked that. I liked the fact that Englund was a character actor who fell into unexpected popularity late in the game, got the kind of stardom that actors like him rarely find, and he ran with it.

For Englund, that role wasn't a matter of being trapped, it was a windfall. Like the popularity of the series itself, which made the fledgling New Line into The House That Freddy Built, it was the kind of success that dreams are made of.


Timmy Crabcakes said...

I can see the potential for this to actually be fun... interesting... even creepy.
It does seem to hinge a lot on who they get to play Freddy though... it seems like it might be hard to match that same insane gusto... Englund really jumped in with both feet.
It's not like Freddy is just another mute and faceless shambler like Jason or Michael... and hopefully they won't put some uber-steroidal ex-WWF guy into the part.
Freddy should be gaunt... withered... diseased brain over charred brawn.

Jeff Allard said...

Anything can go wrong, I guess, but I think this new Elm Street will be fun. It'd be cool if they created a new look for Freddy that ultilizes the same kind of CG approach that they used for Aaron Eckhart in The Dark Knight.

Unknown said...

I loved that Youtube - the hair styles of the news readers are just about as scary as Freddie is ;-)

multikarlpileup said...

It'll be weird not having Freddy be "funny", that's kind of what set him apart in my mind. But we'll see, I'm a little more excited about this than the Friday the 13th remake.

That clip is awesome- it's dated but in a good way. I'm one of the twenty-something fans of the series and I just have to ask- what are video rentals?

Jeff Allard said...

Kim, Karl - glad you dug that YouTube clip!

And sorry Karl, I'd like to help but I'd have too hard a time explaining the antiquated custom of "video rentals" to someone so young.