10 Things You Didn't Know About... A Nightmare on Elm Street
With Halloween approaching we've got loads of great offers on horror movies in our stores up and down the country, so we thought we'd revisit one of the all-time classics. It spawned no fewer than six sequels, turned director Wes Craven into a horror movie legend and made a generation of children too scared to go to sleep; it can only be A Nightmare on Elm Street.
Everybody knows the story of Freddy Krueger, a supernatural killer with the ability to kill people in their dreams, but did you know he was named after a school bully? We dug up this and plenty more things you may not know about one of the most famous horror films ever made...
Wes Craven got the idea from a spooky series of real-life deaths
In the early 1980s, the director picked up on a newspaper article detailing the mysterious deaths of 18 men and women who had emigrated to the United States from the same mountain community in Laos, all of whom died in their sleep over a period of four years, despite being relatively young and in good health. A New York Times article published in 1981 posited the theory that they had died from fright as a result of nightmares, a condition they described as 'oriental nightmare death syndrome'. Though the theory was never proved, it was enough to inspire Craven to create a villain that could kill people in their dreams.
Johnny Depp makes his acting debut in this film...
A young Johnny Depp only found himself at the auditions for Craven's film because he went with his friend Jackie Earle Haley, who was auditioning for the part. Craven later said that he only chose Depp for the part because his daughter told him that “all the girls will love him”. She wasn't wrong.
… he also makes a cameo in Freddy's Dead
Depp returned to the franchise some years later, making a cameo in Freddy's Dead, in which he appears on TV in a parody of an anti-drugs campaign. You won't find his name in the credits though, instead Depp's appearance was credited under the name 'Oprah Noodlemantra'.
Charlie Sheen wanted the part of Glen, but the studio couldn't afford him
Along with Depp and Haley, several other actors auditioned for the part of Glen and the role very nearly went to Charlie Sheen, who had impressed the director and the producers. However, Sheen reportedly wanted more money for the role than the studio could afford, so they cast the unknown Depp instead.
Freddy is named after a school bully who terrorised Wes Craven as a child
According to the director, 'Fred' was the name of a kid who used to bully him at school, while the villain's appearance was also partially inspired by an experience from Craven's childhood years, when a creepy old man apparently stopped in the street to stare at Wes through his bedroom window.
The role of Freddy was originally given to David Warner
Robert Englund wasn't first choice for the role, which was initially given to British actor David Warner. However, scheduling conflicts meant that Warner had to drop out, so Englund stepped in to fill his shoes. In fact, the first time we see Freddy on screen, it isn't Englund or Warner. Instead, the hand slipping into that famous glove actually belongs to special effects artist Charles Bellardinelli, because he was the only person who knew how to insert the blades correctly.
The film originally had a happy ending
Craven had initially intended for A Nightmare on Elm Street to be a one-off, so at the end of his original script Freddy was supposed to die when Nancy stops believing in him. However, producer and studio boss Robert Shaye wanted to leave the ending open to the possibility of a sequel, but Craven was less than impressed with his suggestion of Freddy driving the car full of children off into the sunset. Four different endings were filmed before they arrived at the one we all know, a compromise between the two ideas which – if we're honest – doesn't actually make any sense.
Freddy released an album
An album called Freddy's Greatest Hits, featuring Robert Englund singing in character, was released in 1987. Recorded under the name 'The Elm Street Group', it featured some original songs as well as covers of songs by Wilson Pickett and The Everley Brothers.
The Lord of the Rings films might not have happened without A Nightmare on Elm Street
New Line Cinema was a new company at the time and was on the verge of bankruptcy. If it hadn't been for Freddy, the company probably would have dissolved, which would have meant a world with no Austin Powers, Boogie Nights or Lord of the Rings, all of which have come from the New Line studios.
Disney wanted to make it a film for kids
We can't even imagine what the point of this would have been – a horror film without the scary bits – but that's exactly what Disney wanted to do with the film when they first saw Craven's script. Fortunately, the director had the good sense to tell them it wouldn't work and instead chose to make the film as he intended with New Line.
Haven't seen all the films from the A Nightmare on Elm Street series? We've got you covered; you can find the complete box set featuring all seven films in our Halloween offer, as well as loads more great films & TV shows, which you can find here