This week sees the return of slasher movie king Freddy Krueger as Michael Bay’s eagerly anticipated re-imagining of A Nightmare on Elm Street arrives in cinemas.
Krueger first arrived on cinema screens in 1984 courtesy of Writer/Director Wes Craven and would return in seven sequels, a series of original novels, comics, computer games and even a TV series.
From the outset Freddy was box office gold, the original Nightmare virtually recouped the entire $1.8m budget in its opening weekend and eventually grossed more than $25m at the US box office alone. Subsequent films would continue to do well at the box office, over the eight films the worldwide box office receipts for the franchise stand at almost $340,000,000.
Even the most ardent of Freddy’s fans would probably accept that the franchise was a little mixed but, though his cinema high point was undoubtably in the 1980’s, his appeal was sufficient to ensure two outings in the 1990’s in addition to 2003’s Freddy vs. Jason.
This Nightmare/Friday the 13th crossover saw a weakened Freddy despatch Friday’s Jason Voorhees to Springwood to scare the residents so that he (Freddy) could feed off their fear and return to his bad old ways.
While sticking two of the horror genre’s biggest names in the same film might not have been the most difficult marketing decision of all time, the film’s set up has more logic and structural integrity than many crossovers bother themselves with.
The end result was a commercially successful blockbuster which took almost $115,000,000 at the box office. That being so, the only surprise about Freddy’s return to the big screen is that it took so long to materialise.
Prior to Freddy vs. Jason, Krueger’s last film appearance was in 1994’s Wes Craven’s New Nightmare. Returning to the franchise for the first time since 1987’s Dream Warriors, Craven delivered a film which crossed the fictional and real worlds as Freddy tormented original film stars Heather Langenkamp and, to a lesser degree, Robert Englund.
Though the least commercially successful entry in the franchise, New Nightmare can be said to foreshadow Craven’s massively successful Scream series, sharing with it characters with a higher than usual knowledge of their place within a horror franchise.
As if to cement the debt Scream owed to New Nightmare, Craven found time to throw in a pseudo-cameo in the shape of a stripy jumper and fedora-wearing ‘Fred the janitor’.
Whether Freddy will be able to repeat his past success under a new production team remains to be seen but as the star of Hollywood’s third highest grossing horror franchise of all time it’s unlikely Bay’s film will be the last we see of him.
A Nightmare on Elm Street arrives in cinemas on May 7th