Do me a favor. Off the top of your head, go ahead and state the top five killers or slashers from the vast array of horror villains you know. My best bet is that within the first three you named, you most likely counted Freddy Krueger in there. Don’t worry, you’re not cliche! You’re just a total badass because you love horror that much and you admire the elites of the genre. There’s nothing wrong with you.
What is it about Freddy Krueger that sets him apart from the rest of the genre baddies? Krueger is dark, sinister and reeking of pitiless rage. He’s a villain that goes balls to wall with delight in killing. While Myers and Voorhees do their work in utter silence and zero emotional display, Freddy does the opposite and seems to glorify in the affliction he engenders. He highlights and praises his practice and struts his evil prowess like a white person who counts black friends. He’s also powerful in ways I can’t comprehend. Going after and slaughtering people in their dreams. That is just not fair! He’s a more of a menace than most because he comes without calling and gets to you from the very depths of our slumbering security. So not only do you have to face him in your dreams, you have to torture yourself with trying to stay awake.
We all love Freddy Krueger and what the series molded him into. While the first two movies gave us a much darker and less pun intended killer, we are often reminded more of Freddy’s more quirkier style that the series would turn into. Which in my opinion was a good niche to fill. To be honest the Bronze Age slasher genre is full of extremely serious villains. There aren’t many slashers that express a great deal of emotion. If any, it is mainly obsession and hatred. But Freddy, Freddy was different. He’s expressive in his tampering, delightful in his slaying and even shows indignation for his own inefficiencies. For instance, he complains when a teen gets away and shows fear when he’s about to lose the fight. These kinds of mannerisms make him something a viewer can understand. But it is in that understanding of him that makes him so grim. His passion runs deeper than just simple motives like revenge, punishment or delight. His fervor is sustained by a lust for power. The more he exterminates, the more powerful he seems to be.
Freddy is Inescapable
When you watch Halloween or a Friday the 13th film, the entire idea is to “get away.” This is because our killers perimeter is curtailed. We know if we could only get out or reach this one place, then all is fine. But Fred goes anywhere! You can’t run to another state, you can’t barricade yourself in and you can’t even arm yourself like Rambo because eventually you will fall asleep. There is no riding into the sunset of escape. There is no escape. You’re fucked! Freddy is in all ways… inescapable! If you’re familiar with any of my writings then you will know that the theme of inescapability is my number one joy in horror. Which probably is the reason why I think Freddy Krueger is the greatest horror icon of all time. Freddy will get to you wherever you go and then add in his passion for everything and it leaves you with only one choice. He has to be defeated at all costs!
Comparably, I have thought of this a great deal and from what I can gather; Chucky is the only other mainstream slasher that shares the same sentiment as Freddy Krueger. He too has a devious motive. But what’s the point of all of this? Why am I going on and on with Freddy Krueger? Well let me tell you. A couple of months ago, I did a series for my Scenes To Be Seen where I talked about awesome chainsaw battles in three very well known horror movies. In this trilogy of posts, I brought up Motel Hell, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 and Phantasm 2. Dissecting each scene and discussing the awesomeness of the chainsaw when it comes to horror in general. I love the chainsaw so this was a pretty fun series to do. You can actually read those posts below.
With that said, the idea of doing another series for my Scenes to Be Seen has been something I have wanted to do again. So what a better series than doing it for every Nightmare on Elm Street movie! This shall be my honoring of Freddy Krueger. So hold on to your butts because throughout the month of July there will be multiple Scenes to Be Seen posts. Each post strictly honoring one that one movie and that one kill that I deem my favorite! Most of them, you other horror fanatics will already know. As for those that have no clue about this franchise, then it can inspire you to quit being a jackass and watch them.
In 1951 the movie Royal Wedding starring actor/dancer Fred Astaire and Jane Powell would be a hit. The movie was a comedy musical featuring a brother and sister dance duo that takes their act to England. During the movie the two fall in love with other actors and at one point Fred Astaire, known for his skills in dance would perform a single dance routine to the song known as You’re All The World To Me. The scene would include Astaire dancing in a singular room that rotated, making Fred seem to be dancing on the walls while the camera stayed in one single position. It was a brilliant work of cinematic accomplishment and would thus influence other special effects shot the same way in other movies.
One of those movies would be 1982’s Poltergeist. It used rotated rooms in various shots and one scene in particular featured JoBeth Williams as Diane, crawling on the walls as she was being forcibly pushed by an invisible entity. The scene alone is brilliant and one of the more spectacular scenes from the movie.
Two years later, Wes Craven would introduce us to A Nightmare on Elm Street, featuring our very own Freddy Krueger. This film would rock theaters for its brutality and give us its fair share of rotating rooms. One in particular would be Freddy’s first victim Tina, who while in her dream sequence is hunted down and slay’d by Krueger. As her boyfriend Rod awakens to Tina screams, he witnesses her being pushed up the wall to then crawl along the ceiling. Bloody and in agonizing pain, Tina then falls to the floor… dead and mutilated.
I can only imagine the shock and horror of the crowd seeing this scene in theaters. Even by modern standards the scene is extremely ruthless and a true depiction of great horror. By all rights it does deserve its very own Scenes To Be Seen entry. What I love is the position of the camera of Rod reaching out to Tina. It makes the room seem more real and erodes any notion that the room is actually spinning. It’s purely a simple trick of position.
But this was just the beginning and vision Craven desired. Later in the film Craven would ask special effects designer Jim Doyle to do another rotated room. This scene would feature the death of Glen played by rookie actor Johnny Depp.
Jim Doyle created a room that was completely upside down but unlike the first scene with Tina, this shot would stay in one place. When Glen is pulled through the hole by Freddy, a gushing flow of blood pours upward out of the bed like a geyser. It is said that they used about two hundred and twenty gallons of blood made from water and red dye. Poster paint was added to give a more realistic coagulate state. The room was raised on risers and built so the mass amounts of liquid could pour through the bed and engulf the room, seemingly appear as if the blood was saturating the ceiling. The first take of the geyser was a bust causing the room to spill blood everywhere and drenching both Craven and Doyle on the set. After making alterations and repairs the second shot was what we see in the video, thus creating one of the greatest and bloodiest scenes in horror movie history.
I for one absolutely love this scene and find it to be terrifying and proudly serves as my favorite kill in the film. It may not be as grotesque as Tinas but the pouring blood effect is so captivating. By this point in the film you’ve been fairly aware of who Fred is and how he goes after people. But Glens death is so much more impactful. Mainly because you as a viewer have no clue that Glen is actually in the dream world. In fact, I found myself asking… is this happening in reality or is he sleeping? Cause he’s just laying there and then that killer glove pops up and rips him downward. I actually think one of the most impressive things with this shot is how they pull him down and the tv and radio shit down with him! But when you think it’s all done the camera still shows the bed with the hole in the middle. Then shit hits you as vast amounts of blood come pouring upward like a volcano! I just want to know where the blood came from? The human body only has about 1.2 gallons of blood each. So is it Glens blood and why is blood even coming out of the bed. It’s all because Freddy is all about the effect. There is no rhyme or reason. It’s a message to the parents that the blood will flow! Be aware Elm Street, your doom is at hand!
Plus what makes this so awesome is its all real. There is no CGI bull shit like you would get from a modern film. But what gets me is how they set the rooms up to appear as though they remained in place. I could only imagine being that one effects coordinator that was given the duty of weighting everything down.
You have a young guy, possibly an intern who is new to the movie making world. One day, Jim Doyle and Wes Craven approach him… “Hey Mike, we need to ask you for a favor. We need to make another upside down room. Actually we need two upside down rooms. You have to make sure everything can be rotated without a single object appear to be dangling or falling when turned. Can you do this?” The young enthusiast is ecstatic beyond measure. This will be his shot at making his mark in the industry! So he gets to work and weeks and weeks pass. The guy has used to much rubber cement and his brain is completely fried. He’s hit his fingers with the hammer so many times that he can’t even feel the tips of them anymore. Then one day he finishes and the room spins completely without anything look amiss. Mike is proud of his accomplishment until one day on set, they do the Glen death scene. Your project is flooded with fake blood and all that hard work is destroyed. Mike then kills himself out of depression.
But you know what, we thank you Mike or whoever did this work. This movie is a spectacle of craft and skill. The scenes of the rotating and upside down rooms will forever remain fine examples of a time when movie making was an art form. Something that took more than just clicking a computer and for that we thank thee. I also thank you for reading this post and joining me in on this new series for my Scenes To Be Seen!!