A Nightmare on Elm Street
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The following FAQ entries contain spoilers. Only the biggest ones (if any) will be covered with spoiler tags. Spoiler tags are used sparingly in order to make the page more readable.

For detailed information about the amounts and types of (a) sex and nudity, (b) violence and gore, (c) profanity, (d) alcohol, drugs, and smoking, and (e) frightening and intense scenes in this movie, consult the IMDb Parents Guide for this movie. The Parents Guide for A Nightmare on Elm Street can be found here.

Not counting the 2010 remake of the original, there are 8 films in the series:

A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984), written and directed by Wes Craven. Teenager Tina Gray (Amanda Wyss) has been having horrific nightmares in which she is stalked by a figure with razor-sharp knives attached to his glove. She soon discovers that her best friend, Nancy Thompson (Heather Langenkamp) has been experiencing similar dreams. At a sleep-over with Nancy and her boyfriend Glen Lantz (Johnny Depp), Tina and her rebellious boyfriend, Rod Lane (Jsu Garcia) go to bed. Later that night, Tina has another nightmare, in which she is killed. As she dies in the dream, Rod wakes up and sees Tina being cut open by invisible hands in real life. He flees and is accused of the murder. Nancy is not convinced he did it, and is still worried about the fact that both she and Tina had the same dream. Rod is caught the next day and imprisoned, and when Nancy visits him, he reveals that he too dreamed of the mysterious figure with the knives. Soon after, Rod is killed in his sleep, although it's made to look like he hung himself. Fearing for her daughter, whose dreams continue, Nancy's mother Marge (Ronee Blakley), tells her about a man named Fred Krueger (Robert Englund), a child murderer who killed at least twenty children over a decade earlier. Vengeful parents, including Marge and Nancy's father, Donald (John Saxon) burned him alive in his boiler room hideout when he was released from prison on a technicality. Marge shows Nancy the weapon used by Krueger to kill his victims - it is the same knifed glove she and her friends have been dreaming about. Determined to defeat Fred, Nancy devises a plan which requires the assistance of Glen but before she can put it into action, Glen is killed. Nancy then goes to sleep, and manages to pull Freddy into the real world. She sets him on fire but he runs to her mother's room, where both he and Marge seem to disappear into the bed. Freddy then appears to Nancy again, but she turns her back on him, telling him she doesn't believe in him. At this point he disappears. The next morning, Nancy tells her mother that she has had a great night's sleep, and then gets in a car with Glen, Rod and Tina. However, the roof of the car slams shut, and the car then speeds away with all four screaming for help. Marge is then pulled in through the door window by Krueger's bladed hand.

A Nightmare on Elm Street Part 2: Freddy's Revenge (1985), written by David Chaskin and directed by Jack Sholder. Set five years after the events of the first film, a new family, the Walshs, have moved into 1428 Elm Street, with their son, Jesse (Mark Patton) taking Nancy's old room. He soon begins to experience nightmares involving the school bus driving off into a desert, and a mysterious man with a knifed glove. Krueger reveals to Jessie that he wants to use Jessie's body as a host so he can return to the real world, and to this end he 'possess' Jessie, and drives him to murder both the gym coach (Marshall Bell), and his own best friend, Ron Grady (Robert Rusler). At a pool party then, Freddy seemingly takes over Jessie's body completely, and after killing several people, he flees. Meanwhile, Jessie's friend, Lisa Webber (Kim Myers) finds Nancy's old diary, which contains information about the power planet where Freddy used to work and where he killed his victims in real life. Lisa finds Jessie/Freddy there. Telling him she loves him, she removes Freddy's hat and kisses him. The entire power-plant and Freddy himself then burst into flames. After Freddy is dead, the fire in the plant stops, and out of Freddy's ashes crawls Jessie. The following week, Jessie gets on the school bus and meets Lisa as they head to school. As they are discussing how glad they are that the horrific events of the previous few weeks are over, Freddy's hand bursts through a girl's chest, and the bus races off onto barren land, just like Jessie's initial dreams.

A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors (1987), written by Wes Craven, Bruce Wagner, Frank Darabont and Chuck Russell and directed by Chuck Russell. Set six years after A Nightmare on Elm Street and one year after Freddy's Revenge, Kristen Parker (Patricia Arquette) has been recently dreaming of running into an old, condemned house, 1428 Elm Street. In the house she encounters a man with a knifed glove, who seems to be trying to kill her. As she wakes up, Freddy attacks her, and, in the real world, Kristen's mother bursts into her room to find that Kristen has (apparently) slashed her own wrists. Kristen is then placed in Westin Hills Psychiatric Hospital, where she meets dream therapist Nancy Thompson (again played by Langenkamp). Having discussed the situation with Kristen, Nancy realizes that Freddy is not dead, and that Kristen and several other young patients who are also experiencing dreams are the last remaining children of the vigilantes who killed Freddy in real life. As such, Freddy is determent to kill them one by one. Meanwhile, Dr. Neil Gordon (Craig Wasson), the psychiatrist who works with the kids, discovers that in real life, Freddy Krueger was born in the abandoned wing of Westin Hills, after 100 maniacs raped his mother, Amanda, a staff member who was accidentally locked inside with them over the Christmas holidays. Gordon comes to believe that Freddy's remains are somewhere on the grounds of the hospital, and need to be placed in consecrated earth. Neil and Nancy's father (again played by Saxon), now a drunk, set out to attempt to find the bones, whilst Nancy and the remaining kids attempt a group sleep session in an effort to confront Freddy. Freddy isolates each one, and kills several of them, but Nancy, Kristen, and two young teens, Kincaid (Ken Sagoes) and Joey (Rodney Eastman), manage to meet up. Freddy confronts them and reveals that he doesn't simply kill his victims; he holds their souls captive. Freddy is about to kill them all, when in the real world, Gordon and Thompson begin to bury the bones. Freddy however takes possession of the bones, and impales Thompson on a spike. He returns to the dream world, and is apparently killed by Joey. Thompson then appears to Nancy, telling her he is dead and is moving on to heaven. He hugs her, but he then turns into Freddy and stabs her in the stomach. Freddy attacks Kristen, but as he is about to kill her, Nancy grabs his glove and stabs him with it. At the same time, Neil buries the bones and douses them in holy water, at which point, Freddy explodes into light. Nancy dies, but Kristen, Kincaid and Joey survive. Later, as Neil falls asleep with a toy house next to his bed, a light suddenly comes on in its window.

A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master (1988), written by David Chaskin and directed by Renny Harlin. Set a year after the previous film, Kristen (now played by Tuesday Knight), Joey (again played by Eastman) and Kincaid (again played by Sagoes) have been released from Westin Hills and are in high school. Kristen has made some new friends, including Alice Johnson (Lisa Wilcox), whose brother, Rick (Andras Jones), she is dating. However, she begins to have bad dreams again. The night after she tells Kincaid and Joey, Kincaid himself has a dream, where he sees Freddy reborn from the bones which were buried in the last film. Immediately, Freddy kills Kincaid and later that night he kills Joey. Terrified of what might happen, Kristen goes to 1428 Elm Street and tells Alice and Rick about her experiences. Alice tells her about the dream master spell, how you are in control of your own dreams. That night, when Kristen falls asleep, she tries to convert nightmares into pleasant dreams, but she fails and finds herself in Freddy's boiler room. Freddy then tells her that she is the last of the Elm Street children, so he needs her help to get more children for him as he doesn't want to stop killing. Just as Freddy is about to kill her, she screams for Alice, who suddenly appears. Freddy stabs Kristen and, shocked at the unexpected appearance of Alice, flees. Before she dies, Kristen transfers the power to pull people into her dreams to Alice. Soon thereafter, Alice's friends begin to die, and Rick is also killed. However, with every death, Alice grows stronger, absorbing more and more dream power. She teams up with Dan Jordan (Danny Hassel), Rick's best friend, and they set about trying to defeat Freddy. However, he is in control of their movements and traps them in a time loop. Dan is injured in a car accident, so Alice returns home to prepare for a final confrontation with Freddy, going to sleep before Freddy can kill Dan. As Alice and Dan search for Freddy, Dan is injured. Alice wills him awake and he is pulled from the dream world. Alice then faces Freddy alone. He is about to kill her, but she forces him to see the evil inside himself. Using her dream powers, she releases the tortured souls that Freddy imprisoned into the gates of good dreams where he can no longer harm them. Freddy then disappears. Back in the real, world, Dan and Alice walk hand in hand through a park. Alice tosses a coin into a fountain, making a wish, but as she and Dan depart, Freddy's image appears in the distorted ripples of the fountain.

A Nightmare on Elm Street: The Dream Child (1989), written by Brian Helgeland, Jim Wheat and Ken Wheat and directed by Stephen Hopkins. Set just less than a year after the last film, Alice and Dan are a happy couple. Alice however begins to have dreams of a young nun, whose nametag reads "Amanda Krueger", being locked away in an asylum full of maniacs. Meanwhile, Alice and Dan plan a getaway to Europe with some friends of theirs. Alice then has a dream where she is in the mental hospital Westin Hills, wearing Amanda's uniform, and screaming in pain. She then sees Amanda (Beatrice Boepple) giving birth. Immediately upon being born, the baby flees, and Alice follows it into a church rectory, the same place that Alice defeated Freddy in the previous film. Before she can stop him, the baby finds Freddy's clothes and quickly grows into an adult. Upon waking up, Alice phones Dan who heads to see her. However, he falls asleep en-route, and Freddy kills him by forcing him to crash. Upon hearing the news, Alice faints, and when she wakes up she is told she is pregnant. Alice's friends then begin to die one by one, all except Yvonne (Kelly Jo Minter). Alice then meets a young boy called Jacob (Whit Hertford), who, it is subsequently revealed, is actually Alice's unborn child. Alice then realizes that Freddy is hiding inside her, in Jacob, and using him to get into the dreams of her friends (which is one of Alice's dream skills). Yvonne heads to the now abandoned Westin Hills to release Amanda's soul whilst Alice forces Freddy out of her baby. In doing so however, she is left extremely weak. In the real world, Amanda's soul is freed, and she explains to Yvonne how to defeat Freddy. In the dream world, Jacob then appears and forces himself and Freddy to revert back to infants. Alice picks up Jacob and absorbs him, while the now-infant Freddy tries to escape. Before he can, though, Amanda picks him up and absorbs him too, locking him inside her. Several months then pass, and Jacob is born. As the film ends, the children are heard singing the "One, two, Freddy's coming for you" song.

Freddy's Dead: The Final Nightmare (1991), written by Rachel Talalay and Michael De Luca and directed by Rachel Talalay. Set in 1999, seven years after the events of the last film (which, if one follows the chronology, was set in 1992), Alice Johnson and Jacob have moved away from Springwood, but Freddy has returned and killed nearly every child in the entire town. All except "John Doe" (Shon Greenblatt); Doe met Freddy in a dream, but Freddy knocked him beyond the city's limits, which serve as a barrier to Freddy's power. However, upon being thrown from the town, Doe lost his memory. He is placed in a delinquent centre, where he meets Dr. Maggie Burroughs (Lisa Zane). She notices a newspaper clipping in his pocket talking about all the child deaths in Springwood, and in an attempt to relieve his amnesia, they and several other kids head to the town hoping to find out who he is. Upon arriving, they discover that in reality, Freddy had a child which was taken from him, and this was the reason he went on his murderous (real life) rampage. John begins to suspect that he is Freddy's child. However, Freddy then begins to kill off the party, leaving only Maggie, John and Tracy (Lezlie Deane). In the dream world, Freddy then reveals to John that he was using him to get to his daughter, and then kills him. Before he dies, John tells Maggie that Freddy's child was not a boy. Freddy then possesses Maggie as she and Tracy flee the town, and when Maggie and Tracy cross the Springwood town limit, the supernatural barrier shatters and Freddy is free. Tracy and Maggie return to the shelter, and Maggie soon discovers that she is Freddy's daughter. In a dream, Freddy confirms this, telling her that her real name is Katherine Krueger. He explains to her that he used her to escape Springwood and now wants to start his killing spree in a new town. Meanwhile, another employee of the centre, Doc (Yaphet Kotto), discovers that Freddy's power comes from the "dream demons" who continually revive him, and that Freddy can only be killed if he's pulled into the real world. Maggie decides that she will be the one to do so. In a dream, she enters Freddy's mind, discovering that Freddy was abused by his foster father (Alice Cooper). Later, Freddy murdered his own wife Loretta (Lindsey Fields), in front of the infant Katherine. While being burned from Molotov cocktails thrown upon him by angry parents, he was given the power to become immortal from the demons. Maggie then manages to pull Freddy into the real world. She stabs him in the stomach with his own glove and then impales him to a steel support beam, throwing a pipe bomb made by Doc into his chest. Freddy then explodes, and the dream demons flee his body. Maggie then confidently tells Doc and Tracy, "Freddy's dead."

New Nightmare (1994), written and directed by Wes Craven. The film begins on a film set as an actor sets about making a glove similar to Freddy's. The director, Wes Craven (playing himself), is then visited by Heather Langenkamp (playing herself), her husband, Chase (David Newsom), and their son, Dylan (Miko Hughes), who wanted to see the set of the new Nightmare on Elm Street movie. However, the claw suddenly comes to life and starts killing the special effects crew. As it heads to Chase, Heather screams and wakes up in her own bed. Chase however has the same scratches in real life that he got in the dream. She then reveals she has been receiving harassing phone calls from "someone who sounds an awful lot like Freddy". Heather appears on a morning talk show to discuss the 10th anniversary of the Nightmare films. Also on the show is Robert Englund (playing himself), in full Freddy makeup. Producer Robert Shaye (playing himself) tells Heather that Craven is working on a script for the new and final Nightmare film, and he asks her to return as Nancy. She turns him down, although her husband has been employed on the film to design a new glove for Freddy. Later that day, Chase falls asleep at the wheel and dies in a car crash. When Heather goes to identify the body however, she sees more scratch marks. Craven tells Heather that he too has been experiencing dreams of Freddy, which are serving as the basis of the new script. In the film, Craven tells her that pure evil can be temporarily defeated if its essence is captured in a work of art that is able to allow evil to express itself. He thinks that the evil has taken the form of Freddy Krueger because it is familiar, and that it sees Heather/Nancy as an enemy, because she defeated Freddy first time around. Meanwhile, Dylan begins to mimic Freddy. Heather brings him to the hospital, but a doctor comes to the conclusion that Heather is insane, and tries to convince her to give Dylan up for adoption. Meanwhile, as Dylan sleeps, Freddy appears in the real world and kills his babysitter, Julie (Tracy Middendorf). Dylan flees and Heather heads after him. She meets him at their house, but Freddy begins to manipulate the world around her, causing her to become Nancy and her house to become 1428 Elm Street. Dylan then disappears. Heather takes sleeping pills for a showdown with Freddy. After a lengthy fight, Heather and Dylan defeat Freddy by locking him in a lit furnace where he catches fire, revealing his true visage. Dylan and Heather then flee, returning to the real world.

In relation to the unusual, self-reflexive premise of the movie, Wes Craven has stated,

If there were a series that had begun around this character and that series was to stop production, that wouldn't mean that this eternal evil being or entity would be stopped, it would simply be out there without a name. At the same time, there was this whole view of horror films, questions about whether horror films harmed children. My conclusion was that, as I never felt these things were harmful, the good that they do and the reason they are so popular is that they somehow give shape and form and name to this unknowable, very frightening and very destructive thing. They somehow contain it, to the extent that they make it a bit more bearable. So, Freddy, by being in the series of movies, captures a bit of the evil and makes it knowable to us. The simple way to put this is, what if New Line stopped making the Nightmare series and unintentionally released the spirit of Freddy to go where he will, and he decided to cross over into our reality. His only limitation is that he must pass through the actress who played the character who first defeated him. I proposed that to New Line and they went for it surprisingly quickly, so I wrote and directed New Nightmare (extract from Screams and Nightmares: The Films of Wes Craven by Brian J. Robb (2000); quoted here).
Freddy vs. Jason (2003), written by Damian Shannon and Mark Swift and directed by Ronny Yu. Set several years after Freddy's Dead, Freddy is trapped in Hell, and enraged as the children of Springwood have forgotten about him, making him powerless, so he cannot return to their dreams. Determined to make them remember and fear him, Freddy locates Jason Voorhees (Ken Kirzinger) in Hell and disguises himself as Jason's mother, Pamela Voorhees (Paula Shaw), convincing him to rise again and go to Springwood to kill children, allowing Freddy to be remembered. Jason arrives in Elm Street, sneaking into 1428, and attacking a group of people. Lori Campbell (Monica Keena), who now lives in the refurbished house with her father is questioned about the attack, but she doesn't know anything. Later, she falls asleep and has a dream about Freddy. He tries, but fails, to kill her, so he decides to rest for a while and "let Jason have some fun". Lori then has recurring dreams about Freddy, and is reunited with her boyfriend, Will Rollins (Jason Ritter), who was institutionalized in Westin Hills. Meanwhile, Freddy discovers that Jason will not stop killing no matter what happens and that the public is becoming more afraid of Jason than him. Lori, Will and several friends meet up and form a plan to defeat Freddy and Jason by pulling Freddy into the real world and luring Jason to Camp Crystal Lake. Between them, Freddy and Jason kill several of the group, but Freddy then drugs Jason, causing Jason to enter into the dream world. Freddy is now at full strength and plans to kill Jason to get him out of the way, but Jason realizes Freddy's plan and attacks him. Freddy defeats Jason and turns him into a little boy, but before he can kill him, Jason wakes up and attacks the group who are now at Crystal Lake in the real world. During Jason's attack, Lori goes to sleep and drags Freddy into the real world. Freddy and Jason then confront one another, and as they fight, Lori and Will flee. After a lengthy battle between Freddy and Jason, they both fall into Crystal Lake due to their injuries. However, after they have both disappeared, Jason rises from the water, carrying Freddy's severed head with him. As Jason walks away however, Freddy's head winks at the camera.

In a very loose manner of speaking. The earliest origins of what ultimately became A Nightmare on Elm Street are to be found in three articles which appeared in the LA Times over the course of a one year period in the early 1980s. Specifically, the articles were about a group of Cambodian refugees from the Hmong tribe, who had fled Pol Pot's Khmer Rouge regime and sought refuge in the United States. The articles described how several of the group began to suffer horrific nightmares and after a few nights, refused to sleep. However, due to exhaustion, when they finally did fall asleep they awoke screaming and in terror, then almost immediately died. Three of the group died over the course of the year; a young man died first, followed six months later by another young man, and three months after that a third victim, a young boy. What particularly intrigued Craven about the situation was that when an autopsy was carried out on the third victim, he was shown to be in perfect health; he hadn't died from a heart attack or any other physical ailment, he had simply died.

Speaking of the articles, Craven has commented,

The eeriest case was the boy who had a nightmare that was worse than anything. His family tried to quiet his nerves, and he refused to sleep. He stayed up several nights, and they sent for a doctor who gave him sleeping pills. The kid threw them away. Finally there was a night when the kid could not stay up any longer, and he went to sleep. The house was quiet at last. The parents were relieved that their kid was getting some rest. Then they heard this horrendous scream from the bedroom. The parents ran in and found the boy thrashing in his bed, only to fall still a moment later and die. An autopsy revealed there was nothing wrong with him, no heart failure or any reason for his death. He was just dead. I became fascinated with the idea of harm happening to a person in such a way that people would not be able to clearly discern if the harm came in a dream or if it came in reality (extract from The Nightmare Never Ends: The Official History of Freddy Krueger and the Nightmare on Elm Street Series by William Schoell (1992); quoted here).
Craven has also stated,

It was a series of articles in the LA Times, three small articles about men from South East Asia, who were from immigrant families and who had died in the middle of nightmares and the paper never correlated them, never said, 'Hey, we've had another story like this.' The third one was the son of a physician. He was about twenty-one; I've subsequently found out this is a phenomenon in Laos, Cambodia. Everybody in his family said almost exactly these lines: 'You must sleep.' He said, 'No, you don't understand; I've had nightmares before this is different.' He was given sleeping pills and told to take them and supposedly did, but he stayed up. I forget what the total days he stayed up was, but it was a phenomenal amount something like six, seven days. Finally, he was watching television with the family, fell asleep on the couch, and everybody said, 'Thank god.' They literally carried him upstairs to bed; he was completely exhausted. Everybody went to bed, thinking it was all over. In the middle of the night, they heard screams and crashing. They ran into the room, and by the time they got to him he was dead. They had an autopsy performed, and there was no heart attack; he just had died for unexplained reasons. They found in his closet a Mr. Coffee maker, full of hot coffee that he had used to keep awake, and they also found all his sleeping pills that they thought he had taken; he had spit them back out and hidden them. It struck me as such an incredibly dramatic story that I was intrigued by it for a year, at least, before I finally thought I should write something about this kind of situation (from 'Wes Craven on Dreaming up Nightmares', by Steve Biodrowski (October, 2008) Cinefantastique Online; quoted here).
Medical authorities have since labeled the phenomenon Asian Death Syndrome, a condition which afflicts only east-Asian men between the ages of 19 and 57. Asian Death Syndrome (also known as Thai SUDS and Lai Tai) is believed to be a form of Brugada Syndrome, itself a form of Sudden Unexplained Death Syndrome (SUDS).

As with the dream aspect of the story, the character of Freddy is very loosely based on reality. According to Craven, the look of Krueger, especially the dirty clothes and hat, were inspired by an incident from his childhood. Late one night when he was in the sixth grade, he heard a noise outside his second-floor bedroom window;

When I looked down there was a man very much like Freddy walking along the sidewalk. He must have sensed that someone was looking at him and stopped and looked right into my face. He scared the living daylights out of me, so I jumped back into the shadows. I waited and waited to hear him walk away. Finally I thought he must have gone, so I stepped back to the window. The guy was not only still looking at me but he thrust his head forward as if to say "Yes, I'm still looking at you [...] I ran through the apartment to our front door as he was walking into our building on the lower floor. I heard him starting up the stairs. My brother, who is ten years older than me, got a baseball bat and went out to the corridor but he was gone. As an adult I can look back and say that was one of the most profoundly frightening experiences I have ever had. The guy has never left my mind, nor has the feeling of how frightening an adult stranger can be. He was not only frightening, but he was amused by the fact he was frightening and able to anticipate my inner thoughts (extract from The Nightmare Never Ends: The Official History of Freddy Krueger and the Nightmare on Elm Street Series by William Schoell (1992); quoted here).
More recently, Craven has explained,

the hat was the kind worn by men when I was a kid, and there was a particular man who scared me when I was little. He was a drunk that came down the sidewalk and woke me up when I was sleeping. I went to the window wondering what the hell was there. He just did a mind-fuck on me. He just basically somehow knew I was up there, and he looked right into my eyes. I went back and hid for what for what I thought was hours. I finally crept back to the window, and he was still there. Then he started walking almost half-backwards, so that he could keep looking at me, down to the corner and turned, and I suddenly realized, My god, that's the direction of the entrance to our apartment building. I literally ran toward the front door and heard, two stories down, the front door open. I woke up my big brother; he went down with a baseball bat and nobody was there. Probably the guy heard him coming and ran; he was drunk, having a good time. But the idea of an adult who was frightening and enjoyed terrifying a child was the origin of Freddy (from 'Wes Craven on Dreaming up Nightmares', by Steve Biodrowski (October, 2008) Cinefantastique Online; quoted here).
Freddy's name came from that fact that Craven had been bullied at school by a child named Fred Krueger; "Fred was my worst enemy in junior high school. He and I both had paper routes and shared the same drop-off point for newspapers. We used to get into a fight every day. Fred became my least favorite name" (extract from The Nightmare Never Ends: The Official History of Freddy Krueger and the Nightmare on Elm Street Series by William Schoell (1992); quoted here).

In the original script, Freddy had a yellow and red sweater, and was based on Plastic Man, with the idea being that whenever he changed his shape, he had to maintain the red and yellow color. However, in a 1982 issue of Scientific American, Craven discovered that

the two most clashing colors to the human retina were this particular green and red. I wanted this costume that [would be recognized] if he changed into any other thing in the room. I was an old Plastic Man comic book fan. He used to change shape, but you could always tell it was him because the couch would be red with a green stripe down it or yellow? So I wanted Freddy to be a shape-shifter that could be recognized from his colors (from 'Wes Craven on Dreaming up Nightmares', by Steve Biodrowski (October, 2008) Cinefantastique Online; quoted here).
As for Freddy's famous glove,

part of it was an objective goal to make the character memorable, since it seems that every character that has been successful has had some kind of unique weapon, whether it be a chain saw or a machete, etc. I was also looking for a primal fear which is embedded in the subconscious of people of all cultures. One of those is the fear of teeth being broken, which I used in my first film. Another is the claw of an animal, like a saber-toothed tiger reaching with it's tremendous hooks. I transposed this into a human hand (extract from The Nightmare Never Ends: The Official History of Freddy Krueger and the Nightmare on Elm Street Series by William Schoell (1992); quoted here).
Craven has also gone into more detail on this issue;

I wanted to do something that was tied into the deepest recesses of our subconscious. I had a history in academics, so I knew there were certain things that were universal. One is the fear of predatory animals; obviously, it goes back to when we were little primates running around with nothing to protect us. Nature is full of stabbing instruments: claws, teeth, horns. I thought the claws of the cave bear must be buried somewhere in our subconscious, so that claw which is from nature or animals was combined with what is one of the most specifically human parts of our anatomy, which is our hands. The human hand is so much more dexterous than any other animals. Many scientists postulate that that has gone hat-in-hand, if you will, with the development of our brains: the more developed our brains have gotten, the more clever our hands have gotten, and vice versa. So that became the instrument; rather than anything he would leave someplace and then pick up, it was something that he actually had on him (from 'Wes Craven on Dreaming up Nightmares', by Steve Biodrowski (October, 2008) Cinefantastique Online; quoted here).

There is some disagreement amongst fans about this issue. Although the film was shot in California (all the exteriors of Elm Street were filmed on North Genesee Avenue in LA), there is never any mention of a specific location within the film itself. In Dream Warriors however, it is mentioned that Elm Street is located in the fictional town of Springwood. Subsequently, in Freddy's Dead, it is revealed that Springwood is in Ohio. Some fans argue that although the location of the first film is never mentioned, the mere presence of Palm trees was meant as an indication that it was actually set in LA, and the relocation to Ohio was something retconned from the sequels. Others argue that the exact location was purposely kept vague so that Elm Street could serve as an archetype for any street in any small American town. Whatever the case however regarding the original ideas concerning the location however, the official New Line position on this question is that Elm Street is, and always has been, in Springwood, Ohio.

According to Heather Langenkamp on her DVD commentary track, this is the question which fans most commonly ask her. On the same track however, Craven explains that the lamb has no narrative or symbolic significance, and is simply an homage to Luis Buñuel. Presumably, Craven is referencing Dali's 1965 film Simón del desierto, in which a lamb is carried by a bearded lady (Silvia Pinal).

As Nancy, Glen and Tina pull up outside the school early in the movie, there are a group of young girls nearby playing skip-rope and singing a song, the first lyrics of which are "One, two, Freddy's coming for you." However, at this point in the film, Freddy hasn't killed anyone (in the dream world), and is unknown to the main characters. So how are the children already singing about him?

The key seems to be in the dialogue between Tina and Nancy as they get out of the car. Tina tells Nancy "It was so scary, and when I woke up it seemed like he was still in the room with me", to which Nancy responds, "It sounds like a real boogieman, one, two, Freddy's coming for you", to which Tina says "That's what it reminded me of, that old jump rope song."

The fact that Tina refers to the song as old suggests it has been around for a while, and as such, the song is most likely derivative of an urban legend about the real life crimes of Fred Krueger. However, over the years, the name has ceased to have any real meaning (none of the parents talk about him), and the children thus sing the song without any knowledge or understanding of what they are singing; Freddy Krueger is thought of as a proto-typical boogieman, not a real life killer. Obviously, Nancy and Tina have no idea of the details of the real Freddy or they would have recognized him from the dream, which lends credence to the suggestion that the real man has developed into an archetypical representative of the boogieman in the cultural zeitgeist of the area; everyone knows the song, but no one knows the real details.

This has certain parallels in reality, where real killers such as Lizzie Borden, Jack the Ripper, Charles Manson or the Zodiac Killer have become almost metaphorical expressions rather than descriptions of people who were once really alive. Compare this with names such as, say, Harold Shipman, Fred West or Gerald Stano, names which tend to evoke images of flesh-and-blood people. Freddy has obviously come to reside in the first group. Hence the song is about him, but no one really knows that much about him.

There is one problem with this theory however. After the opening line, the song goes on "Three, four, better lock your door/Five, six, grab your crucifix/Seven, eight, gotta stay up late/Nine, ten, never sleep again." If the children are singing about the real-life Freddy, these lyrics seem to make little sense, as at this point in the film, nobody is aware of Freddy's dream abilities. As such, there are three theories to explain this. One is simply that the lyrics do make sense; "Gotta stay up late" and "Never sleep again" could refer to how Freddy abducted children from their bedrooms, and how, in the middle of the murder spree, children were afraid to go to bed incase Freddy got them. A second theory is that the children singing the song aren't supposed to be interpreted as literally existing in the same ontological reality as the characters. Proponents of this theory point to the fact that when the camera is on the children, things are in slow motion, and the colors distorted, with white in particular bleeding into the surrounding colors; as such, the children are simply a symbol, they aren't literally there, and the song they are singing is something which has been taken from the old jump song to which Tina refers, and changed to reflect what is going to come. In this sense then, the children would serve as a Chorus of sorts. The third theory is simply that the filmmakers goofed by having the children singing anachronistically about events which haven't yet transpired.

At the end of the film, Nancy leaves her house, telling her mother that she feels great. She then gets into a car with Glen, Tina and Rod, and for a moment, the implication is that everything that we have seen in the film is a dream. The car then however takes control of itself, locking the doors and windows and driving down the street on its own volition. At this point, Marge is pulled back through the house door by Freddy's gloved hand.

This scene has provoked considerable debate amongst fans as to what exactly happens, especially in light of the fact that Nancy returns in Dream Warriors. It also complicates what exactly happens to Marge, as she was apparently killed by Freddy in the real world only moments before the dream begins. However, if she was killed in real-life, why did she sink into the bed, and how did Freddy subsequently rise from that bed.

The most popular theory is simply that everything in the last twenty minutes of the film is a dream; ie Nancy never pulls Freddy into reality. When she wakes up with the rose bushes in her bed, she is in fact still dreaming, and the whole final sequence is a dream. In this theory, although Nancy weakens Freddy, she doesn't kill him, and the final scene is thus his way of letting her know he's still around. This explains how she is able to return in Dream Warriors at the end of the film, Freddy is not strong enough to kill Nancy, he is only strong enough to scare her. This theory does pose the question, however, that if the dream was Nancy's, how could Marge have been killed in it, as there is no indication in the film that Freddy can kill someone in a dream even if that person isn't the dreamer.

Whatever the case about Marge however, this theory is the one used by Nightmares on Elm Street comic book series. Although this series is set between The Dream Child and Freddy's Dead, is also details what happens to Nancy after the events of the first film. She is institutionalized for a short time after the trauma of the death of her friends and mother. Upon being released, she goes to college and specializes in dream research, eventually returning to Elm Street (which is seen in Dream Warriors), to help those who are suffering from the same kind of nightmares she did. It is also mentioned that during this period in her life, she is taking Hypnocil (a fictitious drug), to prevent her from dreaming. All six of the Nightmares on Elm Street comics (which New Line considers canon) can be read here.

In Wes Craven's original script, the film ends with Nancy, Tina, Rod and Glen driving away from the house, and Marge smiling as they leave; the car never imprisons them and Marge is never attacked. In this sense, the implication is that the whole film is a dream. Even the scene where Nancy pulls Freddy into reality was part of the dream, thus explaining how he reappeared from the bed. As such, when Nancy turns her back on him, she really does defeat him. In this interpretation, the final scene could either be a dream or not. If one interprets it as a dream, then it could signify that Nancy has defeated Freddy and has altered her own dream world accordingly. If one interprets it as real, then it is the only scene in the script which is set in reality.

Craven however was compelled by producer Robert Shaye to shoot the twist ending;

In my version, the film ended with Nancy turning her back on Freddy and telling him he was nothing. It showed that evil can be confronted and diminished, in the sense that Nancy had become as tough as Freddy and was able to turn away from him. Once you've confronted the evil, the next step is to turn away from it. The ending was very carefully thought through and had nothing to do with a world view of my own. I don't like horror films that end with general massacres, a survivor crawling out at the end and the bad guy jumping on him for the last scare. They say villains will win out and the most brutally powerful survive. In my work, I'm continually fighting that (extract from Screams and Nightmares: The Films of Wes Craven by Brian J. Robb (2000); quoted here).
As such, taking everything into consideration, including the comic series and Nancy's return in Dream Warriors, it seems the most likely suggestion is that the last half hour or so of the film is a dream in which Nancy weakens Freddy, but who, in the final scene of the film, lets Nancy know she hasn't defeated him at all.

The Nightmare Series Encyclopedia is found on the eighth disk in the R1 US Nightmare on Elm Street Collection box-set, released in 1999 by New Line Home Video. The disk contains multiple special features relating to all seven Nightmare films (up to and including New Nightmare; Freddy vs. Jason hadn't been made at the time), including multiple featurettes about each movie, cast & crew interviews (including interviews with the directors of all seven movies), behind-the-scenes footage, deleted scenes, still galleries, music videos, theatrical trailers, press kits and DVD ROM content (all seven scripts, trivia games and an interactive Freddy desktop icon). The disk is divided into three sections: 'Primetime', 'Labyrinth' and 'Index'. Primetime contains several interviews, a documentary about the series and an alternate ending for the original film (see below for more details). Index is divided into sections for each film. In all, Index contains 62 video clips, including interviews, behind-the-scenes footage and music videos. Labyrinth is an interactive game of sorts. The viewer must navigate through a labyrinth full of puzzles, traps and riddles in order to discover the various features (110 video clips and 6 stills galleries).

There are 4 shots in the "Unrated" version that had to be cut for the "R-Rated" version:

1) Tina lands on the bloody mattress and bounces, blood splatters off both sides of the bed {1 second cut}

2) The slow tracking shot of the bloody mattress to Tina's dead body had to be shortened, the R-rated only shows the final 2 seconds of the shot which focuses on Tina (missing the footage that focuses on the mattress) {4 seconds cut}

3) The tracking shot of the blood shooting out of Glenn's mattress to the ceiling was a bit longer {2 seconds cut}

4) The far shot of the blood shooting out of the bed and hitting the ceiling (right before Glenn's mother enters the room) was a bit longer {1 second cut}

The "Unrated" version has never been released in North America. Theaters showed the "R-Rated" version. All NTSC VHS are the "R-Rated" version. All the DVDs and Blu-Rays, no matter what region, contain the "R-Rated" version. The "Unrated" footage can be viewed as "bonus scenes" on the 1996 "Special Edition" laserdisc and the 2-VHS set from Anchor Bay. This footage can also be seen as a "branching videos" option on some DVDs (popup videos that appear during the movie), it also appears in one of the documentaries with Wes Craven, which is a special feature on several DVDs and Blu-Rays.

Outside of North America, it was the "Unrated" version that was shown in theaters. The "Unrated" version was also released on VHS in some European countries (Germany (18) and UK (18) for sure, although certain other countries only have a heavily censored version, German VHS (16) also has this censored version). Australia also has a VHS of the "Unrated" version (with a yellow colored warning on the cover). However, any VHS, regardless of country, made after 2001 contains the North American "R-Rated" version. And again, every DVD and Blu-Ray in existence contains only the "R-Rated" version.

Since only 8 seconds or so was cut out, it seems highly unlikely that an "Unrated" version will ever see a DVD or Blu-Ray release. Thus, the "Unrated" version is likely to only ever exist on the old Region 2 and Region 3 VHS.

Two of the four missing scenes can be viewed here. (*the info on movie-censorship.com is pretty inaccurate though)

*Apparently there are some "bootleg" Fan Edit DVD's in existence that contain at least some of the "Unrated" footage cut for the "R-Rated" version

* There was also a "Workprint" version which ran approx. 101 minutes, this version contained the "Unrated" footage plus many other plot extensions. This is where most of the "deleted scenes", which are available on most DVDs, derive from.

The R1 US Infinifilm Edition DVD, released by New Line Home Video in 2006 and the R2 UK Special Edition DVD, released by Entertainment in Video in 2007 both contain the following special features:

A digitally restored picture and a digitally remastered soundtrack available in the original mono, Dolby Digital EX-5.1 and DTS-ES 6.1

Feature length audio commentary with writer/director Wes Craven, director of photography Jacques Haitkin and actors Heather Langenkamp and John Saxon (this commentary is taken from the 1996 laserdisk).

Feature length audio commentary with writer/director Wes Craven, producer Robert Shaye, co-producer Sara Risher, associate producer John H. Burrows, director of photography Jacques Haitkin, mechanical special effects designer Jim Doyle, special makeup effects artist David B. Miller, composer Charles Bernstein, editor Rick Shaine, co-editor Patrick McMahon, horror film historian David Del Valle, and actors Robert Englund, Heather Langenkamp, Amanda Wyss, and Ronee Blakley (this commentary is composed of clips from interviews spliced together to cover the duration of the film).

Feature length fact track with behind-the-scenes trivia

Infifilm branching videos (many of these clips are simply extracts from the three documentaries listed below):

1. An alternate, more detailed sequence of Freddy making his glove

2. Outtake footage of Freddy stalking Tina in the boiler room

3. A featurette about how Wes Craven got into movies

4. Amanda Wyss talks about setting Tina up as the lead only to then kill her

5. A featurette about the significance of dreams in various cultures

6. Wes Craven talks about hiring Johnny Depp

7. Jim Doyle and Robert Englund talk about the glove

8. A featurette about whether dreams can kill

9. Wes Craven talks about the newspaper articles which inspired the story

10. A look at how the effect of Freddy looking through the wall was done

11. Outtake footage of Freddy coming through the wall

12. Wes Craven, Heather Langenkamp and Sara Risher discuss the concept of Freddy's Revenge

13. A deleted scene where Tina picks up a handful of worms

14. An alternate take of the stretching arms scene

15. Wes Craven and Robert Englund discusses casting Freddie

16. A clip of Freddy's arm elongating in The Dream Child

17. Wes Craven discusses how the sparking glove effect was achieved

18. Another alternate take of the arm stretching scene

19. Wes Craven and special Jim Doyle discuss how the stretching arm effect was achieved

20. A clip of Freddy cutting off his fingers in Freddy's Dead

21. Outtake footage of the finger cutting scene

22. Alternate takes of Tina removing Freddy's face

23. David B. Miller discusses the face removal scene

24. A clip of Freddy cutting a victim's wrists from Dream Warriors

25. David B. Miller discusses the chest cutting scene

26. A clip of a victim being dragged up to the ceiling in New Nightmare

27. Outtake footage of Tina watching Freddy leave the room during her death scene

28. Wes Craven, Rick Shaine, Jim Doyle and Amanda Wyss discuss the rotating room set

29. Outtake footage of Tina falling onto the bed

30. Outtake footage of alternate takes of Tina's death, with close ups and a shot showing Freddy in the room

31. Sara Risher and Ronee Blakely discuss hiring John Saxon

32. Wes Craven discusses casting Ronee Blakely

33. Dream Warriors director Chuck Russell and Heather Langenkamp discuss Dream Warriors

34. David B. Miller discusses the bodybag shot

35. A clip of Freddy stalking a victim in the boiler room in Freddy v Jason

36. Outtake footage of Freddy following Nancy in the boiler room

37. A clip of a girl waking herself up in Freddy's Dead

38. Wes Craven discusses hiring Nick Corri

39. Final Destination writer Jeffrey Reddick, New Line executive Mark Ordesky and Sara Risher discuss The Dream Master and The Dream Child

40. A clip of Freddy killing a victim in a car in New Nightmare

41. Outtake footage of the hand in the bath scene

42. Outtake footage of Nancy being dragged under the water

43. Heather Langenkamp and Jim Doyle discuss the bath scene

44. Wes Craven and Sara Risher discuss casting Heather Langenkamp

45. Wes Craven discuses the concept of lucid dreaming

46. David Miller, Sara Risher, Rick Shaine and Heather Langenkamp discuss Roberts Englund's performance, and Englund himself discusses playing Freddy

47. Freddy chases a victim in Dream Warriors

48. Robert Englund discusses the humor that was incorporated into the character of Freddy in the sequels

49. Heather Langenkamp, second unit director Sean S. Cunningham, Sara Risher and Robert Shaye discuss running out of time and money

50. An alternate take of Freddie slashing the pillow in Nancy's room

51. Wes Craven discusses dealing with the MPAA and Sara Risher discusses problems with the lab a few days prior to release

52. Wes Craven, Heather Langenkamp, Amanda Wyss and John Burrows discuss location shooting

53. Featurette about the science of dreams

54. An extended take of Nancy sleeping in the clinic

55. A clip of Freddy pretending to be a nurse in Dream Warriors

56. New Line senior vice-president Kevin Kasha, Chuck Russell and Was Craven discuss the evolution of Freddy merchandising.

57. Wes Craven and Jacques Haiken discuss the tight shooting schedule

58. A scene of Freddy killing a victim in Dream Child

59. Wes Craven, Robert Shaye, Sara Risher, Sean Cunningham and John Burrows discuss the financing of the film

60. A clip of the rediscovery of Freddy's glove in Freddy's Revenge

61. A deleted scene where Marge tells Nancy that she once had a brother

62. A clip of parents burning Freddy's hideout in Freddy's Dead

63. Jim Doyle and Wes Craven discuss the low-tech special effects in the film

64. Robert Shaye discusses why so many sequels were made

65. An alternate take of Nancy answering the tongue phone

66. Freddy attacks Heather Langenkamp with his tongue in New Nightmare

67. Close ups of the tongue phone

68. Wes Craven, Heather Langenkamp and special effects artist Mark Bryan Wilson discuss the tongue phone

69. Freddy kills a victim by smashing her head into a TV in Dream Warriors

70. Outtake footage of the blood gusher scene

71. Wes Craven, Jacques Haiken and Jim Doyle discuss the blood gusher scene

72. Wes Craven talks about why he made New Nightmare

73. A featurette about what people can do whilst sleepwalking

74. Wes Craven talks about the various influences on Freddy

75. Sara Risher, Wes Craven, Rick Shaine, Robert Englund, Ronee Blakely, Sean Cunningham, John Burrows, Heather Langenkamp and Amanda Wyss discuss the unexpected box office success of the movie

76. Robert Englund discusses Freddy's voice

77. Wes Craven and Jim Doyle discuss the stunt work of Anthony Cecere in the film

78. Ronee Blakely discusses her dummy for the burning scene

79. Outtake footage of the dummy disappearing into the bed

80. Jacque Haiken discusses the lock off dissolve shot

81. Wes Craven and Robert Shaye discuss the various endings of the film

82. Outtake footage of Freddy rising up from the bed

83. David B. Miller discusses Freddy's makeup

84. An alternate take of Nancy's final conversation with Freddy

85. The twist ending from Freddy's Revenge

86. Outtake footage of the last sequence

87. Two alternate endings: 'scary ending' and 'Freddy ending' (see below for more details)

"Never Sleep Again: The Making of 'A Nightmare on Elm Street'"; a 50 minute 'Making-of' documentary made exclusively for the DVD

"Night Terrors"; a 16 minute featurette made for the DVD, looking at the importance of dreams.

"The House That Freddy Built"; a 22 minute featurette made for the DVD, looking at the importance of the Elm Street franchise for New Line Cinema.

Three alternate endings (see below for more details)

Freddys Coming for You trivia game

Theatrical Trailer

Interactive Script-to-Screen feature (DVD-ROM only - only works on an R1 machine with InterActual)

Don't Fall Asleep trivia game (DVD-ROM only - only works on an R1 machine with InterActual)

Scary ending (the film's ending): Nancy gets into the car and they happily drive away. We then cut back to the doorway, where Marge is suddenly pulled through the window.

Happy ending: Nancy drives away in the car and Marge smiles and waves. Nothing happens to either the car or Marge. Note: the happier ending was meant for Nancy to kill Freddy by refusing to believe in him.

Freddy ending: Nancy gets into the car and the roof slams shut and the windows and doors lock. As she beats on the window for help, Marge is suddenly pulled through the door into the house. The car then speeds off, and it is revealed that Freddy is driving.

The complete set of deleted scenes for the film have a somewhat convoluted history. Deleted scenes, alternate takes, and outtake footage were first released by Elite Entertainment on the Laserdisc Edition of the film in 1996 (now an exceptionally rare collector's item). Also in 1996, Anchor Bay released a VHS Collector's Edition containing the same bonus material found on the laserdisc (not quite as rare as the laserdisc, but still considered a collector's item). However, upon the film being released on DVD in 1999, the only deleted scenes included were two alternate endings ('happy ending' and 'scary ending'), neither of which had been included in the deleted footage on the laserdisc or VHS. In 2006, a new Infinifilm DVD was released. However, much to many fans' disappointment, this disk contained only three alternate endings (one of which, 'Freddy ending' had never been released before), one small deleted scene available only as a branching clip, and several alternate takes and outtakes, also available only as branching clips. Here is a complete list of all the deleted scenes from the Laserdisc and VHS, with a brief description of their content:

The Sleepover: an alternate version of the scene where Glen goes into the garden to find the noise; in this version, there is a brief conversation about whether or not it could be a cat.

Tina's Last Nightmare: a scene in Tina's last dream where she finds a bunch of worms under a trash can (this scene is available on the Infinifilm DVD as a branching clip)

The Classroom: as the student starts to read from Hamlet, another student makes a joke.

Visiting Rod: prior to Nancy meeting Rod in jail, there is a scene between her and her father, where he reluctantly allows her in to see him. The conversation between Nancy and Rod is also slightly longer.

Glen and Nancy at the police station: an extended version of the scene where Nancy tries to convince her father and Garcia (Joe Unger) to let her and Glen see Rod. Garcia is then unable to find the keys. Rod's chocking is also longer and is intercut with Garcia searching for the keys. After his body is found, Donald asks Nancy how she knew something bad was going to happen.

Cemetery: Marge and Donald discuss how what is happening reminds them of what happened ten years ago.

Katja Institute: an extended scene where Dr. King (Charles Fleischer) asks Marge about any prior injuries Nancy may have had.

Talking on the phone : after returning from Katja, Marge rings Donald and tells him about the hat.

On the Bridge: an extended version of the scene on the bridge where Nancy tells Glen where she got the survival book

Freddy's Past: an extended version of the scene where Marge tells Nancy about Fred Krueger, telling her that she, Glen, Rod and Tina all had siblings who were killed by Freddy.

A Late visit to the station: A scene where Donald arrives at the police station in the middle of the night because he can't sleep.

Before Glen's death: a scene where Glen contemplates visiting Nancy but decides against it.

Alternate Glen's death: Glen's body raises up from the bed covered in blood (outtake footage)

After Glen's death #1: a scene where Donald tries to comfort Glen's father (Ed Call)

After Glen's death #2: Donald asks Glen's dad if he has any ideas who might have done it, and Lantz says he thinks it was Freddy. Donald tells him not to be ridiculous, but Lantz says that the door to Glen's room was locked because he had wanted to prevent Glen sneaking out to see Nancy.

Nancy flying: untreated blue screen footage of Nancy flying through the air for a scene in her last dream which was ultimately cut from the film (it would have come between the scene where she falls over the boiler room balcony and the scene where she lands in the rose bush outside her house).

Supplies: two scenes of Nancy collecting bits and pieces in the basement in anticipation of the battle with Freddy (outtake footage).

Final confrontation: an alternate take of the scene where Nancy turns her back on Freddy

All of these scenes can be found on YouTube (albeit of poor quality) here, here and here

Yes it is. Both the US edition and the UK edition, both released in 2010, are identical to their DVD counterparts and feature no additional special features. The film is also available in A Nightmare on Elm Street Collection, available in both a US edition and a UK edition, both released in 2011. This collection features all seven original films (up to New Nightmare), plus a bonus disk of special features, including several episodes of Freddy's Nightmares, "Fear Himself: The Life and Crimes of Freddy Krueger", the "Primetime" documentary from the R1 US Nightmare on Elm Street Collection DVD and a featurette about the franchise as a whole.


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