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The evolution of Freddy Krueger

7 min read


A Nightmare on Elm Street! Growing up, the mere mention of Freddy Krueger would most likely have had you staying up all night with an enema of coffee ready so that you could avoid being slaughtered in your sleep in the most ironic of circumstances by a child-molesting dream demon. Over the years, Freddy has popped up in eight movies (Yes only eight and don’t you start that 2010 remake is nothing more than an expensive practical joke), single-handidly reducing the Springwood adolescent population to single digit numbers.

Eight (And only eight dammit come at me bro) movies that featured a Dream Master whose very design morphed and evolved in each movie sequel. Let’s get started then with the first movie in the franchise:

A Nightmare on Elm Street


Ah the classic look. Freddy Krueger’s basic look was established with a design that was based off of pizza of all things, as make-up artist David Miller described messing around with a cheese and pepperoni pizza one night to get the basic look for Freddy right. Combined with a red and green jersey that used the clash of colours to unsettle audiences and a burnt Fedora, or Fredora as fans call it, Freddy had his look.

But it was the iconic knife-glove that completed it. “The claw extends Freddy,” actor Robert Englund still said in the Never Sleep Again documentary.

It extends his evil, it extends his anger.

To reflect the boiler room origins of Freddy’s trademark glove, the design team set about cobbling together the signature slasher weapon from bits of copper pipe and kitchen knives, eventually ending up with a killing tool that Englund likened to a “junior high shop project from hell”. With all of those elements combined, the legend of the Springwood Slasher was ready to terrorise audiences in 1984, creating an icon that would last for decades.

Freddy Fact: Robert Englund only has seven minutes of screen-time in his first Freddy movie appearance.

A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge


While the first Nightmare on Elm Street movie may have created Freddy Krueger’s brutally burnt look, it was the first sequel that truly defined his nightmare visual. Tossing realism aside for nightmarish fantasy, make-up artist Kevin Yagher gave Freddy a new design that made his face-burns more detailed, his nose hooked like that of a witch and demonic eyes as opposed to Robert Englund’s usual green-eyed monster look.

And it worked. Yagher’s new design made Freddy look like even more of a dream demon than usual. To complete the look, Freddy’s ungloved left hand now also sported some fresh burns, his jersey continued the Christmas colours tradition by extending down the sleeves and his trademark Fedora looked even more beat up than usual.

But the biggest difference? Freddy’s trademark glove was seldom seen, as this version of the walking nightmare preferred to use a more hands-on approach for his glove-kills.

Freddy Fact: Robert Englund pops up sans his Freddy make-up, as the bus driver in the opening sequence.

A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: The Dream Warriors


For Freddy’s second return, not much had changed. Yagher’s make-up continued to evolve, with Freddy now having even more detailed burns than ever before. Aside from a tweaked winter top, Fedora and the return of his death-dealing glove, Freddy was still very much the monster that audiences had fallen in love with, as he continued to step out of the shadows and into prime-time.

But this time? All those souls that Freddy had taken and consumed, were seen living in agony within him. While the damned may have given him absolute power in his dream realm however, Freddy would soon regret amassing such a large collection of them in the next sequel…

Freddy Fact: Taryn can be seen wearing a Dokkén shirt in the film, a band who wrote and produced a song just for the third film.

A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master


While A Nightmare on Elm Street 2 may have defined the Freddy Krueger look, it was the fourth film that took a design that had begun to evolve in Nightmare 3 and evolved it into its final form. There was no question about it: This was Freddy at his meanest. The make-up team had reached the apex, creating a Freddy whose very presence could induce nightmares in audiences.

No longer bound by the shadows, Freddy also wore an even meaner version of his glove, adorned in rusting and twisted metal and finished off with blades that were designed to torture and kill for good. This time, Freddy wasn’t playing any games as he spent the first few minutes of his rebirth making certain that the Dream Warriors were out of the picture for good.

Freddy Fact: Alice works at a diner called the Crave-Inn, a nod to Elm Street creator Wes Craven.

A Nightmare on Elm Street: The Dream Child


With David Miller back for the fifth film, Freddy got a brand new look once again. Not the most popular of designs, Miller’s new stab at the Springwood Slasher emphasised the old man aspect of the demon, with less detailed but larger burns and more sagging skin to help age the character further. As for the glove? Bigger blades and a brighter shade of red as Freddy considered the joys of parenthood in the fourth sequel.

Freddy Fact: Robert Englund makes another non-Freddy cameo as one of the inmates wandering the insane asylum that his mother worked in.

Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare


It was finally time for Freddy to die. Much like the age that this movie took place in, Freddy’s Dead presented a more heightened sense of reality with the supposedly final design for Krueger. A blend between the designs of Miller and Yagher, Freddy’s overall appearance in the movie that would attempt to kill him off for good was also his neatest.

While his face was as hideous as ever with pulsing pink tones and detailed burns, his clothing was surprisingly clean and neat. Meanwhile, his glove was now covered in thick soldering spills and featured even more vicious knives than ever on each finger. Knives that would soon help kill one of the greatest cinematic monsters of all time.

Freddy Fact: The death of Carlos via ultra-hearing is Robert Englund’s favourite kill in the franchise.

Wes Craven’s New Nightmare


If only the good die young, then Freddy truly is forever. Wes Craven returned to the nightmare franchise once again, in a move that was surprisingly self-aware and meta at the time, Freddy evolved into his true demonic form. This “real” version of Freddy was dramatically different, a monstrous nightmare who haunted the cast of the first film as a stronger and deadlier adversary that made Robert Englund’s creature of the night look like a lightweight in comparison.

Echoing the style of the 90s, this Freddy was added leather pants, boots and a sinister black trenchcoat to his wardrobe, while his face featured open wounds and burns to go with his haunting pale eyes. The biggest change however may have been the glove itself, a techno-organic abomination with a long claw on each finger. And one on the thumb as well.

Freddy Fact: When Dillon is running up the stairs and Demon Freddy scares him from out of nowhere, that was a legitimate scare prank.

Freddy Vs Jason


But the final Freddy movie saved the best for last. Robert Englund may have aged somewhat between his appearance in 1994’s New Nightmare and his return in 2003’s Freddy Vs Jason, but he hadn’t lost any of charm or magic as the Springwood Slasher. Freddy looked more like a dream demon than ever before, wearing the darkest of burns as his character reached new levels of evil.

But pissing off Jason may have resulted in a foe that even Freddy couldn’t stop in life or death. Having to also deal with the machete-wielding maniac meant that Freddy would need to bring some bigger knives to the table. Something he did with his knife-glove, which now featured the biggest blades in the franchise as he went head to head with the phantom of Crystal Lake.

Freddy Fact: An alternate ending that was rejected for Freddy Vs Jason, featured Pinhead from Hellraiser appearing and asking the two demons “Now, what seems to be the problem?”

A Nightmare on Elm Street (2010)

NO. We don’t talk about this movie. EVER. There is only one Freddy, and it ain’t Jackie Earle Haley.

Last Updated: October 28, 2016


  1. RinceThis

    October 28, 2016 at 15:20

    Awesome read. I need to sit through a marathon of these again.


    • WeetBix

      October 28, 2016 at 16:03

      Prepare yourself! They have not aged well, I am afraid…


    • Gustav Minnie

      October 28, 2016 at 17:53

      Skip number 2 and Freddy’s Dead.They are just horrible.
      The rest are still ok (1 & 3 my fav)


      • Hammersteyn_hates_Raid0

        October 31, 2016 at 08:08

        Same here


    • Hammersteyn_hates_Raid0

      November 1, 2016 at 09:23

      My favourite part in the third one is where Freddy kills Harry Potter


  2. Avithar

    October 28, 2016 at 15:35

    the 1st movie was still the best


  3. WeetBix

    October 28, 2016 at 15:59

    Very nice write up. It’s sad to say that villains such as Freddy and Jason lost their oomph over their last few movies. I still love the characters though, and hope to see them return to their former glory once again.

    “Whatever you do… don’t fall asleep.”



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