After eight movies that made people avoid the town of Springwood at all costs, I think it’s safe to say that Freddy Krueger is one of the all-time greatest in the movie monster business. The idea of an unstoppable dream demon who preyed on children and teenagers was frightening stuff when Robert Englund first donned a familiar fedora and knife-glove in 1984, and it’s an idea that still terrifies to this day.
This concept of a merciless killer of children, a maniac who enjoyed his work made Freddy Krueger an icon. And then Hollywood went and stuffed it all up with a 2010 remake starring Jackie Earle Haley, that most audiences decided to forget about. Man, that’s some thick irony right there. And really, there was no reason why this remake shouldn’t have worked.
Jackie Earle Haley as the Springwood Slasher, advances in special effects that could make dream kills even more disturbing and even an actual budget was attached to the remake of A Nightmare on Elm Street. Horror loyalty, hustle and respect yo. And maybe that’s actually where the remake went wrong. That’s according to actor Thomas Dekker, who popped up in the Elm Street remake as a Freddy victim. Speaking to Screen Geek, Dekker described a feature film whose potential was ruined by studio interference:
It’s a tricky one to talk about. I would say it was an honour to be a part of it. I think the cast as we know, we had two, now one-time Oscar nominee and another two-time Oscar nominee who’s still a very good friend of mine, Rooney Mara, and I think the issue at hand with that movie can’t really be thrown at the director because the director was basically a gun for hire to make it look good, and he did that. It looked great. But it’s basically like most good films tell a story, that film was to sell a tuxedo.
It’s a sales movie. “It’s okay, we got this idea we’re going to take and we’re going to make money off it, so let’s just do that”. Even though the intentions of the artistic forces behind it were “Okay, we’re going to open up the mythology of Freddy Krueger, we’re going to make him darker and actually explore the idea of child sexual abuse” and those are all the things that interested me.
Of course at the end of the day when you have to put it in 1,000 theaters or more, you have to shy away from those things and just make it a sell-able entity. So I think you can’t really start judging the leaves of a tree if the seed is f—ked.
And that’s that situation. The unfortunate part is if it had been an independent film, sort of inspired by Nightmare on Elm Street, I think it could have been something really special, but in order to afford that brand, then you have to cater to the lowest common denominator, and that’s what happens with these remakes. You’re not allowed the privilege of originality if you’re not coming up with an original idea.
And that’s a fair point. The original A Nightmare on Elm Street was made on a shoestring budget in a few weeks. It was a fast and furious shooting schedule, that needed the cast and crew to be on their toes at all times. To work around budget cuts and a looming deadline. And it worked. A Nightmare on Elm Street basically gave New Line Cinema a chance to shine and establish itself as a major contender in the industry.
There’s no point in remaking a cult classic either, if you’re not going to add anything new to it at all. And that made for the saddest of Freddy returns. A shame really, because I do think that visually it was a magnificent movie that really focused on restoring the horror to the mythos of Fred Krueger.
Last Updated: October 20, 2016
October 20, 2016 at 10:41
I thought it failed because it was a remake.
But that’s just me. 🙂
October 21, 2016 at 12:23
So it wasn’t studio interference. It was because it was conceived for the wrong reasons. I’d bet that is why most remakes fail: they are, as he said, to sell a tuxedo.