WHERE THIS EVIL HAILS FROM: The Nightmare on Elm Street film series, which begun in 1984 with the Wes Craven original starring Robert Englund (the original–and in my books, only–Freddy), Heather Langenkamp and a very young Johnny Depp
WHY THIS EVIL MADE ME FILLE THE FEAR: Like most kids, the moment I heard about the kind of work Freddy does (killing young peeps in their sleeps), I was immediately terrified, worrying that after I saw the first Nightmare film I would do as its creepy little girl choir theme song says and “never sleep again.” I built this child killer with the burnt face, ratty old sweater and razor-covered glove up to be the ultimate in evil as he preys on us when we’re in our naturally weakest states: adolescence and asleep. And I kept building this image as I heard more stories about the guy, asking friends and reviews to appease me while I found the courage to actually watch him in action.
Admittedly, when I finally got around to that (in my basement with an experienced friend to support me), I wasn’t nearly as scared as I anticipated I would be. It didn’t help that I had seen plenty of clips of Freddy’s campier, punnier work in the sequels (my favourite is probably the third one, Dream Warriors, which stars Patricia Arquette and features an original song by Dokken) beforehand. But the mere concept of Freddy is still pretty horrifying, especially as he manages to find maniacal glee in killing children in the most fantastical and specifically tailored ways. While his victims are dying in their nightmares, he is clearly living his dream. His fucked up, sadistic and brightly coloured dream.
HOW THIS EVIL STILL DOES: No one, not even his enemy Jason, can keep Krueger down. While the series starring Englund seemingly ended with Freddy vs. Jason, a wink from Freddy’s decapitated head signaled a future for the character of sorts. There was an attempt to revive the series completely with a remake starring Jackie Earle Haley. But when that crashed and burned (no pun intended), it was clear that Englund is the only Fred we need.
Even in his current absence from the screen, you can still feel Freddy’s influence pervading the air. He’s often a point of reference in other horror formats, especially television. For example, one Treehouse of Horror episode did a direct parody of him through Groundskeeper Willie. And one of my favourite Buffy episodes, Season 2’s “Killed by Death,” evokes him by having the monster of the week don a fedora, creepy crawly skin and a desire to kill kids. While Freddy might come for us in our sleep, through these nods, he crosses into the waking world, haunting us at every moment of our days. Even, as seen below, bathtime.