Monday, June 23, 2014

It's Just A Dream . . . A Nightmare On Elm Street retrospective Part 1

Recently, it was announced that Robert Englund, Freddy Krueger himself, would be appearing for a one-time only event where he'll be donning his famous character make-up one final time.  At Flashback Weekend, this August 8th-10th in Rosemont, IL Englund will be doing photo-ops while wearing Freddy Krueger make-up designed and applied by Robert Kurtzman!  This, of course, is a for a great cause as well:  all proceeds will go towards the Midway Drive-in and will help them hopefully finally secure a digital projector!

It should go without saying just how cool this will be . . . it's not just a pic with Robert Englund . . . or a pic with a dude dressed up as Freddy . . . it's FREDDY!!!  When I met Robert back in 2002 at a Fangoria's Weekend of Horrors, I almost lost my mind while he was on stage and did the "Welcome to prime-time, bitch!" line followed by that classic, unmistakable laugh!  

Of course, this announcement comes near the 30th anniversary of the original A Nightmare On Elm Street film and, well, it all got me feeling rather nostalgic.  You see, as a kid, my childhood heroes were (in this order):  Indiana Jones, Mr. T. and Rocky Balboa.  Then, not too long after, Freddy Krueger came along and pretty much made me who I am today.  So, I was reading about Englund's plan, knowing that I'll get to have a photo WITH Freddy (not just Robert Englund or a dude dressed up as Freddy....but FREDDY HIMSELF), I thought this would be the perfect opportunity to revisit the whole Nightmare phenomenon from my perspective....

 Let's start back at the beginning, shall we?

My very first encounter with Freddy Krueger probably stems from a nightmare I had . . . while the details are a bit hazy, I do remember my dad being in the dream and laughing about the way Freddy looked, calling him appropriately, "Pizza Face".  Now, this must have been after seeing Dokken's video for "Dream Warriors" which, of course, was featured as the main theme to A Nightmare On Elm Street 3:  Dream Warriors.  Speaking of that video, I remember seeing the tail-end of it where Freddy jumps up from his own nightmare (who wouldn't have a nightmare about Dokken circa 1987??) . . . I was intrigued and a little frightened, the same way a spook house at a carnival might creep someone out.  

Probably around the same time, give or take, I remember taking a trip down to New Hope, PA with my parents probably in late 1987 or early 1988.  This very well may have been the first time I'd been down there for all I know . . . but, for those of you who are unfamiliar with New Hope, it's a cute little river town along the Delaware River, stocked with all manner of neat stores and boutiques.  I'd say New Hope was "vintage" before there was "vintage" if that makes any sense.  We were in one store that had tons of amazing posters for sale; the name of it escapes me, but I'm almost certain it's no longer there unfortunately.  For whatever reason, I was drawn to only one poster in particular . . . 

I had to have it.

. . . and, so, on my bedroom wall it went.  It stayed there for many years, eventually joined by promo posters for Part 2 and Part 4, as well as Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, Batman, and Rambo III.  Unfortunately, none of those posters are in my collection any more (more on this particular one a little later). 
  With that poster, the seeds were almost fully planted for Freddy to become one of my new heroes.  Enter Fangoria magazine . . . 

One weekend on a mall trip to Norristown, PA I happened to found myself in a Walden Books and was immediately drawn to a magazine featuring Freddy on the cover...

This magazine was essentially The Holy Bible to the budding Horror fan I was becoming!
To say that this magazine -- and specifically the cover itself -- changed me is complete understatement.  I scanned through this mag front to back, soaking in all of the grizzly imagery and reading what little I could at the time.  It seemed like I brought this mag everywhere with me; I even got in trouble with my babysitter for scaring her young son and giving him nightmares!  Of course, my original magazine long got destroyed over time, so I had to re-buy it again a few years back and I still flip through it every once in a while!

By this point, Freddy had officially become one of my new heroes!  I can only imagine what my teachers were thinking when they saw me draw stuff like this in Kindergarten . . . 

This was done in Kindergarten and, honestly, I'm amazed that it has survived all these years!
Or when I painted a huge mural (not much different than the pic above) on one of the store front windows in town for our annual Halloween decorations.  

Speaking of Halloween, I'll never forget the day my mom picked me up from my babysitter's and surprised me with my very first Freddy costume . . . it was the Don Post mask and styrofoam hat combo.  not sure if the mask still exists in the boxes and bins that used to make up my old bedroom, but I'd love to find that mask again.  And, of course, any Freddy Halloween costume wouldn't be complete with out a glove . . . 

To this day, I am not sure why the glove looks camouflage as I've never been able to find any other pics of it except for the one I still have to this day.   I clearly remember it having a pic of Freddy from Nightmare 3 on the package similar to the ones you see around, only with a brown glove.  I actually always preferred the look of this one to the others that I've seen over the years as cheap Halloween costumes; there's something cool about the aged paint apps on it and the implied viscera the black and red paint on the glove itself.  Anyway, I'm amazed that this thing has survived 25yrs in my collection and never broke, got lost, or got destroyed! 

One final thing that solidified the myth of Freddy for me was the video for "Are You Ready For Freddy?" by the Fat Boys.   Has it aged well?  Probably not.  Is it still damn fun?  Absolutely!   I can still put the song on (either the soundtrack version or the extended version that showed up on the Fat Boys record, Coming Back Hard Again) and rap every word!

Stay tuned for more of my thoughts on the whole Nightmare phenomenon!