There once was a time when Halloween simply meant candy, dressing up, and playfully making fun of death, dismemberment, and torture. Then in the late-70s and early-80s some guys in Hollywood showed up to remind us that death, dismemberment, and torture can actually be pretty scary things.
One of those guys was Wes Craven who made a slasher film called A Nightmare on Elm Street about a disfigured dead murderer named Freddy Krueger who stalks and kills a group of teenagers in their dreams.
The film starred Heather Langenkamp, Robert Englund as Freddy, John Saxon, and Johnny Depp, who made his big screen debut in the movie.
It was made by New Line Cinema, a small independent production company at the time, after Walt Disney of all places, had shown initial interest, but had decided to pass.
Craven was inspired to write the film after hearing reports of male refugees who had escaped the “killing fields” of Cambodia who would die during nightmares and therefore avoid sleeping. He chose the colors red and green for stripes on Freddy’s sweater because he read that the contrast was psychologically jarring. He was even able to settle and old score in the naming of Freddy Krueger, which was the name of a grade-school classmate who used to bully him.
The film paid off royally, recouping its $1.8 million budget during its first week of release. It went on to gross over $25 million domestically and spawned a slew of successful sequels. The franchise was New Line’s first step towards the ranks of the major-independent studios. They would have their greatest success with the Lord of the Rings trilogy in the early 2000’s, before being absorbed by Warner Bros. in 2008. It’s safe to say that if there wouldn’t have been a Freddy, there would have never been a Bilbo, at least not one who appeared in a New Line film.
Tomorrow, we will meet with my friends Charlie and Christina who met on the set of Nightmare and have been together ever since.