Hollywood is a funny place. It’s an environment based on illusion and false facades where you find out the guy playing the kid in high school may be in his late 20s, the plucky comic is often the most serious guy in the room when the cameras aren’t rolling, and the romantic leading man who always gets the girl is secretly gay.
So, perhaps it makes perfect sense that a great love story began on the set of the slasher film A Nightmare on Elm Street.
Back in 1984, Charles Belardinelli was a carpenter who got a lead on a job helping with special effects on an upcoming horror film. It would be Charlie’s first movie and would also be the film debut of a young actor named Johnny Depp, who Charlie knew from tending bar in West L.A. where Depp’s band often played.
Christina Rideout was a recent theater grad from USC who was dating the technical director of the school’s theater department at the time. The coordinator for the film asked her boyfriend for use of a building at USC for some of the prep work for the film. Christina was hired by the production to do stunts and work in the office.
Charlie set to work welding and building sets for intricate effects like the rotating room. He helped create Freddy Krueger’s famous razor hands (he still owns a spare talon) and was called on to model them in the film’s opening scene. The world’s first glimpse of Freddy Krueger is actually of Charles Belardinelli.
It didn’t take Charlie long to take notice of the cute, blonde, 22-year-old Christina. They worked together closely on several effects like the scene where Heather Langenkamp gets pulled through the bottom of a bathtub into a large dark body of water. The effect was achieved in a pool in Tujunga where Christina is seen struggling underwater to reach a light at the surface. Christina’s arm is visible several times throughout the course of the film whenever Langenkamp looks at her watch or the burn mark on her arm and it’s her feet that sink into the goopy stairs (created using Bisquick).
The production moved to Renmar Studios in Hollywood for the interior shots where Charlie increasingly found excuses to stop by the office where Christina was working.
The flirting quickly led to dating, which culminated in marriage a few years later.
Charlie still works as a special effects coordinator, with an impressive resume of A-list productions over the past three decades. Christina still acts, often on stage, and is a minister, healer, and teacher, and part owner of a T-shirt company. They have three incredible teenaged sons, who, not surprisingly, all plan on having show biz careers of their own. The family resides together in a home filled with love in Canyon Country.
Just like Hollywood tells us, true love really can be found in the most unlikely of places. … Even nightmares.