The Legacy of Freddy Krueger


“Freddy Krueger”

The mere mention of the name Freddy Krueger instantly brings to mind how much of an impact the original A Nightmare on Elm Street had on my childhood, along with how much that impact is still felt today. I was eight years old when the first film was released on VHS, and I already had a love for horror thanks to the classic Hammer and Universal films, along with Michael Jackson’s Thriller video. It was no surprise, then, how captivated I became by the cover art for the first film. It was so intriguing to me, in fact, that I believe that I was already obsessed with the world of Elm Street even before I put the VHS tape into my family’s beloved VCR and pressed play.

Freddy Krueger was a larger than life example of all of the things that children both fear and are drawn to at the same time. The rush that I experienced by making it through what to me at the time was a totally new breed of horror film catapulted me into a life-long love affair with horror. No matter how many other films I watch, however, no character ever has the same level of impact on me that Freddy Krueger did.

I have watched the entire original series more times than I could conceive of counting, and there are so many scenes that stand out to me when I think about the legacy of this iconic horror character. The first moment when we the viewers realize just how much we have to fear from Freddy is when he cuts off his own finger and laughs about it. Horror villains had done a lot of messed up things before this scene was put on film, but Freddy’s complete lack of disregard for himself quickly taught us that he would not hesitate to do much worse to us simply for a moment of entertainment.

One of the most interesting aspects about this character from a psychological standpoint is how he is taking revenge because he felt like he was wronged by the parents of Elm Street. Now we can all agree that being burned alive is horrible, but the people who did this to him were taking revenge for his horrible actions against their children. The fact that Freddy truly believes that he was the one who was wronged in this scenario teaches us everything that we need to know about the man he was and the monster that he has become.

It is common for fans to get into endless debates about the merits of some of the individual films within the series, but even with some of their flaws, they did all advance Freddy’s back story. Each film also allowed Freddy to embrace new tactics and deliver new forms of his twisted nightmare justice, and this kept the series from becoming boring.


“Freddy Strikes”

Even though most of the characters were created with the intention of being easy fodder for Krueger’s rage, there were two characters that developed the inner strength to face off with him multiple times. Nancy Thompson and Alice Johnson were the perfect movie heroines for their respective films because they acted not just out of fear for themselves but also out of fear for the people that they loved. By harnessing these emotions, they learned how to stand up to great evil and look it straight in the eyes.

For me, the legacy of Freddy Krueger is not only about his enduring screen presence and witty personality; it also represents all of the twisted evil that exists inside of society. Wes Craven may have hidden this representation inside of the visage of a horribly burned monster, but sadly, there is nothing that the human character of Freddy Krueger did that does not happen in the real world. By enabling certain characters to have the willpower and necessary ethics to face him, even at a great personal risk, Craven created a way for society to deal with its demons, at least for the 90 minutes when our attention is fully place on the movie screen.



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