Day 81, No. 81. Freddy Kruger

Freddy KrugerHAIRCUT 100: Day 81, No. 81. As we’re counting down to Halloween now – my favourite holiday, the Goth Christmas – I give you Freddy Kruger: The Springwood Slasher; wisecracking horror icon, surrealist serial killer, nightmare demon, scourge of Elm St, and the bastard son of a hundred maniacs. Signature weapon: bladed glove. Freddy is, of course, the creation of the greatly missed and visionary director, Wes Craven, who passed away last year, wonderfully interpreted by actor Robert Englund, who will always be identified with the part. Freddy is the archetypal 80s slasher villain, and belongs in the horror pantheon with Leatherface, Michael Myers, and Jason Voorhees, being one of the greatest movie maniacs of all time, ranked 40th in the American Film Institute Top 100, 14th by Wizard Magazine readers, 8th by Sky TV viewers, and ‘Most Vile Villain’ in the 2010 Spike TV Scream Awards. Wes Craven was a very clever man, and Freddy is thus extremely high concept: an abused child turned child-murderer killed by local parents who returns to haunt the dreams of their children, finishing the job he started when alive. (There’s a nod towards Craven’s earlier film, The Last House on the Left, as well; that film’s principle killer was named Krug.) The essentially surreal nature of Freddy’s universe thus allows Craven to explore one of his favourite subjects in film: perception and the nature of reality. In Wes Craven’s New Nightmare, the seventh film in the Nightmare on Elm Street franchise and the third to be directed by Craven, we can see the bones of the postmodern deconstruction of the genre that will become Scream, as actress Heather Langenkamp (the first film’s protagonist and final girl) plays herself haunted by the real Freddy, as opposed to Englund playing Freddy in the film within the film. The fourth wall is tested, but it doesn’t quite break. In Scream, as much a response to Craven being robbed by the studio over the creation of Freddy Kruger as a narratological exploration of form, the wall comes tumbling down, and, once again, as was so often the case with Craven’s work, the genre is never quite the same again. ‘Welcome to my nightmare!’

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