Since I was a kid, about seven or six years old, I always adored horror movies- namely the classics. I would gather in my sisters room and watch whatever horror was available at the time. One of my favorite movies of the many that I was allowed to watch at the age was Freddy Vs. Jason. For some reason, it was only Freddy that truly scared me, and thus it was Freddy that i loved to watch. He was charismatic, he was scary, he made funny jokes, and the overall look of the films (when I finally watched the individual franchises) had me hooked.
When I heard about the remake that would be coming out in 2010, I was not convinced I would like it and I would later be proved right. For one thing, they were replacing Robert Englund, my childhood icon. For another, the trailer looked all too dark and gloomy, and not to mention that god awful voice that Jackie Earle Haley had given him. That all being said- I was determined to see it. I suppose it was the excitement of seeing Nightmare on the big screen since I was not alive when the originals came out, and at the time I was twelve, which meant I was allowed- or close enough.
When I finally saw it at the local drive in, it was cold, and I was excited. I was locked and loaded with my freddy krueger glove and my freddy krueger shirt and I was the ultimate fangirl, waiting for the show. Again, maybe it was the adrenaline of witnessing another installment that was the reason i enjoyed it so much at first, but as the last death wore off the screen and the radios excused us all to leave, I came to my sense.
You can not remake Nightmare on Elm Street.
Now don’t get me wrong, as a youngin I went into the movie with an open mind. I sat down, I was excited, I knew it would not quite be the same, but the grittiness may make up for the lack of charm that Englund had thrust upon us many years ago, but it was not quite the same.
You see, the thing that makes Nightmare on Elm Street so entertaining the tenth time around was Robert. Even with all the flaws, the horrid eighties effects which may have been grand for the time, the slightly missed cues and terribly conveyed lines, there was Robert Englund
Robert Englund delivered Wes Craven’s lines with humor that was never quite forced or uncomfortable, and at some times it made you root for him when he did. He had those “dad” jokes everyone hates to love, but enjoys because they are just plain inappropriate when you are gutting a teenaged girl. The whole charm of Freddy comes with his personality, the way he is ruthless and limitless, and the way he makes a sport out of taking each teen one by one until all the Elm Street kids are gone and he has to find another street to taunt. I would argue that the entertainment was an equal split of Englund’s personality and Craven’s writing, both of which the remake lacks.
In the remake, Jackie Earle Haley does well with what he is given, but it just is not the Krueger that earned the following he has today. While he is a villain, a slasher, and a disgusting, vile man, Freddy was fun to play along with, watch, and quote; the way Haley’s Krueger is presented, it’s just another dark and depressing villain like Jason or Jigsaw. The remake strips Freddy’s lines of that charisma, and paints him with a face of vengeance (remember I said this) and creates him out to be a dry movie monster for jump scares.
Robert Englund’s Freddy Krueger is much different from Jackie Earle Haley’s in many ways, but one prominent difference would be his back story- which was one thing that I do applaud the remake for. In the original, Krueger was suppose to be a confirmed child molester, however due to real life instances, it was deemed inappropriate to incorporate it into the film (but that did not stop them from alluding to it enough that the audience caught on). Instead, he was a child murderer.
In the remake, we are given a more in depth insight into the life of Freddy Krueger circa burns and torches. We learn he is a child rapist, and that he was well acquainted with elementary school basements. Both versions agree that the parents torched him.
I mention this because I believe it is a pivotal point in why I do like the remake- not necessarily love it, but will accept it for what is is.
In 1994, Wes Craven’s “A New Nightmare” was released. In short, the movie takes place when Heather Langenkamp (Nancy) starts getting haunted by the true Freddy Krueger, and stars Heather and Robert as themselves. In this movie, Freddy is much more dark and demonic than before due to the fact he is suppose to be real. Wes Craven had created this movie because he wanted to experiment with his original plan for Freddy, the concept that birthed the ideas that came to screen.
In the remake, the Freddy we seen upon the screen is nothing short of dark and disturbing as opposed to humorous and entertaining, and we are suppose to be feared as opposed to being a fan. In the remake, we view friendly as this vengeful demon that is left with unfinished business with the parents. Remember what I said when I mentioned vengeance before? I believe that the new movie is not suppose to be the same Freddy, but how he was suppose to be written- almost like completely erasing the idea of the comedian we all came to enjoy, who did not seem to mind being dead.
The new remake takes modern terror and incorporates an old idea of how something was suppose to be, and had Wes Craven had another chance to try his hand, perhaps it would have been decent, but that was the issue with the new nightmare in the first place. You can not rewrite an icon.
And although it would not go over well to redo it the way we all know and love it (mostly due to the tackiness of it all, albeit enjoyable) there is only one option left- don’t touch it. Why?
Because without Englund and Craven, you’re left with a cliche: a dream demon, a monster, and it proves difficult to enjoy, and with every remake that they try to put out in the future, it’s one more nail in the coffin to remind us that Nightmare on Elm Street should have died.