If you ask me who my favorite horror villain is, my answer will always be Freddy Krueger. Freddy was the first to scare the shit out of me as a kid and I’ve gone back to him time and time again. I’ve watched every sequel at least 5 times, own both the book and the documentary of NEVER SLEEP AGAIN, several Freddy figures adorn the surfaces of my apartment, etc. And yet, FREDDY’S NIGHTMARES managed to escape me at every turn until now.
What’s the deal?
FREDDY’S NIGHTMARES was an anthology style TV show that aired from 1988-1990. It was produced by New Line Television and Stone Television and was distributed by Lorimar-Telepictures until it was acquired by Warner Bros. Television for syndication. The first episode gives fans and newcomers a look back on Freddy’s trial before he becomes the burnt-faced nightmare stalker. We open on his trial and find out who the cop was that botched the arrest letting Freddy go free. By the end of the episode, Freddy is burned alive by the cop who messed up as well as an angry mob of parents. Of course, his arresting officer is not long for this world and Freddy comes back to seek his revenge.
What about Freddy?
The rest of the series plays out with Freddy as a pseudo-Crypt Keeper, spinning tales about the other teens who roam Springwood’s halls and fall victim to his trap. He may not be a constant character but the way he is used is pretty much perfect for the caliber of villain the film series had made him into. By the time 1988 rolled around, we were 4 movies into the series and Freddy was knives deep in cheese. He spouts puns, is dressed in silly outfits, and offers the viewer a grim epilogue following each episode.
Remember how I said the first episode opens on his trial? Well, that’s not the end of his story as an interactive character. His story continues with the daughters, his would be last victims, of the cop who torched him. It could have been a whole prequel movie unto itself but instead, serves as a through-story in this otherwise unrelated mishmash of tales.
I have to admire this form of storytelling being used before shows like THE X-FILES and SUPERNATURAL gave us the term “monster of the week”. FREDDY’S NIGHTMARES skewed away from the different-story-every-week style of THE TWILIGHT ZONE and TALES FROM THE CRYPT in an attempt to relate the series to the films and I think it was a pretty novel idea for the late 80s.
But is it any good?
If you are like me and were born after the series went off the air, you’ve probably had a hard time finding it. You’ve also probably heard a lot about how terrible it was and I’m here to tell you that we’ve been lied to FOR YEARS.
FREDDY’S NIGHTMARES is actually a really fun show with some pretty interesting storytelling techniques. Every episode is told in a two-tier story structure, meaning the first half of the episode concludes midway and a new story is built with a supporting character from the first half. Basically, you get two episodes for the price of one.
Maybe you’re hung up on the series not completely focusing on Freddy himself but rest assured his presence is sprinkled throughout. He manipulates everyone living in Springwood, turning parents and kids against each other and drumming up a good dose of fear to ensure he’s never forgotten. The kids in the films aren’t the only people to be haunted by Freddy, after all.
So where can I watch it?
Well that’s sort of the problem, isn’t it? In September of 1991, five VHS tapes featuring one episode each were released by Warner Home Video. In 1993, 8 VHS tapes were released in the UK featuring two episodes a piece.
It wasn’t until 2003 that a DVD was released featuring the first three episodes in the UK and Ireland. Warner Home Video was supposed to continue releasing these volumes but due to poor sales on the first one they discontinued the release. Finally, in 2011 the whole film series was released on Blu-ray and a few episodes were included as special features.
Currently, Robert Rodriguez’s El Rey Network has the rights to air the series. So check your guide and hit record because unless you find a fanmade series at a convention somewhere you might be out of luck. I still hold out hope that someone will come to their senses and release the series by season instead of only a couple episodes at a time.
*Photos: FREDDY’S NIGHTMARES – New Line Cinema