Freddy's Nightmares

Freddy Krueger: How His Evil Evolved #10: Freddy’s Nightmares (1988)

Remember when Freddy Krueger (Robert Englund) had his own TV show called Freddy’s Nightmares? Many of us do, but it was definitely different from the film series. Krueger was normally relegated to a Cryptkeeper role, where he would essentially host the individual episodes. Many of these stories were more wacky than scary, and often on the cringeworthy side (which, honestly, is almost hinted at in the series’ intro/trailer).

There were exceptions to this rule, however, and our purpose here today isn’t to review the series. We’re here to look specifically at how Freddy is depicted, whether good, bad, ugly, or stupid. At least we get some Freddy, right? In Friday the 13th: The Series, Jason Voorhees himself never appears, though that series has some great episodes and could be considered superior overall.

Freddy’s Nightmares:  “No More, Mr. Nice Guy”

There were exceptions to the Freddy Krueger-as-host premise. The most obvious episode was the season 1 premiere. Directed by horror master Tobe Hooper (Texas Chain Saw Massacre), “No More, Mr. Nice Guy” focuses on Freddy in the immediate aftermath of his arrest for murder. There are even creepy scenes where we see the world through Krueger Vision, as he sits in chains inside the courtroom. Basically, Freddy comes across quite menacing in this episode, which is in rather stark contrast to (most) other episodes of the series and some of the films themselves.

When we see Freddy freed on some stupid technicality, there’s no mystery that they had the right guy. He slinks out of the courtroom and is immediately interested in continuing his evil crimes. Granted, fans already know what ultimately happens to Freddy, but this in-depth look is fairly successful, and we’re reminded that the non-supernatural elements of Krueger are freakishly plausible. So, if you are going to watch only one episode of this TV series, this should probably be it.

Each episode was 45 minutes, and basically split into two different-yet-related stories. As is oddly a trademark of most episodes, the second part of “No More, Mr. Nice Guy” isn’t as compelling as the first segment. Still, in this part, Freddy gets revenge on the officer (Mark Herrier: Popcorn 1991) he finds most responsible for burning him alive. It’s one of Freddy’s most direct moments of revenge. However, as this policeman character never gets mentioned in the rest of the franchise, it’s almost begging to be seen as non-canon. Interestingly, the officer’s twin daughters (Gry and Hili Park) return in the Freddy’s Nightmares episode, “Sister’s Keeper.”

How Might ‘Freddy’s Nightmares’ Fit Into the Krueger-verse?

For the most part, Freddy Krueger lurks in the shadows here, relishing his various victims from a distance— who are often killed in fairly gruesome ways—and waiting for the rare, appropriate moments to attack directly. Freddy seems to have his own private boiler room office, but we don’t often see the hideous house known in the film series. Each episode is like a Dream Machine, as Freddy enjoys injecting people with a steady supply of new nightmares and dreams within dreams. And again, it bears repeating: Many stories do not directly include his burnt face.

Freddy Krueger tends to be at his quirkiest in Freddy’s Nightmares. He is often seen as goofier than his normal depiction on film. Granted, he was never as cool as Clint Eastwood, but this is definitely more of the Freddy’s Dead version than the original where he was more prone to swagger. Because of his overt goofiness, some won’t find him as scary (and some wacky dream predicaments don’t help, either). Freddy’s face is a common enough sight in the show, and still rendered with severe burn scars.

Mr. Krueger and the Gang? Other Freddy’s Nightmares Highlights

Freddy's Nightmares
A freaky scene from Freddy’s Nightmares episode, “Missing Persons”

It’s implied that, to some degree, Freddy Krueger is behind the shenanigans of the entire series, so let’s cheat and look at a few non-Freddy-centric episodes. At times, it’s almost like he relies on other twisted characters to torment victims, which is somewhat weird. So, let’s treat the show like Mr. Krueger and the gang. If Freddy is ultimately the puppet master, he does pull a lot of strings!

“It’s A Miserable Life” is fun for the Beefy Boy scenes with John Cameron Mitchell. The episode also stars Lar Park Lincoln of Friday the 13th Part VII: The New Blood (read our retro review here). “Killer Instinct” has a creative take on high school sports. In “Freddy’s Tricks and Treats,” Krueger terrorizes Mariska Hargitay’s character, and there’s a pretty decent scare involving a bleeding pumpkin mask. I’ve also always personally enjoyed “Judy Miller, Come on Down” for its demented game show moments. They remind me of certain scenes from Requiem For a Dream. If Freddy Krueger is behind these events, then he sure has some weird ideas… other than, you know, killing kids.

One of my absolute favorite Freddy’s Nightmares episodes has to be “Missing Persons,” where an aspiring model (Eva LaRue: Ghoulies Go to College 1991) takes a babysitting gig and gets tormented by kids for her previous junk food addiction. Basically, she ends up transforming into this weird, hungry, pig-like, roly-poly monster. Frankly, I think this episode deserves a bit more recognition than it gets. Although Freddy appears to be on the sidelines, it still has his razor-gloved touch and has some bizarre gross-out moments. Personally, I would have loved an episode where Freddy torments a hand model, as the glove could have fit beautifully into the overall Krueger aesthetic, but we can’t always get what we want, as Mick Jagger so elegantly says.

And yes, Freddy’s Nightmares did have Brad Pitt (Seven 1995) in an episode. There, I mentioned it! It also has episodes with horror heavy-hitters like Bill Moseley (Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 1986) and Jeffrey Combs (Reanimator 1985).

Final Thoughts

Freddy's Nightmares
Freddy Krueger laughing it up on Freddy’s Nightmares…and this isn’t even the zaniest picture I could have went with!

Freddy’s Nightmares premiered in 1988 and ran until the show’s cancellation in 1990. Freddy was officially retired shortly after the end of the series, apparently having killed all but a handful of Elm Streeters. But, of course, you can’t keep a good dream demon down! He did eventually come back, and he was even “re-imagined” (albeit in a way most people didn’t care for) in the 2000s.

Years later, there’s been perpetual talk of new Fred Krueger films, but it’s unclear what exactly they would entail. I can imagine Freddy tormenting people via social media in future films, and perhaps making some bizarre references to COVID-19. Time will tell. So long as I’m still alive, I’ll be here to watch Freddy Krueger and comment on his methods of madness.

What are your thoughts on Freddy’s Nightmares and on Freddy Krueger overall? Let us know in the comments!

About wadewainio

Wade is a wannabe artist and musician (operating under the moniker Grandpa Helicopter), and an occasional radio DJ for WMTU 91.9 FM Houghton. He is an occasional writer for Undead Walking, and also makes up various blogs of his own. He even has a few books in the works. Then again, doesn't everyone?

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