As I sit here and kick off the day with my normal morning routine – check email, drink coffee, crank film score music in iTunes on random, the theme for Freddy’s Nightmares came on and I got a sudden sense of nostalgia for this show I so fondly remember from my very early teenage years. My first inclination was to find the opening credit sequence on You Tube and post it to my Facebook page and ask, “hey, anyone remember this?” But the more I thought about it, the more I wanted to revisit and write about this odd little footnote in horror history.
Freddy’s Nightmares was a television series that ran from October of 1988 through March of 1990 for a total of 44 episodes in a 2 season run and during the absolute peak of Freddy-Mania, which was around the time A Nightmare On Elm Street Part 4: The Dream Master hit theaters. Reprising his role as Freddy Krueger was Robert Englund who acted as a host for the wrap around segments of the show; a full hour divided into 2 somewhat related half hour stories. It was a weird format for the show and Freddy didn’t always lurk in the shadows for the interstitial portions. In fact, the pilot/first episode “No More Mr. Nice Guy” was actually the prequel story of Freddy’s lynching and burning at the hands of the Elm Street parents and was directed by none other than Tobe Hooper!
The remainder of the episodes often focused on other Springwood residents and their dark pasts and secrets. The show was more about the town where the Freddy legend was born and how his evil corrupted the whole place rather than about Freddy himself. But if I recall correctly, towards the end of the series, Freddy did start to play a more prominent role and was incorporated into more of the actual stories.
While they didn’t use the recognizable Charles Bernstein theme from the Nightmare movies, the producers of the series instead came up with this equally wacky and memorable theme song for the opening of the show:
And let me tell ya, I remember sneaking into the living room at around 11:30PM-Midnight long after my parents had gone to sleep to watch. And for whatever reason, maybe I was young & impressionable, or because it was quiet & dark out and I was the only one up in the house, but I’ll be damned – that show scared the shit out of me! Which is funny now in retrospect, because despite my memory of them being scary, if you watch an episode now, you’ll discover… well, they’re not particularly very scary or good. But still, like most Freddy completists, I still had to have them now as an adult!
Of note is the availability (or lack thereof) for Freddy’s Nightmares. I currently own 5 VHS tapes each with an episode per tape: “No More Mr. Nice Guy”, “It’s My Party And You’ll Die If I Want You To”, “Lucky Stiff”, “Freddy’s Tricks and Treats” and “Dreams That Kill”. I had to hunt for these suckers when I was living in New York and could only find them at one Suncoast video shop not too far from Penn Station but this is going back well over a decade ago. (If not longer!) There’s an ad I found on-line (pictured below) that promises 8 VHS tapes, but as far as I know, only these 5 were produced.
No official DVD release is available in the States for Freddy’s Nightmares, which is extremely surprising considering not only the continued popularity and notoriety of the Nightmare franchise, but the number of guest actors (every one from Brad Pitt to Lori Petty to Jeffrey Combs stopped by Elm Street at one point) to the guest directors (as mentioned earlier Tobe Hooper, as well as William Malone and Masters Of Horror creator Mick Garris). There’s apparently a Region 2 UK release of 3 of the episodes out there. So while it’s difficult to find those old VHS tapes or a proper release of it on DVD, you might want to spend some time searching You Tube and you just might stumble on full episodes. (But ya didn’t hear that from us.)
All in all, Freddy’s Nightmares was an interesting series birthed out of a hugely popular character and franchise. I don’t recall any other example where this happened previously or since. -Robg.