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15 Things We Didn’t Know About Nightmare On Elm St.

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15 Things We Didn’t Know About Nightmare On Elm St.

I’m sure there are some of you who might not have seen the original Nightmare On Elm St. Some of you have probably only seen the 2010 remake. If that’s the case then I have to admit that I feel sorry for you. There’s a whole lot of awesome waiting for you in the original series. You might find it a bit ridiculous and over the top, but grow up. The films were shot in the 80s (for the most part).

That being said, even if you are a fan of the original Nightmare series, I’m sure there are a few pieces of trivia in this article that you weren’t aware of before. I’ll skip over the fact that Freddy is based on a drunk who scared the sh*t out of creator  Wes Craven. And that the way he kills people in their dreams is based on a series of articles from the L.A. Times.

The facts below are a bit more in-depth and varied than that. So get ready for Freddy and dig into the dream world of A Nightmare On Elm St. This is my favorite horror film franchise and I’m always excited to learn more and more about it. So, if nothing else, I hope I can make you more interested in this awesome story.

15. There’s A Connection Between Nightmares 1, 3, & 7

Those of you who have watched the whole Nightmare series will know this already, but there is a story connection between Nightmare 1, 3 and 7. Technically Nightmare 4 also connects to Nightmare 3, but not in the same way. Heather Langenkamp, who played the role of Nancy Thompson, features in each of these films. She’s the original hero of Nightmare 1. She’s technically the hero of Nightmare 3 (though her character dies in the film – spoilers), and Heather plays herself in Wes Craven’s New Nightmare (the 7th instalment of the series). While she plays herself, the whole point of New Nightmare is that Wes Craven is creating a film in order to capture the real terror of Freddy again, and Heather is forced to play the role of Nancy “one last time”.

14. They Used Spandex Walls

If you’re a fan of the comedy Community, you may have seen Pierce Hawthorne (Chevy Chase) using this same trick in a Halloween episode. Basically, there is a window cut out in the set wall and a sheet of black spandex is put over the window. Then, in order to give the extra creepy effect, the lighting is top down to really capture the contours of the person poking through the spandex. And all the person needs to do is press his/her face to the sheet and fingers on either side and the incredibly evil-looking Freddy comes to life from the walls of Tina’s home. It’s an amazing effect and it’s so incredibly simple and cheap to do. It also plays off as one of the best effects in the whole film… aside from maybe the Tina death scene where the rotating room is used to drag her from floor to wall to ceiling.

13. The Whole Film Was Shot In 32 Days

The average film tends to shoot for at least six to eight weeks before going into post-production. A Nightmare On Elm St. did its entire shoot in only 32 days. When you watch it today you might think that it was a low-budget film anyway and that small timeframe made the film poor quality. But you have to remember that the film came out in 1984. Some of the design concepts and special effects in the film were actually high end at that time. So, considering that the whole film was shot in only 32 days, it’s pretty incredible that they got away with how much they did. It didn’t help that they had huge constraints with budgeting and production executives hanging over the film like vultures trying to speed the film along; waiting to swoop down and tear everything apart if schedules weren’t followed.

12. Wes Craven And Sam Raimi Reference Each Other

When Sam Raimi shot Evil Dead, he slipped a little Wes Craven reference in a scene with a poster of The Hills Have Eyes. Flattered by the homage, Craven thought it only right to return the favor. So when he shot A Nightmare On Elm St., he decided to slip in a little bit of Evil Dead in there. When Nancy is trying to stay awake in her room by watching tv, she is actually watching Evil Dead. And since Sam Raimi could not be outdone and wanted to again pay respects to Wes Craven, he made sure to slip Freddy’s infamous “finger knife” glove into a toolshed in a scene in Evil Dead II. I think it’s wonderful that these two awesome directors spent time praising each other’s films in their own works. It really shows a good deal of respect from one to the other.

11. Oatmeal And Cake Batter Almost Killed Nancy

When researching for his script, Wes Craven discovered that falling and being stuck were two big things that happened in people’s nightmares. He used both of these to great effect in his work. But one of the most iconic is perhaps the oatmeal stairs. Nancy is running away from Freddy and has just got back to her house. She tries to run up the stairs but she begins sinking into them, slowing her down greatly. Freddy then mocks Nancy with the face of her dead friend, Tina. The interesting thing about those stairs is that they were made by mixing together both oatmeal and cake batter… and water, of course, to make it so bloody sticky. To think that Nancy could have almost been killed thanks to delicious breakfast foods.

10. Jessica Craven Is The Reason Johnny Depp Got The Role

Some of you might not know this, but Wes Craven has a daughter named Jessica. She’s actually appeared as a cameo in Wes Craven’s New Nightmare playing the nurse who is scared away by the hot babysitter, Julie. Jessica Craven stopped acting though and became a musician instead. In addition to her work as an artist, she’s also apparently got an eye for talent. She is the reason why Johnny Depp got his film debut. I’m sure he would’ve made it even without Nightmare, but Wes Craven asked his daughter and a friend of her’s which of the final three actors auditioned for Glenn should get the role. “My daughter said, ‘Dad, it’s Johnny Depp,’ I said, ‘Really, but he looks kind of sickly and pale,’ and she said, ‘Oh, he’s beautiful.’ And that was it.”

9. Freddy’s Face Was Inspired By Pizza

For those Freddy purists who agree with me that Robert Englund is the only Freddy, you might be upset with me when I say that the remake look of Freddy is more in line with what Wes Craven wanted back in 1984. However, it was impractical back then without the digital effects that were used in 2010. The man who gave Freddy his signature look, David Miller, was inspired when he was out eating pizza one night. He started playing with the cheese and pepperoni, then asked for the pizza to be packed up in a panic of inspiration and hurried home to start working on the gruesome face of Freddy. Sure, the new guy might have the look that was preferred, but Englund is the one and true pizza-faced Freddy.

8. Johnny Depp’s Death Was In A Rotating Room

Anyone who has seen the original Nightmare On Elm St. will know that Johnny Depp buys it by getting pulled into his bed by Freddy… and then Depp turns into a geyser of blood. It’s one of two pretty gruesome scenes in the film (the other being Tina getting dragged up the wall and ceiling). Anyway, the way in which the bloody bed scene was shot was in a rotating room (both of those scenes, actually). So the camera, DoP, and director are strapped in and the room rotates so that they can film upside down when the blood comes out of the bed. The only problem with this specific shoot was that the rotating room counterbalanced and began spinning all over the place, spilling the fake blood all across the studio. Some of it ended up hitting electrical cables, zapping a few members of the crew and blowing the power.

7. It Was A Box Office Smash!

A Nightmare On Elm St. only cost just over 1 million dollars to shoot. Which is pretty cheap considering how many hundreds of millions it costs to shoot a Marvel superhero movie. In its first opening weekend, Nightmare played in only 165 theatres in the States and cleared its original budget. It then made over 25.5 million overall in the U.S. alone. In spite of how much people criticize Nightmare 2, the next three films after the original would make even more than the last. Freddy became the talk of terror town. An interesting fact, Friday 13th would have the exact opposite effect. Every subsequent movie would go on to make less money than the original Friday the 13th. It’s kind of funny because Sean Cunningham told Wes Craven that Freddy would never be scary.

6. Nightmare Just About Lost All Of Its Money

More than once A Nightmare On Elm St. was almost shut down because of budget issues. At the time the film started production, New Line Cinema had only been in the business of distributing films. They had only filmed three projects of their own and none of them really made it anywhere. As close as two weeks before the film started filming, head of New Line Bob Shaye had to beg and borrow and make some pretty constraining deals in order to get funding. This is part of the reason the film was shot in only 32 days. They were bound by people who would take the film over and shut it down if they didn’t keep to the schedule. And even just as the project was finished being edited, there wasn’t enough money to pay the crew finishing off the film. A pregnant Sara Risher begged the crew to keep working. They did, Nightmare made it big, and everyone got paid.

5. Heather Beat Out Demi Moore And Courteney Cox!

It’s crazy to think that Heather Langenkamp beat out over 200 other women for the role of Nancy Thompson. When I think of it, I can’t see anyone else playing that role, but I can also accept that she’s not the best actor in the world. In Wes Craven’s New Nightmare she is way better, but experience will obviously do that. But when you discover that she beat out people like Demi Moore and Courteney Cox for the role, your mind is likely to be totally blown. She also beat out Tracey Gold from Growing Pains, and Jennifer Grey from Ferris Bueller’s Day Off and Dirty Dancing. The sad thing about that is all of these other actors have gone on to do much bigger projects while Heather Langenkamp has been largely left as unknown to people who don’t know Nightmare. Though I think that’s her preference.

4. Freddy Originally Had A Dirtier Past

The 2010 remake has done a couple of things more in line with what Wes Craven originally had in mind for his original Nightmare. Besides the makeup, it turns out that part of the background of Freddy’s story was also taken up in the remake. Originally, Wes Craven was going to make Freddy not just a child killer, but also a molester. However, Craven has a good reason to keep that bit of the story out of the film. In 1984, there had been a string of molestations that had hit the news and Craven did not want to be taken as insensitive or exploitative. Considering he got his start in the business working on exploitation films, it makes perfect sense that he would want to avoid doing them after making it big in the horror industry.

3. There Were Four Endings Shot Before The Final Cut

In order to make the final ending of the film, four different ones were shot. Wes Craven and Bob Shaye couldn’t agree on what the ending should be, so they mixed each of the ones shot in order to create what would ultimately be the ending for the film. They shot Freddy in the car at the end. They shot Freddy possessing the car in the end. They shot Freddy attacking Nancy’s mom in the end. Then finally they decided to go without Freddy at the wheel but he possesses the car. Then as they drive off, Freddy appears at the front door and pulls Nancy’s mom through the tiny window. They then cut to the skipping rope girls singing the Freddy nursery rhyme. Interesting little fact, Bob Shaye didn’t like the window pull and only let Craven shoot it once. So that iconic ending was done in one take.

2. Roger Rabbit Was In The Original Nightmare!

I don’t know about any of you, but I think my family probably doesn’t like Who Framed Roger Rabbit anymore because I used to watch it, rewind it, then watch it again all the time as a kid. So I find it awesome that once I really dug into horror films and got caught up in A Nightmare On Elm St. that the man who voiced Roger Rabbit was also in that film. When Nancy and her mother Marge go to the dream clinic (where Marge is able to smoke) the doctor there is played by Charles Fleischer. Apparently, when they were between takes, Fleischer would make everyone laugh and keep everyone in good spirits. And then he went on to become the famous Roger Rabbit. It’s kind of too bad he didn’t get any jokes in Nightmare, but at least it shows he can play both serious and silly.

1. They Were All Breathing Asbestos…

As much as I don’t want to think of this as a part of the cause, there is a commentary for A Nightmare On Elm St. where Wes Craven talks about the Lincoln Heights Jail boiler room where they shot a lot of the scenes for the first film. It was condemned shortly after the film was made because of the asbestos… which they were breathing the whole time down there. Craven makes a comment about this and laughs about how he worried that 20 years later they would all start dropping dead because of it. Thankfully, he made it many more years than 20 before he did die, but I wonder if anyone else has made that connection between shooting in that boiler room, Craven’s comments, and then his eventual battle with brain cancer. He still remains my favorite horror director of all time.

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