Over this past weekend, Robert Englund celebrated his birthday and we’d like to take the chance to wish him a very happy birthday. The talented thespian, best known for portraying the man of our dreams Freddy Krueger in the Nightmare on Elm Street franchise, turned 68-years-old. And while Wes Craven’s original A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984) launched Englund to superstar status, the character actor has been steadily working in television and film since 1974; everything from an uncredited role in A Star Is Born (1976) to Kenny Johnson’s television saga V (1984-1985) to The Adventures of Ford Fairlane (1990) to a voice actor on T.V.’s Hulk and the Agents of S.M.A.S.H. (2015). And to honor Englund’s birthday, here is Diabolique’s Top 10 kills by the dream stalker himself – Fred Krueger.
10. Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare (1991) – “Nice Hearing from You, Carlos.”
Trumped only by Wes Craven’s New Nightmare (1994), as the most insufferable installment in the “Elm Street” franchise, Freddy’s Dead does give fans one bone-chilling death sequence. Carlos (Ricky Dean Logan) is a hearing-impaired youth that gently has his ears cleaned out by our scar-faced antagonist courtesy of a long Q-tip swab. And after losing his hearing aid, Carlos recovers it only to have it meld with the flesh surround his ear. Now, everything is amplified courtesy of Freddy’s bulky and nightmarish auditory device. Finally, Krueger reveals a chalkboard with which he uses his sharp claws on to play an unbearably loud symphony of screeching, which results in Carlos’ head exploding. It’s not much of a movie, but at least fans get to see Freddy blow a kid’s mind, literally.
9. A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors (1987) – “Let’s Get High.”
Director Chuck Russell and writer Frank Darabont’s arrival on Elm Street marked the beginning of much more creative carnage, in terms of Freddy’s surreal ways of disposing of his victims on screen. While trying to join Kristen (Patricia Arquette) in the dream world, young Taryn (Jennifer Rubin) is separated from her fellow Dream Warriors. With her punk-rock hairdo and twin knives, the former junkie does battle with Krueger. And just when Taryn thinks she has the upper hand, Freddy turns the tables on her. Mr. K reveals that all of his fingers, on both hands, have been replaced with drug-filled syringes. Frozen in terror, Taryn gasps when she finds tiny little mouths have replaced her old drug scars on her arms. Freddy slams all of the needles into her arm and pumps her full of the deadly cocktail. Taryn’s screams loudly as Freddy smirks, “What a rush.”
8. A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984) – “I’m Your Boyfriend Now, Nancy.”
This was Johnny Depp’s first acting role, but his character Glen didn’t fair too well in the end. The teenager skeptical of the existence of child killer Fred Krueger comes to the same grisly fate as most of the other children of Elm Street, and even though his stalwart girlfriend Nancy (Heather Langenkamp) implores that he doesn’t go to sleep, Glen welcomes slumber anyway. Freddy’s glove comes out of mattress, latches onto Glen, and sucks him into the bed. What follows from the hole that enveloped poor Glen, is a mass of blood, cascading like a powerful waterfall. In uncut footage from the scene, the bed even spits Glen back up with his body slathered in blood. Ultimately, Wes Craven felt the scene was scarier and more effective without knowing what Glen’s corpse looked like, and it certainly makes one of the following scenes, which occurs between Lt. Thompson (John Saxon) and his officer, much more eerie as they discuss the crime scene’s gruesome atmosphere. This is a case of the mind making the upcoming trepidation much more efficacious than what could be achieved with special effects.
7. A Nightmare on Elm Street 5: The Dream Child (1989) – “Bon Appetit, Bitch.”
Greta (Erika Anderson) is an aspiring model, and at the behest of her mother, she steadfastly watches her weight. So, when Greta’s mom throws an elaborate dinner party, the teenager has absolutely no appetite. To make matters worse, her friend Dan Jordan (Danny Hassel) has died in an accident, at least that is what Greta thinks, but she tries putting on a brave face. During the party, Greta falls asleep and Freddy takes full advantage. Krueger shows up in a chef’s hat and proceeds to force feed Greta, in a monstrous-looking high chair. Greta tries to spit out the pulsating food, but Freddy continues to shove it down the hatch. With each passing bite, Greta’s jowl grows larger and more grotesque. As she has been forced to engorge, Greta falls into Freddy’s arms. He proceeds to violently burp Greta, which eventually leads to her choking to death in both the nightmare and real life. This could easily have been No. 1 on Diabolique’s Top 10 Nightmare kills, if the scene had not been butchered by censors. The horrifying truth revealed in Stephen Hopkins’ director’s cut, is that Freddy has been feeding Greta herself! Greta’s stomach has been cut open and Freddy is scooping up her insides and forcing them down the teen’s throat. It’s a chilling and nauseating little death sequence, in what is sadly one of the weaker installments of the franchise.
6. A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master (1988) – “You Can Check In, But You Can’t Check Out.”
What happens when you team the winsome actress Brooke Theiss with special effects artist “Screaming Mad” George aka Joji Tani? You get one of the most brilliantly bizarre death sequences in Nightmare history. Poor Debbie (Theiss), a fitness guru, is really only afraid of one little thing – cockroaches. Naturally, Freddy turns Debbie’s worst fear against her. While working out, Deb dozes off. She seems to still be in her home gym when Freddy suddenly appears. In a test of strength, Freddy grabs the bar, loaded with weight Deb is trying to bench press, and slowly forces it down toward her. Deb loses the fight and her elbows bend and crack open, under the immense pressure. Her arms are quickly replaced by the legs of a cockroach. Deb slowly continues her bizarre metamorphosis, until she becomes an over-sized bug. Trapped in a roach motel, Deb watches in horror as Freddy smashes the trap in his hand. Deb’s bug-like guts, and the innards of the roach motel, spew out as Krueger cackles in triumph.
5. A Nightmare on Elm Street 5: The Dream Child (1989) – “Better Not Dream and Drive!”
In the rich tradition of surviving “Elm Street” children making it to the sequel, Diabolique submits for your approval Dan Jordan (Danny Hassel). After the events of The Dream Master, Alice (Lisa Wilcox) and her boyfriend Dan are expecting a little bundle of joy. But before they can celebrate the baby’s birth, the couple must endure the wrath of Freddy Krueger one more time. Surprisingly, and to her great dismay, Alice begins dreaming while she is awake. While working a shift at the Crave Inn, Alice comes face to face with both Freddy and his mother, Amanda Kruger (Beatrice Boepple). Frightened, Alice calls Dan and begs him to come to her immediately. Dan ditches his friends at a high school swim party, jumps in his truck, and races to his love. Along the trip, Dan falls asleep though and is confronted by Freddy. Together in Dan’s truck the two engage in a high speed race down a busy highway, with Krueger doing the driving. Freddy violently shifts gears and Dan is thrown through the windshield. Dan, with his clothes all tattered and covered in glass, lands back at the now empty pool. Frantic to get to Alice, Dan absconds with a motorcycle parked out front, nut the teen is still asleep and now at the mercy of Freddy’s demonic cycle. The bike begins to merge with Dan and the two become a weird cyborg/motorcycle concoction. Sadly, the nightmare and reality ends with Dan crashing just yards away from Alice. This is by far and away one of the most creative and bloody death sequences in the franchise, but it, like so many other horror films, was chopped mercilessly by the ratings board.
4. A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors (1987) – “Welcome to Prime Time, Bitch!”
Watching television is definitely bad for your health, especially when Freddy Krueger knows you enjoy it. In one of “Elm Street” fans’ favorite scenes, mental patient Jennifer (Penelope Sudrow) cons the orderly Max (Laurence Fishburne) into letting her watch a little T.V. after hours. Jennifer usually dreams of going to Hollywood and breaking through becoming an actress, but this time her nightmare man waits. The television screen becomes static, so Jennifer changes the channels. Without any success, she gently hits the tube. A pair of mechanized Freddy arms bursts free from the side of the hanging television set and snatches up the frightened girl. Krueger’s head then emerges from the top of T.V. He smiles and barks at her, “This is it, Jennifer – your big break in T.V.” After Jennifer screams some more, Mr. K utters that now most famous line, “Welcome to prime time, bitch,” as he slams her head into the television screen. Max returns to find Jennifer’s corpse hanging head-first from the T.V.
3. A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master (1988) – “How’s this for a Wet Dream?”
After defeating Freddy in Dream Warriors, the three remaining Elm Street children quickly succumb to Krueger’s revenge. After Kincaid (Ken Sagoes) puts up a valiant, but ultimately useless effort, Freddy moves onto Joey (Rodney Eastman). Joey’s weakness has always been women and while he watches MTV from his giant waterbed, Joey does the inevitable…he falls asleep. He seems to wake up, because his bed begins to violently thrash about but the blaring Billy Idol tune Fatal Charm could have played a part in it. Joey pulls back his comforter to see the sexy and quite naked Hope Marie Carlton. Enamored, Joey watches as Hope swims away into the unseen depths of the waterbed. Suddenly, Freddy comes exploding through the clear mattress. He grabs Joey and cackles, “How’s this for a wet dream?” The pair wrestle, but the best Joey can do is scream for fellow dream warrior Kristen (Tuesday Knight). Freddy slices and dices, as Joey vanishes and the water in his bed turns blood red. It’s one of the most creative deaths in the series and it comes with such a great zinger.
2. A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors (1987) – “He Was Wide Awake…All the Way Down.”
Phillip (Bradley Gregg) is just another of the tortured teens incarcerated in Nightmare 3. Sadly, audiences do not have the chance to discover Phillip’s dream power, because he is almost immediately snuffed out by the guy in the dirty red and green sweater. Phillip does exhibit an artistic talent for carving puppets, not to mention a proclivity for sleepwalking…and Freddy exploits both. In Phillip’s nightmare Freddy comes to life in the vessel of one of his unfinished puppets. Phillip watches in horror, as Kruger grows to his natural life-size form. Freddy then slashes open Phillip’s arms and legs, pulls out his bloody veins and transforms the boy into one grotesquely deformed puppet. Krueger directs Phillip, as a puppet master would guide his marionette, and sends the teen hurling off the top of the mental hospital. The other kids watch as their friend plummets to his death, and the method suggests not murder but suicide.
1. A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984) – “Tina…watch this!”
Filmmaker Wes Craven’s original Nightmare remains the seminal work that spewed into a cavalcade of money-making sequels, merchandise and a brief series on television. And while the first “Elm Street” venture is much darker than many of the other films in the series, its first death scene did not lack creativity. Tina (Amanda Wyss) is having bad dreams. After a particularly scary nightmare, Tina, not wanting to be alone while her mother is out of town, invites her best friend Nancy (Heather Langenkamp) and her beau Glen (Johnny Depp) to spend the night. Tina’s boyfriend Rod (Nick Corri aka Jsu Garcia) shows up unannounced and takes her mind off those pesky dreams with a little sexual romp. However, the hours following take a dark and ominous turn when the lovers fall asleep. Freddy returns to Tina’s nightmare but this time he does away with her. The sequence is one of pure fantasy and horrific brutality. First, Tina’s stomach is sliced opened. Blood spews and the teen screams for Rod’s help as she us helplessly dragged up the walls and across the ceiling of her mother’s bedroom. Rod is forced to watch, as his girlfriend is gutted like a fish and tossed around the room. Sadly, what is transpiring in Tina’s nightmare is happening in reality, too and in the end, Tina is slain and Rod arrested, leaving it to Nancy to figure out how to stop Freddy before there’s no one left to sleep.
And there you have it — Diabolique’s Top 10 kills from the Nightmare series in honor of horror film legend Robert Englund’s birthday. With all due respect to Jackie Earle Haley, there is only one Freddy Kruger…and his name is Robert Barton Englund.