15 Facts About ‘A Nightmare On Elm Street’ That Will Have You Rewatching The Original

While there are countless horror movie villains, few have the personality, dark humor, and mass appeal of our good friend Freddy Kreuger. While the series spanned decades, it all started in 1984 with the original A Nightmare On Elm Street. These behind-the-scenes facts and trivia will have you wanting to watch the original all over again. But beware: There are major spoilers ahead.

“Introducing Johnny Depp”

A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)

Johnny Depp joined the ranks of other famous actors like Jennifer Aniston and Leonardo DiCaprio by having his film debut in horror. A Nightmare on Elm Street was his very first role, and boy was it epic. He’s even listed as “Introducing Johnny Depp” in the opening credits.

A Small Start To A Long Career

It’s hard to think of Freddy Kreuger as a minor character. With the numerous sequels, he quickly became larger than life, taking up a lot of screen time with his dark humor and creative ways to kill the teens. His role in A Nightmare On Elm Street wasn’t nearly as big. In fact, Freddy only had less than seven minutes of screen time in the original.

Freddy’s Classic Look Almost Didn’t Happen

A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)

Almost 40 years after its release, Freddy Kreuger has become one of the most recognizable faces of the entire horror genre. With a burnt face, wide smile, and hooked nose, Robert Englund killed it in the killer’s makeup. But did you know he almost looked completely different? Wes Craven wanted him to be much more gruesome, with sores dripping with puss and his teeth poking out of his jaw. We have makeup artist David B. Miller to thank for convincing him to go with the current look instead.

Freddy’s Glove Is Dangerous–And Missing

While most movies use rubbery prop knives for everything, that wasn’t the case for Freddy Kreuger’s iconic glove of knives. Instead, they used real tomato knives. They were the Case xx P210 model, if you ever want to create an authentic Freddy glove. The knives were so sharp that Robert Englund actually cut himself the first time he tried it on. Unfortunately, the original glove went missing after Craven lent it to the set of A Nightmare On Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors.

Robert Englund’s Sad Inspiration For Freddy

When getting into character as Freddy Kreuger, Robert Englund looked for inspiration from his childhood. As a kid, his class handed out Valentine’s cards to their classmates. Unfortunately, there was one boy who didn’t get any Valentines. He played Freddy in the way he assumed that child might have become after such a heartbreaking experience.

Heather Langenkamp’s Odd Request

One of the most memorable scenes of the movie is when Langenkamp’s Nancy is talking on the phone to her boyfriend Glen. When she looks down, she sees that the bottom half of her phone has transformed into Freddy’s mouth, his tongue extended. The practical effects, made mostly of rubber, was gruesome and eye-catching. After the scene was over, Langenkamp asked to take it home, which the special effects team thought was pretty weird.

Craven’s Revenge On His Childhood Bully

Wes Craven got the inspiration for Freddy Kreuger from a lot of places, but the name was from just one source: His childhood bully. He shared a paper route with a classmate named Fred Kreuger growing up and the kid was merciless, bullying him for years. Craven’s best revenge was naming his most famous killer character after the boy.

The Real Life Nightmare Inspiration

Writer/director Wes Craven got the idea for the movie from real life incidents from the 1980s. In 1981, The New York Times wrote about mysterious deaths of Asian immigrants. Their nightmares were all-consuming, so they’d stay up as long as possible to stave them off. But, when they finally did sleep, they’d wake from a nightmare and promptly die. There was no obvious cause, and Craven couldn’t help but dream up his own nightmare scenario why it might happen.

The Puppetry Magic Of Freddy’s Long Arms

Remember the epic nightmare scene when Freddy’s arms extend across the dark alley, getting longer and longer? If you ever wondered how they pulled it off, now you know: It was with puppetry! The arms were full-scale, so they needed people with fishing poles on either arm just off-screen to move them around and keep them in place.

The Bottomless Bathtub

A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)

The scene where Nancy is taking a bath and Freddy’s glove lifts up from the water is probably one of the most iconic shots of the whole movie. She’s dragged underwater and suddenly her bath looks bottomless. That’s because it was! Kind of. Rather than a real bathroom, they built a set above a swimming pool. While the underwater scenes were filmed with a stunt performer, Heather Langenkamp still spent 12 hours in the tub during the filming of that scene.

500 Gallons Is A Lot Of Blood

A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)

Throughout the filming of A Nightmare On Elm Street, the props and special effects team ended up using over 500 gallons of fake blood. While blood is a fixture in most of the death scenes, the bulk of that likely came from Glen’s death scene. The large fountain of blood pouring up to the ceiling of his bedroom is a sight few will ever forget.

An Epic Fire Scene

A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)

Toward the end of the movie, Freddy is dragged out of the dream world by Heather and falls prey to her Home Alone-esque series of traps. He ends up catching on fire, running after her through the house and up the stairs. That epic fire scene was filmed in one go from multiple angles and was the most elaborate fire stunt to date. It even won a best stunt of the year award for stunt performer Anthony Cecere.

It Almost Had A Happy Ending

Wes Craven originally wrote a happy ending to A Nightmare On Elm Street. He wanted Nancy to wake up in the end, realizing that the entirety of the movie had just been one long nightmare and everyone was alive. Producer Robert Shaye disagreed, favoring a spooky ending with sequel potential. He wanted the audience to think everything was okay only to have it revealed that the happy ending was actually a nightmare. They filmed four different endings, but ended up going with the bleak one–which Wes Craven always regretted.

The Subtext Of Freddy’s True Crimes

The original script for A Nightmare On Elm Street made Freddy Kreuger’s true crimes obvious: The guy was a child molester. But because of a rash of child molestation in California at the time, they decided to call him a child murderer instead. That hasn’t kept fans from assuming the worst of him all along, though. The child molestation angle came back for the Jackie Earle Haley version of the film, which may have been the only good choice in the 2010 remake.

The Horror Movie That Saved A Studio

You’ve likely noticed a bunch of movies made by studio New Line Cinema. Well, the studio was on the verge of bankruptcy when A Nightmare on Elm Street came out. The success of the slasher prevented New Line from becoming an epic failure, which is why the studio is often called “The House That Freddy Built.” Without Freddy, we never would have gotten to watch their later hits, like The Lord of the Rings, Elf, and Shazam!