It is hard for me to write this, but on August 30th, legendary horror director and writer Wes Craven passed away. His sudden death were a shock to fans. Wes had been suffering from brain cancer, and most of us were unaware that he was ill. Many heartfelt tributes poured from social media, and everyone from fans to actors and fellow directors expressed sadness. Wes had been an active director since 1972 and directed many popular horror films, but he was most popular for writing and directing the 1984 film ‘A Nightmare on Elm Street.’ Wes created many lasting characters in film, but ‘Freddy Krueger’ remains one of his most popular. Wes revitalized the ‘slasher’ sub-genre and created a monster that was unlike all the others that came before him. He gave us a monster with a true personality. His amazing creation made a household name out of then fledgling New Line Cinema, and spawned six sequels, a television series, and a remake in 2010. This project was created to pay homage to the ‘Nightmare’ films and examine what it is about ‘Freddy’ that makes him such a pop culture icon, and I feel I am doing just that. What follows is my first interview after learning of Wes’ passing. It was a very emotional moment for myself and the gentleman I interviewed, Rob DiLauro. Rob is a popular radio personality on DreadCentral, as well Head of Film & Media at Metal Onslaught Magazine.
BB: When was the first time you saw a “Nightmare” film, and which one was it?
RDL: I have a funny story. When I was a kid, I think about five or six, I was spending time with my teenage cousin and her friend over a weekend, and they wanted to watch movies, mainly the original ‘Nightmare On Elm Street’, so I was sent to bed in her room. I could hear the soundtrack blaring through the door, and I bolted from the bed and whipped the door open, WILD EYED! I looked at my cousin and frantically said, “You’re watching ‘Nightmare On Elm Street’, aren’t you?!” She quickly turned off the VHS and I had a mild panic attack. I was a bit of a bitch when I was a child. (Laughs) The first glimpse I had of Freddy was not one of the movies, it was actually the short-lived television show, ‘Freddy’s Nightmares’, and I fell in love with the villain from that movie INSTANTLY. I was then introduced to the film series after that, and I was hooked. I love ‘Jason’, I adore ‘Michael’, and I embrace ‘Leatherface’, but there is no greater horror villain than ‘Freddy Krueger’, and that is a fact.
BB: Do you have a favorite film in the series?
RDL: This is a very hard question, but I will try to answer the best way that I can. I will ALWAYS have a deep love for the original, it is like a best friend, or a security blanket. But, my favorite of the series has always been ‘Dream Warriors’, and the reason is simple. I had a very rough childhood, and as I grew up I had some mental deficiencies which grew into addiction issues, I was also defiant as all hell. I had unfortunately been in institutions when I was a teenager, felt like I wanted to expire by my own hand, I was a mess. The characters in ‘Dream Warriors’ was me, and I connected to them. At the same time, they had power, and I always wished I wielded something inside of myself that was powerful, I felt as if I had nothing. I was truly connected to Jennifer Rubin’s character, Taryn, and I had the pleasure of telling her that story, and instantly becoming friends with her. I also love that movie because Nancy truly became the ‘Professor Xavier’ for the kids, a Jedi Master in the fight against her arch-nemesis, and it was beautifully executed. So yes, I love the entire series, especially the original, but my answer has to be ‘Dream Warriors’.
BB: Why do you think Freddy has “aged well” and become such a staple in pop culture? He’s vile, disgusting, and not to mention a murderer. Why are we as fans infatuated with him?
RDL: Well, we can talk about the psychological aspects of that all day, but I think the main reason is because as human beings we secretly love to root for the villain, and Freddy makes it easy to fall for his evil charms. He’s a boogeyman, a guy who had a large sense of humor, and he looked BADASS! How could you not love that glove, and the way Englund looked in that prosthetic makeup, it is absolutely timeless! Yes, he is vile, and he does horrible things, but there is just something about him that is just as important as the monsters of old. A brilliant creation.
BB: Wes Craven’s passing has been all over media outlets everywhere. I understand you’re involved in a project about Wes. Can you give us some details?
RDL: Well, I am the Head of Film/Media for a site called Metal Onslaught, and I have a section called “House Of Blood, Scars, & Sinister Stars” where I do news and major horror interviews. When I had heard of Wes’ passing, I was crushed. I felt as if I had lost a family member, even though I had never met the man. But he was important to my creativity and my goals, he was a massive inspiration. So, when he passed, I wanted to show him love in my own way. I told the fans that I wanted them to regale me with their stories and show their love to Wes, and that became a monster! I also heard from people who had worked with Wes on all of his films, actors like Adrienne Barbeau, it was insane. A small memorial that I created to honor the man became a worldwide event, and I cannot wait to put it all together. I hope somehow Wes gets to see it. Maybe in my dreams.