A Nightmare on Elm Street is a perfect example of a classic ’80s horror flick. It took the traditional slasher formula that started with Halloween and turned it on its head, taking what had become a tired genre and made it unique. Sure, the sequels got more and more goofy as the franchise continued, and the remake did absolutely nothing to reinvigorate the series, but the original film will always be terrifying. After all, everyone has to go to sleep sometime. Here are some facts about the original movie you may not have known…
Robert Englund could not handle the iconic glove initially
The first time Robert Englund put on the iconic Freddy glove, he cut himself. This led to him actually not even filming the first scene Freddy appears in.
Johnny Depp just barely got cast as Glen
Johnny Depp went with his friend Jackie Earle Haley who was auditioning for the film. Depp was spotted by director Wes Craven, and he asked Depp if he would like to read for a role. Depp did and he landed the part. Haley did not get the role he was auditioning for. It’s ok though because Haley went on to play Freddy in the remake 26 years later.
New Line Cinema was saved by Elm Street’s success
The movie’s success saved New Line Cinema from bankruptcy, and that’s how the studio got the nickname “the house that Freddy built”.
The movie only took 30 days to shoot
This was pretty quick for shoots, especially with all the special effects they did. The movie was recognized in part for some of its groundbreaking special effects.
A lot of blood was used in the film
Over 500 gallons of fake blood was used during the making of the feature. Most of it was probably used in Depp’s epic death scene!
Wes Craven is the guy who came up with the idea of the glove
He wanted the character to have a unique killing tool, but also wanted something that could be made on the cheap, and wouldn’t be hard for the character to carry around. The director was studying primal fears embedded in the subconscious of people of all cultures and discovered that one of those fears was being attacked by animal claws. Apparently around the same time, he saw his cat unsheathe its claws, and the two concepts merged.
Wes Craven came up with the idea from real life events
Wes Craven first came up with the basic idea for the movie from several newspaper articles printed in the LA Times over a three year period. They were about “a group of Cambodian refugees from the Hmong tribe, several of whom died in the throes of horrific nightmares. The group had come to America to escape the reign of Pol Pot, and within a year of arriving, three men had died, with the situation the same in each cases; the young, otherwise healthy, man would have a nightmare, then refuse to sleep for as long as possible. Upon finally falling asleep from exhaustion, the man awoke screaming, then died. Autopsy results revealed that they had not died because of heart failure, they had simply died. It was this lack of cause which intrigued Craven so much. Medical authorities have since called the phenomenon Asian Death Syndrome, a variant of Sudden Unexpected Death Syndrome (SUDS) and Brugada Syndrome.”
“Evil Dead” appears in the movie
The movie playing on Nancy’s TV when she falls asleep in her bedroom is Sam Raimi’s The Evil Dead.
Nancy was almost played by some well known actresses
Jennifer Grey, Demi Moore, Courteney Cox, and Tracey Gold all auditioned for the role of Nancy in the film before it was given to Heather Langenkamp.
Freddy is not Englund in the first scene of the movie
The very first time we are introduced to Freddy in the first scene, he’s not being played by Englund. Instead he’s being played by special-effects artist Charles Belardinelli, because he was the only one who knew exactly how to cut the glove and insert the blades.
Freddy does not get that much screen time
Freddy Krueger has under 7 minutes of screen time. The director wanted the viewers to be scared of when Freddy would appear; it was a successful method they came up with.
Originally Freddy was a child molester
In the original draft of the script, Freddy was a child molester. It was changed into him being a child murderer to avoid accusations of exploiting a series of child molestations in California during the time of production. In the 2010 remake they actually take this idea on.
Langenkamp spent 12 hours in the bath for a scene
Langenkamp spent 12 hours in the bath while filming the the scene in which she’s attacked by Freddy. The bathtub actually sat on a pool so someone could be under Nancy.
Englund said that he based the physicality of Freddy on Klaus Kinski’s performance in Werner Herzog’s “Nosferatu the Vampyre”
The actor also says that in his mind, the back-story for Freddy was based on a childhood experience. Apparently Englund went to elementary school with a boy who didn’t get any Valentines Day cards from any of the other kids on Valentines day. He theorized that this boy went on to become Freddy.
Some big name actors almost took the role from Johnny Depp
Charlie Sheen, John Cusack, Brad Pitt, Kiefer Sutherland, Nicolas Cage and C. Thomas Howell were considered for the role of Glen.
The sparking glove effect was achieved by attaching the glove to a car battery
These days they’d just use digital effects. As for the famous scraping noise, it was created by scratching a steak knife on the underside of a metal chair.
According to Langenkamp, the melting staircase scene was shot using pancake mix
But according to Craven, it was oatmeal and glue. The fact track on the DVD says that it was Bisquick. So two out of three says it’s pancake mix… lets go with that. It sounds more effective and cheaper than oatmeal and glue. Craven didn’t even direct that scene. It was actually directed by Robert Shaye, who was a producer on the film.
There’s an omen given when Depp’s character is about to die
It occurs as he is laying in bed listening to his radio. The broadcaster announces, “It’s midnight and you’re listening to station KRGR.” KRGR is “Krueger” without the vowels.
The movie ended on a happy note in the original script