Filming location for spaghetti westerns in Almería, Spain

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© 1987-2016
Scott Larson





Building façade in Cannes, France

Freddy’s dead—not

A smile came over my face the other day when I heard that Freddy Vs. Jason topped the box office charts over the weekend.

I am proud to say that I have never seen a single one of the “Jason” movies, which I believe started with a teen slasher flick called Friday the 13th. As for the “Freddy” movies, well, I can boast that I have seen every single one.

Okay, maybe “boast” isn’t exactly the right word. But I have seen them all, and that’s the long and the short of it. I’m not exactly sure why I have seen all of them. It’s one of those mysteries that lies hidden in the misty recess of that dark lost world of my life in the late 1980s and early 1990s. I do recall that my friend Don and I went to see the very original A Nightmare on Elm Street at the Broadway Cinema (which has long since become a drug store) on Seattle’s Capitol Hill. We got our share of thrills out of it, especially the bit where Freddy Krueger’s tongue came out of the telephone handset, but I don’t know that either of us were thinking, gee, I hope they make more of these.

But then a few years later, something strange happened at work. A small group of us somehow discovered that we had all lived in foreign lands at one time or another in our prior lives, and we had all recorded our travels photographically with slides, which now sat in boxes in closets or attics in our homes. Even in those days, slides had long gone out of fashion and people no longer looked at them unless they had had them transferred to prints. The old joke of family and friends dozing in a dark living room as some bore narrates at length an endless number of vacation slides on the screen had long been a staple of magazine cartoons. But this group of friends and I decided to form a sort of support group. Every few weeks we would stay after work and commandeer one of the conference rooms and take turns showing each other our slides. It was great. Sitting through someone else’s slides of Colombia or Bolivia was a small price to pay for the chance to show off my own slides of Chile and France. As time went on, the group grew a bit. Heck, we even let in one or two people who didn’t have slides.

Eventually, we ran out of slides. But we had so much fun getting together that we looked for something else we could do after work. For reasons that now escape me, we started going to the cinema to see Nightmare on Elm Street sequels. Now, that may not sound like something you could do very often, since only so many of them were made. (And we didn’t actually go and see any of them more than once.) But in those years, it seemed as though there was a new Freddy movie every couple of months. It’s mysterious to me how in my memory this seems like something we could do fairly frequently. We may well have gone to see other movies as well, but I sure can’t remember what any of them were. When there weren’t any Nightmare on Elm Street movies to see at the cinema, we would go to someone’s house and watch ones we had missed, on video. We became so familiar with the movies that we could discuss them endlessly and argue over plot points and the technical aspects of Freddy Krueger’s powers and his state of being.

I think we agreed that Wes Craven’s 1984 original was the best of the lot. The first sequel, A Nightmare on Elm Street Part 2: Freddy’s Revenge, was stupid and best ignored when considering Freddy lore. It just introduced too many inconsistencies. The next two, A Nightmare On Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors and A Nightmare On Elm Street 4: The Dream Master, were mindless fun but not particularly edifying. The fifth outing, A Nightmare On Elm Street: The Dream Child, had its moments, but things were starting to get repetitious. By the time we donned our 3-D glasses in 1991 for Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare, the group was starting to go its separate ways. The series had pretty much run its course. The movies had become so kitschy that we were getting cameos by Roseanne and Tom Arnold and Johnny Depp, whose first movie role was in the original Nightmare movie. I think we did get back together in 1994 for Wes Craven’s quasi-meta-sequel, New Nightmare, in which Craven and Robert Englund and Heather Langenkamp played themselves. But that was it. For a while, Englund, as Freddy Krueger, hosted an anthology horror series on TV, but we never got together to watch that.

I don’t know what attraction these movies held for us, but in hindsight I think I can guess. They presented a world full of pressure and tension, where sleep was your enemy. In other words, they were a perfect metaphor for working in the software industry at the dawn of the 1990s. Also, watching attractive young people getting slaughtered in imaginatively gruesome ways had its cathartic benefits. At work there was always someone younger and smarter and faster than you, and it was a guilty pleasure to see those kind of people get sliced up by a crotchety old guy, who wasn’t young or beautiful but, hey, he had lots of experience—and that had to be acknowledged and respected.

Is there any chance that we could have a reunion of the old group and meet up in a cinema to watch Freddy Vs. Jason? Probably not too likely. A couple of the group still live in Seattle. Two others, who are married to each other, bought a farm on an island somewhere. More problematic is the fact that I am in the west of Ireland, while another associate member, sadly, has left the planet entirely. But maybe we will all come together somewhere in our dreams. Just watch out for the guy in the striped shirt with the really large fingernails!

-S.L., 21 August 2003


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