Freddy Krueger and the 'Nightmare on Elm Street' Films Content from the guide to life, the universe and everything

Freddy Krueger and the 'Nightmare on Elm Street' Films

6 Conversations

1, 2, Freddy's Coming For You

3, 4, Better Lock Your Door

5, 6, Grab A Crucifix

7, 8, Better Stay Up Late

9, 10, Never Sleep Again

Freddy Krueger is a character created by writer/director Wes Craven for the horror film A Nightmare on Elm Street1, which subsequently led to a whole series of other Nightmare adventures containing Freddy.

Easily identified by his dirty red and green sweater and a brown fedora hat, Krueger's skin is lacerated and burnt for reasons explained in the films. The most recognisable thing about the character, however, is that he wears a modified gardening glove with blades attached that are normally used for trimming bushes. However, Freddy uses them for a completely different task.


Freddy's history is clouded in confusion, as with any slasher series, each new movie seems to contradict the previous one. However, the following details of Freddy's past seem to be the accurate history.

Before His Death

  • Freddy's mother was called Amanda Krueger, also known as Sister Mary Helena. Amanda was a nurse at a mental institution, and also a nun, although it is uncertain whether she became a nun before or after the following incident.

  • Amanda was accidentally locked in a mental institution inside a ward containing 100 insane murderers. She was brutally raped over and over for a week until she was found and rescued. Some time later, she discovered that she was pregnant.

  • She gave birth to a child called Freddy, later cruelly dubbed the 'bastard son of 100 maniacs'. Freddy was teased at school and throughout life.

  • Raised by a violent foster-father, Freddy learnt to enjoy pain, and though the details are never fully explained in the films, it's possible that his first murder victim was this foster father, when Freddy was still in his teens.

  • When older, Freddy went to work as a janitor at Springwood High; he also married a waitress called Loretta Johnson, who later gave birth to a daughter, called Katherine Krueger.

  • In between stints as Janitor, he works at Springfield Power Plant on the outskirts of the town.

  • Around this time, Freddy started killing children. He killed around 20 or 30 children, and also his wife.

  • He was arrested, and his daughter was sent to an orphanage, then later adopted and renamed Maggie Burroughs.

  • Freddy was released due to a technicality (in the TV series, this was revealed to be down to not being read his rights at the time of arrest). Once released from prison, he hunted down and killed his mother.

  • The parents on Elm Street were afraid for their children's lives, so took the law into their own hands. They went to the power plant where Freddy lived and worked, and burnt him alive.

After Death

In the movies, Freddy invades characters' nightmares, and kills them in their sleep with his steel finger-knives: if he kills them in their sleep, they'll die in real life. The horror of Freddy Krueger is that he will never stop, cannot be bargained with, and has proven to be invincible. Although these are the characteristics of a classic horror character, Freddy kills with such inventiveness, and the fact that he invades dreams - that very personal domain - makes him all the more terrifying. The way Freddy plays your own fear against you is probably the most frightening aspect of his character. That, and the fact that he seems to really enjoy himself while he's doing it…

Rules Of Freddy Movies

There are certain rules regarding Freddy that are followed in most of the Elm Street movies:

  • Freddy can initially only enter the dreams of the children of the Elm Street vigilantes who killed him, although later on, as other people are dragged into the dreams, he can also visit their dreams. He also seems to have the ability to enter the dreams of his own family.

  • Freddy can never be ultimately defeated. You may win a battle, but he'll always find a way to return and exact his revenge in the end.

  • If Freddy kills you in your dream, you're dead in real life.

  • Freddy is in control of your dream. You can try and battle him, but he's too strong. Always run for your life and try to wake up.

Most of the movies focus on Freddy's past, and have new ways to beat him, with Freddy always finding a new way to return at the start of each movie2. As with all serial horror movies, each new movie changes the rules to fit the story.

The Movies

There have so far been eight Freddy movies, though with the arrival of Freddy Vs Jason it looks like the two horror franchises may live on in a combined form. Throughout the Nightmare series, Freddy is played by Robert Englund3, who created Freddy's mannerisms and scared the living daylights out of the teenagers of the 1980s and early-90s.

A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)

Writer/Director: Wes Craven


  • Heather Langenkamp (as Nancy Thompson)
  • Amanda Wyss (as Tina Gray)
  • John Saxon (as Lt Donald Thompson)
  • Nick Corri (as Rod Lane)
  • Johnny Depp (as Glen Lantz)
  • Charles Fletcher (as Dr King)
  • Joe Unger (as Sgt Garcia)

Summary: Freddy appears to some of the children of his murderers in their dreams for the first time. Nancy is the only survivor.

How he was killed: Nancy stopped believing in his existence.

History Revealed: Freddy was arrested for murdering children, released, then murdered by the parents of Elm Street.

A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy's Revenge (1985)

Writer: David Chaskin

Director: Jack Shoulder


  • Mark Patton (as Jessie Walsh)
  • Robert Rusler (as Ron Grady)
  • Kim Myers (as Lisa Webber)
  • Hope Lange (as Mrs Walsh)
  • Marshall Bell (as Coach Schneider)

Summary: Freddy appears to Billie, who has moved in to Nancy's old house (Nancy supposedly died), and takes control of his body.

How he returned: Unexplained. He was appearing to Jessie at the start of the movie.

How he was killed: Freddy took control of a boy, and his friend convinced him to overcome Freddy and his personality clawed itself out of Freddy.

History Revealed: None.

A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors (1987)

Writer: Wes Craven

Director: Chuck Russell


  • Heather Langenkamp (as Nancy Thompson)
  • Patricia Arquette (as Kristen Parker)
  • Craig Wasson (as Neil Gordon)
  • Nan Martin (as Amanda Krueger)
  • Jennifer Rubin (as Taryn)
  • Laurence Fishburne (as Max)
  • Ken Sagoes (as Roland Kincaid)
  • Rodney Eastman (as Joey Crusel)

Summary: Children are being terrorised by Freddy and have been put in a mental hospital. Nancy returns and tries to help them.

How he returned: Unexplained. He was supposedly able to continue attacking the children of his murderers in their dreams.

How he was killed: His bones buried in ground consecrated with Holy Water.

History Revealed: Freddy's mother and fathers.

A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master (1988)

Writer: Collaboration of Multiple Writers

Director: Renny Harlin


  • Tuesday Knight (as Kristen Parker)
  • Lisa Wilcox (as Alice Johnson)
  • Danny Hassell (as Dan Jordon)
  • Ken Sagoes (as Roland Kincaid)
  • Rodney Eastman (as Joey Crusel)
  • Brooke Theiss (as Debbie Stevens)
  • Toy Newkirk (as Sheila Kopecky)

Summary: Freddy comes back to Chrissie who is killed after cursing her friend Alice with Freddy. Freddy uses Alice to bring people to him.

How he returned: In a dream his body comes back to life in his grave and he climbs out of it.

How he was killed: Sees his face, the face of true evil, in a mirror, that destroys him.

History Revealed: Nothing new, although Freddy's ability to only appear to people Alice brings in to dreams is worth mention.

A Nightmare on Elm Street 5: The Dream Child (1989)

Writer: Various Writers

Director: Stephen Hopkins


  • Lisa Wilcox (as Alice Johnson)
  • Danny Hassell (as Dan Jordon)
  • Kelly Jo Winter (as Yvonne)
  • Beatrice Boepple (as Amanda Kreuger)
  • Whitby Hertford (as Jacob)

Summary: Freddy can appear to Alice's unborn child while he sleeps, and is terrorising people while they are awake.

How he returned: Through a dream of his birth.

How he was killed: His mother's spirit release that captures Freddy.

History Revealed: Freddy murdered his mother.

Freddy's Dead: The Final Nightmare (1991)

Writer: Wes Craven

Director: Rachel Talalay


  • Lisa Zane (as Maggie Burroughs/Katherine Krueger)
  • Yaphett Kotto (as Doc)
  • Lezlie Deane (as Tracy)
  • Rick Dean Logan (as Carlos)
  • Shon Greenblatt (as John Doe)
  • Breckin Meyer (as Spencer)

Summary: Ten years after the previous movies, Springwood has no children. Freddy convinces the last surviving child of Springwood to bring Freddy's daughter back to him.

How he returned: Unknown. He has continued to terrorise children for years after the previous film.

How he was killed: His daughter brought him in to reality, out of the dream, and blew him up.

History Revealed: Freddy has a daughter. Freddy murdered his wife. Freddy was tormented at school, suggesting his life of murder was dictated by bad experiences during those formative years.

How he returned: True evil release from the stories.

Wes Craven's A New Nightmare (1994)

Writer: Wes Craven

Director: Wes Craven


  • Heather Langenkamp (as Herself)
  • Robert Englund (as Himself, and Freddy of course)
  • Wes Craven (as Himself)
  • John Saxon (as Himself)
  • Robert Shaye (as Himself)
  • Miko Huges (as Dylan Porter)
  • Tuesday Knight (as Herself)

Summary: 'Real' life now. Heather Langenkamp (who played Nancy in the first and third films in the series), Wes Craven, and Robert Englund all appear as themselves in the movie, while Robert Englund also plays the part of Freddy again in a slightly more evil-looking make-up. Freddy was the essence of evil trapped in the stories in the movies. The stories have ended, and Wes Craven must write a new movie to trap the evil while Heather protects herself and her son.

How he was killed: Killed in a dream and now trapped back in the fictional world of Freddy.

Freddy Vs Jason (2003)

Writer: David S Goyer

Director: Ronny Yu


  • Ken Kirzinger (as Jason Voorhees)
  • Jason Ritter (as Will)
  • Moncia Keena (as Lori)
  • Kelly Rowland (as Kia)
  • James Callahan(III) (as Tim)
  • Lochlyn Munro (as Deputy Scoot)
  • Joshua Mihal (as Carlos)

Summary: Freddy enlists the help of Jason Voorhees from the Friday 13th series of movies to return to Springwood and murder for him.

How he returned: Resurrected Jason from Hell as the people of Springwood have forgotten him.

How he was killed: Brought into reality and decapitated.

Other Appearances

Freddy has not only appeared in these movies; he has appeared in music videos and in a Halloween Special of The Simpsons. However, the following are important appearances of Freddy outside of his movies:

Jason Goes To Hell (1993)

This is the movie that started off the 'Freddy Vs Jason' fan fervour that led to the (so far) final movie. In this, Jason Voorhees ends up getting dragged in to hell, leaving only his mask. In the last few seconds of the movie, Freddy's gloved hand reaches up and grabs Jason's mask and pulls it down to hell.

Freddy's Nightmares (1988-1990)

Freddy even gained his own TV series, which lasted for two years. An anthology series in the same vein as The Twilight Zone (with Freddy cast in the place of Rod Serling), it looked at self-contained stories involving the terrified Elm Street community; the first episode looked at the events surrounding Freddy's death. It consisted of two seasons of 22 episodes each. Unfortunately, at the time of writing, not many of the episodes have been released on DVD. A previous release on VHS has since been deleted.

Season 1

  1. 'No More Mr. Nice Guy'
  2. 'It's a Miserable Life'
  3. 'Killer Instinct'
  4. 'Freddy's Tricks and Treats'
  5. 'Judy Miller, Come On Down'
  6. 'Saturday Night Special'
  7. 'Sister's Keeper'
  8. 'Mother's Day'
  9. 'Rebel Without a Car'
  10. 'The Bride Wore Red'
  11. 'Do Dreams Bleed'
  12. 'The End of the World'
  13. 'Deadline'
  14. 'Black Tickets'
  15. 'School Daze'
  16. 'Cabin Fever'
  17. 'Love Stinks'
  18. 'The Art of Death'
  19. 'Missing Persons'
  20. 'The Light At the End of the Tunnel'
  21. 'Identity Crisis'
  22. 'Safe Sex'

Season 2

  1. 'Dream Come True'
  2. 'Heartbreak Hotel'
  3. 'Welcome to Springwood'
  4. 'Photo Finish'
  5. 'Memory Overload'
  6. 'Lucky Stiff'
  7. 'Silence is Golden'
  8. 'Bloodlines'
  9. 'Monkey Dreams'
  10. 'Do You Know Where Your Kids Are?'
  11. 'Dreams That Kill'
  12. 'It's My Party and You'll Die If I Want You To'
  13. 'What You Don't Know Can Kill You'
  14. 'Easy Come, Easy Go'
  15. 'Prime Cut'
  16. 'Interior Loft'
  17. 'Interior Loft-Later'
  18. 'Funhouse'
  19. 'A Family Affair'
  20. 'Dust To Dust'
  21. 'Prisoner of Love'
  22. 'Life Sentence'

Why Do People Like Freddy?

Unlike Jason Voorhees and Michael Myers of the two other major slasher series4, Freddy talks, and has an evil sense of humour, scaring people before he slashes them open with his glove. Although the character has a different persona in the seventh movie, he still imbues a sense of fear in to everyone with his mannerisms and how he toys with people instead of going straight for the kill.

Freddy also has the advantage of being easier to resurrect, due to the fact that he's... already dead.

Freddy's creator, Wes Craven, went on to direct another successful franchise, Scream, which took a post-postmodern approach in playing with the 'rules of horror', many of which were established or reaffirmed by the Nightmare films.

The truth about what Freddy is will probably never be revealed, and probably never matters. Freddy's Dead seems to state Freddy made a deal with an evil nightmare demon, while number 7 states the story of Freddy has trapped the essence of evil. Whatever the reason, Freddy movies are likely to stay popular for a very long time.

Related Links

1In the movies, Elm Street is a residential area in Springwood, America2In his latest movie incarnation, Freddy Vs Jason, Freddy is able to appear to those who fear him.3Pronounced Ingl-'nd, as in the country, as opposed to Eng-lund as most people seem to think.4Friday the 13th and Halloween, respectively.

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