Only a few months after A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master hit theaters in 1988, Freddy was welcomed to prime time, bitch! Okay, not exactly prime time. The anthology series Freddy’s Nightmares was on syndicated channels, and in my area, it was aired at eleven at night while I was getting ready to go clubbing.
The series was strictly low budget, giving it a very 80s b-movie feel that works for it. My guess is most of the money went to paying Robert Englund, who hosted each episode as his iconic persona. Most of the 1-hour episodes during the 2-season run featured two distinct halves with unrelated plots, but usually linked by one character. A majority of the stories also had nothing to do with Freddy Krueger; these were merely short horror stories about characters immersed in nightmarish dream scenarios.
However, Freddy fans that tuned in every week were occasionally rewarded with more than a brief intro and outro by the man of their dreams. Sprinkled throughout the series were indeed episodes that were specifically about Freddy Krueger! It’s shocking that a major movie franchise character would get small screen focus while at the height of his popularity, but honestly, many of these cheesy Freddy episodes weren’t half as bad as the cartoonish buffoonery being projected onto the big screen at the tail end of Freddy’s cinematic popularity.
Here’s a breakdown of the strictly Freddy episodes.
“No More Mr. Nice Guy” was the premiere episode of the series, so it made sense to dedicate it to a Freddy storyline (while misleading viewers into thinking this would be the norm). While directed by horror master Tobe Hooper, it’s a weak attempt to bring to life the backstory of Freddy being burned alive in his boiler room by all the angry parents.
It begins during the trial, and we learn that Freddy is set free because the cop who arrested him didn’t read him his rights. Purists will immediately be annoyed that not only is the cop not John Saxon, it’s not even the same character. This cop also has a wife and teenage twin daughters, one of them a mute.
After being set free, Freddy immediately returns to his boiler room at a power plant, where we see that he also has an ice cream truck. While it’s implied that he uses it to lure kiddies, that’s never been a plot point of the original Freddy story. Freddy is wearing his trademark fedora and sweater, but we only see his back as he gives us a tour of all his torture weapons. He grabs his glove and heads on over to the house of the cop to taunt his wife and twins from outside. Meanwhile, all the other parents take a trip to the boiler room. Conveniently, Freddy is back there in time for them to torch him. The cop also shows up, and initially tries to stop the others from killing him, but once Freddy taunts him, he does the honors of lighting the match.
In the second half, the cop is now having nightmares of Freddy. His non-talking twin daughter keeps turning to him and dropping Freddy lines. The cop can no longer distinguish between what’s real and what’s a dream. He eventually goes to the dentist (not kidding), where he’s given sweet gas. Freddy does the old “hot nurse” trick then shows up with various dentist drill bits attached to his fingers, and recites his famous nursery rhyme as he drills the cop. The end.
“Freddy’s Tricks and Treats” is a treat indeed. The series didn’t waste any time in delivering a Halloween episode. Well, more like half a Halloween episode. The first part takes place on Halloween night. A young Mariska Hargitay is a medical student working in the morgue late at night. A security guard warns her of the “ghost” of Freddy Krueger, and within minutes, she’s being terrorized by Freddy. The story has a weird subplot about her being traumatized as a child by her puritanical grandmother, which Freddy uses to his advantage.
In the second half, Halloween isn’t mentioned at all, but this is some sort of sequel to the first part. Two fellow college boys decide to study Mariska’s dreams. So they tie her down in Freddy’s boiler room to monitor her sleeping behavior. Needless to say, Freddy sees an opportunity to score a few more victims. This feels like a pretty traditional Freddy storyline, making it like an Elm Street short.
“Sister’s Keeper” is a direct sequel to “No More Mr. Nice Guy,” focusing on the two twins from that episode. It’s another tight Elm Street mini-movie, with one major problem—the twins can’t act. AT ALL. They really make an otherwise great episode a chore to sit through.
It’s not explained why, but the mute twin now speaks. She has been “away” for a while because Freddy is after her ever since her father’s death. However, she soon realizes that the things Freddy does to her in her dreams actually happen to her sister instead. Tensions rise between the twins because the “crazy” one has no friends and the other one is popular, so they swap identities to see how the other half lives—which is when the popular sister begins realizing that Freddy really is targeting them.
There are noticeable nods to the first movie when the twins decide to go to sleep at the same time and pay Freddy a visit in his boiler room. One of the sister’s even calls him a “bastard,” a word you didn’t hear on TV very often back then.
“Safe Sex,” like A Nightmare on Elm Street 2, explores the sexual awakenings of teens and how they play out in dreams—not to mention, it also has homosexual undertones. A nerd is seeing a psychiatrist about his sexual issues. He’s hot for a slutty goth Satanist chick in school. She’s obsessed with Freddy Krueger, but in the nerd’s dreams, she’s into him. It’s a perfect opportunity for Freddy to explore his feminine side and turn this kid’s wet dreams into wet screams. Let’s just say the nerd is about to learn that Freddy doesn’t have the kind of love glove he wants near his crotch….
In the second half of the episode, the goth chick begins seeing the psychiatrist, because she realizes that Freddy has been using her to get to teenage boys…and now he’s after her.
In “Dream Come True,” a teenager is having nightmares about Freddy, so a TV therapist steps in to help him. In the process, the therapist invites Freddy into his world…and Freddy is not happy that the therapist is attempting to take his boy away from him.
Meanwhile, in the second part of the episode, a photographer is out to prove Freddy exists because Freddy killed his girlfriend. So the photographer begins taking photos at crime scenes, hoping to snap a picture of Freddy and prove that he’s real. However, since no one else can see Freddy, it appears to the authorities that the photographer is the killer because he’s showing up at every murder scene.
With “Photo Finish,” the series once again made sure to pay respect to Halloween for its second and final season, even if the episode doesn’t say so in its title. In the first part, a once successful photographer has been relegated to taking family portraits. When she gets a call to do a Halloween spread for an edgy magazine, she struggles to prove she still has what it takes…until Freddy kills one of her models during the photo shoot, giving the images a grisly, realistic feel. Desperate to regain her fame, the photographer decides to do one more shoot. She soon learns Freddy isn’t after the model this time.
The photography assistant in this episode is played by Richard Speight Jr., who looks 80s adorable, with spiky new wave hair, a tank top, and tight jeans. Speight has also made his mark on Supernatural in a recurring role as Gabriel the Trickster!
The second tale here begins on Halloween eve, when a family is killed by an early trick or treater wearing a ghostly sheet. On Halloween night, a cute FBI profiler comes in to investigate the seemingly inexplicable details of the murders. Through a practice of thinking out loud as he examines the crime scene, he uncovers the truth—and learns too late of the role Freddy played in the pre-Halloween massacre.
“Dreams That Kill” is a sequel to the “Dreams Come True” episode. With the original host of the talk show dead, a new host has taken his place. But when Freddy comes visiting, the host ends up in a coma, where Freddy can endlessly torture him—including having some fun between his legs!
In the second half, a doctor extracts cells from the brain of the talk show host in a coma to help save a teenager patient. Along with those cells comes—Freddy!
“It’s My Party, and You’ll Die If I Want You To” is the final episode to feature Freddy, and it’s quite the Elm Street party. Freddy is at his campy best for two completely unrelated plots.
The first half involves a fake medium targeted by a man intent on proving her a fraud. However, she’s suddenly anything but a fraud when she accidentally channels Freddy! And he just loves the body he’s in as he goes on a killing spree. The 80s cutie from “Photo Finish” returns for this episode—he needed a new job, so he has become the medium’s assistant. Also present is one of the models from “Photo Finish” who got away from Freddy the first time…. There’s a funny moment when she thinks the medium is a lesbian and coming on to her. There’s also a fun spoof of The Exorcist.
The assistant carries over to the second half. He’s moved on to yet another job…as a hotel bellboy. The hotel is hosting a Springwood High School reunion. Turns out one of the members of the class was Freddy Krueger! There’s a very low turnout at the reunion because, well, many of the graduating students from that year are dead already. We meet a geek who was actually Freddy’s friend back in high school, as well as a girl who played a mean prank on Freddy; she said she’d go to the prom with him. She lied then, but this time, she kind of has no choice but to be Freddy’s date for the reunion….
And there you have it. Those are the eight Elm Street episodes of Freddy’s Nightmares. I can’t imagine why they haven’t released the series on DVD. And worse, there’s no excuse for them to not have included these eight episodes as a bonus disc on the complete Elm Street Blu-ray release. Instead, two other random episodes of Freddy’s Nightmares were included as bonus material. I’d still like to see the entire series get an official release someday, but if not, a single disc release of these eight Freddy focused episodes would be satisfy me.