When A Nightmare on Elm Street hit theaters in 1984, it was hailed as a legitimately scary movie. But as the series added sequel after sequel, Freddy Krueger began to lose his potency, transforming from boogeyman to wisecracking buffoon. When, exactly, did that happen? Here's the exact instant when Freddy pivoted.
It didn't take long. A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy's Revenge opened a year after the original, without the participation of creator Wes Craven. And this sequel stands out for reasons both bad (the scenes in which Freddy, well-established as a guy who lurks only in dreams, breaks out into the real world ... just, no) and good (it's been hailed as a camp classic and was lovingly named "one of the gayest horror films of all time" by the Advocate).
But Freddy's Revenge also contains the precise moment when the tide turned, and ol' pizzaface the child killer started deploying a catchphrase at every opportunity. Yeah, they're funny and quotable (personal fave, from A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors: "Welcome to prime time, bitch!"), but they don't exactly inspire boot-quaking fear.
But the exact moment when Freddy loses his scary edge is the clip below — which transpires not long after protagonist Jesse and his family witness their pet parakeet explode into a fiery apocalypse of feathers and bad Elm Street juju.
"You've got the body," Freddy says, caressing Jesse's terrified face with one razor claw, trying to entice him to do his evil bidding. "I've got ... the BRAIN!" He then rips off the top of his skull, exposing brain tissue that pulsates (cheekily, we might add; if pulsating brain tissue could wink, this stuff would wink, and maybe even give a thumbs up: "Get it?? BRAIN!")
We get it, Fred. And it is witty. But scary, it ain't ... and it led to scenes like this a few years down the line.
Top image via Moviepilot.