Freddy Krueger: The Monster of Nightmares
There has been one monster that has plagued my nightmares since I was a small child. The king of nightmares himself: Freddy Krueger. My fear of this popular movie icon began when I was seven years old at a neighborhood sleepover. My parents always limited the types of movies and television shows I watched so I was pretty sheltered in the terms of horror. My best friend had snuck the movie, the first Nightmare on Elm Street, out of her brother’s room. We waited until her parent’s went to bed before starting the movie. I was fascinated by the gore, the blood and the violence. I had free reign over books so I had read the writings of Edgar Allan Poe, The Goosebumps series and some other varied children’s scary stories. So I was not completely naive. But it was one thing to read it and another to see it before my eyes. The other girls fell asleep halfway through the movie and I stayed awake to finish it. Alone. In the dark basement. I was shell shocked.
After watching that movie I had reoccurring nightmares about Freddy off and on for the next few years. I would sneak into my parent’s bedroom at night and sleep at the foot of their bed because I was so freaked out. I was afraid to go to sleep. I would close my eyes and imagine Freddy crawling into my dreams. Slithering into the darkness with that evil laugh, those long razor blade fingers and his crimson eyes glowing. To this day, even as an adult in my mid-twenties, I still cannot watch any of the Nightmare on Elm Street movies. Even if I see a commercial come on for the movies I freeze up and scrabble for the remote to change the channel. There is something about the monster of Freddy Krueger that has stayed with me my entire life.
In terms of monsters, Freddy Krueger is an unique one to analyze. He gains power over children’s fear and enters their dreams to turn them into nightmares of torture. When the children die in their dreams; they die in real life as well. The history of Freddy Krueger is played out in the movies as a sociopath with a horrific childhood that impacted his sanity that carried over into adulthood when he murdered 20 children on Elm Street. After his death, when he was murdered by the parents of the victims, he is offered immortality as a spirit able to enter dreams.
I think the thing that makes Freddy so terrifying is he comes for you during your sleep. When we sleep we are at our most vulnerable state. If you are awake you can run, hide or call for help. But if he catches you in your sleep there is no escape; you are trapped in a waking nightmare. The monster archetype we have been discussing in class has been based around this discussion of what makes a true monster. In the case of Freddy, I feel I can affirm that he is a monster. He feels no remorse for his victims, he takes joy in pain and he goes after the most vulnerable members of our society: children. He has no morals to speak of and has been twisted by insanity to take joy in the pain of others. This is the biggest piece of evidence that Freddy is a true monster. Not only does he feel no remorse but he has the power of the supernatural behind him. The idea of an immortal monster is terrifying to begin with but when you add the ability to enter the dream world this fear reaches a new paralyzing level.
But to play devil’s advocate against my own hatred and fears of Freddy Krueger: the parents of the victims burned him alive thus creating the monster we see in the movies. This torturous ending placed him in the power to become a spirit to haunt these parents. It gave him the thirst for revenge. How does the act of murder teach the lesson that murder is wrong? Did these parents help create the monster that became Freddy Kreuger? Or was he already a monster before his death? He had committed a horrible crime of murdering those children. As a parent myself I might have helped light the torch under such heartbreaking circumstances.
Did he deserve to be tortured and burned alive for it? Did the means justify the end? We ask complicated questions when we think of the histories, psychologies and actions of monsters. Are monsters created or born? Was Freddy born evil or did the horrific circumstances of life make him evil? I am really interested in what everyone’s opinions are on this; especially those that are extremely familiar with the movies. I am still too terrified to watch the rest of them so maybe these questions have found answers in the later films.
Freddy is a monster created to haunt our deep rooted fears and horrors. The idea of children being murdered is horrifying and Freddy is the master of this horror. He is the vision of fear, violence pain and sickness in a horror icon. Freddy is my monster. The one who haunted my dreams, just like those children in the movies, yet here I remain. I suppose I got lucky.
Here are some links to those unfamiliar with Freddy and his nightmares. The first one is the link to the song that is sung by the children throughout the movie series. Just hearing this song still puts chills down my spine. The second and third links are movie trailers for the first movie. The second link is to the original (the one I saw as a child that traumatized me) and the third is the recent 2010 remake (which I never watched- obviously).