Freddy Krueger is one of Halloween's most celebrated horror movie killers. A Nightmare on Elm Street, from the brilliant mind of the late fright master Wes Craven, is a stone cold classic. While the many sequels are a mixed bag, there's no disputing the greatness of A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors, or the bold adventurousness of Wes Craven's New Nightmare, which reimagined the entire franchise in a fascinating new way, years before "meta" became a trendy buzz word.
Jack Sholder put Freddy Krueger inside another dude, Renny Harlin put him in sunglasses, and Rachel Talalay nearly finished him off in Freddy's Dead: The Final Nightmare. Though he once hosted his own TV show and finally faced off with the killer of the Friday the 13th franchise in Freddy vs. Jason, there are still multiple Freddy Krueger projects that were in some stage of development that simply never got made. Today, we're looking at some of those project.
A Nightmare on Elm Street: First Kills
We got a taste of Freddy Krueger's pre-dream demon backstory via 1991's Freddy's Dead: The Final Nightmare and what became the television pilot for Freddy's Nightmares, which was actually directed by Tobe Hooper, the late director of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. In a recent interview, series star Robert Englund revealed that the proposed First Kills prequel film would have had a Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer vibe, with courtroom drama a huge plot point. New Line actually reached out to the guy who directed Henry, John McNaughton. But he wasn't interested in repeating himself. He was more excited about making a movie set in hell, telling Freddy's story from just after he was burned to death by the vigilante mob and prior to his reemergence in the dreams of the teenagers of Elm Street. But apparently the box office failure of Adam Sandler's Little Nicky ruined everything. "New Line didn't want to go back to Hell," McNaughton told Bloody Disgusting. "They were unwilling to go to Hell with me and it just came apart."
John Saxon's Elm Street prequel
John Saxon played Lieutenant Donald Thompson in the original A Nightmare on Elm Street. He's the father of the movie's "final girl," Nancy. Both of them returned for the third film, Dream Warriors, which also had creator Wes Craven's fingerprints. In August 2017, Saxon put his own prequel treatment up for sale on eBay. How the Nightmare on Elm Street All Began introduced a strange twist: in Saxon's story, real life criminal mastermind Charles Manson framed Krueger for the original murders.
Robert Englund's A Nightmare on Elm Street 3
A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors is the only film in the franchise that comes close to matching the original. Some fans will even argue that it's superior. Wes Craven was brought back onboard to right the ship after the disastrous Freddy's Revenge, but once he and Bruce Wagner delivered their draft, New Line allowed Frank Darabont and director Chuck Russell to make major changes. Darabont, of course, would later adapt and direct The Shawshank Redemption and The Green Mile. Robert Englund had his own ideas for Elm Street 3, ideas that involved Freddy's first onscreen victim, Tina. The actor told Cinema Blend that in his draft, Part 3 "would've been about a sister. If Tina had a sister and Tina's sister would come to solve it."
Peter Jackson's A Nightmare on Elm Street 6: Dream Lover
By the time the franchise took a dive at the box-office with A Nightmare on Elm Street 5: The Dream Child, Freddy was no longer very scary. All of the quips, rap songs, and increasingly goofy kills, while a certain kind of kitschy cool in retrospect, had rendered him more overexposed pop culture figure than Springwood Slasher. Peter Jackson's pitch for part six sounds fantastic! The New Zealand filmmaker would have riffed on this, with the teenagers of Springwood falling asleep intentionally just to pick on the sad old geezer in the dreamscape. Naturally, Freddy would eventually return to power, with his fearsome glory restored. Unfortunately, Jackson didn't have the juice in Hollywood yet. He did, however, end up working with New Line on a different franchise: something called The Lord of the Rings.
Nightmare 13: Freddy Meets Jason
The idea to combine these two titans of terror was around for at least a decade before it eventually came together in 2003 under director Ronny Yu. Jason Goes to Hell, which featured Freddy's glove reaching up to grab Jason's hockey mask in its closing scene, whipped the bloodlust of franchise fans into a frenzy a full ten years before Freddy vs. Jason finally arrived. Lewis Abernathy was quick on the draw with this early draft, which saw a cult of Krueger Stans looking to sacrifice a virgin in order to bring Freddy back to the real world, with Jason resurrected to stop him.
Freddy Vs. Jason: Friday the 13th Hearts of Darkness
Next up to bat was screenwriter David J. Schow with a rewrite of the Abernathy script, retitled Freddy vs. Jason - Friday the 13th: Hearts of Darkness. Schow was an uncredited writer on Elm Street 5. He'd also written an episode of Freddy's Nightmares and the screenplay for The Crow. According to Fangoria, there were over ten scripts from 18 writers during the decade long development process. Jason's resurrection seemed to remain intact throughout most of the drafts, as did the idea of a Freddy cult, which were eventually called "Fred Heads." Along the way, Blade director Stephen Norrington and Blade 2 director Guillermo del Toro were both considered and future Blade: Trinity director David Goyer was one of the writers involved. Joss Whedon was reportedly in the mix at some point. Somewhere in there, inspired by the headlines about O.J. Simpson, a couple of Star Trek veterans had the idea to put Jason on trial. One of those Star Trek vets, Ronald D. Moore, rebooted television's Battlestar Galactica to much acclaim. In various drafts, parts of each character's mythologies were sacrificed. Thankfully, to the delight of fans of both movie killers, the Freddy vs. Jason that materialized worked hard to remain true to both franchises and even endeavored to be nonpartisan about the killers.
Freddy Vs. Jason Vs. Ash
Freddy vs. Jason brought in close to $115 million around the world against a production budget of about $30 million, making it a huge smash for New Line, and revitalizing interest in both characters. The duo was definitely stronger together: Jason X had earned just $16.9 million around the world the year before. So plans were put into place to make a sequel to Freddy vs. Jason, with producer Jeff Katz writing up a treatment that added Ash from the Evil Dead franchise into the fray. Katz's story for Freddy vs. Jason vs. Ash was adapted as a comic book series in 2008.
Twisted Goonies-Style Elm Street Reboot
The less said about the Elm Street remake, the better, but it's worth noting that the version that ended up in theaters in 2010 started off as something else entirely. In an interview with Bloody Disgusting, the French directing duo who eventually went on to make the Leatherface prequel revealed a bit about their pitch. "The idea was to have a twisted version of The Goonies. We thought it would have been great for a remake to switch the teenagers of the original with real kids," they offered, adding: "Childhood is the moment in life when you are truly and deeply frightened by your nightmares, when you're not able to see the difference between reality and dreams."
Freddy Vs. Jason 2
Before the poor reception to Warner Bros. reboots of A Nightmare on Elm Street and Friday the 13th, the studio reportedly considered making another mash-up movie, which (according to Screen Rant) would have incorporated characters and actors from the two reboots. Thankfully for all of us horror fans, that never happened.
Robert Englund's A Nightmare on Elm Street
The one true Freddy Krueger himself has had a few ideas of his own. In a 2016 interview with Florida Today conducted to promote an upcoming convention appearance, Robert Englund said, "I thought it would be great if the children of previous victims, or just kids who grew up hearing stories about Freddy Krueger, were each haunted by their own version of Freddy Krueger. Kids who grew up hearing stories about this Freddy Krueger guy and the awful things he did envisioned him in their own way, and that is the version that begins to haunt them."