April 9, 2010

Drop Dead Fred

The look of the "new" Freddy Krueger in the upcoming reboot of the A Nightmare on Elm Street franchise has been closely guarded (though lazily leaked with the release of a photo of a collectable figurine) but now it's starting to seem like perhaps they weren't hiding it for dramatic effect, but rather because it looks so shitty. How did this get approved? I've been pretty critical of the look of Mr. Krueger in this installment previously calling a fleeting look at Freddy's face in the first trailer and another teaser poster for the film "Grinch-like" (I think this current photo makes him look like one of the CGI ants from the film ANTZ, but what do I know.) I also noted that a recent teaser one-sheet for the remake made Freddy look alarmingly like Michael Jackson. The current issue of Entertainment Weekly (With The Empire Strikes Back on the cover - how current!) has a full color posed picture of Jackie Earl Hayley in the full Krueger get up, burn make-up, fedora, red and green striped sweater and needlessly tweaked razor glove. (Strangely, the picture hasn't yet surfaced on the internerd but like the photo above, it confirms the underwhelming look that we saw months ago when the figurine photos leaked.)

Director Samuel Bayer, who's making his feature film debut with Elm Street - and famously was hired to direct the video for Nirvana's Smells Like Teen Spirit because frontman Kurt Cobain felt his reel was the worst - has been saying a lot of the right things about the tone of the remake. Freddy Krueger is remembered as a wise-cracking villain known for his snappy one liners. This was not how the character began, which is often forgotten. In the first film, there were no jokes. The character was quite dark - let's not forget in life Fred Krueger is a child killer - in death, a dream killer. The original Elm Street was a pretty dark, nasty story, and Bayer has repeatedly said when discussing his film that he wanted to return to that tone and make Freddy scary - not funny. I think a huge step toward realizing that would be to make him look frightening. Seems pretty obvious really. With each passing sequel, the original incarnation of the character - as played by Robert Englund - was diluted more and more and made to be something they could put on t-shirts and lunch boxes. Eventually the creepy child killer was a pop culture icon and hosting his own TV-show. Part of that transformation saw the burn makeup for Freddy soften and become less grotesque moving from horrifically scarred to pizza face. David Miller, the makeup artist who created the original look for Freddy made a man that was difficult to look at. This film has offered up a man who's difficult to take seriously.

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