Most Modern Slasher Movies Steal Nightmare On Elm Street's Best Trick

Most major successful slasher movies of the 2020s owe an unacknowledged debt to an under-discussed element of A Nightmare On Elm Street’s revolutionary premise. A lot has been made of the similarities between Vecna, the villain of Stranger Things season 4, and Nightmare On Elm Street franchise villain Freddy Krueger. The Netflix hit has acknowledged that the Springwood slasher was a major influence on the season’s supernatural villain and Freddy’s original actor Robert Englund even plays a pivotal role in the action of the series.

However, this is far from the first time that a contemporary hit has borrowed from the successful formula of A Nightmare On Elm Street. Director Wes Craven’s original movie effectively revolutionized the slasher sub-genre upon its 1984 release, adding a new element to the teen horror formula that has since been seen in almost every successful slasher of the 2010s and 2020s. The extent to which this influence is taken for granted goes to show just how much the Nightmare On Elm Street formula became the norm for slasher movies.

Related: Stranger Things 4 Just Made A Nightmare On Elm Street Remake Harder

Hits ranging from Freaky to the Fear Street trilogy, to Stranger Things season 4, to Candyman, to Happy Death Day, to SyFy’s Chucky series, and The Babysitter movies all combine fantasy and horror with their slasher movie setups including twists like ghosts, witches, curses, time loops, demons, possession, and time travel. While this could seem like part of the slasher formula to modern viewers, most slasher movies pre-Nightmare On Elm Street were Giallo-influenced serial killer thrillers with little or no fantasy elements. Hits like Black Christmas, Friday the 13th, and Halloween didn’t rely on supernatural elements for their slasher stories, whereas the bulk of contemporary slashers takes Freddy Krueger’s contributions to the genre for granted. While the popularity of slashers in 2022 proves Nightmare On Elm Street could still pull off a successful reboot of the franchise, it also shows just how much Freddy’s contributions to the genre reshaped its contemporary existence.

Chucky and Candyman’s reboots reimagined characters who originally owed a creative debt to Freddy in their 80s incarnations since the concept of a killer urban legend or a possessed doll acting as the villain of a slasher movie would have been untenable before A Nightmare On Elm Street’s success. Meanwhile, Freaky and Happy Death Day incorporated time loops and body swaps into slasher movie setups much like Fear Street and The Babysitter added witchcraft and demons to their slasher stories. This is a far cry from the grounded horror narratives of slasher movies before A Nightmare On Elm Street, most of which centered around a human killer like Friday the 13th’s Pamela Voorhees stalking and killing victims.

While some slasher movies incorporated fantasy elements before A Nightmare On Elm Street, none of them gained anywhere near the cultural traction that Freddy’s first appearance earned. Not only did none of these earlier slashers achieve sequels or spawn franchises, but even the second string of early slashers such as Sleepaway Camp, Slumber Party Massacre, and Silent Night, Deadly Night didn’t feature fantasy elements. It was A Nightmare On Elm Street and Freddy Krueger that made this plot element profitable, permanently altering the trajectory of the slasher sub-genre as a result.

More: Nightmare On Elm Street 2 Has The Creepiest Nursery Rhyme In The Series

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