Tonight, we take a look at the pilot episode of the often forgotten (and arguably for good reason) Freddy’s Nightmares!
On this episode of The Nightly Chill, we take a look at No More Mr. Nice Guy, the pilot episode of the often forgotten TV anthology horror series, Freddy’s Nightmares.
Originally airing in syndication in 1988 and running for two seasons and forty-four episodes, Freddy’s Nightmares was an attempt to capitalize further on the then-massively popular Nightmare on Elm Street franchise. Running at approximately 45 minutes, each episode consisted of two loosely related stories, often with the characters of the second appearing in smaller roles in the first. And as should be expected, the demonic and clawed Fred Krueger, still played by Robert Englund, proceeds to make quick work of his victims-of-the-week in silly, low-budget glory.
The pilot, No More Mr. Nice Guy, firmly establishes this concept by focusing its first story on a group of parents furious about the notorious child killer being freed on a technicality. The second story then focuses on a police officer who feels responsible for not having killed Fred Krueger when he had the chance. And after assisting the parents in the first story to hunt down and execute the still-human Krueger, he now struggles with the guilt of having stepped outside the law, covering his tracks before the FBI arrive to investigate, and a bad feeling that his worst nightmare isn’t over, but instead just getting started.
From a storytelling perspective, No More Mr. Nice Guy works best as a template of what the show could have been–both as an expansion of the world and mythos found in the feature films and as a more adult-oriented horror anthology. The themes and concepts are mature. And despite its meager budget, the show was never one to hold back from the sort of creative on-screen kills the movies were well-known for.
Unfortunately, despite the pilot being helmed by horror icon Tobe Hooper–the legendary creator of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre fame–the show comes across as far-too low budget. The sets constantly shift back and forth from more real, tangible locations and the sort of barely passable sets that would be more at home in a Ed Wood movie. Worst still, the vast majority of the actors are so low-grade that it’d be hard to fault anyone for believing the cast was pulled from some Acting-101 class at the local community college. If not for Robert Englund’s always engaging presence and performance as the “son of a hundred maniacs”, it’s likely the show would have never made it to air.
But the show isn’t without its charms. Aside from the creative nature of its stories and kills, as well as Englund’s regular appearances, the series is still creative in the stories it was allowed to tell and in the way it maintains–and somewhat embraces–an overtly campy tone at all times. While not intentional, it feels like a low-rent send-up of the sort of stories found in old horror comics, including those that would later be re-imagined in the better-remembered Tales from the Crypt.
Though difficult to find, the series is worth watching for both those who are die-hard Freddy fans and those fond of a more campy approach to horror. It’s far from perfect. And even if you don’t wish to dig any further into the show’s two seasons, the pilot is certainly worth watching thanks to the way it explores and fleshes-out a period in the franchise’s mythos that was initially glanced over.