‘Nightmare on Elm Street,’ clawing its way back to the screen

July 15, 2009 | 2:24 p.m.

My Los Angeles Times colleague Patrick Goldstein has an interesting piece on the 21st century afterlife of Freddy Krueger. Here’s an excerpt, as well as the trailer for the 1984 film.– Geoff Boucher

Everyone knows that there’s often less than six degrees of separation among most celebrities in Hollywood, but if you ever wanted to stump your film-buff friends with a great trivia question, just try this one on for size: What do writer-director Frank Darabont (“The Shawshank Redemption“), Johnny Depp, Peter Jackson, Iggy Pop, writer-director Brian Helgeland (“L.A. Confidential“), Hollywood novelist Bruce Wagner, director Chuck Russell (“The Mask“) and producer Michael De Luca have in common?

They all, at one time or another, worked on one of the films in the “Nightmare on Elm Street” series, the low-budget 1980s horror franchise that transformed New Line Cinema from an obscure store-front film distributor into the movie industry’s leading independent film studio. Having successfully relaunched two other classic franchises — “Texas Chainsaw Massacre” and “Friday the 13th” — New Line, now an in-house production company at Warner Bros., is amid rebooting its seminal “Nightmare” series with a new film that just finished shooting in Chicago last Friday.

Using the same title as the original Wes Craven film, it is a revamped, souped-up version of the old series, with Jackie Earle Haley replacing Robert Englund as Freddy Krueger, the menacing, disfigured and claw-gloved figure who had the power to stalk and

Nightmare on Elm Street poster

kill his victims from within their own dreams. The film, slated for release in the first half of 2010, also marks another collaboration between New Line and Michael Bay’s Platinum Dunes production firm, which also partnered with New Line on the successful updating of “Chainsaw Massacre” and “Friday the 13th.”

The new film comes with its own set of built-in risks and challenges. The original “Nightmare” series, which was launched in 1984 and ended up — if you count all the sequels and spin-offs — spawning at least eight movies, was a low-budget, low-risk enterprise. All of the original films in the series cost under $8 million to make, with perhaps the most lucrative being 1987′s “Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors,” which cost $5 million and made nearly $45 million at the box office.

But much has changed in the horror movie landscape in the last two decades. The movies have become both more sophisticated, certainly in terms of visual effects, as well as more graphic in terms of “Saw”-like brutality and mayhem. For most of today’s young horror moviegoers, the “Nightmare” series is something of a barely noticeable video store relic. So why does New Line believe it can make lightning strike twice? And what exactly did all those famous folks I mentioned before do for the franchise? Keep reading…

READ THE REST

– Patrick Goldstein

RECENT AND RELATED

Jackie Earle Haley

Jackie Earle Haley will be the new Freddy Krueger

ON THE SET: Jackie Earle Haley finds the voice of Rorschach

Wes Craven discusses the American “inheritance of violence”

“Exorcist” director William Friedkin: The 13 movies that scare me 

Maggot vomit? Yes, Sam Raimi dragged his star through hell

VIDEO: Looking back in horror: The legacy of Lon Chaney Jr.

Guillermo del Toro on “The Strain” and “Frankenstein” (oh and that “Hobbit” movie too)

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