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A Nightmare On Elm Street Prequel Ideas Explained (& Why They Didn’t Happen)

A Nightmare on Elm Street is one of horror’s biggest franchises, but unmade prequel films would have expanded on the origins of Freddy Krueger.

A Nightmare on Elm Street is one of the most financially successful and culturally influential horror franchises in modern history, but even a character as iconic as Freddy Krueger didn't get to see all of his movies make it past the development stages. There were two significant prequel ideas, both attached to director John McNaughton, that would have explored both the criminal and supernatural backgrounds of the knife-gloved slasher.

To be fair, there has been an attempt at filming the origin story of Freddy Krueger long before the current talks about revisiting the franchise. Although there was never any prequel film, the first episode of the short-lived anthology television series, Freddy's Nightmares, entitled "No More Mr. Nice Guy", centers around the killer's legal trial for his child murder charges as well as his ultimate death at the hands of his victims' parents. Directed by Tobe Hooper, the pilot of the A Nightmare on Elm Street show sounds more than coincidentally familiar to the supposedly planned prequel film Krueger: The First Kills.

Related: Nightmare on Elm Street: The Pop Song That Inspired Wes Craven

Robert Englund has stated at conventions like Monster Mania and Dragon Con that he would love to see a resurrection of this particular concept, even if he returned through a cameo only. The actor admitted to being fascinated with the idea of Hooper's television episode and argued that the concept might work as a feature-length film. On the other hand, John McNaughton, the filmmaker most known for directing Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer, left New Line Cinema on worse terms after the studio rejected his pitch for Nightmare prequel.

According to Englund, The First Kills would have followed detectives as they tracked down Freddy during his murder spree, and then focused on the slimy attorneys who helped prove his false innocence, sparking the outrage of the parents at court. It sounds like the film would have been more of a crime procedural with elements of a courtroom drama, but the shift in tone and genre could have made for a fresher take on the iconic slasher. Unfortunately, the project got lost and never resurfaced during New Line's merger with Turner Broadcasting in 1994.

McNaughton, who Englund claims was also attached to The First Kills, has also opened up about another idea for a prequel. In this instance, the movie would have instead taken Freddy to Hell after he had been killed, before he reappeared to torment his victims in the first Nightmare. Strangely enough, the film is almost the opposite of The First Kills, eschewing the realism-rooted drama of the legal thriller in favor of embracing a more supernatural and fantastical angle. However, New Line took a financial hit from the Adam Sandler comedy Little Nicky that featured demons and scenes set in Hell, so the studio declined to return to the underworld as a setting.

McNaughton is open and honest about how he didn't want to direct a genre film controlled by a major studio, anyway. However, as the rights to the A Nightmare on Elm Street franchise have recently returned to Wes Craven's estate, fertile grounds for creative ideas have opened up. Now that the estate is taking new pitches for the series, there may yet be a second chance for these unrealized projects.

Next: Nightmare on Elm Street Theory: Freddy Is Nancy's Real Dad

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