The time Nightmare on Elm Street was a roller-skating horror musical


Mist crawls across the hellish industrial landscape. Flames belch from giant furnaces. Sparks arc through the air.

A terrified girl hides behind some battered and rusting old pipes.

A horrific voice echoes through the air – ‘one, two, Freddie’s coming for you.’

The girl stifles a scream. Orchestral music swells.

All of a sudden, a man in a stripy sweater, a glove of blades and a heavy latex mask speeds through the scene, screaming an expletive as he crashes into a pile of trashcans.

“Cut,” shouts Wes Craven, wearily.

He was beginning to think that making Nightmare on Elm Street the world’s first horror musical on roller-skates may have been a mistake.

“Bobby Englund was perfect for Freddie Kruger, he nailed the voice, the menace, everything,” said the legendary horror director in a 1988 Wogan interview

“But roller-skating and singing? I don’t think he’ll mind me saying so, but was terrible at it.”

The only way they’d currently managed to secure any usable footage was to shoot Robert Englund from the waist up and have members of the crew down on all fours gently pushing him in front of the camera.

The singing was fine. Whilst Robert wasn’t a great singer, the rough voice on tracks such as ‘dream of a nightmare,’ and ‘Guts!’ was proving quite effective.

“It was trying to do both at the same time that was the problem,” recalled Wes

“Bob would just open his mouth and crash over on his ass.”

It was becoming clear that making Nightmare on Elm Street a roller-skating horror musical was doomed to failure.

However, Wes Craven was not one to be defeated quite so easily and it was the bold move he made to save Nightmare on Elm Street that cemented his reputation as one of the finest young directors working in Hollywood.

“I simply decided to abandon the roller-skating musical aspect of Elm Street and turn it into a straight up horror instead.”

It was ingenious, the bold reinvention of Nightmare on Elm Street as not a roller-skating musical proved a hit with audiences and critics alike and the film is now recognised as a genre classic.

The late director was never to return to the roller-skating horror musical genre, but if you look closely at the party scene in Scream, you can clearly see a man in a red and green sweater skating past the window, humming quietly to himself in a little tribute.


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