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This Day in Horror History: a Dream Killer, an Evil Doll, and a Deadly Santa

Wes Craven

Let’s all put aside the events of the past 24 hours and delve into cinema history as this day brought us three fantastic horror classics that have withstood the test of time, two of which even got their own remakes to expose them to a new generation. On this day, we saw the birth of Freddy Krueger in Wes Craven’s A Nightmare on Elm Street. Charles Lee Ray moved his soul into Chucky in Tom Holland’s Child’s Play. Lastly, an evil Santa Claus went on a killing spree in Charles Sellier Jr.’s Silent Night, Deadly Night.

I want to take a moment to talk briefly about each film as they all have an importance about them that needs to be acknowledged. So, let us come together to pay homage to these three great films and all that they had to offer!

Released on November 9th, 1984, Craven’s A Nightmare on Elm Street has gone on to become a cultural phenomenon. It’s almost impossible to find someone who doesn’t know who Freddy Krueger is, even if they haven’t seen the films. He has been parodied and paid homage to in cartoons, movies, comics, video games, songs, etc… He became a manifestation of fear in a place where we have no control: our dreams. It is because of his ability to enter our nightmares and take control that we fear him. After all, are we not at our most vulnerable when asleep?

ANOES was made for less than $2 million yet went on to generate over $25 million at the box office, ultimately becoming the franchise that led New Line to earn the nickname “The House that Freddy Built”. As of now, there are 7 sequels and a remake. A reboot is in the works, although we haven’t heard anything new on that front for a while.

While Freddy was after teens in their dreams, Chucky terrified audiences in a different way. He was manipulative and conniving, ultimately trying to cause harm to a child, something that is taboo in most mediums (a feat which we laud).

Released on November 9th, 1988, Child’s Play followed serial killer Charles Lee Ray as he transferred his soul into a Good Guy doll so as to evade death during a police chase. He was later alerted to the fact that his only chance at living life as a normal human was to do the ritual again, transferring himself into the first person that found out he was human. In this case, it was six-year-old Andy Barlow, who would have to endure terror from Ray not once, not twice, but three times. Then there were three additional sequels with a seventh currently in the works.

Made on a budget of $9 million and drawing in nearly $45 million, Child’s Play is one of the few long-running horror franchises that doesn’t contain a remake or a reboot. While pediophobia (fear of dolls) has been around since dolls were invented, Chucky certainly didn’t help matters, causing untold numbers of children to hide their stuffed animals for fear that they would come alive for the most sinister of reasons.

The original Silent Night, Deadly Night has an interesting legacy as it was a highly controversial film upon release. Made for a bit over $1 million, the film only took in just under $2.5 million. The reason for this is that the film generated protests galore from families and individuals who were mortified, shocked, and appalled that Christmas and Santa Claus could be used as the foundation for a horror film (even though this movie came out a few years prior). Critics lambasted the film, viewing it as absolute trash that needed to be pulled from theaters as quickly as possible. Film critic Gene Siskel even called out the production companies and emphatically stated, “Shame on you.

Four sequels were made over the years and a loose remake from Steven C. Miller came out in 2012. Funny enough, it came out on December 4th, just in time to celebrate the Christmas spirit.




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