Set Visit: A Trip to ‘A Nightmare on Elm Street’ PART ONE

On April 30th Warner Bros. Pictures and New Line Cinema will bring Freddy Krueger – one of most iconic horror slashers in history – back to the big screen in their version of A Nightmare on Elm Street. Flash back to last July where production for Elm Street took residence in Chicago, IL, within reach from my parent’s home. I took to the Windy City and spent 3 days on set with the cast and crew, while also being blessed with the opportunity to witness the live filming of Jackie Earle Haley as the new Dream Demon. Beyond the break you’ll find our exclusive PART 1 report, with 3 more to following in the coming weeks.

Set Report Part 1 (w/Brad Fuller, Katie Cassidy, Sam Bayer, Patrick Lumb, Andrew Clement)
June 19, 2009
Shooting Day #34 of 46

KRIS, WHAT ARE YOU DOING ON THE CEILING?

Welcome to Chicago, IL, where one of the coldest summers has pulled a complete 180 and flipped on the furnace, a perfectly fitting scenario for the new A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET movie, which has been shooting for 34 days now.

Walking on set into a monster warehouse, the atmosphere was uncharacteristically relaxed. Platinum Dunes Producers Brad Fuller and Andrew Form were in their chairs watching Director Samuel Bayer orchestrate what will be the single most important scene in the reboot.

Without a shadow of a doubt, the infamous “Tina death scene” from Wes Craven’s original ELM STREET, is one of the most prolific and remembered scenes in horror movie history. Recreating it correctly is of the upmost importance.

In front of the monitors is a fully constructed bedroom, which will set the scene for Freddy Krueger’s first major murder. While the original room actually rotated, in this reboot the room is a solid structure, but has a backdrop of trees outside of the windows that are flipped upside down. Stunt double Lisa Hoyle is suspended in midair with a bunch of white wires holding her in place. Hoyle is Katie Cassidy’s stunt double, who plays the role of “Kris” in this ELM STREET. For those of you familiar with the franchise, Kris is the same character as Tina, who is ripped and torn by Freddy Krueger before spinning in midair and crawling across the ceiling to her eventual bloody death.

A Nightmare on Elm Street

We caught up with Katie Cassidy who tells us about recreating that memorable scene as Kris. “That was really intense. I did have a stunt double, but for the most part I wanted to do as much as I possibly could,” she explains adding that it wasn’t easy being throw around. “The physicality of it, it was hard being on a harness and being thrown around the room, jerked up and down, and being slashed in the chest,” she continues, “The blood was everywhere; it was pretty emotionally and physically draining. Though, I look back and I’m sure it is going to look amazing, I mean we saw this reel and it just all made sense to me in my head, I thought, `oh yeah, this is why I am doing this!’ It looked brilliant, just the way he [Sam Bayer] cut it together. I thought this is definitely worth it, I got to go through with it and finish it up without having to give it all to my stunt double,” explaining that it did leave her with her fair share of bumps and bruises. “You know, a lot of actors just give it all to the stunt doubles, but I didn’t want to do that. So after the whole thing I was all bruised, and it was physically hard on my body, but it was cool to say these are my battle wounds from my job!

From this journalists perspective, stunt double Lisa Hoyle is getting demolished. Bayer has her being slammed and banged around – her head has hit the “ceiling” pretty hard on quite a few occasions. Producer Brad Fuller goes into more detail on what Hoyle is going through.

What’s amazing today is that we have this stunt woman who we have on cable, and were just banging her into walls, and that’s her job all day to be a piñata,” he tells Bloody-Disgusting. “She sits there and takes it, and literally when she crunches into the walls, the entire crew grunts because they can’t believe how hard we’re throwing her. She comes out of a take and says, ‘Let’s go do it again.’ When you see she’s only wearing a shirt and tiny shorts, you can’t put pads on someone in this instance,” Fuller explains adding that what you see is what you get. “When you see this [on screen], that woman was really thrown into those walls, there’s no way to fake it. And that’s why (this scene) is taking so long.

This is probably gonna be when all is said and done, two-three days of shooting,” Fuller adds. “We shot it (the room) right side up, and today we are doing it upside down, so that when she is on the ceiling and rolling around, we can shoot all that.

While the first ELM STREET isn’t all that bloody, the Tina death scene is one of the highlights, although don’t expect a bloodbath.

By the nature of the film, it’s not as bloody as FRIDAY THE 13TH or THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE,” says Fuller. “This is more of a film that makes you have nightmares and gets under your skin in a real way, and that is what we are going for. Having said that, you will see in the sizzle reel today (and we did), there is plenty of blood; when people are getting slashed there is blood to be had and we are not skimping on it.

To be honest with you, I don’t think it’s about blood, gore, guts and slashes,” adds Cassidy. “It is more scary and creepy, and there are parts of the movie where I do have blood all over myself, but in the bedroom it wasn’t about the blood.

One thing Platinum Dunes has always been good about is that they rarely use CG blood. Fuller explains that fans don’t have anything to worry about when it comes to the gore.

Yeah, we’re not using CG for our blood, we don’t like CG blood, it doesn’t look right,” he continues, “we insist on doing all the stuff on camera, otherwise it would feel fake. To get the tears [rips in her stomach] right, it took us probably half a night. We actually left because we couldn’t get the blood right and came back the next day and finally got it right..

The man behind the blood, guts and prosthetics is Andrew Clement of Creative Character Engineering. While in his trailer we caught a glimpse at a dummy of Katie Cassidy, which was used to really kick the bedroom scene up a notch.

That’s an effects head and shoulders rig that is designed with a sturdy skeleton that will allow us to smash it up into a ceiling and take a lot more abuse than she can take… [it will] really allow us to break it’s neck.” He continues, “[This was made] for the scene in the bedroom where Freddy’s spirit is thrashing her [Kris] around and killing her. It also has a bottom half that we used, we Velcroed the two together so it can do double duty in the boiler room scene where she is strung up…when she is killed.

DAY “DREAMING” AT SCHOOL

The studio in Chicago is massive, leaving plenty of room for other sets to be constructed. While production may have wrapped on a certain scene, it stays erected in case some additional photography is necessary. One such location was the “school room scene,” which features two classrooms conjoined side-by-side.

One of the rooms is flooded with water, everything in the room warping and covered in gross green mildew. The other classroom was much more striking as it looked like there was a fire prior to our arrival. There was paper charcoal all over, burnt books, warped bookracks and even more unsettling was the blackboard covered in Freddy’s writing. The walls are covered in images of horrible public figures from history, including the evil Adolf Hitler.

A Nightmare on Elm Street

I don’t know what it will look like on film but when we were actually there, the sets were unbelievable on this movie,” Cassidy tells us explaining that the classroom sets were her personal favorite. “The burnt classroom and the disgusting slop classroom, they looked insane. It is really exciting to be a part of something like that, and I can’t wait to see how it reads on camera.

Basically I fall asleep in the classroom and I have a dream,” she continues walking me through the entire scene, “and in my dream I wake up, and the classroom I wake up in is like burnt ash and there is shit everywhere. There is nobody else is in the room besides me and I am the only thing in there that has any sort of life to it, like the classroom is basically dead and like hell. I am in the same clothes – and the teacher is Freddy – so I try to get up and escape, and I open the door to run. However, when I open the door, it’s the same exact classroom, but it’s like another version of a classroom that has been destroyed and is in hell. [The classroom] is a swamp that’s flooded and moldy, and again, my desk is the only one that’s there. It’s tarnished and it’s not a place you want to be in. Again, I cannot escape where I am, so instinctually I run up to the chalkboard and there is Freddy again,” she continues, “now I’m confused and freaked out, my mind is going insane and I have no idea what is going on. Then [Freddy] comes towards me and I instinctually sit back down into my chair and try to get back as far as possible. Freddy then comes close and begins swiping my hair with his gloves, and then I scream wake up in a normal classroom. I am so confused, but what’s interesting is I looked down and the piece of hair that has been cut is still there, so it was obviously some form or reality.

While the classroom sets might have been Katie’s favorite, one of the coolest sets we walked on was nearly pitch black. One of Freddy Krueger’s first real appearances in the film takes place in “Freddy’s Cave,” a dark, dark room covered in candles and draped in dead weeds. From what we’re told the scene takes place in one of Kris’ dreams as she’s trying to uncover the secrets behind the child-molester and how she’s connected to him.

A Nightmare on Elm Street

Dear Bloody-Disgusting readers will have no problem figuring out what happened between Freddy and Kris, but the reboot does carry a brand new premise some of you might not yet be aware of yet (although by the time you read this I’m sure it will already have been reported)…

MICRO-NAPS

One of the things that was exciting was coming up with the concept of micro-naps,” Brad Fuller says with enthusiasm. “that really amped up the third act in a pretty big way and we loved the notion of what it does because, you know, the movie can become repetitive because you are going dream-reality-dream-reality. What the micro-nap does is it kind of walks the line of both, so it allows you to blur reality and the dream world, and get some great scares out of it. It is one of the plot points that really made the movie an exciting thing for us to pursue.

The idea of “micro-naps” was birthed by writer Eric Heisserer, who we chatted with on DAY 4 of our visit. Continue on below for full interviews or to continue reading about our experience on set.

READ PART 2
READ PART 3
READ PART 4 (coming soon)
FULL INTERVIEWS (coming soon)
PREVIEW PIECE: BIRTH OF A NEW FREDDY

A Nightmare on Elm Street