“Donald Thompson secretly visits Mr. Krueger, a young, sensitive, bookish intellectual, who wears a red and green sweater…”
John Saxon is something of an icon in the horror world, having starred in two of the best horror movies ever made: Black Christmas in 1974 and A Nightmare on Elm Street in 1984. Saxon is perhaps most known to horror fans for the latter film, which saw him play the father of heroine Nancy Thompson.
John Saxon later reprised the role of Donald Thompson in A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors, released in 1987. But what you probably don’t know about Saxon is that, the very same year that Dream Warriors came out, he penned his own treatment for a proposed prequel to Wes Craven’s original classic!
Aside from the Tobe Hooper-directed pilot episode of “Freddy’s Nightmares,” Freddy’s origin story has only been briefly delved into over the years. Granted, the films laid out much of the story, but Saxon’s pitch was to do something that has to date still not been done: make an entire movie out of Freddy’s reign of terror as the very human “Springwood Slasher.”
Well… sort of.
Over on eBay, the account TheMovieWizard is currently selling Saxon’s ultra-rare treatment for How the Nightmare on Elm Street All Began, a pitch package that has completely flown under the radar over the years. Hell, I’ve been a diehard Elm Street fan my whole life, and I had NEVER heard about this thing.
The film Saxon hoped to get off the ground was set in 1969, many years before the events of A Nightmare on Elm Street. Nancy Thompson is just five years old and, playing upon a deleted scene from the original Elm Street, she has a step-sister, Betsy Thompson (named Melody in an alternate treatment), who’s caught up in the hippie movement of the time.
Unfortunately, the eBay seller only uploaded photos of select pages from the treatment, but what I’ve been able to ascertain is that the story kicks into high gear when Donald takes the teenage Betsy to a therapist after bringing her home from a hippie commune she ran away to – a therapist whose name happens to be Frederick Krueger. At the time all of this Thompson family turmoil is going on, Donald is also investigating the murder of a young boy who was “stabbed with some kind of object that produces multiple wounds simultaneously.”
Betsy Thompson is soon killed. And of course, the killer is Fred… right?
The Elm Street parents eventually kidnap Freddy in the hopes of at least getting him to confess to his crimes, but they end up becoming so enraged by his confessions that they beat him up and burn him alive. After the murder, the young Nancy Thompson soon begins having visions of a burnt up demon wearing a red and green sweater.
Now here’s where things get REALLY CRAZY.
Again, I only have select pages of Saxon’s treatment at my disposal, but what I’m gathering is that his pitch was for Fred Krueger to actually be innocent of the crimes he’s forced to confess to – an idea briefly explored in the 2010 Elm Street remake. As he’s being burnt alive, he insists that he’s innocent, and that the Elm Street parents are actually to blame for their children losing their lives. Why? Because they didn’t care about their children enough. And because that lack of care led those teenagers, in 1969, to seek comfort in the arms of…
Yes, John Saxon’s Elm Street prequel pitch ties the lore of Freddy Krueger directly to Charles Manson, who was of course America’s biggest real-life villain during the time period his proposed film was to be set in. It was actually Manson who master-minded the murders Freddy was killed for, carried out by his loyal followers.
Naturally, Krueger returns from the dead in the nightmares of the Elm Street children, seeking revenge for his own wrongful death at the hands of the Elm Street parents.
Not only would Saxon’s proposed film have significantly deepened the history between Freddy Krueger and his greatest adversary, Nancy Thompson, but it also would’ve blown minds by introducing the idea that Freddy was actually innocent all along. Furthermore, it would’ve linked the fictional slasher icon to one of American history’s most notorious bad guys, which would have forever changed everything we thought we knew about Freddy and the Elm Street mythology.
Needless to say, Saxon’s Elm Street prequel would’ve been bold, bonkers and like nothing we’ve ever seen before. Perhaps a little *too* bold, if anything.
If you’re interested, you can preview and purchase the crazy treatment over on eBay.