17 May 2019
Freddy Krueger is a well known horror villain who is remembered for being indestructible in the very place he can hurt you: your dreams. Freddy was born after his mother was raped by several mental institute inmates at her workplace. His mother denied him as her son and put him up for adoption, and so he was adopted by a man named Mr. Underwood. Mr. Underwood quickly became an alcoholic and abused Freddy throughout his childhood. Freddy eventually killed his abuser, beginning his streak as a serial killer. He later picked up a job at an elementary school where he would molest the students. After finding out, the parents of the children rallied together and locked Freddy in his boiler room, set it on fire, and killed him. This gave him the ability to haunt his victims in their dreams as a supernatural entity. What exactly cause Freddy to act out in these ways after all? And how can he be analyzed under Jeffrey Jerome Cohen’s Seven Monster Theses?
The first thing that may have influenced Freddy Krueger’s serial killings is that he displayed sociopathic behavior at a young age and was also bullied for the way he was conceived. The other children would tease him and call him “son of 100 maniacs.” As a young boy, Freddy showed signs of sociopathic behavior, which manifests itself in extreme antisocial attitudes and behavior as well as a lack of conscience. It is characterized as a disregard for other people. This disorder alone cannot lead someone to commit the atrocities that Freddy did, but the disregard for others plays an important role in his ability to do these things. Being bullied constantly along with that may lead to something dangerous. Freddy’s sociopathic behavior could be read as both a necessary cause and a remote cause. A necessary cause is a factor that must be in place for something to occur, and a remote cause is something that may act at some distance from an event but be closely tied to it. Being bullied could be read as a reciprocal cause, or a reciprocal situation where a cause leads to an effect that, in turn, strengthens the cause.
The “best” cause that may have heavily influenced Freddy’s serial killings was the introduction of Mr. Underwood into his life. Mr. Underwood adopted Freddy at a very young age and soon became alcoholic and abusive. He would regularly hit and verbally abuse Freddy, and taught him how to torture animals and inflict pain unto himself. This lifelong abuse could be read as reciprocal, precipitating, and necessary causes. A precipitating cause being the proverbial straw that breaks a camel’s back. Freddy had finally had enough of Mr. Underwood’s abuse, so he killed him with a shaving razor after being repeatedly struck with a belt.
The final thing that may have heavily influenced Freddy’s serial killings is the fact that he killed his own abusive adoptive father. After being repeatedly struck with a belt, Freddy stabbed the man with a shaving razor. The psychological toll of his father’s abuse as well as murdering him could have easily marked the beginning of Freddy’s killings, and therefore struck the metaphorical match that would set his newfound murderous ways ablaze. This could be read as both a necessary cause and a remote cause.
Freddy Krueger can be analyzed under Jeffrey Jerome Cohen’s Monster Thesis II: The Monster Always Escapes. This thesis states that the monster is always reincarnated as a fragment of itself, representing events and abnormalities in the culture and/or society that creates it. This also means that the monster is generally hard to kill. In the first Nightmare on Elm Street, Freddy is nearly invincible so long as he is in his dream world. If you can remove him from the dream world he has the power of a normal human being, however that is very hard to do. In the first film Freddy is seemingly defeated, and yet comes back over and over again in each new film. He can also be analyzed under Thesis VII: The Monster Stands at the Threshold…of Becoming. This thesis states that monsters are created by ourselves, and ask us “how we perceive the world, and how we have misrepresented what we have attempted to place.” (Cohen 20) Freddy was not born a serial killer, the people and events in his life are what made him do the things he did. Being abandoned as a child, being constantly abused, having a sociopathic disorder, and regularly torturing animals and himself slowly built up to make him what he is today.
To reiterate, all monsters in this world, fiction or nonfiction, generally have a reason for being created, a reason for doing the atrocities they have done. Nobody is born with a malicious personality. In Freddy Krueger’s case, he was created from neglect, abuse, and psychological torment throughout the early years of his life.
- A Nightmare on Elm Street. Wes Craven, New Line Cinema, 1984.
- A Nightmare on Elm Street: Dream Warriors. Chuck Russell, New Line Cinema, 1987
- Cohen, Jeffrey Jerome. Monster Theory: Reading Culture. University of Minnesota Press, 1997.