Freddy Krueger, is one of Hollywood’s most iconic horror characters. Horror fans have seen his movies. There was even a TV show, Freddy’s Nightmares. It’s strange that we don’t know much about his background. We’ve seen bits and pieces in the films. We know that he was a child killer before he became a supernatural dream stalker. One fan, Nathan Thomas Milliner, is about to go deeper into Freddy’s past with his film, The Confession Of Fred Krueger. I had the opportunity to speak with Milliner to discuss his upcoming project, his vision for Freddy Krueger and what is it about this particular character that connects with the audience.
DP: What was your vision for Freddy in this film?
NTM: When it comes to this character, we fans are pretty dead set on Mr. Robert Englund as the visage and host of him. No one will ever be able to fully replace this man. Englund was the perfect person to play the role and he made it his own. But this is a low, low, low budget fan film. I can’t hire Robert and he’d never do anything like this anyway. It’s kind of amusing how many people out there are suggesting I should have cast him. There is a misconception this is an official release. Which I try to take as a compliment. But it’s just a non-profit fan film like any other. Nothing different here. Only I feel I have cast an excellent actor in Kevin Roach. The immediate thing one thinks of when casting a Freddy is does he look and sound like Englund? That is what many people want and expect but in all honesty, I’d much rather have the best actor I can find than a look-a-like. I didn’t want Kevin to be tied down to imitation. I think trying to sound and act just like another actor takes talent in itself but I think it also can hold an actor back and at times can make a performance stunted or false. My vision for Freddy in this was the vision I had of him in watching those first two films and reading Jeffrey Cooper’s origin story. This drifter, outsider, bum who through jealousy, ridicule and hatred decided to hurt these beautiful people of suburbia that he could never be. Freddy was not conditioned to be normal. I think a lot of it is that outsider mentality. I was bullied and a bit of a loner growing up. I didn’t go through the hell as a kid that Freddy went through but to me, Freddy was never fit for society. Sure he is smart enough to pretend and manipulate his way among the flock of sheep as the hungry wolf but the Freddy that Craven envisioned to me was not interested in a normal life. Would never see himself as the bread winner in suburbia with the picket fence and the wife and kid. Freddy lived in the boiler room. It is right there in the first film. ‘Never Sleep Again’ writes about it and has photos of it. Freddy lived in that boiler room. There is a photo of Rachel sitting on Freddy’s bed. It isn’t clear in the film but towards the end when Nancy is in the boiler room looking for Freddy she goes into his living space. She finds Tina’s crucifix under Freddy’s mattress. So up until 1991, that was Freddy to me. I wanted to go back to that. I wanted Freddy to be the most disgusting person in the world. I wanted him to be the last person you’d want to be in an interrogation room with. He stinks, he looks like he crawled out of Hell and he is as sinister as they come. My direction to Kevin was to pay attention to Englund’s physicality, posture and cadence in the original film. To focus on his vocabulary and laugh but to ultimately be Freddy. Don’t be Robert Englund as Freddy. Be the man on the page. And I have to say, what Kevin did is terrifying to watch. There were times on set where I couldn’t stop smiling and times when I was so enthralled by him that I would forget to call cut. This is the Freddy we never got to see outside of Part 1. This is the Freddy that existed before we saw him kill Tina in her mother’s bed. This isn’t the Freddy who turned into a tv set. This isn’t the Freddy who rode a broomstick. That Freddy has his place too. But this for me, is who Craven saw in his head. This is that hobo who scared him as a child outside his window and loved tormenting and scaring a kid. And who ultimately butchered toddlers with glee. This is no anti-hero. This is your worst nightmare.
DP: What is it about Freddy Krueger that terrifies and entertains the public?
NTM :Like serial killers in real life I think it comes down to curiosity. Most of my original fiction in my own books and films have tended to lean towards the dark side of humanity and at times have been very violent. People in my life have questioned my interests in this. I like to explain it as it isn’t a wish fulfillment or a fantasy thing for me. I do not identify with the characters in my stories. In fact, that is why I spend so much time exploring them. Because I want to understand them because I am the polar opposite. And in understanding why they are the way they are and why they exist, it helps to come to terms with it. I think we all have this natural curiosity about violence and evil. Most stories are rooted in it. The earliest stories man told were about what was out in the dark, waiting to kill them. The bear, the sabertooth tiger, or other people. The horror genre is about death and our fear and obsession with it. Freddy has been able to entertain and terrify because he was so brilliantly composed by Wes. It is such an amazing creation. From his look to his choice of weapon to how he exists. An entity that can enter you minds, your beds while you sleep and you cannot escape. As it has been said, “Freddy is like Jaws if you were forced to swim in the ocean 8 hours out of the day.” We all have to sleep and if you do, you’re his. And then there is his immortality. Freddy lets you know you can’t hurt him. Something he only did in the first film which was brilliant. When he stops Tina to make her watch him cut his own fingers off and laugh it off. To slice open his chest in front of Nancy to spell it out to her: “You can’t kill me.” Freddy isn’t just some guy with a machete hacking teenagers. He is manipulative, intelligent, calculating, invasive and mocks you the entire time he takes you out. He is a killer who loves being the most wicked man on earth…or in your dreams.
DP: What research did you have to do prior to this project?
NTM: The script was easy to write because I’ve been a fan since I was 12 years old. It’s been almost 30 years now. So I just know this story and this character and there are actually many shades of Freddy as if you really look, the films changed the man over and over and over. Englund evolved and evolved and once you reached Part 3 or 4 you were seeing a major shift in who this guy was. By ‘Freddy’s Dead’ you saw a completely different version of him and a whole new origin story added. So because the character I grew to be intrigued about was that one I first met in the first few films I chose to just pick the original film and use that as the basis for my script. I had read the books, making of books, watched documentaries, listened and watched interviews from Craven talking about the character and the story to Robert Englund talking about the motivations and inspirations he used from attitude, physicality, personality and motive. I watched the deleted scenes, talked to fans of the series in depth for hours upon hours. I learned details about the glove, the sweater, the make-up, the locations, etc. When I become a fan of a film I absorb as much as I possibly can. Going way beyond the film itself. I have seen the original scripts. Stuff that was changed or altered. Stuff like Freddy using a knife originally and just being some big guy in a black tee shirt if I recall. Don’t hold me to that as it has been years. At one point his sweater was red and yellow striped. I’ve read Craven’s unused ‘Dream Warriors’ script. Freddy in that script was nastier than he’s ever been seen before. I basically cherry picked the things I learned about the films and outside of the films and also picked from the novelizations and deleted scenes. And then there was “Never Sleep Again.” In 2014 I was lucky enough to become the cover artist for that book written by Thommy Hutson. Thommy had written the documentary as well and is a massive Elm Street fan. The book is the most thorough and in-depth account of the original film ever made. Everything you ever wanted to know is in that book. They even interviewed hair and make-up people and the jump rope girls. Each aspect is covered in it. It’s 250 pages of nothing but 1984’s Elm Street. It was a major resource that I was so thrilled to have been a part of thanks to Hutson understanding how much of a fan I was. This is my favorite horror film. I could also site that back in the mid-1990s I wrote a graphic novel (The Malevolent) that had a serial killer as the main antagonist. So to get that right I did months and months of heavy research on the minds and crimes of famous serial killers. Not just serial killers but books on killing in general. From soldiers to the normal citizen. How it effects people. Why they do it. In fact I did so much studying of this that I had to one day stop completely because it made me physically ill. Getting into the mindset of a man who can take a human being apart as nonchalantly as you or I might do our laundry. So that research and understanding definitely helped me in being able to understand who Fred Krueger may have been in real life. What would have driven him and created him. I was much more interested in exploring a real person versus a caricature.
DP: Where and when can people see the film?
NTM: The film will make its premiere at HorrorHound Weekend in Indianapolis the weekend of September 11th-13th. I don’t know the date just yet. Those interested can keep up on the official facebook page “The Confession of Fred Krueger.” Following that show the movie will go live for free on youtube. It is a non-profit piece of fan fiction I made out of my own pocket to return to the original vision of the character.
DP: What do you hope horror fans will take from watching this film?
NTM: I just want people to enjoy it. So far it appears as predicted that as in all things, people will be divided by it. As a Freddy fan I have seen over the years a lot of fans who came to the franchise at different times and have their own views on who this character is or should be. We all, as fans have different perspectives so it makes sense that each one of us can agree and disagree about these things constantly. I think there is a good percentage of old school Elm Street fans out there who really missed the Freddy they first fell in love with back in 1984 and 1985. The one we saw in the original film and Freddy’s Revenge. That is who we are really catering to here as I am in that camp. Seeing Robert play Freddy in any of the films is a treat. I love him to death. But there is a part of me that really wants to go back to that original. That is why in my film, Kevin has the original sweater (no stripes on the sleeves), the clothes are baggy and ill fitting, he had the original hat and the original glove. I have props in this film I hunted down that appear in it. Stuff as trivial as a sippy cup in Freddy’s lair to a VOLTAGE sign and black rimmed glasses sitting on the workbench where he made the glove in the opening scene. The attention to detail is all there. It was important to me to nail it. There will be those who will reject it and we knew that from day one. I only ask to have an open mind and realize this movie isn’t trying to hurt anyone it is only made out of pure love and passion from a very die hard fan who is simply putting the image of Fred Krueger that he has had in his head since seeing the first 4 films back in 1988 as an impressionable young kid. There will be changes and things that were cut from the film and people will wonder why I chose to do something and I welcome those questions. I assure you nothing in this film is careless or without deep thought and can all be answered with ease. This was not thrown together but has been in the making for 27 years. Just have fun with it. That’s it.
If you’d like to know more about the film, you can view the film’s Facebook page. You can also see the trailer for ‘The Confession of Fred Krueger’ below.
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