As most of its creators have acknowledged… “Freddy’s Nightmares,” the anthology series based on the Nightmare on Elm Street films, has hardly stood the test of time. The show’s production coincided with the release of the massively successful A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master. Despite having a pretty cool concept, it seems reasonable to assume the producers had only one goal in mind: to keep milking the cash cow that was Freddy Krueger. After all, this was around the time of Freddy lunch boxes.
As Freddy (Robert Englund) predominantly only served as host, the series had to sustain itself by focusing its storylines on a number of nutty incidents that occurred in the fictional town of Springwood, Ohio… at times, seemingly orchestrated by Freddy’s sheer history and presence. There are certainly a few gems to be found here but, by and far, the show was limited by its budget and more than once the plots proved rather outlandish, even by Nightmare standards.
While the series is known for having featured early performances by Lori Petty (Tank Girl), Mariska Hargitay (“Law & Order: Special Victims Unit”), and Brad Pitt, it is interesting to note that “Freddy’s Nightmares” also showcased a number of horror veterans either as leads or in bit parts. Here, we run down a list of familiar faces you might remember from other films at the time…
1.) Lar Park Lincoln (Friday the 13th Part VII: The New Blood)
Only months after overcoming Jason Voorhees, Lar Park Lincoln found her way onto Elm Street in the second episode of “Freddy’s Nightmares.” Coincidentally, that episode, “It’s a Miserable Life,” was directed by another Friday the 13th alumnus, Tom McLoughlin (Jason Lives: Friday the 13th Part VI).
Lincoln appears in both segments as Karyn. She is initially relegated to a minor role as the girlfriend of Bryan (John Cameron Mitchell), the first segment’s lead. Bryan begins having hallucinations while working the graveyard shift at Beefy Boy, his father’s fast-food burger joint; and towards the end both he and Karyn are gunned down in the restaurant’s parking lot, just as he had envisioned. During the second segment, Lincoln takes center stage. Having survived the gunshot wound, Karyn awakens in Springwood Hospital, only to experience the same hallucinations that plagued her boyfriend.
2.) Burr DeBenning (A Nightmare on Elm Street 5: The Dream Child)
Before appearing as Mr. Jordan in A Nightmare on Elm Street 5: The Dream Child, the late Burr DeBenning also starred opposite Lar Park Lincoln in “It’s a Miserable Life.” He appears in the second segment as Dr. Serling (a nod to “The Twilight Zone”), who treats Karyn upon arrival at the hospital.
As Karyn begins experiencing hallucinations, Dr. Serling brings a level of menace to the madcap proceedings. Fun fact: DeBenning is one of only two actors to have appeared in both the Nightmare on Elm Street films and this TV series, the other being Lezlie Deane (Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare).
3.) Nancy McLoughlin (Jason Lives: Friday the 13th Part VI)
As the wife of the episode’s director, Nancy McLoughlin also scored a role in “It’s a Miserable Life,” just as she did in Jason Lives: Friday the 13th Part VI. She appears as a nurse opposite Burr DeBenning, and the two share a moment of gleeful madness as they sew Lar Park Lincoln’s mouth shut.
4.) Stu Charno (Friday the 13th Part II)
Stu Charno, whom genre fans will remember as Friday the 13th Part II‘s unwittingly fortunate Ted, appears in “Saturday Night Special” as Jim, a friend of the first segment’s lead, Gordon (Scott Burkholder). Both segments of the episode focus on a social outcast (male in the first, female in the second) who attempt to overcome their obstacles to impress the objects of their affection.
5.) Jill Whitlow (Night of the Creeps)
Jill Whitlow solidified her horror icon status when she took a flamethrower to zombies in Night of the Creeps. In “Mother’s Day,” she assumes the role of Elm Street’s manipulative flirt Barbara Gamble. Appearing in both segments, Barbara convinces new kid Billy (Byron Thames) to throw a killer party at his pad while his mother and abrasive stepfather are vacationing.
As it turns out, Billy has just moved into the previous home of one of Freddy’s last victims. The party takes a turn for the worst and in the second segment, it is revealed that Barbara has been framed for murder.
6.) Diana Barrows (Friday the 13th Part VII: The New Blood)
Unlike Lar Park Lincoln, Diana Barrows wasn’t as fortunate when she faced Jason in Friday the 13th Part VII: The New Blood. Likewise, when she played a snobby sorority sister in “Rebel Without a Cause,” Burrows found herself at the mercy of Connie (Katie Barberi), an Omega Kappa Pi reject at Springwood University.
7.) Diane Franklin (Amityville II: The Possession)
Diane Franklin couldn’t escape the family issues she faced in Amityville II: The Possession, and the same is true for her character in “Freddy’s Nightmares.” As Jessica, Franklin appears in both segments of “The Bride Wore Red.” During the first, she worries that her fiance, Gavin (Eddie Driscoll), is having doubts about their marriage (unaware that Gavin has become entangled with a stripper from his bachelor party).
During the latter half of the episode, Jessica deals with her parents’ crumbling marriage. As past trauma comes back to haunt her, she decides to take matters into her own hands. Fun fact: This episode featured Phill Lewis as one of Gavin’s bachelor party pals.
8.) Bill Moseley (The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2)
In “Black Tickets,” Bill Moseley plays a similar role to that of Jim Siedow’s character in the original Texas Chain Saw Massacre. As the rural oddball Buzz, Moseley plays a tow truck driver that encounters a young couple (Brad Pitt and Kerry Brannen) stranded near Springwood. Buzz offers to transport the two to his brother’s motor lodge, which turns out to be a rather “fishy” place.
9.) Lezlie Deane (Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare)
Along with Burr DeBenning, Lezlie Deane is one of only two actors to have been featured on “Freddy’s Nightmares” as well as to have starred in a Nightmare on Elm Street film. The episode in which she appears, “Cabin Fever,” was directed by Robert Englund; and her role as Sue Keller is much different from the troubled youth she played in 1991’s Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare.
As Sue, Deane plays a flight attendant who advances upon passenger Carl (Brett Cullen). Later, her ominous presence ignites Carl’s flight nerves while en route from Chicago to Springwood. Deane returns as the heroine in the genuinely creepy second segment. While at a bar, Sue meets and returns home with Jim (Ted Demers), a charming business suit-type who declares he has a fetish for taxidermy. Fun fact: Jim’s cabin is the same Sable Ranch cabin that was featured as Higgins Haven in Friday the 13th Part III.
10.) Tamara Glynn (Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers)
Before she donned devil horns and charged at Michael Myers with a pitchfork, Halloween 5‘s Tamara Glynn had a bit role in the first segment of “Love Stinks.” As Laura, Glynn is caught in a love triangle as her boyfriend, Adam (John Washington), is stalked by a young temptress (Susanna Savee). Her best moment comes in the form of a nightmare sequence where she brandishes a cleaver and taunts her beau. Fun fact: This episode was directed by John Lafia, who would go on to helm 1990’s Child’s Play 2.
11.) Jeffrey Combs (Re-Animator)
Dr. Herbert West himself, Jeffrey Combs, also appears in “Love Stinks,” albeit in the second segment. Combs plays Ralph, the stepfather to lead Max (Georg Olden). As the owner of a pizza joint, Ralph scores his stepson a job but as it turns out, the pizzeria is the former location of Springwood’s trouble-prone Beefy Boy restaurant; the same fast-food establishment where Lar Park Lincoln’s boyfriend met his end in “It’s a Miserable Life.”
12.) Dick Miller (Gremlins)
Dick Miller had already made a name for himself by starring in a number of well-regarded horror hits, including A Bucket of Blood, The Little Shop of Horrors, The Howling, Gremlins, Night of the Creeps, and Chopping Mall. He appears in “The Light at the End of the Tunnel” (also known as “Freddy Something”) as Al, the gruff “Lord of the Underworld,” who hires Michael (David Arnott) to work in the sewers of Springwood. Unfortunately, Michael also happens to suffer from a fear of the dark.
13.) David Kagen (Jason Lives: Friday the 13th Part VI)
The number of Friday the 13th alumni who have appeared on the show is truly something to behold. David Kagen from Jason Lives appears in the first segment of “Identity Crisis.” As Fred Thomas, Kagen plays an architect who tries to eliminate the fears his co-worker Buddy (Jeff Conaway) has over approaching his 40th birthday. Meanwhile, Buddy attempts to address his relational issues with his sadistic yuppie son.
14.) William Butler (Friday the 13th Part VII: The New Blood)
Yet another cast member from Friday the 13th! William Butler first appeared as a student in “The Art of Death” and later had an uncredited role as Trenton in “Heartbreak Hotel.” While Butler didn’t face Freddy Krueger in either episode, he is the only actor to have appeared within the Nightmare on Elm Street, Friday the 13th, and Texas Chainsaw Massacre franchises (he had lead roles in Leatherface: Texas Chainsaw Massacre III as well as Tom Savini’s 1990 remake of Night of the Living Dead).
15.) Charles Cyphers (Halloween)
Charles Cyphers (aka Sheriff Leigh Brackett in the first two Halloween films) appears in the Season 2 opener, “Dream Come True,” one of only six episodes that explicitly revolves around Freddy Krueger. Cyphers has a small role as Ben Ostroff, a new station owner whose cameraman (Gerard Pendergrast) attempts to capture Freddy on film.
16.) Tiffany Helm (Friday the 13th: A New Beginning)
Fans of Friday the 13th will hardly recognize punk goddess Tiffany Helm in “Heartbreak Hotel.” As the clean-cut Mary, Helm is a pregnant country belle who works as a hotel waitress. There, she meets Roger (John Stinson), a tabloid writer looking for a scoop.
As Mary goes into labor, she allows Roger to film the birth of her child, which he intends to spin for an article about the spawn of Satan. Fun fact: Helm’s mother, Brooke Bundy, appeared as Elaine Parker in A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors and A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master.