John Saxon is a national treasure, a reliable character actor who’s appeared in two of this nation’s greatest horror movies: 1974’s Black Christmas and, a decade later, the first A Nightmare on Elm Street (not to mention its second sequel, Dream Warriors). In the latter two, he played protagonist Nancy Thompson’s father, who we soon learned was, along with the rest of his neighbors, part of the reason why Freddy Krueger started killing in the first place. Well, Freddy must’ve been haunting his dreams in real life, too, because in 1987—the year Dream Warriors was released—he wrote a treatment for a heretofore unseen prequel to the film.
It surfaced this week on eBay, when people noticed user TheMovieWizard was auctioning off a “pitch package” for the film entitled How the Nightmare on Elm Street All Began. While Freddy has an origin story, nobody’s ever done a feature-length exploration of it. Freddy’s initial death is the same in Saxon’s draft as it is in Nightmare lore—he’s burned to death by Elm Street parents for murdering children—but Saxon’s story deviates in a few key ways.
Now, this information is gleaned only from the pages shown in the eBay listing’s accompanying images, so some context is undoubtedly lacking. But here’s what we know: In Saxon’s version, Krueger is working as a therapist and treating none other than Nancy Thompson’s stepsister Betsy, who’s recently returned home after running off to a hippie commune (this last bit is important). After she turns up dead, he’s killed by the parents. But here’s the twist: He was innocent!
This latter idea was toyed with in the 2010 remake starring Jackie Earle Haley, but the next twist sure wasn’t. Saxon’s movie takes place in the late ‘60s, and it turns out the murders were committed not by Krueger, but by the era’s most famous psychopath: Charles Manson. Yep, it was Manson’s followers, not Freddy, who killed all those kids. It’s a bold move, for sure, but…a bit much, perhaps? There’s a reason, after all, for why Saxon’s robust IMDB page is bereft of writing credits. Nevertheless, the treatment’s already been sold for $350. If it’s one of you, do share with us the rest of the story. If it’s not one of you, it was probably Quentin Tarantino.