When I looked down there was a man very much like Freddy walking along the sidewalk. He must have sensed that someone was looking at him and stopped and looked right into my face. He scared the living daylights out of me, so I jumped back into the shadows. I waited and waited to hear him walk away. Finally I thought he must have gone, so I stepped back to the window. The guy was not only still looking at me but he thrust his head forward as if to say, ‘Yes, I’m still looking at you.’ The man walked towards the apartment building’s entrance. I ran through the apartment to our front door as he was walking into our building on the lower floor. I heard him starting up the stairs. My brother, who is ten years older than me, got a baseball bat and went out to the corridor but he was gone
~Wes Craven describing his encounter and impression of the homeless man
I have to admit, this is the ultimate revenge. How many of you that have been bullied as children dreamed of getting back at the bully in some way or the other? For most of us it’s only a dream, and will never be fulfilled. But gee wiz, Craven had the opportunity of a lifetime and used his childhood tormentors name as the name for the evil and disfigured villain. Now that’s a payback that will last decades. The remainder of the persona was based on DC Comics superhero Plasticman. Never heard of him? Probably the reason Craven was bullied as a child.
The only part of the character was the outfit. Jason had a mask, and Chucky was a doll, which is kind of scary enough in itself. How to make an already screwed up individual that kills people in their dreams even more scary? Craven opted to give him a red and green striped shirt because those two colors clash the most. This mix of a messed up individual, taken from a disfigured homeless man, a bully, and a superhero formed the horrific man we know today as Freddy Kreuger. But what about the plot and story line? You know, his power to attack and kill people in their dreams, ala lucid dreaming fashion, is a really weird idea, and one that kept a lot of teenagers up late for a very long time.
The idea for Freddy Kreuger’s power came from a series of reported events in the LA Times. At the time that Craven was developing his story, a series of unusual deaths were occurring throughout California where people were reporting recurring nightmares. The victims who made the reports all later died in their sleep. Pretty freaking weird, huh? To capitalize on these weird events, Craven had to build a background for his character that would make him absolutely despicable. At first he decided to make him a child molester, but due to a series of child molestations at the time, he decided to make him a child murderer to avoid any bad publicity by exploiting the spate of molestations at the time.