“The big lesson in life, baby, is never be scared of anyone or anything.”
― Frank Sinatra
Fandom is an industry. At its worst, it becomes a corporate show repackaging your past to sell back at you. At its best, you have a group of people that come together over a mutual love for characters and situations. FredHeads (2022) is a fan produced documentary by those people within the A Nightmare On Elm Street community. This is not about the making of the franchise instead it’s a portrait of people brought together by the characters within the stories even the villain Freddy Krueger himself. The people call themselves FredHeads devoted sometimes literally to all things from the franchise.
Fandom has its own nomenclature and in some cases hierarchy as I found out years ago as involvement with Star Trek Fandom. One would be called Trekkie by the public which is a term for the younger fans while we folk that had gone through ‘The Deadly Years’ from the beginning of the original series were known as Trekkers. The FredHeads don’t have this, so they seem refreshingly all-encompassing.
Structurally the film begins with a group of friends (Paige Troxell, Anthony Brownlee, Jacob Cotner, Diandra Lazor, Kim Gunzinger) and others who are the filmmakers sharing their stories on how this franchise has impacted their lives. The people sit around a table in after-dinner conversation mode. Interspersed with these conversations are moments from convention floors where life-long fans, cosplayers, glove makers, artists, filmmakers, and kids. Freddy Krueger is regarded as a Superman of sorts who can go in your dreams unlike many of the conventional slasher monsters like Jason Voorhees or Michael Myers,
The dark side of this fandom while it is a ‘Lovefest’ for this Wes Craven creation is that many of the people in the film faced the real horror of bullying. Some have come from unsupportive families or abusive relationships. Many were ridiculed because of their looks, or lack of physical size. The people simply didn’t fit in with their relationships, friends, and even siblings. Diandra Lazor relates a story of how she had two Facebook profiles with one being more acceptable to what her parents wanted. The second was her horror persona and her love of the Elm Street character Nancy Thompson. Lazor later realized that she didn’t need two profiles and could be who she was through interaction with the family of FredHeads. While it is easy for people to view these people as being ‘crazy’ or out of touch with the real world one finds the world has left them behind in their own black hole. The most horrific are the attempts at suicide or physical harm which become front and centre in perhaps the film’s poignant moment. The best thing about this is these revelations are not by polished actors, or slick editing in the mode of ‘reality TV’. FredHeads (2022) often uses a homage to VHS video with poor tracking, tape tears and rolls as transitions between segments. VHS format was often the common way that these people first meet Freddy and more importantly, the strong characters within the franchise that inspired them to fight on, to not give up in their lives. The film also puts up an on-screen number for those to call if they are in distress themselves or know of someone who is.
FredHeads (2022) is the human side of fandom that gives you more than enough examples as it clocks in 140 mins white the material moving rapidly if not slightly repetitive. The original stars of the franchise are revered as many go to see them at various conventions year after year. Would be an interesting film for people not in any fandom to see sections to perhaps get an understanding of the devotion to something that helps people get on with their lives. Frank Sinatra said, “Basically, I’m for anything that gets you through the night – be it prayer, tranquillizers or a bottle of Jack Daniels.” In this case, its belief in yourself brought on kids that faced down a guy in the sweater and fedora with razors on his gloves.