In episode three of True Fiction, we’re delving into the realm of dreams and nightmares to look at the origins of a beloved horror movie franchise: Nightmare on Elm Street. The series introduced Freddy Kruger–now an iconic horror movie villain–into pop culture, but the birth of the character–and the horrors he inflicted–are rooted in tragedies that occurred in the real world.
As you can imagine, exploring the subject matter that inspired the movie series and charting its transformation into a pop culture entertainment is tricky. And that’s what host and writer Kurt Indovina discusses below. You can check out True Fiction episode three below and on the GameSpot Universe YouTube channel, where new episodes will be released every Sunday.
Kurt: While making True Fiction I was faced with a lot of challenges I hadn’t dealt with in previous projects. Challenges like, ‘How do I tell the history of hundreds of Hmong refugees who escaped a mass genocide after the crippling end of the Vietnam War only to die in their sleep after thinking they had finally reached salvation’ in a way that is respectful, but also entertaining, fun, and charming viewing experience for you.
Sure, movies aren’t real–Freddy Krueger, Godzilla, and Twin Peaks are, to us, just things of make-believe. But as I peeled back the layers, and found their inspirations, the results are, well, not the most uplifting stories.
So for this episode, I wanted to push the team to tell this miserably sad real story in the most captivating and cinematic way possible. A way that was tasteful to the real history, while also paying homage to the movie it inspired.
But along with those ambitions came other challenges that I, again, hadn’t been graced with before. One being our filming location. To match the Nightmare on Elm Street vibe, we wanted a boiler room–something gross, dark, and scary. And oh, did we find the right place. In the basement of an old abandoned restaurant was a maze of concrete halls, dark corners, and yes, a massive and rusty boiler room.
It was exactly what we wanted–maybe too much so. Covering the concrete floors were dozens, if not hundreds of dead cockroaches and indistinguishable liquids. There’s one particular shot where the camera follows me down a corridor while I sporadically move my eyebrows around my forehead and deliver my lines. But beneath my feet, with every step, I felt and heard the crunch of cockroaches being crushed under the soles of my shoes. It was vile and remains the most vivid sensation from the shoot. And the best part is that we did that take over and over again, and every time stepping all over crushed cockroaches.
Also, our producer Adam Mason (bless his heart), endured an eye injury when a spec of an unknown substance fell from the ceiling and directly into his eye, putting him out of commission for several hours. Oh, and on the second day of shooting, when we filmed in a hotel room fit to look like a sleeping clinic, we set the fire alarm off by using too much smoke from a fog machine. (Frankly, I ignorantly didn’t believe that’d set it off. But, now I know: don’t use a fog machine in hotel rooms–you’ll cause a great panic.)
At the end of it all, I’m very proud of this episode. And despite the dark source material, I think we managed to fulfill the expectation of making something fun and engaging to watch.