Claim: Freddy Krueger from ‘A Nightmare on Elm Street’ was inspired by a real serial killer.
We might be months away from Halloween, but that won’t stop the internet from trying to scare you. A social media legend is claiming horror protagonist Freddy Krueger was once a real man.
Krueger is the villain in the 1984 horror movie “A Nightmare on Elm Street,” a child murderer’s terrifying spirit that haunts teenagers’ dreams. After inspiring a five-film series and several spinoffs, the Krueger character has become famous for his fedora, claws and burnt skin.
“DID YOU KNOW…. That the Horror Film Character Freddy Kruger (sic) was based on a real life serial killer who lived in Lightening Creek, Oklahoma in the 1800s,” Michael Phariss posted on Facebook on July 2. “Later the town was moved and became Alluwe, Oklahoma.”
The post then shares eerie details of child murders, factory fires and haunted ghost towns alongside a mysterious photo of a dark figure lurking behind three oblivious toddlers.
It all started with a Halloween joke
In a much shorter October 2017 Facebook post, Lamaur Foster told his followers about the “real serial killer” alongside a photo of a gravestone inscribed “Frederick Kruger.” Foster recounted the legend of an 1800s serial killer who allegedly inspired the iconic character before disclosing the post was a holiday joke.
“Actually, I just found this picture and made all that … up. Happy October everyone!” Foster wrote at the end of the post, which received thousands of shares, likes and comments.
The legend evolved over time
Foster’s original post shares several themes with the longer version Phariss shared in July. In both posts, the fictional character had a similar death count, weapon choice, crime scene and punishment. They differ in location, photo, detail and disclaimer.
The latest version of the post is accompanied by an old photo of a man in a fedora lurking behind several children as they pose for a photo. Reverse search of the image shows it’s appeared on paranormal-theory sites and creepypastas in various contexts for more than a decade.
The most glaring difference between the two posts is that Phariss does not disclose that the legend is untrue.
Krueger didn’t create Oklahoma ghost towns
Phariss’ version of the legend has unique details about how Krueger has haunted towns and killed children from beyond the grave.
“But shortly after his death a string of unexpected deaths occurred involving young teenagers & children while they were sleeping in their beds, before they died a few parents said their children would wake up in the middle of the night from the night terrors to what they called a burned & scary old man with a claw was trying to kill them and refused to go back to sleep,” claims Phariss’ post.
“Lightening Creek, and Old Alluwe, Oklahoma has since became ghost towns where all residents have long moved away in Fear that it was haunted by His ghost,” it continues.
Lightening Creek residents changed the town’s name to Alluwe in 1883. After the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers bought the land to build Oologah Lake in the 1950s, the town was moved and renamed New Alluwe. The town is estimated to have lost half its population during the 1957 move. It was still inhabited by 90 people in 2010. Old Alluwe refers to the area where Alluwe, formerly known as Lightening Creek, once stood.
Lightening Creek/Old Alluwe is not still inhabited because it’s been replaced with a lake, not due to a haunting.
Creator says a news article inspired ‘Nightmare on Elm Street’
In a 2014 interview with Vulture, “A Nightmare on Elm Street” director and writer Wes Craven said he came up with the idea for Krueger’s character after reading an L.A. Times article about a family who immigrated to the U.S. from the Killing Fields of Cambodia.
“Things were fine, and then suddenly the young son was having very disturbing nightmares. He told his parents he was afraid that if he slept, the thing chasing him would get him, so he tried to stay awake for days at a time,” said Craven. “When he finally fell asleep, his parents thought this crisis was over. Then they heard screams in the middle of the night. By the time they got to him, he was dead. He died in the middle of a nightmare. Here was a youngster having a vision of a horror that everyone older was denying. That became the central line of Nightmare on Elm Street.”
Neither Phariss nor Foster has responded to USA TODAY’s request for comment.
Our rating: False
The social media legend claiming the “A Nightmare on Elm Street” character Freddy Krueger was once a real serial killer stems from a 2017 Halloween prank. The story has evolved over the past several years to offer new details relevant to different areas and lost its original prank disclaimer. “A Nightmare on Elm Street” creator Wes Craven said a news article inspired Krueger, not a real serial killer. We rate this claim FALSE.
Our Fact Check Sources:
Thank you for supporting our journalism. You can subscribe to our print edition, ad-free app or electronic newspaper replica here.
Our fact check work is supported in part by a grant from Facebook.