Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Krueger Kombat!

by K. Jerry Peterson

I felt a tingle of excitement, when I heard that Freddy Krueger was going to be in “Mortal Kombat.” I grew up watching the dream stalker’s exploits, and he’s long been one of my favorite movie monsters. So imagine my disappointment when I saw that the Freddy in the game was not the original played by Robert Englund, but Jackie Earle Haley’s from the atrocious 2010 remake. Don’t get me wrong. Haley’s performance was one of the few good things about that movie. Even so, he's a far cry from the Freddy I wanted to see. Maybe it wasn’t so bad though. As I watched footage of Freddy slicing his way through the likes of Sub-Zero, Scorpion and all the rest, I realized something. He may have Haley’s looks, but he’s got Englund’s moves! From his quotes to his attacks to his gestures, this is the original Freddy in spirit.

When it came to naming Freddy’s special attacks and finishing moves for “Mortal Kombat”, the MK team looked to inspiration from Englund’s Krueger. “The power glove,” “What a rush,” “Tell ‘em Freddy sent ya’,” and “Welcome to my nightmare,” are all quips spoken by the original. Not one move is named for anything said by Haley.

Freddy's fatalities likewise take their inspiration from the original Krueger. One fatality has him pulling a defeated kombatant down into the ground. Moments later a geyser of blood erupts and showers the area in red. This gruesome death will be instantly recognizable to anyone that saw Johnny Depp meet his end in the 1984 original. His second fatality has him summoning a steel door from the ground. The door opens to reveal a fiery furnace that he throws his opponent into, much like he did to Kristen in "Dream Master.". When a Babality is performed on Freddy, a black stroller appears, which harkens back to the evil stroller from “Dream Child.” Thankfully baby Freddy is much more adorable in this game than he was in that movie.

This is what the stroller (and Freddy) looked like before getting burnt.

Of his regular moves, Freddy can send disembodied claws skittering along the ground just like the mechanical claw in “Wes Craven’s New Nightmare.” The move that put a grin on my face was his throw, where he grabs the opponent and then makes the “shh” motion with his bladed finger up to his mouth. I was reminded of Phillip’s nightmare in “Dream Warriors” where classic Krueger did the same thing. His flying claw projectile could be lifted from the fatal blow that killed Rick in “Dream Master.”


And finally, Freddy’s ending in Mortal Kombat recreates the poster art of the very first movie. They could have come up with something more in line with the shadowy close-up of Krueger that adorns the poster for the remake, but they chose to homage the original.

One of these things is not like the other. . .

For everything that was borrowed from the original Freddy, it begs the question why the MK team didn’t just render the likeness of Englund’s Krueger. I suspect the answer is as simple as Warner Bros. wanting to promote the newer movie and drive dvd sales. I would venture to guess that the MK team wanted the original Freddy but were given a mandate by Warner Bros. to use the current one. Whatever the case, they've made Haley’s new Freddy cool by injecting him with the style and moves of the original.

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