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Nightmare On Elm Street’s Dream Demons Explained

Nightmare on Elm Street’s franchise villains the Dream Demons gave Freddy Krueger his powers, so why are they barely ever referenced in the movies?

The Nightmare on Elm Street franchise’s Dream Demons are barely ever referenced in the series despite being the source of Freddy Krueger’s powers, leading to questions about what they are and how they work. Beginning in 1984 with director Wes Craven’s original supernatural slasher A Nightmare On Elm Street, the story of Freddy Krueger became progressively more convoluted as the villain racked up more and more movie appearances. Krueger was initially established as a monstrous ghost who could attack teens in their dreams, but gradually the character gained more and more lore-heavy backstory until his origins involved inter-dimensional demonic entities.

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Unfortunately, unlike Craven’s other horror franchise Scream, the Nightmare on Elm Street sequels wer unable to match the critical success of the original movie and many of them became hated by a vocal portion of the franchise’s fanbase. The reasoning behind this is understandable, as the original Nightmare on Elm Street’s killer premise (a murderer who attacked via dreams) was ingenious but far-fetched, and adding any more convoluted mythology resulted in the horror series becoming a bit too silly. However, dismissing the later sequels in the series can on occasion result in people missing out on interesting elements of the Nightmare on Elm Street mythos, such as the Dream Demons.


Related: Robert Englund Directed A Bizarre Nightmare On Elm Street Rip-Off

Unseen until the final movie in the original series, 1990’s celebrity cameo-packed Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare, the Dream Demons are the franchise’s big-picture villains who granted Freddy his powers and used him as a conduit for their evil plans. So, what are these evil plans and when do the monsters appear in the Nightmare On Elm Street canon? According to Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare, their plans involve using Freddy to open a portal to the human world from the dream world and, according to a later tie-in comic, the Dream Demons are none too happy when the killer attempts to renege on this bargain.


What Are Nightmare On Elm Street’s Dream Demons?

Freddy's Dead Dream Demons

Looking like floating skeletal snakes, the Dream Demons are the demonic entities that gave Freddy (and presumably some other similarly monstrous humans) the power to return from the dead and haunt the dream world. Fans of the franchise will recall Freddy’s obsession with returning to the real world, which never really added up given how powerful he is in the dream world. However, this detail makes sense given the fact that he is supposed to help the Dream Demons cross over into reality. The Dream Demons appear on-screen briefly in the climax of Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare, where they are banished back to Hell upon Freddy becoming mortal and being killed with a pipe bomb. However, that lone movie appearance is not their entire Nightmare On Elm Street story.


Nightmare On Elm Street’s Dream Demon Plan Explained

Demon Freddy Krueger and Jason Goes to Hell Header

The Dream Demons gave Freddy the power to kill via nightmares so that they could gain purchase in the real world, with their eventual goal being to break down the barrier between reality and dreams. Part of why a Nightmare on Elm Street reboot couldn’t copy Chucky’s TV show is the unexpectedly dense lore of the franchise, with Freddy’s many murders only being part of these unseen demon’s larger-scope machinations and this not being revealed until the final movie in the original series. This plan never succeeded fully, possibly due to Freddy never expanding his horizons much further than his hometown of Springwood and thus presumably limiting the influence of his evil. Freddy’s Dead: The Final Chapter sees the Dream Demons vanquished alongside Freddy and the rest of the franchise (presumably) depicted Freddy before he got powerful enough to summon them in the first place.


It is understandable that it took so long for the Dream Demons to make it to the screen, as their very existence is an ambitious melding of fantasy and horror that the franchise had not attempted earlier. Part of why Craven’s flop New Nightmare saw the director rail against the studio system via satire was because the filmmaker felt his ambitious plans for the Nightmare on Elm Street sequels were ignored in favor of sillier stories, and it is hard to deny that this was the case with the Dream Demons. While they could potentially have been a deeply creepy set of villains, the Dream Demons as presented were comically silly-looking and seemed better suited to a horror-comedy franchise than a straight slasher series. Fortunately, their next media appearance took advantage of that fact by bringing back the Dream Demons as part of a different franchise that had the goofy comic edge to make them work as villains.

Related: All Wes Craven’s Canceled Nightmare On Elm Street Sequels Explained

The Dream Demons’ Final Nightmare On Elm Street Appearance (So Far)

Freddy-vs-Jason-vs-Ash

In the tie-in comic Freddy Vs Jason Vs Ash (the follow-up to 2003’s movie Freddy Vs Jason that pitted the duo against Evil Dead’s Ash Williams), the Dream Demons emerge from the Necronomicon and accuse Freddy of double-crossing them by using the book to gain supernatural powers. The Dream Demons argue that they already imbued Freddy with paranormal powers and point out that he’s messing with their grand plan by using the Necronomicon instead, resulting in them stripping Freddy of his powers and allowing Ash to shoot the now-human villain to death. This results in the entire events of the Nightmare on Elm Street franchise being retconned when one of the comic’s characters ensures that Freddy is arrested, charged, and convicted instead of being set free back in the past, meaning there is no brutal mob justice and thus no reincarnation of the scar-faced killer by the Dream Demons.

While the first appearance of the Dream Demons was a case of goofy supernatural elements ruining A Nightmare on Elm Street’s slasher horror, their comic book cameo made much more sense tonally. The tie-in comic was well received by many fans and found a use for the Dream Demons that made use of their slightly silly, absurd appearance by marrying it to a more light-hearted franchise in the form of the Evil Dead. Since then, the Dream Demons have not appeared in much of Nightmare on Elm Street‘s media output as the franchise has been dormant since its 2010 remake, although it is unlikely that any new movie in the series will seek to revive them any time soon.


More: Why Nightmare On Elm Street’s Reboot Couldn’t Replace Robert Englund’s Freddy

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