Bedtime Stories: Behind the 10 Most Shocking 'Nightmare on Elm Street' Scenes

The creators, cast and crew of a horror-movie classic dish the dirt on how they made the movie's most memorable, iconic moments

Load Previous

Spinning World

The death of Tina Gray, 13 minutes into the movie, remains one of the most frightening and memorable horror sequences of the Eighties. She confronts her stalker: a fedora-wearing burn victim with a claw-glove. They tussle, and Tina’s boyfriend, Rod, watches as she flops up the walls (!) before her corpse drops from the ceiling on to the bed. 

Wyss: So many people are fascinated with my death scene, which in and of itself is strange, to have people tell you how much they love the way you died. "Oh, OK. Thank you!" But that death scene is amazing, and I understand why it's become iconic.

Doyle: When Freddy is chasing Tina through the alleyway, we used a fishing pole gag to extend his arms. We connected a car battery to his glove so whenever he touched metal, it would spark.

Englund: People love the line "This is God," from that scene; if I'm signing a glove, that’s what they want on it. They also love "Every town has an Elm Street." I'm signing stolen Elm Street signs once a week – because every town has an Elm Street.

Craven: Elm Street is the name of the street that ran past the book depository where Kennedy was shot. To me, it was where the innocent world ended.

Doyle: The way Wes had written it, we would have the couple in the bedroom and she would get killed, and her boyfriend wouldn't be able to see what was going on. She was just being thrown about the room. 

Craven: The revolving room was based on something I had seen in a musical [Royal Wedding] where Fred Astaire does a dance number where he dances up the sides of the wall of a room and across the ceiling. I showed Jim Doyle how they had done that, and he built this giant room on axles and then the set would rotate on it. It was high enough so we could have light coming through the windows. It was really quite involved.

Doyle: Usually on [revolving] sets like that one, you couldn't see out the windows. Doing it this way gave it a [sense of] place. It just gave it that next level of realism even when it was rotating. Rooms are heavier on the floor than they are on the ceiling because of the furniture load. You could technically spin it with one hand, but we'd have four guys moving it – two of us were pushing and two of us were pulling — so we'd get it to the marks we wanted and then stop it, nice and smooth.

Wyss: This is how I read the script: "I talk. They talk. Screen directions. I talk. They talk. Screen directions." I learned the valuable lesson that you have to read every single thing. Even the scene where Jsu and I have a little sort of love scene, before the death scene, it's just like, "They kiss, and then there's a love scene." I didn't even read that, I was like "What?" And then when it happened, I was like "Oh, wait! That sentence means a lot! What's happening." It was totally awkward. It's like "Hi, nice to meet you. What's your name again? Oh, OK, hi, here are my boobs."

Jsu Garcia (Rod Lane): Amanda's an awesome actress. Man, she was hot. I couldn't believe I was in bed with her.

Wyss: The very first spin around the room, I got vertigo. And in my defense, the cameraman Jacques [Haitkin] and Nick Corri, who played my boyfriend, were strapped into these chairs in the corner of this little teeny room that was literally built on a rotisserie spit. 

Doyle: The wall is a long way away, and all of the sudden it comes up really fast, and you kind of fall into it. It's all of the sudden: "Oh, this looks not bad. Whoa." Bam!

Craven: Yeah, it was super strange, because all the curtains had been super starched and everything else had been glued down…so the room looked like it was upside down. Your brain was telling you, "What the hell, man? What just happened?"

Garcia: There was one take where my hand was reaching out to her, as she's being killed — but she's on the "ceiling" and I'm on the "floor." We were all upside down. It was kind of cool.

Wyss: So they spun around with the room, and my perspective kept changing as I crawled along the bottom of this box. The first spin around it felt like I was falling, even though I was on the floor. Then I felt that if I wasn't falling, everything was going to fall on me. It was terrible. We had to stop. The terror in my death scene was 75 percent real.

Craven: She told me afterwards that she suffered from vertigo, so when Amanda finished her take, she stood up and just completely freaked out. I quickly climbed in the room and stood with her; I had to keep pointing, "That's up, this is down. That's up, this is down."

Wyss: Once we introduced the blood there was no going back, so we had to do it in one take. After I did it, I really felt like I worked past some fear. Then my inner ear went crazy and it took a couple days for it to get righted.

Doyle: Freddy shows up on the wall, so he's already there. He never went over center, so it was easier for him. That was a concern because of course he had the glove on. We didn't want him to puncture anybody or himself.  

Craven: When you see Tina fall and land flat on the bed, that was a stuntwoman. We held her to the ceiling of the room with a quick-release pick, and on "Action!" they just released her and she splatted into the bed.

Wyss: She did a drop and spin and hit the bed. She had a really bad wig. It didn't look like me at all.

Craven: "Tina" falling off the ceiling into the bed made an incredible splash of blood, and when you add in Nick Corri's reaction, it was just stunning. The MPAA would not allow it to be onscreen for more than two frames. It ended up looking like a badly cut moment. You just want to kill yourself.

Doyle: I kept the room because it cost me a lot of money. I sunk like $35,000 into that thing, and I only had like a $57,000 or $60,000 budget. I was able to rent it out three times so it paid for itself. It was used in Breakin' 2: Electric Boogaloo and Larry Cohen's The Stuff.

Back to Top