For a relatively brief period in the 80’s and early 90’s, back before every entertainment enterprise had a dedicated website, 1-900 numbers were ubiquitous. While some people might remember the 1-900 numbers being associated with phone sex operations, R&B singers, pop stars, teen idols and cartoon characters had their own hotlines as well. This latter group of hotlinesd blatantly targeted children, with their commercials often closing with a quickly uttered, “Kids, get your parents’ permission before you dial.” One of the other hotlines for fictional characters that targeted children, somewhat inexplicably, belonged to Freddy Krueger.
And now, courtesy of Dwayne Cathey’s Soundcloud account and the adolescence of actor/director Taylor Basinger, we have a 45-minute long archive of Freddy’s phone nightmares, recorded by a 14-year-old on his Darth Vader speakerphone.
Freddy doesn’t feature at all in any of these stories and for the most part only provides canned, repetitive introductions. The stories themselves play out very much like super-condensed old-time radio horror stories. Just as gruesome as the darkest that Lights Out, The Witch’s Tale or Quiet, Please used to be, but with more swearing than you could get away with on the radio. The voice actors are all committed and once you get used to the rushed performances you might find the material more charming and entertaining than you’d expect.
Given the decidedly R-rated nature of the Elm Street movies, it might seem odd for Freddy to have a phone line that kids would be eager to call, but the Krueger character was always more popular with kids than with adults. Likewise, the character was bigger than the movies that spawned him, which paying adults made reasonably successful, but didn’t turn into breakout hits. Even adjusting for ticket-price inflation, none of the movies in the original Elm Street run come close to touching Scream, the original Halloween, or even Friday the 13th or I Know What You Did Last Summer when you’re looking strictly at the numbers. Many of the kids who thought Freddy looked scary and “cool,” and who dressed up in a hat, sweater and rubber-bladed glove for Halloween, often had to wait for the movies to come to home video or HBO to see their preferred horror icon in action.
Or they could dial a 900-number to get their Freddy fix, and hope that their parents wouldn’t notice those extra charges on the phone bill.