It's the nursery rhyme nightmares are literally made of but what's the origin behind A Nightmare On Elm Street's Freddy Krueger nursery rhyme? While the franchise is iconic now, A Nightmare On Elm Street creator Wes Craven (Scream) had a hard time getting the project a greenlight. Every major studio rejected it, feeling audiences wouldn't find dreams scary.
New Line eventually picked up A Nightmare On Elm Street which was shot for a low-budget. The movie soon became a word of mouth smash with the franchise's razor-clawed villain Freddy becoming a horror icon. The series spawned numerous sequels, a TV series, a video game, and assorted merchandise. The series would eventually be rebooted with 2010's A Nightmare On Elm Street starring Jackie Earle Haley, but despite being a financial success it received roundly negative reviews and a planned sequel didn't happen.
One of the most recognizable elements of A Nightmare On Elm Street is the nursery rhyme that heralds Freddy Krueger's arrival. This rhyme is first heard when Nancy (Heather Langenkamp) and Tina are walking to school and again in the final shot of the film. The song is sung by a group of young girls playing jump rope, and while the franchise has never revealed who they are, its commonly accepted they're ghostly victims of Freddy.
Freddy Nursery Rhyme Lyrics:
One, two, Freddy's coming for you.
Three, four, Better lock your door
Five, six, grab a crucifix.
Seven, eight, Gonna stay up late.
Nine, ten, Never sleep again...
Craven wrote the lyrics to the song in the script, which was taken from another nursery rhyme called "One, Two, Buckle My Shoe" but it was Langenkamp's musician boyfriend who worked out the theme on a piano. A Nightmare On Elm Street's composer Charles Bernstein would later sprinkle this melody throughout his score as a unifying theme.
The Freddy nursery rhyme has reappeared throughout the franchise. In A Nightmare On Elm Street 5: The Dream Child the lyrics are changed to "Nine, ten, he's back again," and it once again reappeared in the 2010 remake. Freddy's Dead: The Final Nightmare depicts Springwood as a desolate, child-free ghost town where the remaining parents have been driven insane by the loss of their children. The Freddy lyrics are written in various places around the town.
The purpose of the rhyme itself is up for debate, though Nancy told fellow dream survivor Kristen Parker in third entry Dream Warriors it was a song used to ward away the bogeyman. It's since become an indelible piece of the A Nightmare On Elm Street franchise and fans know then when it's heard, bad things are about to happen.