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Director Sam Bayer Re-Boots 'A Nightmare on Elm Street'

Jackie Earle Haley as Freddy Krueger in 'A Nightmare on Elm Street'

Freddy Krueger, one of the creepiest and most memorable villains from modern American horror films, is back on screen in a new and more grisly version of his tragic story in the 're-boot' of "A Nightmare on Elm Street"

"Do you think you can hurt me? Do you think you can turn back time? Do you think you can bring the dead back to life?"
"Who are you?"
"I'm your nightmare."

Who could forget the ghostly figure of Freddy Krueger: a disfigured face … long razor-sharp knives flash from his fingers … and his sinister way of turning the dreams of his victims into deadly nightmares.

The teenagers are puzzled that Freddy is in all of their dreams; and by the time they figure out why, it may be too late as, one by one, the specter kills them in their sleep.

Freddy drew his first blood 26 years ago in the original "A Nightmare on Elm Street," written and directed by Wes Craven, the former university literature professor who revitalized the horror genre. The seemingly unstoppable Krueger character came back in six more movies (seven if you count "Freddy vs Jason," the 2003 production that pitted him against the hockey mask-wearing slasher from the "Friday the 13th" franchise, Jason Voorhees).

Director Samuel Bayer on the set of “A Nightmare on Elm Street”
Director Samuel Bayer on the set of “A Nightmare on Elm Street”

This time around, the "Nightmare" director is Sam Bayer, a star in the music video world making his feature film debut.

"Sometimes, creatively, I think franchises need to be re-invented and Freddy had become a bit jokey …a vaudevillian kind of character; I don't know how much he scared people any more," he said. "So there's a 're-boot' element of what we've done with this movie. I want to scare a new generation of people with this movie and I want Freddy Krueger to be what I feel Wes Craven intended him to be, which is a real bogeyman, because I want it to be really scary.

Robert Englund played the murderer in the previous "Nightmare" films; but in this 're-boot,' Jackie Earle Haley takes on the role.

"This was Freddy Krueger," he said. "When I was considering this a voice in my head kept saying 'how can you not play Freddy Krueger?'

A former child star whose acting career was rejuvenated by an Oscar-nominated performance in the 2006 drama "Little Children," Haley says his goal was not to make Krueger sympathetic, but to make him truly frightening.

"What I embraced was the bogeyman," he said. "To me Freddy has always been this serial killer. That's what he's always represented to me [and] I was just truly embracing the bogeyman in a campfire story."

Rooney Mara as Nancy in “A Nightmare on Elm Street”
Rooney Mara as Nancy in “A Nightmare on Elm Street”

Rising young actress Rooney Mara co-stars as Nancy, the teenager who solves the mystery of why the killer is ravaging her dreams and those of her classmates.

"Without giving too much away, I don't think you can go through something like that without it affecting you," she said. "We wanted that to be a part of her character, so I think our Nancy is much darker. She is disturbed and trying to figure out why she is the way she is and what happened to her. I think it really affects her."

Mara's Nancy is among numerous nods to the original film and, of course, true to the genre, the characters get themselves into situations that have the audience shouting "don't go in there!"

"I think in any horror movie there are always going those moments of 'no! don't go up the stairs!' I don't think you can really escape that," she said. "I don't think you could escape it in real life if it was really happening to you. You're not making the best decisions in those moments."

The handsome and hapless young victims in "A Nightmare on Elm Street" include Kellan Lutz, Thomas Dekker, Katie Cassidy and Kyle Gallner. The screenplay is by Wesley Strick and Eric Heisserer and this new "Nightmare" is produced by "Transformers" director Michael Bay.