Like many movie monster appearances, “Mr. Knifey-Hands” is worth the anticipation

As a child, I would be elated when one of the Universal Monster movies would be showcased on TV. I would spend the day anticipating the chance to see the Wolfman transform or The Mummy emerge out of its sarcophagi. Yet, when it came time to watch the film, most of the movie would be drenched in storyline until, finally, the monster reveal.

When the big announcement that Robert Englund would be reprising his role as Freddy Krueger to appear on The Goldbergs, that anticipation came rushing back. I was a kid again counting the days that a piece of my youth would be alive once again. That day came last night with their 2018 Halloween special, “Mr. Knifey-Hands.”

The “Mini Murray” episode, Season One, Episode Three, Adam’s—played by Sean Giambrone— (s)mother Beverly—Wendi McLendon-Covey—prohibits him from seeing Poltergeist. Adam does anyway against her warning and ends up traumatized into faking a belly ache to sleep with his parents. He was more horrified to admit he was scared than to admit he watched the movie in the first place.

“Mr. Knifey-Hands” mimics that plot but instead of Poltergeist, it’s A Nightmare on Elm Street. When we discover that Adam watches the horror film at his girlfriend’s house against his mother’s forbiddance, it’s that fateful balance between trying to look cool, calm and collected in front of her or for him to be scared outside of his skin. In 1984, Freddy Krueger tested every fiber of our will and stamina to stay awake in fear we would meet him in our dreams. For Adam Goldberg, Jolt cola was his only ammunition in his quest to never sleep again.

Just like the Universal Monster films, we had to wade through most of the 30-minute episode to gaze on the fright that is Freddy Krueger. “One-two-Freddy’s coming for you.” The giddiness of seeing those girls jump rope, knowing what deeply embedded fear was to immerse thereafter made the anticipation worth every minute. So what if Freddy looks and sounds aged. He’s been through a lot. Although much of Robert Englund’s appearance was not as villian-y as the build up portrays, Nostalgia aside, with the Goldbergs episode, as well as the new version of Halloween, it shows us that in the spectrum of horror, we still need a horror monster hero to thrill us to the core.

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