Hill House's Mike Flanagan Has A Nightmare On Elm Street Pitch, And I'm Flabbergasted Over Why He Can't Use It

Of all the noteworthy horror filmmakers currently bringing their talents to screens big and small, I’d have already wagered all my money and yours that Haunting of Hill House and Midnight Mass creator Mike Flanagan would be an ideal choice to take over Wes Craven’s marquee franchise, A Nightmare on Elm Street. So to learn that he would actively love to open up a bloody new chapter in Freddy Krueger’s story is pure dream mastery for any horror fan’s brain to comprehend. And while Flanagan probably already has too much on his future slate to properly focus on adapting an Elm Street project, the actual reason why he hasn’t been able to do anything with his pitch is a mind-numbing nightmare.

Mike Flanagan took part in an in-depth conversation about Netflix’s Midnight Mass while on the podcast Script Apart with host Al Horner, and the conversation naturally reached a point where it turned away from alcoholism, Catholicism and vampirism to some of the horror helmer’s next projects, from his potentially final Netflix series The Fall of the House of Usher to his ambitious Dark Tower plans. As far as dream projects go, at least beyond his latest Stephen King adaptation, Flanagan namechecked The Creature from the Black Lagoon and Alien as genre classics he’d love to explore in unique ways. And then he brought up the scarred-up crown jewel in confirming he’s got a solid Nightmare on Elm Street pitch that’s just waiting to be pitched. The issue? Nobody knows who’s supposed to hear the pitch. In his words:

One of the ones that has been on my list forever is Nightmare on Elm Street. Boy, that would be fun. I have a whole take for it that I worked out a couple of years ago. And my understanding is the rights situation for that title is so fraught, no one knows who controls it really. No one knows who to pitch. So I keep telling my agents, like, ‘Send me in on A Nightmare on Elm Street.’ And they’re like, ‘We’d love to. We have no idea who you should talk to.’ I’ve spent almost a year of my life with Heather Langenkamp, and we would talk about it. And it’s like, nobody knows what to do. But one of these days, perhaps.

It seems to me like anytime Mike Flanagan says, “I have an idea,” there should be someone there to hear him out and do whatever’s necessary to make it happen. I know that’ll never be a reality, but it’s probably not out of line to think it shouldn’t be that difficult for someone in his position to learn what company, studio, or superfan is the current rights-holder to all things related to A Nightmare on Elm Street. Surely the reaction to the 2010 remake wasn’t so abysmal that Freddy is now owned by a nesting doll of shell corporations meant to subvert any future reimaginings.

As Flanagan pointed out, he just recently worked for a long time with the biggest Nightmare icon beyond Robert Englund, having perfectly cast Heather Langenkamp in The Midnight Club. The actress starred as Final Girl standout Nancy Thompson in both the 1984 original and 1987’s Dream Warriors sequel, and went on to play herself in the meta-horror Wes Craven’s New Nightmare in 1994. But apparently she’s not even able to tap into the right contacts to figure out where the Oculus: Origin of Evil director can share his Freddy ideas. I’m tempted to just spread the word that I’m the person to talk to, just so I can hear what his idea is, but that’s just rude.

As it goes with mega-popular fantasy works like The Lord of the Rings, rights issues also have a way of rearing their ugly heads when horror adaptations are being discussed. The Friday the 13th franchise and Thomas Harris’ Hannibal Lecter novels have notoriously been at the center of years-long legal battles and failed adaptation attempts. Although if there’s a silver lining to think about here, it’d be this: Bryan Fuller, who brilliantly brought pop culture’s most erudite cannibal to life in Hannibal is currently working on a Crystal Lake TV show, with another Friday film also in development. So if Jason Voorhees’ rights issues can be sorted without anyone succumbing to machete wounds, someone should be able to do the same with an Elm Street take. 

Like Wes Craven, Flanagan brings depth to his writing and direction, and is as much into character development as wicked special effects and gore. Considering all the creepy-to-horrifying details layered throughout all of Flanagan’s projects going back to his Oculus short and beyond, I have to imagine his dream sequences would be amazing enough to even tempt Robert Englund to return, presumably going against his general wishes to not back in Freddy makeup on a regular basis again. 

Nick Venable
Assistant Managing Editor

Nick is a Cajun Country native and an Assistant Managing Editor with a focus on TV and features. His humble origin story with CinemaBlend began all the way back in the pre-streaming era, circa 2009, as a freelancing DVD reviewer and TV recapper.  Nick leapfrogged over to the small screen to cover more and more television news and interviews, eventually taking over the section for the current era and covering topics like Yellowstone, The Walking Dead and horror. Born in Louisiana and currently living in Texas — Who Dat Nation over America’s Team all day, all night — Nick spent several years in the hospitality industry, and also worked as a 911 operator. If you ever happened to hear his music or read his comics/short stories, you have his sympathy.