In a Hollywood career spanning over seven decades and more than 200 movie and TV roles, character actor John Saxon has starred in cult classics that include Enter the Dragon (1973), Black Christmas (1974), Tenebrae (1982), and From Dusk Till Dawn (1996).
Saxon is best known, however, as Lieutenant Donald Thompson, the police chief and haunted father whose town’s teenagers are torn apart by razor-fingered bad-dream boogeyman Freddy Krueger (Robert Englund) in A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984).
While Saxon returned as Lt. Thompson in the beloved 1987 follow-up, A Nightmare on Elm Street III: Dream Warriors, he initially hoped to have costarred in an entirely different sequel — one he scripted himself in which Freddy would have scraped up against real-life slaughter maven Charles Manson!
Long thought to be lost, Saxon’s 1987 screenplay treatment How the Nightmare All Began recently turned up on eBay, fetching a cool sale of $350.As the name indicates, it’s a prequel to the original Nightmare. The 1969-set plot reimagines kiddie-mangling janitor Freddy Krueger as Dr. Frederick Krueger, a kindly child psychiatrist wrongly suspected of stabbing a little boy to death “with some kind of object that produces multiple wounds simultaneously.”
Along the way, Dr. Krueger also counsels Besty Thompson, the teenage daughter of the Lieutenant who gets dragged back home after running off to join some California hippie cult.
Once Betsy turns up dead from similar multiple-blade injuries, the local parents form a death mob and burn the innocent doctor alive.
Afterward, Lt. Thompson’s younger daughter Nancy (played by Heather Langenkamp in the series) dreams of a scorched-face monster in a red-and-green sweater. We all know who that is.
The twist in Saxon’s Nightmare, amazingly, is that the cult Betsy joined was none other than the Manson Family! Not only that, but Charles Manson himself actually orchestrates the Elm Street murders and dispatches his disciples to do the killings, in the manner of their true-life Tate–LaBianca massacres!
Alas, How the Nightmare All Began never made it past the printed page.
On a super-cool note, John Saxon is still active and upbeat at 82. He’s enjoying his retirement in Franklin, Tennessee, where residents recently honored the show-business legend with his own film festival. Among the main features, of course, was A Nightmare on Elm Street.
Watch Investigation Discovery’s Manson: The Prison Tapes on ID GO now!
Main photos: Charles Manson [LAPD]/Robert Englund as Freddy Krueger/New Line publicity image [promotional material]