A Little Boy's NIGHTMARE Come True

A quick story and treat for horror fans on this Halloween...

When I was nine years old I was lucky enough to go to a small dinner party hosted by Marc and Caryn Shaye, friends of our family and our neighbors in a small town in suburban Detroit called Franklin. Horror fans might also recognize Franklin, Michigan as the home town of the Raimi family (Sam, Ted, Ivan, et al) as well. Marc Shaye's uncle Max, was a successful grocer in the Detroit area and also a Franklin resident. More impressively to me at the time was that Max was the father of my childhood hero, Robert Shaye.


Bob Shaye was a Detroit kid who had bucked the odds to turn his fledging New Line Cinema - birthed by college screenings of public domain films like REEFER MADNESS - into the fastest growing true independent movie distirbutor in Hollywood. Bob was hailed as a shrewd and visionary guy, slowly building his company into a true tastemaking force around early hits like NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET and HOUSE PARTY. The rest, obviously, is history, as Bob would take New Line through a 40 year run that has cemented his - and New Line's - place in the history of motion pictures with more classic films that one can mention in a single paragraph. But, suffice it to say, to a 9-year old me, Bob Shaye was the coolest man alive.

I immediately bonded with Max Shaye - who was a wonderful and supportive guy - at the party and, ultimately, bested him in a small wager over the debuting FREDDY'S NIGHTMARES television series. As a result of my youthful betting victory Max had to send my NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET ideas to Bob. I had dreamed of going to work for New Line and make ELM STREET movies since I was a little boy and I wasn't going to let my chance slip by. Max, true to his word, took my letter and notes and passed them along to Bob, then primarily working out of New York.

A month later I was stunned to come home from school to find a package at my doorstop. The return address was clear: New Line Cinema. I hurredly opened the package to find a set of autographed ELM STREET posters and, even more thrillingly, a note from Bob. He complemented my creativity and told me to work hard and maybe I could someday come make ELM STREET movies for him. He was clearly indulging a little kid's fan letter, but it was a truly life-changing moment for me. I would go on to have a long and enjoyable run at New Line and even lived the childhood dream, starting my executive career on FREDDY VS. JASON. In my view, I owe much of my career to Bob Shaye and the chance childhood encounter. I still keep a framed copy of Bob's life-changing letter in my office.

That's why I was so thrilled to recently get an email with the images posted below.

The team behind NEVER SLEEP AGAIN: THE ELM STREET LEGACY shocked me by tracking the letters down (they had been kept by filmmaker and New Line alum Rachel Talalay) and actually using them in the documentary. I had no idea they had them and the group didn't say a word about it until I actually saw them in the movie. To say I was stunned would be an understatement. The filmmakers were nice enough to send me digital copies of the set.

I never thought I'd see these again and revisiting them 22 years later has been something of an out-of-body experience. And while I certainly wince at some of my youthful creative choices, I wanted to share them with the loyal and passionate Freddy Krueger fans - and the horror fans in general - on this spookiest of holidays. You are the most dedicated, loyal fan base in motion picture history and it's always been a pleasure trying to entertain you.

And to the little kids watching today's scary movies and idolizing their own Bob Shaye's, I would encourage you to follow the words of that noted philosopher Dr. Frank-N-Furter:

"Don't dream it. Be it."


Thanks again to everyone from NEVER SLEEP AGAIN: THE ELM STREET LEGACY - airing this month on BIO Channel - for sending these along.

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