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Cabin in The Woods' Surprise Connection to Nightmare on Elm Street Star Heather Langenkamp

Stream the modern horror classic on Peacock.

By Josh Weiss
Split of Robert Englund as Freddy Krueger and Chris Hemsworth in A Cabin in The Woods (2012)

More than a decade after its theatrical release, The Cabin in the Woods remains a delightfully clever and meta love letter to/commentary on the cinematic horror genre as a whole. Writer/director Drew Goddard's 2011 film — now streaming on Peacock right here — literally throws all the tropes and monsters at the wall, explaining that every last shred of spine-tingling iconography since Nosferatu is actually part of an archaic ritual meant to keep even scarier beings at bay.

At the end of the day (or world, if the Ancient Ones didn't get their blood sacrifice), Cabin wants to explore the mystery of, "Why do audiences want to see these horrific things?" Goddard, who co-wrote the subversive screenplay with Joss Whedon, explained to Filmmaker Magazine in 2012. "Those sorts of questions kept coming up as we were writing, and very much informed the heart of the film."

TV Tropes provides some excellent analysis on that sentiment, writing: "The film is a metaphor for the unchanging nature of the horror genre... and yet, if one just looks back, one realizes that horror has changed immensely! The organization represents studio executives, and like studio executives, they're blind to the reality that the Ancient Ones (audience) are not immutable."

Beyond its commitment to depicting the wide range of horror villains introduced over the last century — from werewolves to clowns to sadistic slasher sadists — the project earned some extra genre credit behind-the-scenes via the hiring of A Nightmare on Elm Street alum, Heather Langenkamp.

For More on A Nightmare on Elm Street:
Horror Icon Robert Englund on His 50-Year Career and Being a "Survivor" of Horror History
The True Stories That Inspired A Nightmare on Elm Street
Fast X Star Sung Kang Throws His Hat into the Ring to Play Freddy Krueger

What Heather Langenkamp Contributed To The Cabin in the Woods

Robert Englund attacks Heather Langenkamp in a scene from the film 'A Nightmare On Elm Street', 1984

In addition to her status as a talented actress with ties to one of the most famous film franchises in history, Langenkamp also runs a special effects and makeup banner, AFX Studio, alongside her husband, David Leroy Anderson. AFX was tapped to handle the cornucopia of practical creature makeup for The Cabin in the Woods, the mandate being "to create unique and original designs of many classic horror monsters," reads the company website. "The 'everything except the kitchen sink approach' led to nods to Nosferatu and Hellraiser, Giger-esque aliens, killer unicorns, scarecrow people, demons, goblins, clowns, doctors, zombies, and the unforgettable Merman."

While the production wasn't a Freddy-centric affair, various crew members couldn't help but geek out over the fact that they were getting to work side-by-side with the Nancy Thompson. 

"My sister-in-law, Arlene Marechal, she was really curious about all these grown man, who would turn into putty the minute I walked in the door," Langenkamp told Spectacular Optical in 2011. "They would get all giddy and blush, giggle and hide. She found it really funny and didn’t really understand it, as she wasn’t really a Nightmare on Elm Street fan. One guy had brought me this [knife] glove he’d made and another one had Freddy tattooed on his leg."

The Cabin in the Woods is now streaming on Peacock!

Originally published Feb 1, 2024.

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