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Embracing reality, I’m skipping #41 because no one cares who would win in a battle between a retired school teacher and a washed-up actress turned Momzilla. So, I’m skipping to the much more nerdtastic showdown at #40, pitting yet another real-life supercop against anyone’s worst nightmare. It’s…

#40. Serpico vs. Freddy Krueger

BACKGROUND

All you need is love, mother f******!

Frank Serpico is a NYPD officer working his way up to detective. Beginning as a highly efficient beat cop, he manages to get to plain clothes, where he slowly uncovers extensive corruption within the ranks. There’s cops doing drugs plus the usual officers on the take and neglecting duties for personal gain. Serpico resists the siren song of an extra $100 a month (which one assumes was significant back in 1973) and goes head-to-head with fellow officers, gets crazy moody with the women in his life, and outsmarts crooked superiors to remain on the force. All while looking like a belligerent hippy.

Freddy Krueger, in life, was a serial killer who preyed on children. When a technicality let him off the charges, the parents of the victims burned him to death in his boiler room. For reasons unknown in the first Nightmare on Elm Street, but later revealed to be stupid, Krueger returns to haunt the dreams of the children of his old hunting ground as revenge on the parents who murdered him.

"Freddy Krueger" because "beef jerky face" just doesn't have the same ring to it.

His power is derived (in the first movie) from the fear of his victims and is dispatched when deprived of this.

TOOLS OF THE TRADE

Serpico, being a 60s NYPD officer, has the standard revolver, a square partner and a wardrobe that would make John Lennon proud. He also develops, in the course of the film, on of the most epic beards ever filmed.

Krueger’s weapon of choice is the trademark knife-glove, but the sweet hat has to be helping out on the psychological warfare front. Really, Freddy’s entire appearance is psychological warfare as his power is all derived from fear (again, first movie).

METHODS AND MOTIVES

Unlike many of the copycats who would burst into precincts with a bag full of boy-ish dreams, Serpico just wants to bust drug dealers. The whole flushing-out-corruption deal is a means to an end as all the corrupt cops are getting in his way. Over the course of the film, he becomes increasingly jaded which, instead of making him lazy, makes him rub the noses of donut grease stained fellow cops in his untouchable-ness (haha! Get it? “Untouchable” + “Ness”?).

This. Haha! Awesome.

This sort of gets him shot, when other officers just sort of hang back while he tries to break through a door. He does eventually say “screw it” and moves to Holland, which is totally the obvious place for a retired narcotics cop to go.

No wallpaper is safe!

Freddy wants revenge for basically everything that’s happened in his life (franchise). He starts out killing children, bespeaking some fairly significant trauma and/or mental illness to start. Add to that, being burned alive (one of the worst ways to die) and, yeah, straight up cackling homicidal rage. He haunts dreams and whatever wounds he inflicts there are replicated in the waking world. While he generally hacks and slashes (or frappés, in the case of Johnny Depp), he also throws in a bit of forced suicide for flavor.

THE SHOWDOWN

Round 1: 60s NYC

For Round 1, Serpico is getting the distinct upper hand of facing Krueger pre-being-dead. Elm Street 1 happened in ’84 and Freddy was killed sometime in the early 70s. So, there’s a spree of child murders going down and, to get him off their corrupted backs, the powers that be in the NYPD have Serpico transfered to homicide to deal with this case. Using narcotics tactics, Serpico follows Krueger, waiting for him to take another victim and nabs him on kidnapping, which leads to a search warrant that uncovers ample evidence of his murders. Of course, the warrant was improperly signed and the murder charges thrown out, but they still have him on kidnapping. This lands him an extensive prison stay of 10-20 years, given that it was a child, one not a relative, he would probably get the 20. This would mean he would still be in prison in 1984, when the “Good Faith” and “Inevitable Discovery” exclusionary laws came into being. While in prison, Freddy’s murder case could be re-opened on the grounds that 1) Serpico thought the warrant was good and 2) the evidence was in Krueger’s house which would be sold once he entered prison and any evidence inside would have been found anyway. Still incarcerated, Freddy is put on trial for murder again and convicted. Life in prison and being everyone’s play thing because pedo-predators do not do well behind bars.

WINNER: Serpico

 

No child predator would see him coming.

Round 2: Serpico’s dreams

It’s some time after Krueger’s death and for whatever reason, he’s after Serpico. Despite a long history of staring down the powerful, Serpico is pretty tightly-wound. The guy is really a big ball of bearded angst. The only way to kill Freddy is getting him out in the real world, which requires clarity of mind, something Serpico does not demonstrate under fire. Sitting in his apartment or an office being grilled, sure, but he’s more than a little rough with suspects in an apparently blind fury. To Freddy, this equals dinner. Cue creepy song.

WINNER: Freddy Krueger

 

Wait. What is this movie about again?

Round 3: The brawl

Okay, it’s Freddy and Paco mano-a-mano in an arena challenge. As Serpico has no dream sequences, this happens in the waking world. Freddy isn’t immortal and can’t manipulate the world around him (without, you know, using his hands), but hey, neither can Serpico. What our beloved man in uniform has over Freddy is projectile weaponry. While Krueger is laughing it up, trying to get in claw range, Serpico caps him. Probably repeatedly while screaming; this is Al Pacino we’re talking about here.

WINNER: Serpico

 

"I get by with help from my little friend!"

FINAL ANALYSIS

Okay, Freddy would probably then possess Serpico’s car and drive it off a cliff or something. However, in blending genres, we are left wondering. In Horror, villains come back because that’s scary. Monsters are generally considered manifestations of abstract fears. You overcome moments of fear, rarely fear altogether. Crime drama, though, is about bringing people to justice. Once in prison (or dead) they are gone. Even the Lethal Weapon movies didn’t have repeat bad guys. So, a Crime/Horror hybrid would likely be something like the Hannibal Lecter movies, where one down-to-earth detective and one larger-than-life criminal chase each other endlessly. One significant difference from Lecter with Freddy vs. Paco would be that they wouldn’t eventually fall in love and move to South America.

Seriously, that's how it ends.

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