Two Riverside residents have teamed up with cast members from the “Nightmare on Elm Street” film franchise to produce a PSA, urging people to stay at home to “Stop the Nightmare” of COVID-19.
The roughly 1 minute, 10 second video, which can be viewed at stopthenightmare2020.com, doubles as a fundraiser to help suddenly gig-less musicians and other performers whose livelihoods have been placed on indefinite hiatus.
“Performing artists get overlooked as essential workers,” said James Wineman, a music producer and longtime musician who has lived in Riverside since 2018. “I obviously have a very big stake in the artist community. We just wanted to do something to put our creativity to good use.”
Wineman was enlisted to direct and shoot the video by his friend, fellow Riverside resident Ernesto Avina, who was the conduit to the “Nightmare on Elm Street” folks.
The two met last year on the Riverside Juniors’ Brews Cruise event and became fast friends after they found each other to be horror film devotees. That might be putting things mildly. Wineman has a sleeve of tattoos on his right arm referencing horror film icons, while Avina’s basement is a museum of horror and sci-fi memorabilia.
Avina, whose IMDb page credits him as producing a handful of independent horror films, has led him to becoming friends with actors and others who share his enthusiasm with all things horror.
One of those friends is Lisa Wilcox, the actress who plays the role of Alice Johnson in two of the “Nightmare on Elm Street” films. After seeing a COVID-19 PSA from Robert Englund, the man who portrays serial killer Freddy Krueger in the “Nightmare on Elm Street” films, Wilcox reached out to Avina to see how they might do something similar.
“We spent an hour on the phone and we came up with the idea of doing a parody of the ‘Nightmare on Elm Street’ theme song,” Avina said. “Then it became more ambitious when we started talking about a video.”
Wineman shot scenes for the video at his home, Avina’s home and a nearby alley – practicing social distancing while doing so. Meanwhile, “Nightmare on Elm Street” cast members, including Wilcox and franchise co-star Heather Langenkamp, who played Nancy Thompson in the original “Nightmare” film in 1984, filmed short “stop the nightmare” messages at their homes and sent them to Wineman, who edited them into the finished product.
“We were all collaborating from 2,000 miles apart,” Avina said.
The PSA went live on April 18 and got modest views until it was picked up by Bloody Disgusting the leading horror film/news/videogame blog and ComicBook.com. Within 48 hours, the PSA had more than 14,000 views, said Wineman.
An important part of the effort is the fundraising aspect, which is being done through the sales of merchandise on the Stop the Nightmare website. Wineman recruited fellow musician and illustrator Jay Ramirez to design “Nightmare on Elm Street”-inspired graphics that can be placed on a variety of items from shirts and hoodies to stickers and coffee mugs. Graphic designer Larry Polanski, a longtime Riverside resident created the “Stop the Nightmare” logo, and Polanski’s brother Matt was pressed into service to play the role of Freddy Krueger in the PSA itself.
All of the proceeds netted from those sales go directly to the Artist Relief Project, an initiative created by the nonprofit organization Artly World for short-term relief and long-term assistance “to help artists, musicians, and performers impacted by the COVID-19 crisis,” according to the organization’s website.
Avina and Wineman are about to launch a second Stop the Nightmare PSA, this one featuring the cast and crew from the “Child’s Play” horror franchise, including its creator, Don Mancini, and lead actor, Alex Vincent.
This time, they are hoping to partner with a mental health or suicide prevention foundation, said Wineman. The co-creator of “Child’s Play,” John Lafia, 63, died by suicide on April 29.
“When all of this started, a lot of people [in the creative community] didn’t know what to do,” Wineman said. “I was one of them, fearing impending doom. It makes me feel good to help artists in need, like me.”
This story has been changed to correct the name of the person who designed the “Stop the Nightmare” logo.