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The film was a phenomenal success. It spawned several sequels, as well as making a horror icon of the film's villain, Freddy Krueger. By the time of the film's second sequel, Freddy was a household name, appearing on t-shirts, masks, action figures, candy, magazines, trading cards and much more. The character remains, along with Friday the 13th's Jason Voorhees, Halloween's Michael Myers, The Texas Chain Saw Massacre's Leatherface, Frankenstein's monster, the Wolfman and Dracula, as one of the most popular and famous horror villains of all time. In June 2003, Freddy Krueger was ranked #40 on The American Film Institute's list of the greatest 100 Heroes and Villains of all-time.

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