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Kristy Adams, co-owner for Las Vegas' Nightmare Toys, shares her favorite horror films, final girls and fangirling moments – Las Vegas Weekly

Everything about Kristy Adams’ Nightmare Toys screams labor of love. The creepily authentic—and unblinking—Child’s Play dolls. The rows of vintage toys with characters from The Thing and the Tim Curry version of It. Even the bathroom murals (autographed by Gremlins actor Zach Galligan) provide color, courtesy of Sean O. Hill’s life-size depictions of iconic horror characters from Killer Klowns From Outer Space and Greta, the female Gremlin.
Since 2020, Nightmare Toys has thrived in the Arts District as a year-round horror-movie mecca for both collectors and casual film fans. And with the latest expansion of Adams’ bar and restaurant, Nightmare Cafe, the neighborhood should get even spookier. We caught up with Adams as Halloween approached to discuss slasher films, her favorite collectibles and why TV horror shows are killing it right now.
How did you become a horror fan? I’ve loved horror since I was about 5 or 6 years old. It came from watching Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” video when it first came out. Because of him [I found] my love of horror and my love of dance. I’ve been a dancer my whole life.
That’s a great entry point. A lot of folks had never seen anything like that before. I don’t think we ever are going to. It was fun, but it also scared me. The zombies didn’t bother me, but the werewolf did, and I liked that. I liked the feeling of being scared and the excitement I had. That made me so excited to start watching scary movies. John Landis, who directed it, is actually a director of tons of scary movies, [including] An American Werewolf in London. They talk about it in the Making of Thriller, which I watched religiously.
What came after “Thriller” for you? At the time, the A Nightmare on Elm Street movies were very popular. My first one was actually Part 2 [Freddy’s Revenge]. That got me really excited about Freddy Krueger and the Elm Street movies. I went on to watch the first one, obviously, but Part3 [Dream Warriors] ended up being a favorite of mine, and I watched that probably every day of my life (laughs).
Why do you think villains like Freddy, Chucky and Michael Myers have such staying power? I think it’s because they’ve had so many sequels. There’s like, what, 10-12 sequels of Jason? There’s so many sequels and they just become popular with everybody and everybody knows who they are. Even if you’re not into horror, people know those particular characters.
Horror franchises and iconic characters fell away for a while, but with the new Halloween films and Prey adding to the Predator story, we’re seeing a comeback. Do you see it continuing? I do. Damien Leone and David Howard Thornton just put out Terrifier 2. Terrifier, and Art the Clown, was a big rage when that came out [in 2016]. Everybody’s liking it. It’s a big gore fest. I think Art the Clown’s gonna be the new It character to love. He’s already kind of out there. There’s T-shirts and stickers and all kinds of stuff already. The other person I like is Annabelle. You’re getting a bunch of different characters from The Conjuring series now, too, that are really becoming popular: The Nun, Annabelle, the Crooked Man.
Nightmare Toys has so many unique items. Do you have any favorite collectibles in the store? A lot of the autographed toys are really cool. We don’t have it right now, but Drew Marvick—he’s a local here who does Pool Party Massacre—we had one of his severed heads here (laughs). That was cool, but he did take that with him the other day. I really liked that severed head.
What’s one item in your personal collection you’d never part with? I have a Chopping Mall bong [from the 1986 slasher film]. My best friend Noah gets me the best gifts for birthdays and Christmases, and a lot of the awesome custom pieces in my collection have come from him. It’s got a killbot on it, blood dripping and the Chopping Mall VHS poster on it. It’s really cool looking. You don’t see that anywhere.
Nightmare Toys has hosted some cool celebrity signings with actors like Derek Mears and Kane Hodder, both of whom played Jason, and even Tony Todd from Candyman. Have you ever personally freaked out over a celeb in your store? Linda Blair. She was here in January, and I really fangirled. I couldn’t believe she was in my store … She’s so tiny, and she’s got a mouth on her. A guy actually had airbrushed horror figures on his motorcycle, and on one side was The Exorcist. She went out and signed his motorcycle. That was a cool moment.
We’re days away from Halloween. What’s your favorite horror movie? Eighties slashers are my thing. My favorite is April Fool’s Day, a movie no one ever talks about. Everybody’s answer is always Halloween. But with April Fool’s Day, I’m on a whole other holiday (laughs). I love that movie. It just screams ’80s cheese to me. When I first watched it … I really hated it because of the ending. Now I love it. And I love stuff like Slumber Party Massacre, Critters and Ghoulies.
A lot of great Final Girls have had their moment in horror lately. Do you have any favorites? I do, I do. [Sharni Vinson], the girl from You’re Next. Heather Langenkamp from A Nightmare on Elm Street. Jenna Ortega, because I’m really liking her for somebody new. I’m really liking her in horror movies right now. She’s so adorable, and she’s a good little actress. I feel her.
What’s your take on films competing with TV these days? I do believe that the TV series are taking over. For my personal taste, a lot of the TV series coming out are way better than a lot of these new movies coming out. With the movies, they’re new, but they’re not new, because a lot of people are doing a lot of remakes. But the TV series have fresh ideas. There’s so many good ones like Chucky. Instead of making a new movie, they did a TV series, and I love it.
As a horror fan, how do you feel about Hollywood making Winnie-the-Pooh a murderous killer in the slasher film Blood and Honey? I have no idea what to think about that right now. But am I gonna watch it? Of course!
NIGHTMARE TOYS 1309 S. Commerce St., nightmaretoys.com. Monday-Saturday, 10 a.m.-7 p.m.; Sunday, noon-6 p.m.
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Amber Sampson is a Staff Writer for Las Vegas Weekly. She got her start in journalism as an intern at …

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