Wednesday, 2 October 2019

31 Days of Halloween: Best Horror Actors: Robert Englund

Me: I'm really excited to be talking about Robert Englund today. Because, you know, he's the guy who kept me too afraid to sleep for most of my childhood. Hello, Freddy Kruger! (Goodbye, sleep.)

Jay: I first noticed Robert Englund in V, which isn't really horror. It's probably good that V was my first exposure, though, because the Nightmare on Elm Street movies weren't my thing.

Me: But totally mine. We'll have to discuss the reasons I love Craven's work and you dislike it. You know, one day. For now, though, back to Freddy. There were something like seven or eight Nightmare movies-

Jay: Eight. A Nightmare on Elm Street, Freddy's Revenge, Dream Warriors, Dream Master, Dream Child, Freddy's Dead, Final Nightmare, and Wes Craven's New Nightmare.

Me: Show off. Anyway... There were eight Nightmare movies. Although it doesn't have the Johnny Depp yumminess going for it, Dream Warriors has always been my favourite because of the imagery. That where Freddy turns the guy into a puppet... that'll be with me forever. *shudder* So, which was your favourite and why?

Jay: I'll be honest, the Nightmare on Elm Street movies didn't do it for me. I just didn't find them frightening. I know people raved about them but I just found them... meh. Honestly, I thought they were okay at best.

I did like Freddy vs Jason, though. It was so out of left field, to take two horror franchises and pit them against each other... that was the kind of thing they did back in the 50s and 60s but you just don't see anymore. 

You know, one of the most expensive movie posters I ever had was the A Nightmare on Elm Street poster. It was this huge, two piece thing. A double quad. I had it on my ceiling until I gave it to an ex-girlfriend. We all make mistakes.

Me: I think there was a TV show based on A Nightmare on Elm Street... Freddy's Nightmares, right? (There might have been another one but I'll be damned if I can remember.) Did you ever watch it?

Jay: I had that one! Freddy wasn't really in it, except for the beginning and the end. It was kind of like Creepshow or Tales from the Crypt. It was okay.

Me: I've never seen it. I should make a point of doing that... Anyway, Freddy's counterpart, Nancy (played by Heather Langenkamp), didn't make the shortlist - although we did consider her - for our countdown. Tell me why.

Jay: She just didn't do enough. I mean, how many horror movies do you know her from? I'm not saying she definitely hasn't done other horror movies, but the whole point is picking household names, the real icons, which Langenkamp isn't. Robert Englund is. It's more than that, really. He carried a huge franchise. And there were so many other films he cropped up in. Even if he's not the lead, he's always there.

Me: Right. Okay, rant time. Robert Englund is Freddy, end of. Sorry, Jackie Earle Haley (if I got that name right,) but you're not Freddy and never will be. I can't even watch that remake. I made it maybe half an hour in. It's... no. It's sacrilege.

Jay: Like so many remakes, just... why? You didn't make it better. Jackie Earle Haley didn't have the charisma that Englund did. Sure, you made it gorier, but you didn't improve the story. Yes, the fashions are up-to-date and the cars are shiny and new but it's just the same old. In the last couple of decades, the only remakes that really deserved to be made were Night of the Living Dead and Day of the Dead. There were other okay ones, but most failed - and abysmally. (Like Evil Dead and Carrie.)

Me: Agreed. Back off, Remake Gods, Freddy doesn't need your ass. But, you know, Robert Englund isn't just Freddy. He's also the Phantom. Did you ever see that version of Phantom of the Opera? I think it was... 1989? It was my introduction to the Phantom.

Jay: Yeah, I saw that one years ago, probably when it first came out. (How old were you? Seven?) It wasn't my favorite but, to be fair, the phantom movies all kind of blur.

Me: It was weird for me to have this image of the Phantom being Robert Englund, then go back and see Lon Chaney, then Michael Crawford. Like, culture shock.

Robert Englund has starred in many horror movies, not all of them awesome, if we're being honest. I won't use the phrase "b movies" but you know what I mean. He's done enough cracking horror films to make up for any of those - things like Urban Legends, The Mangler, and 2001 Maniacs. Talk to me about some of Englund's other films.

Jay: I don't know where to start. He's just so prolific. When you start going through his resume, it's just mental. You're not just talking one or two... at least half of his films have been horror. It's a barrage. He's been going from, what, the 80s? And he's still churning them out. He's not just an actor whose done some good horror movies; he's a horror actor.

He never really hit A-list status but most people know his name. That's half the battle when you're an actor.

Me: When we were making this list, we asked each other two questions: How iconic is this person? and How many horror films have they actually done? Robert Englund won on both counts. But, with the competition being as fierce as it was, that wasn't enough. What really earned Englund a spot on the Best Horror Actors list? (And you can't say, "He was awesome to meet," even though it's true.)

Jay: Recognition. Everybody knows him. Like I said, he's a household name. That's half the key to it. To be a great horror actor... you could have done a thousand films but if people don't know your name, you're just another bit part.

Me: Okay, because I know you're dying to mention it... We meet Englund way back in 2004 when collecting autographs was far less elite than it is now. (Mini rant.) Tell me... what was he like to meet?

Jay: I've met him a few times and he's always been the nicest person you'd ever want to meet. Nothing's ever too much. He's always hammed it up. Englund will put the glove on and mess around for photos. You see him do it at every convention. He doesn't take himself too seriously, which is what you need from film stars.

Me: It's funny that someone who looks so much like someone's cheeky uncle is the source of countless nightmares. How has Englund's appearance affected his position in the horror genre?

Jay: Well, when I first saw him in V, he played a cute, really likeable lizard. It says something, doesn't it, that he can go from being all meek and mild to literally being a nightmare? That shows a real range. 

Me: I'm sad that we have to stop talking about Robert Englund but time's up for today.


Thanks for stopping by! Don't forget to check back tomorrow to see who our next Best Horror Actor will be!

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