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Hollywood Dreams & Nightmares: The Robert Englund Story (Film Review)

3 min read

This piece was written during the 2023 WGA and SAG-AFTRA strikes. Without the labour of the writers and actors currently on strike, the movie being covered here wouldn't exist.

Few faces are more recognisable than that of Freddy Krueger from the iconic Nightmare On Elm Street franchise. Whether you have seen any of the films, you are sure to recognise the razor-gloved hand, green and red-striped jumper, and heaving scarred face of the classic horror villain.

Freddy haunted the nightmares of a whole generation of film fans as well as their children and grandchildren, while also providing plenty of laughs with his wicked one-liners and bizarre sequels as the years went on. was the star behind the horror heavyweight, propelling him to legendary status among not only genre lovers but film fans across the globe.

But while many may only know Englund from his stint as Krueger, the actor has a wide and varied filmography that has seen him tackle serious, drama roles as well as thrill in action-packed blockbusters. This, his move into horror, and the beginnings of his career have all been captured in loving detail in , a new documentary from Pennywise: The Story of IT and RoboDoc: The Creation of RoboCop creators Christopher Griffiths and Gary Smart.

From his early years through to his big screen breakthrough in Buster and Billie, Englund himself appears in the documentary to speak about his career from his perspective, as well as his life in Hollywood, the roles he didn't quite get, and his love for his wife Nancy Booth who has supported him since they met on the set of 976-EVIL.

The documentary features a host of horror icons including Englund's Elm Street co-star Heather Langenkamp, Eli Roth, Lance Henriksen, Lin Shaye, Tony Todd, and Miko Hughes. Further insight comes from the cast and crew of such huge hits as Urban Legend, 2001 Maniacs, 976-EVIL, Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon, Wishmaster, V, Dead and Buried, and Phantom of the Opera.

The documentary delves not only into the legacy of Freddy and the importance of Englund's role in the Elm Street franchise but also explores his influence as a character actor both before and since his most recognisable horror role. It does so not only through its informative, poignant interviews but from exclusive behind-the-scenes imagery and stunning animations that illustrate his truly unbelievable life and career.

The Robert Englund Story is a thoughtful and thoroughly engrossing look at a true legend of cinema. Not only is he the man behind the mask of one of horror's most celebrated villains, but he has consistently delivered powerful, memorable performances across genres that have seen his career span decades to the present day.

Through engrossing interviews, rousing first-hand tales, and a look into the Englund archive, directors Griffiths and Smart have once again told an epic tale of cinema history in under two hours without sparing any of the gory details while not lulling in momentum at any moment.

Hollywood Dreams & Nightmares: The Robert Englund Story is released on the Icon Film Channel on October 2. It will be available on Blu-Ray and digital download from November 6.