For my generation no other actor embodied horror back in the blessed eighties quite like Robert Englund. He simply was the grinning face of pure evil. Of course, he wasn’t the only evil icon of cinematic terror in those days. Luckily we had plenty to choose from – Jason, Chucky, Michael Myers – but Robert Englund gave us Freddy Krueger, and Freddy gave us all nightmares.
Freddy was not hidden behind a mask and that set him apart from the rest. We could see the evil glint in his eyes as he taunted his prey and relished in their hysteria as slowly they realized how inevitable their coming demise was. Krueger had emotions and a sick sense of humor. He loved what he did, and his giddiness made us fall in love with his movies.
How can you escape a dream? That’s the genius of Wes Craven’s Nightmare on Elm Street. You can’t escape dreams – at least not for long – because ultimately you cannot run away from sleep. Our bodies simply demand rest. We can hold out for several days but sooner or later the body will shut down against our will, and there, in that ethereal state of slumber and vulnerability, the Dream Demon awaits. Freddy was the kind of evil that laughed at your pain as he found new inventive ways to kill each of his prey.
Without Robert Englund’s enthusiasm and dastardly charisma the entire experience would have been, well not only different, but I have to wonder if it would have worked at all. As the remake proved – there just is no replacing Englund when it comes to Elm Street.
Originally, David Warner (The Omen) was up for the role and was Craven’s first choice to wear the razor-tipped glove. Albeit that would have been very interesting to see, but it’s still very hard to imagine.
While Freddy ruled the dreamworld from his hellish boiler room, Robert Englund brought another monster to life, one we all knew of and that hailed from the classic age. Englund’s exploits would turn the Opera House of Paris into a bloodbath of carnage and lust as he finally went behind a mask and played The Phantom of the Opera.
This is a unique take on the French classic tale of obsession and murder. Don’t expect Andrew Lloyd Webber’s music in this one, but the movie is a full orchestra of violence and horror. Taking Gaston Leroux’s classic story, they turned it into a modern-day slasher classic as only the talents of Robert Englund’s sadistic manner could do.
But I would be ashamed of myself if I neglected to mention one of my personal favorite movies Robert Englund brings to life. As a matter of fact I think this movie would be nothing more than a rotting pile of rat dicks had it not his charisma and gritty charm to carry it. I’m talking about The Mangler.
Adapted from a Stephen King short story, this movie really shouldn’t even exist. It’s just so fucking stupid but in all the right ways. It’s a story about a killer laundry press, folks. And the mechanical beast is out for blood!
Ruling over this dingy abyss of broken dreams and sadness is our beloved Robert Englund. He is the manager around these here parts and doesn’t kindly care too much about whose blood gets spilled on the job. One accident isn’t enough to shut down business, people! You clean up the mess and forget it ever happened. It doesn’t matter how mangled up the remains are. You sweep them up and spray it away with the hose. Then get back to work! Now! No matter how mean your boss might be, I can guarantee few managers ever come close to the smarminess of this stuck-up dickhead. And we love him for it.
These are my three favorite roles he’s played, but they are not the extent of his colorful career. Robert Englund has been in Tobe Hooper’s Eaten Alive, 2,001 Maniacs, Zombie Strippers and so many more. Each one is worth viewing or re-watching.
So here’s to Robert Englund. Thank you for giving us so many chills and thrills! May you see many more birthdays to come! We love you!