Actor Robert Englund turns 67-years-old today.
He's the man of our dreams, or nightmares, as far as horror movie fans are concerned. Actor Robert Englund is best known for his portrayal of dream slayer Freddy Krueger in the "Nightmare on Elm Street" films, and today he is celebrating his 67th birthday.
In an interview with Hollywood Chicago in 2011, Englund discussed his acting pedigree.
"I studied with Lee Strasberg in Los Angeles, and Jeff Corey, who taught Jack Nicholson and Bruce Dern," said Englund. "Then I went to traditional college and the drama department, and tried out for the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts out of London. But I couldn't stay there because of the draft laws...it was either Shakespeare or Vietnam. [laughs] Even though I got in, I couldn't stay there."
"While I was spending a summer in Los Angeles, I got a letter from the Royal Academy saying that there had been a falling out between the old school staff and the avant-garde there," Englund continued. "So I wound up getting that old school faculty -- the ones who had trained Albert Finney and Alan Bates -- because they all moved to Michigan."
"They found a community there who had earmarked money for the arts and they built this phenomenal 'League of Repertory Theater' company, which was full equity, and ended up working there at night and studying during the day on full scholarship. We were the first classically trained American students."
If you're not a NIGHTMARE fan, but you're thinking about giving the series a try, here are my recommendations. Please, don't start with "Wes Craven's New Nightmare" (1994), because you'll never want to watch another Elm Street film.
FROM BEST TO WORST
1) "A Nightmare on Elm Street" (1984) -- The original is still the best of the bunch and easily the scariest. Nancy (Heather Langenkamp) and her friends are tormented by Fred Krueger (Robert Englund) in their dreams. But these aren't ordinary nightmares. If you die in your sleep, you die for real. The film also marks the screen debut of A-List actor Johnny Depp.
2) "A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors" (1987) -- The last of the Elm Street Children are hospitalized, as Freddy (Englund) looks to finish his diabolic task. However, Nancy (Langenkamp) returns and unites the kids to face Freddy as a team. The key to their success is Kristen (Patricia Arquette) and her ability to pull anyone into her dreams. This movie is much more creative and less horrifying than the original, but it is easily the best horror film sequel of ALL the major franchises.
3) "Freddy vs. Jason" (2003) -- Two icons of horror face off in a battle to the death for the mantle of Silver Screen slasher. This is a fantastic tribute to both the "Friday the 13th" and "A Nightmare on Elm Street" legacies. It's not really scary, but does amp up on the gore, and it encompasses everything good that made these two horror series so immensely popular.
4) "A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master" (1988) -- Kristen (Tuesday Knight), Kincaid (Ken Sagoes) and Joey (Rodney Eastman) return as the last of the Elm Street Children, but they don't last long. It's up to a new group of kids to thwart Freddy (Englund) in this fantasy-heavy Nightmare. This one is much like "Dream Warriors," but less scary. It has been dubbed the MTV nightmare by Robert Englund in interviews, and it is one of the more imaginative Elm Street ventures.
5) "A Nightmare on Elm Street" (2010) -- The story is basically like its predecessor, but Robert Englund has been replaced by actor Jackie Earle Haley -- a huge mistake. However, the film is very enjoyable and much darker than any of the Elm Street sequels. This remake towers above the "Halloween" (2007) and "Friday the 13th" (2009) remakes, but it's simply a case of a movie not needing to be remade.
6) "A Nightmare on Elm Street 5: The Dream Child" (1989) -- Alice (Lisa Wilcox) is pregnant, and Freddy (Englund) uses the dreams of her unborn child to unleash havoc on the children of Elm Street. Alice becomes the first Freddy adversary to successfully survive a 2nd go- around with the demonic Mr. Krueger. This film tries to return the franchise to its original, darker origins. However, the low body count and a very problematic ending makes this a weaker entry in the series. It's entertaining, but it limps to the finish line.
7) "A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy's Revenge" (1985) -- Five years after the events of the original film, Freddy (Englund) returns to possess a new victim, Jesse (Mark Patton). This is a "fence" film for me -- a guilty pleasure. There are times when I enjoy watching this one, but the whole concept of Freddy being in the real world seems impractical. He terrorizes a score of teenagers, at a pool party, but it doesn't really work. Why are the kids scared? Just gang up and beat the crap out of him. He's powerless in our world, or did all these kids miss the first film. "Freddy's Revenge" is worth viewing, but you're not going to want to watch this one over and over.
8) "Freddy's Dead: The Final Nightmare" (1991) -- This is the first of only two films in the franchise that are just absolute garbage. Freddy (Englund) is back and he is searching for his long, lost offspring. A group of very unlikable characters try and survive the dream stalker, as the film reaches its very disappointing 3-D conclusion. There are so many things wrong with this movie, which includes not having the Dream Master Alice (Wilcox) in the storyline. Instead, the filmmakers decided to pursue the ludicrous notion of Freddy having a kid. Watching this movie is about as satisfying as jumping onto a bicycle with the seat missing. It is just awful.
9) "Wes Craven's New Nightmare" (1994) -- Freddy (Englund) has moved beyond the simple status of a horror movie monster. Now, the dream slayer has been conjured into the "real" world and begins to terrorize the nightmares of the actors and crew of the original "A Nightmare on Elm Street" (1984). It can be argued that this is a complexly cerebral project, but it boils down to an absolute travesty which is unworthy of even being in the series. It's great seeing Heather Langenkamp and John Saxon again, and the countless cameos, but the premise is just too ludicrous to even begin to suspend disbelief. "New Nightmare" is about as satisfying to watch as if you went to the bathroom and used a $20 bill instead of toilet paper to wipe up. And then you flushed the $20 bill down the toilet. DO NOT WATCH!