Hollywood Dreams and Nightmares: The Robert Englund Story – Review
By Sarah Morgan
Several years ago, I attended a Comic Con at which Robert Englund was one of the guests.
Not being a massive A Nightmare on Elm Street fan, I didn’t go to the talk he was set to deliver, but I could overhear it as I wandered about the merchandise stalls.
He opened by saying how pleased he was to be there. And he generously stated that fans could ask him anything they wanted, no matter the subject. He was there for them, and he would do his best to answer.
The first attendee to come up with a question, a woman, asked: “How old are you exactly?”
Now, maybe she was simply in awe at being faced with her idol in the flesh, but I found it hilariously funny that that was the only thing she could come up with. I thought of her again when I began watching Hollywood Dreams and Nightmares, a documentary about Englund’s life and career. Any burning questions she may have thought up in the years since would no doubt be covered in its runtime.
“A household name and a horror icon”
Englund is interviewed throughout, offering tidbits about his early life. That includes the disappointment his parents felt at his decision not to become a lawyer, as they’d hoped, but to follow his dream of becoming an actor instead.
We get to follow his years of struggle after undergoing classical training, and hear about his extensive stage work before initial fame came calling via the sci-fi series V.
However, it’s his tenure as Freddy Krueger in the aforementioned A Nightmare on Elm Street franchise that really made him a household name and a horror icon. Something he never imagined would happen.
Englund comes across as a really nice bloke. The kind you could have a chinwag with over a pint at the local pub. He’s open about the ups and downs of life as a jobbing actor. And there are some great anecdotes too, including the time he auditioned for Star Wars, then suggested his friend Mark Hamill might be right for one of the roles. The rest, as they say, is cinematic history.
In fact, Englund’s career seems to have featured many such brushes with almost superstardom before director Wes Craven cast him as Freddy, but I won’t spoil it by spilling the beans about them. Besides, it’s far more entertaining to hear the man himself discuss them.
Also featured are interviews with former co-stars, including Heather Langenkamp, Englund’s wife Nancy, and various directors, including Eli Roth, who add even more colour to a fascinating life.
Whether you’re a horror fan or not, there’s much to enjoy in Hollywood Dreams and Nightmares. Not least the insights the documentary offers into Hollywood. And if you’re wondering how old the great man is, he turned 76 in June.