Through the cinematic decades, horror actors have captivated and terrified audiences with their ability to evoke fear, sometimes humor, and even sympathy, through their iconic performances. Lon Cheney, Boris Karloff, Bela Lugosi, Lon Cheney Jr., Vincent Price, Christopher Lee, Peter Cushing, and more, can be counted among such legendary stars. As a modern-day horror icon, Robert Englund (A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET), is without a doubt cemented in both the dreams and nightmares of horror fans everywhere. Even non-horror folk know his iconic figure, Freddy Kreuger, whether they want to or not. The new documentary, HOLLYWOOD DREAMS & NIGHTMARES: THE ROBERT ENGLUND STORY, gives a personal account of the life of one of horror’s most impactful figures.
The film, directed by Christopher Griffiths and Gary Smart, is the latest in a recent string of horror documentaries chronicling the genre’s effects on fandom and pop culture. (Co-director Christopher Griffiths also brought us PENNYWISE: THE STORY OF IT, YOU’RE SO COOL BREWSTER! THE STORY OF FRIGHT NIGHT, and ROBODOC: THE CREATION OF ROBOCOP.) While these are all worthy, well-researched films, HOLLYWOOD DREAMS & NIGHTMARES offers a more personal look into the life of its subject, with most of the story being told by Robert Englund, himself.
As a theatrically trained Shakespearean actor, Englund is fascinating to watch as he regales the stories and antidotes that forged his path to Elm Street with dramatic vigor and aplomb. His lengthy resume of film and stage experience may surprise many viewers yet makes perfect sense when considering the acting prowess necessary to deliver a terrifying, convincing performance beneath layers of latex and paint.
His tale is backed up by commentary from many of his peers and contemporaries, including Eli Roth, Lin Shaye, Tony Todd, Lance Henriksen, Miko Hughes, Bill Moseley, and, of course—as Freddy’s nemesis, Nancy—Heather Langenkamp, all of whom speak of Robert in high regard. It’s clear this who’s-who of genre celebrities respect and admire Englund and his legacy.
The film does, at a point, feel as though it’s running long, but only because of the thoroughness of its storytelling. It never feels boring and is certain to keep horror fans engaged and entertained.
HOLLYWOOD DREAMS & NIGHTMARES: THE ROBERT ENGLUND STORY is available to stream on Screambox.