Fear Clinic, Robert Englund’s latest horror show is just a few days from its iTunes release, and like most seasoned fans I’m pretty psyched about it. I’m usually pretty psyched about Mr. Englund’s work in general, but this one (following the 2008 web series of the same name) looks like it might be kinda great, so it got me thinking about the man himself, a man beloved by millions.
After all, who doesn’t love Freddy Krueger?
Come on now, don’t lie, you love Freddy just as much as I do…I mean, it really isn’t possible not to love an evil, scarred, child murdering psychopath is it?
In Robert Englund’s capable hands the character became more than just a villain, he became a beloved villain, a bad man yes, but a bad man to cheer for. Strangely one does tend to forget that Freddy is not a role with any redeeming qualities, but we still root for him, and in my opinion that has nothing to do with script or directing, that is all Mr. Englund.
Don’t believe me? Well, why don’t you think back to 2010 when (for some reason I have yet to fathom) a Nightmare on Elm Street re-imagining emerged from the depths of hell…uh, I mean from Warner Bros studios, starring Jackie Earle Haley (who is actually a pretty fucking awesome actor in his own right). Now tell me horror fans, did you fall in mad love with that Freddy?
Cause I sure as fuck didn’t…and yet, it was the same character, an evil, scarred, child murdering psychopath.
Now you can trump it up to miscasting, which would be technically true since no one should (ever) play Freddy (ever never ever) but Robert Englund. However, JE Haley wasn’t at all bad in the role, it’s just that his Freddy was a typical one dimensional villain, he was a very bad man and we were glad to see him go, that’s all…who the heck was ever happy to see RE’s Freddy get beat? Hell, even when Nancy came back in part 3, I was psyched to have the character back, but deep down I still wanted Freddy to win.
…and on it went for a total of seven awesome Nightmare films, and one not at all bad Freddy vs Jason flick (as if Jason would have won, that’s bullshit right there…ahem).
When it comes to horror films, Robert is a god, so I guess it made sense that he, like many horror actors before/after him, would go on to star in numerous other genre films, some very good and some…well, not so good. All of which was awesome for me growing up, because I got to watch my favorite horror actor in my favorite genre pretty consistently.
Recently though (and I’m almost embarrassed to say it took me this long), I started to notice that Mr. Englund is a pretty damn fine actor with enormous versatility and excellent comedic timing. So, knowing that, I began to wonder why he hasn’t had his “Christopher Lee” moment yet. You know, when some young director casts his favorite horror legend in a big budget movie that actually showcases his many talents. Some people say it’s because audiences won’t be able to get past “Freddy”, and to them I say “shut up” and also “bullshit”.
In the last few years, he has branched out, taking roles that although usually still horror, let us see more of RE’s versatility than ever before. Zombie Strippers (2008) for one (yes yes the title, let’s move on) was actually a funny little horror comedy (the title is self explanatory really) in which our favorite villain is perfectly cast as Ian, the platinum blonde, germaphobic, underground strip club owner who hogs ALL the good lines. Along with the more recent The Mole Man of Belmont Avenue (2013), Mr. Englund concretely proved he can be really funny, which although any fans of Freddy already know this, it’s still nice to see him branch out further into comedy.
In horror, he starred in Inkubus (2011), cast as the titular demon and although unfortunately that movie suffered from some very questionable performances by…well, everyone who wasn’t Robert Englund (Joey Fatone I will give you a cookie if you never act again), the man himself was actually intense and pretty fucking riveting. The same can be said for The Last Showing (2014), which although some would say is superior to Inkubus (debatable), suffers from a lot of bad acting. Let me be clear, Robert Englund has both the acting chops and charisma to make reading the phone book seem like a captivating good time, but he is just one man, there are limits to how much shitty acting one man can make up for.
Fun Fact: I met Mr. Englund at the local Comic Con last fall, and what surprised me most about him (besides the fact that he kinda sounds like a Cali surfer dude) is what a real gentleman he was. He was incredibly well spoken and articulate and seemed so very harmless I actually have to admit I felt a little let down. (Mind you what was I expecting, that he stab me to death and do a jig…I may have been less surprised had he done that) But then we had our picture taken with him, and he took my 6 year old daughter Maria and placed her in front of him and said “okay sweetie, ready to be scared”, and then he did THE laugh (you know very well that I mean the Freddy laugh) and my daughter giggled like crazy. I have to admit it really surprised me to hear Freddy’s voice coming out of that dapper older man, so much so that I look both shocked and kinda constipated in the picture (no you can’t see it, it’s too horrible for words and you’ll all go blind…but here’s the cropped version).
Afterwards, when we got to speak with him (and lemme tell ya, he is definitely a man who likes to talk and takes time with his fans), Maria asked him if he was a monster, and before I could say a word he very kindly gave her an explanation about how he sometimes plays monsters for grown ups to watch and then told her about the cartoon voice-overs he does for little kids to enjoy. It was a great and strange experience to see that the actor I had loved for years truly was a charming and talented man very much worth admiring…which is a fuck lot more than you can say for a whole lot of celebrities.
As for Fear Clinic, I’m being cautiously optimistic about it, especially after seeing that some fairly good actors are joining RE in this latest film. Fiona Dourif for one (daughter of Chucky), who kicks some serious acting ass and Thomas Dekker (All About Evil), who although he has some crappy crap in his filmography (including the Nightmare re-imagining) has been consistently decent in his roles. Also, the trailer is really fucking intriguing and kinda makes Fear Clinic look like it’s the shit…but as we know trailers can be deceiving and often make the worst flicks look like gold (I’m talking to you The Wolfman).
So here’s the trailer, take a look for yourselves horror fans, and don’t forget to look out for my review of Fear Clinic on February 1st(ish).
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