“You’ve got the body…I’ve got the brains.” That was the scene that did it for me. We’ve all got our favorite Freddy Krueger moment … Nancy in the bathtub, Johnny Depp getting sucked into the bed, the cockroach transformation scene or even “Welcome to prime time, bitch!”. But the one that stuck with me was Krueger peeling back the top of his head, revealing a pulsing brain, while reciting that line to a screaming Jesse in A Nightmare on Elm Street Part 2: Freddy’s Revenge.
Thinking back, I can remember sitting in the Gash household with my younger brother (we’ll call him Patient Zero), working a remote control that had three buttons and was wired to the VCR, replaying that scene until the tracking button could no longer control the interference. It was classic.
But whatever your favorite Freddy moment, we have one man to thank for them all. Robert Englund has been an ambassador of the horror genre for nearly 30 years. He is the Michael Jordan of fright.
I suppose we can all be thankful that he did not receive the part of Luke Skywalker when he auditioned for Star Wars in 1977 (It’d be hard to imagine Luke battling Darth Vader in that red and green striped sweater … but the razor glove would have been a much better replacement for the severed hand). However, a few short years later we all discovered Englund, but as a much different character that would later skyrocket him to fame.
The sci-fi series “V” was a huge hit in 1983, and a young Robert Englund was portraying the friendly alien, Willie. He was gentle, lovable, kindly and pure. Isn’t it ironic? Don’t you think? The eventual face of darkness was … cuddly?!
Just one year later Englund met Wes Craven, and the iconic Freddy Krueger was born, changing everything. Englund, who had been recognized as playing the cutest alien since “ALF,” was suddenly a name synonymous with a grotesque, child-murdering monster. He was the thing that goes bump in the night. And each subsequent sequel in the Elm Street franchise boosted Englund another rung higher on the horror ladder of success.
I’m not sure at what point he actually became a horror icon. It happened without any grandeur or fanfare, but one day it was just a fact. Robert Englund was a horror god.
This classically trained actor became a draw whether he was in his Krueger garb or not. He was included in Wishmaster in 1997, Strangeland and Urban Legend in 1998 and even got a chance to direct, helming 976-EVIL. And simply put, after Englund erupted in the early ’80’s, he never looked back, never slowed down. With each starring role, or brief appearance, Englund’s legend grew.
He has put his mark on over 100 film/television projects. And although most of them are in the horror genre, the uniqueness and quality performance he brings to each individual role are remarkable. It doesn’t seem to matter how big of a part it is, Englund finds a way to be memorable in each role. Whether it be as huge as the incomparable Freddy Krueger or as minor as Sampson, the backwoods bayou dweller in Hatchet, Englund has made a habit of stealing every scene he’s in.
And as if being the face of horror isn’t enough, Englund also recently added author to his already extensive list of accolades. In 2009 he released his autobiography entitled Hollywood Monster: A Walk Down Elm Street with the Man of Your Dreams. What more can the man do?
Currently things are not slowing down at all. Englund is a regular attendee at horror/film festivals with his next scheduled appearance being at Rock and Shock (October 14-16, Worchester, MA) to help promote his newest film, Inkubus, written and directed by Glenn Ciano. Englund also stars in the upcoming film Strippers vs. Werewolves (you’ve gotta LOVE this guy!), which is currently in post-production. And the beat goes on.
If you ask the average person on the street to name you one horror actor, the name they will come up with more often than not is Robert Englund (actually the average person will probably say “that Freddy Krueger guy!”, but we know who they mean). He is the face of our favorite genre and embraces the honor. I cannot think of a man who has represented horror in a more thorough and respectable manner.
It is with true pleasure that I grant this Doctor Gash Tip of the Scalpel honor to the one and only Robert Englund. Thank you for all you’ve done, sir. It’s been my pleasure to watch you work.
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