It’s that time of year again – flowers, candies, love, romance, and the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre that is El Rey Network’s “Rip Your Heart Out” Valentine’s Day horror marathon. For the third annual event, you can stay up all night with Freddy Krueger himself.
Robert Englund will host five of the classic Nightmare on Elm Street films as well as episodes from the 1988 TV series “Freddy’s Nightmares.” The marathon will begin with the episode “Black Tickets” on Saturday, February 13th, at 6AM ET/PT and will conclude with A Nightmare on Elm Street 5: The Dream Child on Monday, February 15th, at 2AM ET/PT. (Click here for more details and the full lineup.)
We had a chance to catch up with Robert in Hollywood last week, up close and personal – though clawless – and here’s what he had to say about this marathon madness.
First of all, I found out he’s not hosting the marathon live. I jokingly accused him of being a slacker for pre-recording in segments in L.A., and he laughed, saying, “Well, I was hoping to get a free trip to Austin. I am a big fan of Robert Rodriguez, and I wanted to see Troublemaker Studios. Also I’ve heard this rumor that he and Quentin Tarantino bought this airport in Austin, and what is a hangar? A hanger is a perfect conversion for a soundstage. So they got this new place, and I was hoping to go to Austin to see the studio and, you know, have a couple of cocktails and hear some music and enjoy some Tex-Mex.”
But, he says, the studio they shot in was great. It’s decorated with promo posters from Hong Kong, Indonesia, the Philippines, and Thailand. Robert revealed he’s a big collectors of foreign movie poster art, adding, “I have a great one of me as the Freddy head in part three. You know, the wonderful phallic Freddy penis-snake devouring, going down on… whatever you want to say… Patricia Arquette, which is fun. She’s in her flannel Peter Pan Wendy jammies, but she kind of looks like she likes it. It’s so lurid and wonderful, and I framed it in bamboo and I have it in my guest house over the bed.” That’s some décor for guests! “Now I can say that I, er, swallowed an Oscar winner.”
When asked if movie marathons might have lost some of their luster now that everything can be DVR’d, Robert said he believes the fans will stay up late to watch in real time. “I think we’ve all had our attention spans expanded in recent years because of the phenomenon of binging on Netflix, on cable, and so on — and I think it would be a lot of fun. It’s five, and then half of five is two and a half… it’s seven hours of binging. You can stop for a pizza in the middle. It’s not just the movies; it’s also the TV series. And if your girlfriend wants to watch The Notebook for Valentine’s Day and you want to be badass and you don’t want to wuss out, then I say let her binge on parts four and five, and get some candy in her so that will get her blood sugar going.”
When I mention my love of part two, and especially the role of Clu Gulager, Robert’s eyes light up. “Clu’s great! I idolized Clu as a child because he was Billy the Kid. When I was a little boy, he was my favorite Western TV actor. I tried to be like those cowboys on TV. I would literally roll my jeans up the way they did, or my shirt sleeves, or if they’d wear a St. Christopher medal, I’d have to go out and buy one. I had fine hair but they had flattops and I’d try to wear my hair like Clu; it was so cool. And Clu was not afraid to squint on camera. He had this really cool squint! So when I first met him, we went out for lunch, and I kind of fanboy’d him a little bit on the Westerns; and you know Clu had done so much since that I don’t think he had heard that for a while.”
We asked him to reflect a bit on the series’ place in pop culture, and he mentioned part two specifically, “Nightmare on Elm Street 2 has a very interesting, very ahead of its time, slight homoerotic theme to it; the Europeans picked up on it, but Americans didn’t. They were still kind of in the closet because… what people have to understand is, if we would have made Nightmare on Elm Street 2 in the late 70s, I think it would have been a bigger hit in the States, but when it came out, that was during the AIDS crisis and there was a huge backsliding in American culture because of the fear of AIDS. What people don’t realize is that there was much more acceptance of gays in the late 70s than there was in the middle 80s because of the plague, and everybody was afraid. Fear set a lot of people back in the closet, and it made a lot more ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ happen, post-disco. But the screenplay is not overtly about that. It’s just one element of that story. It’s also about class system. It’s about the rich girl and the boy who is the regular boy. It’s about Freddy getting into a boy, a male adolescent’s, head who’s full of hormones, and maybe one of his latent things that he’s examining is his best friend, his handsome beautiful best friend, as well as his beautiful girl. And Freddy is screwing with that; he is messing with that.”
When asked about how romance and horror go together, Robert has a ready, and psychological, reply. He says, “You’re scared, you’re petrified… but you never feel more alive in your life than you do at that moment of fear, in those moments, and it’s the same thing when you’re scared in a movie because if you’re flirting with a girl or you’re flirting with a boy, you are bonding cathartically to a scare. There’s an extra amount of energy and the memory of that experience. Like a memory of a shared experience with somebody like going to a rock concert you saw together, like something that you and a friend or you and your wife have only seen… that’s how horror brings people together – and romance is a part of that.”
Our thanks to Robert and El Rey Network… here’s hoping romance and horror are both a part of your Valentine’s Day weekend!