Hollywood Dreams & Nightmares: The Robert Englund Story
Dir. Christopher Griffiths & Gary Smart (2022)
The life and incredible career of genre star Robert Englund is discussed with the man himself and the people who know him best.
CAUTION: MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS
Robert Englund is a goddamned national treasure. While it's not at all uncommon for a documentary to be made about a horror movie franchise or even just a single popular film, there are very few that are retrospectives on a single person's life. There are also very few horror icons more deserving of their own documentary than Mr. Krueger himself, whose career spans almost fifty years and who brought to life some of horror's most iconic roles. Screambox, who is streaming the film on June 6th, brings us a fantastic doc about a guy who is at the same time utterly terrifying and the nicest guy you'll ever meet, a man who brought your nightmares to life and has subsequently brightened the lives of hundreds of thousands of the horror faithful.
Hollywood Dreams & Nightmares is an exhaustive documentary, discussing Mr. Englund's roles, large and small. It delves into his pre-horror career (as well as the bridge between his first horror role, Buck in Tobe Hooper's Eaten Alive, and his next foray into horror as the terrifying Harry in 1981's Dead & Buried. Once 1984's A Nightmare on Elm Street was released, however, the rest was history, and one of the genre's greatest stars was born. What is most interesting about the doc, however, is all of the stuff that you don't know about, at least not if you're not already a ginormous Englund fan. All of the roles that he auditioned for, all of the movies that were never made, and all of the non-horror roles that showcase how great of an actor Englund really is. All of this is covered extensively, as is Englund's propensity to be just such a nice dude that you wouldn't even believe it.
It's rare that, for any celebrity who has been famous for as long as Englund has been, there aren't several dozen stories where someone ran into him on a bad day or found him when he was a little crankier than usual. With Robert Englund, that doesn't seem to be a story that anyone has, because every single person who has ever met him has nothing but nice things to say. Horror in general seems, for some reason, to attract stars who are nicer than your average celebrity, but Englund is practically horror's Keanu Reeves, a delightfully wonderful man who does nothing but bring joy to everyone around him.
He is a superstar in the genre, one of maybe two or three who everyone knows even if they're not horror fans. The fact that he has given so much to the genre that we all love is incredible, and the fact that he did it while remaining one of the kindest, most generous, and most lovable guys in all of cinema is a credit to the type of person that he is at his core. His roles are legendary, and his characterization of child killer Freddy Krueger was so great and iconic that people don't even care that the dude murdered children. Englund is well-deserving of a reflective look back on a mythical career, and this is one that every horror fan, especially every fan of those outstanding slasher films from the 80's, needs to watch. Especially if you've always wondered just what the fuck happened with Freddy vs. Jason...
Who this movie is for: The Freddy Krueger faithful, Slasher lovers, Bucks who like to fuck
Bottom line: I'm a huge fan of horror documentaries, and there is no one more deserving than the legendary Robert Englund. Hollywood Dreams & Nightmares does a phenomenal job of giving a complete picture of the man, the myth, and the legend, and the behind-the-scenes pictures and stories of a half-a-century-long career are worth a watch for any horror fan. Filled with interviews with some of the most important and impressive faces in the genre, the film is comprehensive and an enlightening watch. This one is streaming on Screambox on June 6th, and I highly recommend giving it a look.