Hollywood Dreams & Nightmares: The Robert Englund Story is a thorough, compelling career overview of one of Hollywood’s most prominent horror icons.
Robert Englund is undoubtedly one of the most legendary figures in the horror space. It’s been almost forty years since the release of 1984’s A Nightmare on Elm Street, and Freddy Krueger remains one of the most renowned horror villains of all time. While Englund is best known for his work in the famous horror film franchise, the directors of Hollywood Dreams & Nightmares: The Robert Englund Story, Chris Griffiths and Gary Smart, pay homage to every aspect of Englund’s extensive show business career and his journey to stardom.
Hollywood Dreams & Nightmares: The Robert Englund Story is primarily narrated by Englund but also features interviews with other well-known figures in the entertainment industry and includes set footage from the actor’s film catalog. An animated Englund recounts his earlier years and enrolling in a professional theater school in his teens, though initially, his reason for attending was to safeguard the daughter of his mother’s best friend. It wasn’t long before the soon-to-be star participated in various productions, such as Peter Pan and Aladdin, and his exceptional talent became evident. His comedic performance in Pinocchio was especially notable, capturing the attention of television personality Steve Allen, who attended a show one evening and proclaimed to a young Englund, “You’ve got it, kid.”
After that, Englund attended Teenage Drama Workshop, starring in plays such as Dracula and Julius Caesar. Yet, before long, he felt the need to broaden his horizons and decided to manage his own theater company, even turning down the opportunity to attend Stanford University. Englund briefly discusses the marriage to his first wife and the end of their romance due to the pair being too young with differing life goals. However, fans seeking an in-depth account of Englund’s personal life may be disappointed, as the documentary only provides a quick glimpse into the actor’s past relationship and shifts focus back to the outset of his Hollywood acting career when he landed his first leading role in Buster and Billie in 1974.
In Hollywood Dreams & Nightmares: The Robert Englund Story, former colleagues and peers express their admiration for Englund’s kind-hearted nature on and offscreen. Their sincerity appears genuine and not just for the cameras, with their passion for Englund and his work ethic shining through. Heather Lagenkamp highlights her A Nightmare on Elm Street costar’s warm demeanor, especially towards newcomers to the industry. In addition, Tim Sullivan recalls his initial nervousness during the filming of 2001 Maniacs, which was his directorial debut. To this day, he’s still appreciative of Englund’s words of wisdom and offer of assistance if needed while onset.
Despite being over two hours long, Dreams & Nightmares: The Robert Englund Story keeps viewers engaged throughout, offering an in-depth exploration of Englund’s professional journey. The documentary employs a straightforward, easily digestible style without unnecessary cinematic frills. Only when you watch the film do you understand Englund’s extensive body of work, accomplishments, and unwavering dedication to the craft that propelled him to fame.
A Nightmare on Elm Street fans will be delighted with the runtime dedicated to Englund’s portrayal of Freddy Krueger, which is expected, given his recognition of the iconic role. Englund expresses appreciation for the character that defined his career and never appears to take his success lightly. However, other well-known names in the entertainment industry, including Tony Todd and Eli Roth, candidly acknowledge the challenges of being typecast to a specific genre and defined by a particular role while complimenting Englund’s wealth of range as an actor. Roles such as Behind the Mark: The Rise of Leslie Vernon showcase Englund in a different light and his abilities to star as a well-to-do civilian, swaying away from the horror antagonist role that he’s played many times before.
The sincerest moment of Hollywood Dreams & Nightmares: The Robert Englund Story is when Englund and his wife, Nancy Booth, reminisce on their whirlwind romance after meeting on the set of 976-Evil, where Booth was a set decorator. The couple, who have been married for over three decades, share an incredible bond, and their enduring relationship is endearing.
Whether you’re a dedicated fan of Englund’s or someone less familiar with his work, Hollywood Dreams & Nightmares: The Robert Englund Story is a thorough and captivating look at one of the most famous horror icons to date. The talent and commitment that got Englund to where he is today is truly inspiring. Though there’s no denying A Nightmare of Elm Street is one of the best horror franchises in existence and his most recognized work, Hollywood Dreams & Nightmares: The Robert Englund Story acknowledges that Englund exists outside of Freddy Krueger and honors his other films, which are worth the time investment.
Hollywood Dreams & Nightmares: The Robert Englund Story will be available on Blu-ray & Digital Download in the UK from 6th November, 2023.