Wed. Feb 28th, 2024

While Robert Englund may mostly be known as Freddy Krueger, this doc gives a spotlight to his entire impressive career.

PLOT: Throughout his career, Englund starred in many well-known movies, but shot to super-stardom with his portrayal of supernatural serial killer Freddy Krueger in the NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET franchise. This unique and intimate portrait captures the man behind the glove and features interviews with Englund and his wife Nancy, Lin Shaye, Eli Roth, Tony Todd, Heather Langenkamp and more.

REVIEW: I remember reading Robert Englund’s Autobiography when I was in college. It was a wonderful telling of Englund’s life and career and painted the picture of a humble thespian who just wants to perform. So I perked up when hearing they were creating a full-length documentary. Especially since Englund had lived a decade of life since the book had been released. To say that Englund is a god-like figure in the horror realm would be underselling it. He’s beloved by fans everywhere in a way that few actors manage to achieve. And with Hollywood Dreams and Nightmares, it’s easy to see why.

As a video editor myself, one aspect I really loved was the dynamic motion given to the still images. It really helps to bring them alive in a very simple way. These documentaries really live and die by their editing, and this one stands out. There’s some really funny humor throughout as well, with my favorite bit coming from William Bit about changing during stage plays. It’s times like that which took it out of the vanilla documentary trap that so many have fallen into.

Robert Englund in the documentary film, HOLLYWOOD DREAMS & NIGHTMARES: THE ROBERT ENGLUND STORY, a Cinedigmrelease. Photo courtesy of Cinedigm.

While obviously most fans will be watching because of his years under the makeup as Freddy Kruger, they spend a sizable amount of time on his acting career pre-1984. In fact, it’s not until around the 40-minute mark that we finally get a look at Krueger. As a huge Nightmare on Elm Street fan, this section is an absolute dream. His insight brings new life to scenes we’ve all seen dozens of times. It was also great to see his co-stars’ reactions to him, as they were just in awe. Then the many stories of first-time directors feeling taken care of because of Englund just further proves why he’s deserving of such wide-sweeping praise.

But those just hoping for an extensive breakdown of his time as Krueger will probably have to look elsewhere. Because this is definitely more about Englund’s career as a whole, giving equal measure to films like Phantom of the Opera, and Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon. Heck, they even talk about Englund’s appearance as Krueger on ABC’s The Goldbergs and Stranger Things. So this really does feel all-encompassing.

Robert Englund in the documentary film, HOLLYWOOD DREAMS & NIGHTMARES: THE ROBERT ENGLUND STORY, a Cinedigm release. Photo courtesy of Cinedigm.

One of the more interesting aspects is when Englund covers the roles he lost out on. Carrie, Star Wars, and Kill Bill amongst others, show that rejection is still present in the life of such a Hollywood icon. And it’s crazy to see all of the connections that Englund has to so many large properties. Whether it’s telling Mark Hamill about the Luke Skywalker role, or collecting dead leaves that would later be used while filming John Carpenter’s Halloween, Englund had a brush with so many Hollywood classics.

I really enjoyed Hollywood Dreams and Nightmares and would recommend it to any fan of Englund’s. While there are surely a ton of people who will tune into this because of the Nightmare on Elm Street series, I hope others are able to discover some previously unknown gems. Because Englund’s career is a diverse one in the horror world and deserves more than to be pigeon-holed as one character.

Hollywood Dreams and Nightmares: The Robert Englund Story is STREAMING ON SCREAMBOX JUNE 6th, 2023.

Robert Englund in the documentary film, HOLLYWOOD DREAMS & NIGHTMARES: THE ROBERT ENGLUND STORY, a Cinedigm release. Photo courtesy of Cinedigm.


By Dave Jenks

Dave Jenks is an American novelist and Veteran of the United States Marine Corps. Between those careers, he’s worked as a deckhand, commercial fisherman, divemaster, taxi driver, construction manager, and over the road truck driver, among many other things. He now lives on a sea island, in the South Carolina Lowcountry, with his wife and youngest daughter. They also have three grown children, five grand children, three dogs and a whole flock of parakeets. Stinnett grew up in Melbourne, Florida and has also lived in the Florida Keys, the Bahamas, and Cozumel, Mexico. His next dream is to one day visit and dive Cuba.