HOLLYWOOD MONSTER: A WALK DOWN ELM STREET WITH THE MAN OF YOUR DREAMS
I’ll confess I wasn’t expecting much from this memoir by actor Robert Englund, a.k.a. Freddy Krueger. However, I wound up pleasantly surprised by this fun little book, co-written by Alan Goldsher--who two years later would do the same for another fun read, Tobe Hooper’s MIDNIGHT MOVIE.
Hooper contributes an introduction to HOLLYWOOD MONSTER, as does Wes Craven, both of whom sum up the book’s overriding concern: that we understand Robert is a nice, normal guy who despite his skill in fleshing out Freddy Krueger does not kill children or haunt people’s dreams. The opening chapters confirm this with a vengeance, making it clear that Robert had a normal So Cal upbringing, was popular in school and got into acting largely to get laid.
Things pick up in chapter 4, covering Englund’s movie career in the 1970s. His early film roles included supporting turns in BUSTER AND WILLIE with Jan Michael Vincent (who is remembered for commandeering a prop car to get liquor because “This is what my character would do”), HUSTLE with Burt Reynolds and Tobe Hooper’s EATEN ALIVE. Englund also briefly lived next door to Andy Kaufman, and claims to have inadvertently gotten Kaufman his role on TAXI.
Fame of a sort came with a role on the eighties miniseries V, which was followed by a second miniseries and a year-long weekly. It was in the midst of his V tenure that Englund appeared in a low budget horror movie called A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET, playing what would become his signature role.
The enormous success of NIGHTMARE and Freddy Krueger took England (and most everybody else) by surprise. And the Freddy craze only increased over the course of six NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET sequels and 2004’s FREDDY VS. JASON, which Englund states will be his final outing as Freddy K. Englund provides many entertaining anecdotes about the making of those films, such as actress Jennifer Rubin getting fed up with all the lengthy make-up sessions and acting out on the set of NIGHTMARE III, and Englund getting chased on the 405 freeway by rabid Freddy fans.
The final chapters document the filming of a never-aired Englund hosted reality series called REAL NIGHTMARES that took up the better part of a year. Following this debacle were roles in films like BEHIND THE MASK and HATCHET, which saw Robert Englund coming full circle to don the supporting player hat in which he began his career. A none-too-auspicious end for Freddy Krueger, I’d say, though a fitting one for the nice guy actor we’re acquainted with here.