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Hollywood Dreams & Nightmares: The Robert Englund Story (2023): a film review by Mark R. Leeper.

A lot of people these days on the Internet and elsewhere seem to have an unquenchable thirst for celebrity biographies. A large number of DVDs come with special features that are biographies of the actors in the film. One most often sees these celebrity documentaries about actors such as Henry Fonda or Audrey Hepburn.   

In this regard, ‘Hollywood Dreams & Nightmares’ is just feeding that appetite. Here the biographer is telling the history of Robert Englund, who in his fifty-year career is best known for the role of Freddy Krueger. Englund is not so glamorous a star as Fonda or Hepburn, but he comes from an impressive background of horror films and his hand with knives has become an icon of the horror genre. Although, as Peter Atkins observes, a monster character is made iconic not by the writer or the director or even the make-up artist, but by the actor themself.   

In telling the story of Englund’s long acting career, one sees not just him but dozens of actors who are much better known to us today. Also included is a collection of anecdotes about how it is to work with Englund and to be in the community of actors about the same age, as well as a lot about advice and praise he got early on. There is maybe a bit too much of the ‘everyone is wonderful’ sort of clips. We get both Englund’s reactions to other people and other people’s reactions to him. There are people from the horror film genre discussing the dynamics of the stories in the films as well. 

Three-dimensional monsters have been done very little since Universal Studios, but Englund manages to bring this depth to his characters, not just Freddy, but all of them. 

Released streaming on Screambox 06 June 2023.

Rating: high +1 (-4 to +4), or 6/10. 

© Mark R. Leeper 2023

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