Freddy: Wimpy or Wicked?
By: Marc Shapiro
Published in Fanorgia #81.
Does Freddy have feet of clay? Beginning with the mainstream A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors and escalating with A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master and the current TV series, purists have cried that Krueger has wimped out, gone mainstream Hollywood and—horror of horrors!—just isn’t scary anymore. Robert Englund has heard the charges and, in a recent interview, defends his alter-ego and the current nonscary direction of the Nightmare opus.
“I think sucking the guts out of a girl like Freddy did in Nightmare 4 is pretty scary,” replies Englund. “The way I see Freddy now is as the logical extension of what Wes Craven created with the first film. I don’t know if ‘scary’ is the logical extension of what the Nightmare films should be.”
“For myself, I believe the logical conclusion to these films is to use great special effects and art direction to exploit and emphasize the nightmare qualities,” he elucidates. “I agree with those who say Freddy is not scary anymore, but if we had kept making these films frightening and gory, they would have eventually achieved mainstream status in their own time.”
Englund admits that during Nightmare 3’s early production, a conscious decision was made that Freddy should become less scary and more the wisecracking antihero. “Around that time it was found that the brothers and sisters of the kids who initially discovered the films were beginning to get curious, but were ultimately turned off by what they perceived as the extreme horror and gore,” he reports. “At that point, it was decided to change things. The result was a much bigger audience for the films.”
Englund denies that his sudden high profile in media circles (hell, his wedding even made the National Enquirer) is turning him into a paper-thin celebrity. In line with this defense, he does long a bit for the terror that seems to have all but vanished from his character’s world. “The humor and cruelty were totally out of balance in Nightmare 4,” he admits. “There were some horrifying elements, I messed with Tuesday Knight a lot more and there were some elements of bondage in the film, but those things got cut out. The scene where I killed Kincaid was pretty scary.”
The actor, currently readying to appear in Cannon’s Phantom of the Opera remake, declares once again that he does not think Freddy has gone Hollywood. With Nightmare 5, he hopes to show people what they may feel they’re missing. “I’d like to see Freddy have more moments of violence and cruelty,” Englund grins. “It would be good for the films, and it would prove to horror fans that Freddy Krueger hasn’t sold out.”