written by Vanessa S (scary movie fanatic & mother to a first time con-goer)
My three-year-old daughter and I spent Mother’s Day with Freddy Krueger. Luckily, her first experience with him was sans makeup and much less traumatizing.
Robert Englund pounced onto the Comiccon stage confident and charismatic amid a flurry of eager applause. He quickly promoted a few new projects (The Fear Clinic, Midnight Movie) and immediately moved into the Q & A, “That’s me done being an egotist.”
Most of the questions, of course, centered around our favorite bad guy, Freddy Krueger; Did he know Freddy would be an icon? What scares Freddy? What was Freddy’s favorite kill? (For the record, the kid with the hearing aid in Part 6. Brutal.) Englund was generous, if not long-winded, with the personal anecdotes and seemed to recall fond memories of his time as our childhood boogeyman, even breaking into character a few times.
Amanda Wyss joined him for a moment, greeted with a terrifying, “TINA!!” Apparently, people do not age on Elm Street because she still looks like the beautiful young girl I saw savagely dragged across the ceiling 30 years ago. (God, I’m old) Both recalled that iconic scene with a morbid fondness. Englund even shared a story in which he and Wes Craven used it to scare the censors; Krueger blowing a “blood bubble” kiss through bloodily, webbed finger-knives at his freshly slain victim. Yikes. Ultimately, this shot was cut but thankfully many other terrifying scenes made it the screen for our enjoyment. (Johnny Depp’s bloody bed geyser, anyone?!)
Englund also commented on Freddy’s evolution from sadistic and tortuous to campy and full of one-liners, (which is honestly when they lost me), feeling his character was “violated.” In his opinion, relying on humor turned Freddy into a totally different character. Englund even referred to a few movies he wished he hadn’t made which called to mind the later Nightmares. Fortunately, Freddy and Craven redeemed themselves with the “New Nightmare” in 1994, with a return to the series’ original lovely “darkness” and again, scared the crap out of me.
In 2003, Krueger teamed up with Jason Voorhees for the surprisingly satisying Freddy Vs. Jason. It was during this discussion, I learned that Englund and I have something in common. Filmed in Vancouver, Englund recollected his Canadian visit when asked, “Where’s the worst place you’ve ever filmed?” Spending the majority of the film in an arctic Canadian lake, Englund quipped, “I think I have to blame you Canadians for my harshest location.” Ha! Me too, Mr. Englund, me too.
All in all, I found Englund quite charming. Even if “Freddy” isn’t the exact direction he imagined his career would take, he seemed quite aware of the character’s power and very appreciative of his fans worldwide. (Which is more than I can say for some of the other stars … ahem, Bruce Campbell?) I hope one day when I sit with my inevitably horror movie loving daughter, Isabel, to watch A Nightmare on Elm Street for the first time, she’ll recall with great fondness that nice older gentleman we saw that time at Comiccon. I’ll explain that he is the man behind the makeup on the screen and she will be able to bypass the pure terror we all felt. Probably not, though. Freddy is still scary as ever.