10 Killer Robert Englund Horror Roles Beyond Nightmare on Elm Street

10 Killer Robert Englund Horror Roles Beyond Nightmare on Elm Street

In Hollywood Dreams & Nightmares, Englund recalls being disappointed with the marketing of this 1989 horror-intensified adaptation of Gaston Leroux’s classic novel. You can see why; the poster, featuring an image of Englund’s face looking all for the world like crispy Mr. Krueger, shamelessly puts it out there: “Robert Englund was ‘Freddy,’ now he’s the… Phantom of the Opera.” Audiences were also disappointed with the film—though Englund’s performance, trapped in the shadow of Elm Street though it was, is one bright spot.

Urban Legend didn’t set the world afire like Wes Craven’s Scream (which featured a couple of Freddy Krueger nods), but casting Englund added horror cred and helped distinguish it from the zillions of other slashers released in the late 1990s. In this 1998 tale set on a college campus, he plays a professor who’s added to the list of suspects when a maniac starts racking up a body count by copycatting the urban legends he teaches in his folklore class (“Aren’t you glad you didn’t turn on the light?”). Fortunately, or not, his own horrific demise soon lets him off the hook.

This campy horror comedy—which has some culturally iffy elements that haven’t aged very well, though it only dates back to 2007—casts Englund as Professor Crowley, a rumpled science teacher who becomes possessed and eventually transformed by something he unearths in his backyard. Jack Brooks: Monster Slayer mostly follows the title character—a short-tempered plumber with a knack for battling strange creatures—but Englund’s supporting turn, enhanced by some repulsive special effects, makes a tentacle-flailing impression.

This 2006 slasher throwback actually contains very minimal Englund, but any horror film would be lucky to feature one of the genre’s most famous faces in its opening scene—especially this one, which is set in a swamp just outside of New Orleans, giving fans a nifty callback to Eaten Alive. And there’s even a reptile connection, as Englund’s character is a gator-hunting redneck. However, this time around he meets his end thanks to Hatchet’s mutant maniac (played by his old pal, Friday the 13th’s Kane Hodder)—who murders him off-camera, though we do get to see the guts-ripped-out end result.

This 2006 mockumentary is set in a world where supernatural killers like Jason, Freddy, and Halloween’s Michael Myers are real, and follows an ambitious young man who allows a film crew to follow him as he sets out to join their ranks. Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon offers a uniquely sly take on the horror genre—it skewers slasher and found-footage clichés—and boasts some excellent casting, including Poltergeist’s Zelda Rubenstein in one of her final roles. Best of all, though, is Englund as Leslie Vernon’s nemesis, or his “Ahab,” to use the film’s own terminology: Doc Halloran, a riff on Halloween’s trenchcoat-clad Dr. Loomis, who swoops in with great theatricality to prevent the aspiring maniac from accomplishing his goal.

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Englund’s casting in Netflix’s blockbuster sci-fi horror series perfectly fit with the ‘80s-set show’s season-four themes, which evoked A Nightmare on Elm Street’s tactic of having a monster attack victims in a surreal dream world—or in this case, the Upside Down. In Hollywood Dreams & Nightmares, Englund recalls auditioning for Hawkins’ sleazy mayor, a role that eventually went to another ‘80s icon, Cary Elwes. But even though Englund’s Victor Creel is only in one season-four episode, the character’s looming presence—his eerie history, his crumbling former home, his connection to Stranger Things big bad Vecna—makes the part feel less like a cameo than his amount of screen time would suggest. Plus, he’s unsettling as hell, bringing depth to the haunted Creel even beyond the Freddy vibes that so many other TV shows over the years (Knight Rider, Charmed, Married… With Children, Chuck, Bones) have capitalized on when bringing Englund aboard as a guest star.

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