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Review: Hollywood Monster: A Walk Down Elm Street With The Man Of Your Dreams



Robert Englund is horror movie royalty so a book detailing his rise from playing Pinocchio in the Teenage Drama “Workshop” to becoming one of the most iconic horror figures of all time is surely essential reading for all genre fans.

There are various on-set anecdotes about filming the Nightmare movies but this is not an in-depth comprehensive chronicle of the franchise. Rather, it gives a full overview of Englund’s life and career from out of work surfer taking up acting for the attractive girls to a four decade veteran of showbiz. To cover such a long time span Englund gives as much attention to his lesser known roles as his tenure as Freddy.

The highlights of the book are the times he pauses from the overview of his career to focus on interesting, sometimes funny, sometimes shocking moments during particular shoots and struggles. These bizarre scenarios include learning the method acting technique of inner calmness then taking speed before a RADA audition, having his make-up trailer surrounded by crazed Freddy fans and having to make a daring escape back to the parking lot where a car chase ensues and his surprising rivalry with Gary Busey.

Englund’s love of Hollywood and international cinema is clear. He talks about the intriguing ways Hollywood infected his life at an early age, from seeing Clark Gable buying groceries to swimming in the pool from It’s a Wonderful life.

He also gives an anecdote about buying a hooker breakfast that reads like a dirty joke and wouldn’t be out of place in a John Waters movie. On the other side of the coin, he also writes a sweet section about meeting his future wife and the romantic ways he made excuses to spend time with her.

Appropriately for an actor who portrays the victim of a lynch burning the theme of fire is prevalent throughout. It seems during his career he’s had several dangerous run-ins with fire and the risk of asphyxiation it brings on set.

We get a clear view of the suffering he had to endure sitting through hours upon hours of irritating, sometimes unbearably hot make-up. He also explains his technique for getting into the mindset of an evil child murderer without going crazy.

I was delighted to see that the focus of his time on the Nightmare series is spent on Part 4: the Dream Master, often the most overlooked sequel in franchise. Talk to a fan about the series and they’ll often talk passionately about the strengths of Dream Warriors and the flaws of Freddy’s Dead but the Dream Master is usually neglected from the conversation.

Englund spends a considerable chunk of the book name dropping those who he has worked with or been aided by professionally. It’s clear he is very grateful for the breaks he’s gotten and wants to give credit where credit’s due. He even apologises to those he might have missed in his Acknowledgements section.

He has had such a vast career that for the sake of pacing some films are only briefly alluded to. He prioritises those he finds most memorable. Personally I would have loved for him to talk more about Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon.

After the epilogue the book gives a rather unnecessary list of Englund’s filmography. All this information is already easily available online, though having it in the book may aid the reader by giving a chronology to some of the anecdotes.

The book is perfect for those who want know more about the true personality under all the latex burns. Between chapters Englund describes his own nightmares, gives us access to his very human fears. Rather than demystify the Freddy Krueger character it makes his performance seem even more impressive.

Robert Book Front

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