Robert Englund is the type to pick favorites when it comes to his iconic work as the fedora-sporting teen-torturing Freddy Krueger over eight A Nightmare on Elm Street movies.
And while the 1984 original — like most originals – is generally considered the gold standard, the film rarely makes the cut when it comes to Englund superlatives.
There’s his favorite film in the franchise (Wes Craven’s New Nightmare); his favorite kill (the head-exploding death of the hard of hearing Carlos in Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare); even his favorite one-liner (“Welcome to prime time, bitch!” from A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors).
Englund also has a favorite Englund work. That came in A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master, released in theaters 35 years ago, on Aug. 19, 1988.
“That’s my favorite performance of mine in any of the movies. It’s not my favorite film in the franchise, but it’s certainly my favorite performance,” Englund told us during a 2015 Role Recall interview (watch Part 1 above, with Dream Master beginning at 3:30).
Why? It was the freedom the filmmakers granted him in the role. “Physically, they kind of left me alone in that one. I owned it by then.”
Englund loved the movie, too, which featured a top-tier Hollywood pedigree — it was co-written by future L.A. Confidential Oscar winner Brian Helgeland and directed by future Die Hard 2 and Cliffhanger helmer Renny Harlin — and arrived in theaters in the thick of Freddy mania, ultimately becoming the highest-grossing horror movie of the entire decade.
The performer, now 76, enjoyed the surrealistic aesthetic of the sequel, particularly the death of the entomophobic teen Debbie Stevens (Brooke Theiss).
“The Roach Motel was the number one commercial on television at the time. ‘You can check in, but you can’t check out!’ I love that because that was really taking advantage of an element that we should in all the Nightmare movies, which is surrealism. The surrealism of the landscape of the mind, of the imagination, of the dreamscape, of the individual victim’s nightmare.
“And that particular girl was afraid of bugs. And what a perfect thing to do but for her to turn into a bug and then wind up in a roach motel. I thought it was really a great throughline. An evil, manipulative punishment that Freddy had devised for her.”
A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master is currently streaming on Max.