SDCC Interview: Robert Englund on Horror Films and ‘V’
Unless you’ve lived a very sheltered life for the last twenty years or so, you know all about Robert Englund and his most famous character: the knife-fingered Freddy Krueger of Nightmare on Elm Street fame. The films featuring the iconic villan were some of the most successful of all time and spawned several sequels including a cross-over film featuring not only Freddy Krueger, but another well-known and popular character and star of a hugely successful franchise: Jason Voorhees of Friday the 13th fame.
More recently, Englund has taken turns both in front of and behind the camera with roles and directing gigs on films such as 2001 Maniacs, Jack Brooks: Monster Slayer and Zombie Strippers, which also features the acting talents of former adult film actress Jenna Jameson. ComicMix‘s Matt Raub and I caught up with Englund during San Diego Comic-Con and talked with him about, among other things, how hard it was to get to the convention, his latest projects, his involvement in the new V television series. and what he thinks about the future of horror films.
COMICMIX: So have you had a chance to check out the Con?
ROBERT ENGLUND: Not yet. We got messed up with the traffic. So many accidents, closures, people throwing themselves in front of trains, it took us forever to get here.
I think Comic-Con is jinxed. [Laughs]
CMix: So what brings you to the Con this year?
RE: I’m here with the company Anchor Bay which really responds to the kind of horror-comedy kind of stuff that people like Sam Raimi with the Evil Dead films used to do. I don’t know if it’s a response to the number of big-budget horror failures of late or that there’s so much homemade stuff on YouTube now, but fans really seem able to watch something like a Hellboy 2 or a Dark Knight, which I love, but they also have room for movies like the ones I’ve been involved with lately such as Zombie Strippers, Jack Brooks: Monster Slayer or Hatchet.
It seems they can tune into a big $200 million blockbuster film one day and then also enjoy a little $2 million film we made mostly for fun. They’re what I like to call "cheap thrills." I think there always has to be room for cheap thrills. I don’t know if its political or if there’s too much CGI or something but maybe that’s what movies like Saw or Hostel are tapping into — people’s need for something more simple and fun.
CMix: It’s like a "horror rebellion."
RE: Yeah, its like a horror rebellion. Its like people are not old enough now to remember how much fun movies like Evil Dead or Army of Darkness were. The kids coming up now haven’t necessarrily gotten to experience those kinds of films. But maybe I can help be a bridge to something like them in the future.
CMix: Does that mean there’s room for a return to something like Nightmare on Elm Street and the Freddy franchise?
RE: Oh yeah, sure. But I don’t really have any worries about horror films going away. Just look at the top movies — there’s usually some horror in there. I remember that there were a lot of people trying to imitate the style of something like Blair Witch but I don’t think that kind of thing has been exhausted. I think people will still play around with camcorders and stuff.
In fact, I’m going to watch a new film called Home Movie starring Adrian Pasdar from Heroes. Its all shot with a handycam and features a father taping his children over and over during the holidays and as he does this you start to realize that there’s something wrong with the children. I also watched another one called Look which is short entirely with security cameras. No close-ups or anything unless someone walks towards the camera.
I loved it and tried hard to bust it but I never could. There’s even a scene in an ambulance that I thought couldn’t have worked, but then someone told me they do have security cameras in ambulances now. So those are the kinds of things I would like to see more of and think we should still explore.
We keep doing all the things that can kill us: scissors, baby sitters, cars, telephones, technology but I think we need to get back to humanity and get away from the idea of just a serial killer. Or something like The Brothers Grimm if you did it right. Those were really dark tales that would be great. A new reimagining of The Brothers Grimm is what we need.
CMix: Turing away from horror a bit. Are you involved with the new V TV series that NBC is developing?
RE: I got the book from Kenneth Johnson and I know NBC was thinking about doing a V: Twenty Years Later show with the original cast and showing what we’ve been up to while living in a post-alien world. But now I think the decision was to go with a younger, sexier cast and then if that goes well maybe bring us back after that. Or maybe we’ll end up doing cameos. I don’t really know yet.