Robert Englund is synonymous with Freddy Krueger. I’m not sure any single modern horror character is as tied to one actor as Krueger is to Englund. When Platinum Dunes remade A Nightmare on Elm Street with a new actor in the role, fans could not see beyond the recasting of their favorite dream stalker. He’s the face of horror that almost all of us grew up on. He’s the man of our dreams.
And as loyal fans, we’ve watched the Nightmare on Elm Street films over and over again, watching Englund’s performance as the glove-wielding maniac differ from movie to movie, ranging from outlandish and comedic to genuinely sinister. And by the end of the 1980s, Freddy had become a pop culture icon. He was everywhere, his burned face totally unavoidable.
We tend to forget about those days now, as it’s been six years since the Nightmare remake and there’s been barely any movement in that time. But there was a time when the world had Freddy Fever, and sometimes I really wish I could have been around in the height of those days. Most people are probably aware of the surplus of Krueger merchandise and the short-lived Freddy’s Nightmares TV series is finally being re-aired for the first time since its 1990 cancellation by networks like Chiller and El Rey. Still, there’s are appearances of Robert Englund—in the Freddy make-up—that most fans have probably never seen. Keep reading for our top picks.
The Fat Boys “Are You Ready for Freddy” Music Video
A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master really kicked off Freddy Mania, resulting in several tie-ins and special events, the most insane of which was Freddy’s appearance in the Fat Boys music video “Are You Ready for Freddy,” which also appeared on the film’s soundtrack. The biggest selling point here, something that has to be seen to be believed, is Englund rapping in character as Freddy.
Dokken’s “Dream Warriors” Music Video
Just before that, Freddy made an appearance in the Dokken “Dream Warriors” video for the titular song of A Nightmare on Elm Street 3. Freddy has less inclusion in this video, which is still focused mostly on the band surrounded by clips from the feature, but he does put in a great appearance toward the end by fighting the band and then waking up screaming. Freddy shakes his head and says “What a nightmare!” It’s hokey as all hell and that’s the fun of it. Interesting that Freddy dreams of Dokken.
The Freddy Krueger Hotline
The Freddy Krueger hotline is one of the most bizarre merchandising ideas ever concocted by a major studio. This was an actual number you would pay to call so that Freddy could ridicule you from the other end. It’s a weird thing to pay to be insulted by your favorite horror icon, but the TV spots and ads for the hotline really tried to sell it as best as possible, with Englund providing the voiceover himself.
A Nightmare on Elm Street 3 Video Rental Promo
This insane but surprisingly informative promo tape features Freddy returning to scare the pants off you by… breaking down sales numbers for the first two Nightmare on Elm Street films on VHS. He tracks the excellent box office numbers of Dream Warriors in theaters and manages to force in some accounting-based puns. If nothing else, this really shows you just how popular and lucrative the franchise once was.
Freddy vs. Jason Las Vegas Weigh-In
Luckily, I am not too young to remember this excellent promotional spot for what was probably the most highly anticipated Freddy film ever. Structured like a real weigh-in for a live fight, it was hosted by real, iconic announcer Michael Buffer. You know, the “Let’s get ready to rumble” guy, who—interestingly enough—had actually been written into an early script for the feature that was totally unrelated to anything we wound up seeing on the screen. This event featured both Englund and Ken Kirzinger in costume and character as Freddy and Jason, tossing insults back and forth. Which was a little unfair, as Freddy’s always going to be the clear winner there.
The Freddy Krueger Hour
In this MTV special to promote A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master—and yes, they only ever refer to it by its full title—Freddy comes face to face with VJ Kevin Seal, host of MTV’s 120 Minutes. The whole special could easily have served as a pilot to Freddy’s Nightmares as Krueger appears in the wraparound segments between several music videos. The whole thing looks like Freddy was roped into doing a local-access telethon but it is funny nonetheless, whether intentional or not.
Slash & Burn: The Freddy Krueger Story
Yet another MTV special, Slash & Burn: The Freddy Krueger Story featured Freddy hosting a documentary taking a behind-the-scenes look at the history of the Elm Street franchise before the release of its promised final chapter. That has its own value, I suppose. There have been several Nightmare documentaries over the years, but this is the only one with insight from the man himself.
But the strangest of all, without a doubt, is Freddy’s appearance on the Japanese variety show Kato-Chan Ken-Chan Gokigen TV. Yes, that’s Freddy in the makeup and, well, it’s very hard to describe. This one just really has to be seen to be believed.