‘A Nightmare on Elm Street’ Star Robert Englund Explains the Longevity of the Franchise

Horror icon Robert Englund, who played sweater-wearing dream-invading serial killer Freddy Krueger across eight films, says the Nightmare on Elm Street franchise endured because bad dreams are universal.

“As much as I’d like to claim responsibility for the success of the movies, the true reason the movies are universal hits is the nightmare is universal. The dream is universal,” Englund said during a Q&A session at Fandemic Tour Sacramento last weekend.

“And I don’t know if you guys know this, but whether you’re in an igloo in Alaska, or whether you’re surfing in Hawaii, or whether you’re in a small village in Africa, tending your livestock, we have the same dreams, the same nightmares. We have the falling the dream, we have the drowning dream, the claustrophobic dream — these are all common dreams. And Nightmare on Elm Street became instantly universal because of that.”

Asked if his role as the dreamy Freddy Krueger won him much adoration from groupies, Englund said his time as the child murderer garnered more of a surprising amount of family-friendly attention.

“The most common response I get from fans, going back — and you have to understand, I am blessed — because of video, because of cable, and then DVD, and then the box set video, and then the Blu-ray, digitally remastered DVD, and the flat screen television, I have lucked out,” Englund said.

“I’m onto three generations of fans now. And I have a generation of fans that tell me, from the video generation, that I was actually what they watched and were intimate and shared with their late father, or their late mother, or an older brother, or a step-father, or a single mom, or a single dad. Single dad would be really cool and let their kids watch Nightmare on Elm Street. Cool, single step-dad would be cool because he wants to look good in their eyes.”

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He continued: “So I get this response, this huge response, that of all things, is very family-oriented and very full of love and a shared experience. And an afghan, and a futon, and a pizza, and watching the next Nightmare movie when it came out fresh at the video store or at the DVD rental, like Blockbuster. I get a lot of that.”

Englund, whose recent projects include voicing Scarecrow in Injustice 2 and 2019 horror movie Abruptio where he appears alongside Get Out writer-director Jordan Peele, said he recently voiced one of the Three Bears and Goldilocks’ father in a “down-and-dirty” Adult Swim cartoon from one of the producers of Shrek and will next shoot a movie alongside Insidious star Lin Shaye at the end of the year.