Everybody knows that Robert Englund has made an eternal mark on the horror culture with his timeless portrayal of the guy that kills you in your dreams. And he deserves all the respect he gets for that.
However, while he's made eight flicks as Freddy Krueger, it's important to recognize that he's made over 50 movies during his career so far. For those who want to know more about Englund's four decades in film, let's look at six of his more off-beat films, and where they fit in the timeline of his Elm Street career.
Eaten Alive (1977)
Well before Robert Englund and Wes Craven began their long cinematic partnership, Englund was in this Tobe Hooper film. Hooper had just finished with The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and decided to make this his next movie.
Eaten Alive is everything that The Texas Chainsaw Massacre isn't. There's not much in the way of plot (or logic) in this weird little movie — groups of people that are more-or-less crazy stop at a hotel in the backwoods of Texas. The hotel is run by a completely batshit insane man named Judd that talks and yells nonsense and then feeds his tenants to a crocodile that lives along the side of his house.
Robert Englund plays a sexy, womanizing cowboy who wanders in and out of the movie, yelling at Judd. Anybody that saw this movie when it was released would never be able to predict that he would turn out to be one of the greatest movie slashers of all time.
With its garish colors, discordant soundtrack, gibberish dialogue, and big rubber crocodile, Eaten Alive is a treat for fans of bad films. Don't believe me? Check out the trailer:
Starting in 1984, Englund began his role playing Freddy Krueger. In 1989, the same year that he made the 5th Elm Street movie, he took off his dirty sweater to make this literary classic...
The Phantom of the Opera (1989)
There's no "Music of the Night" in this version of the story. Here, The Phantom is a much darker character. His name is Erik, and he sells his soul to the devil in order to become famous. The devil melts his face as part of the price.
So, Erik lives under an opera house and becomes obsessed with a young singer named Christine. He kills people that want to go on dates with her and he kills people that try to prevent Christine from having a successful singing career. Then he forces her to marry him, even though he knows that she doesn't want to.
Englund plays the Phantom, of course, who kills people and cuts off their faces so he can wear them to cover his own disfigured skin (I don't remember that being in the famous stage musical version). It's a weird part for Englund because the Phantom is so sensitive. Sure, he's an immortal stalker/serial killer, but he is able to show some personal pain underneath his bloodlust. Englund shows some actual acting skills in this movie.
Here's the trailer:
After the Elm Street franchise appeared to have ended with Freddy's Dead, Englund teamed up with Tobe Hooper once more to make Night Terrors.
Night Terrors (1993)
This movie is regarded among some people to be Englund's worst film (and Hooper's — it never even got a rating on Rotten Tomatoes).
Despite its title, the movie is not a horror film. It's an erotic-historical-philosophical-thriller. It's about a girl that joins her religious anthropologist father in Egypt. She accidentally falls into the clutches of a cult that mixes Gnostic Christianity with the writings of the Marquis de Sade. At least, I think that's what happens.
In this movie, Englund plays a dual role — the infamous Marquis de Sade, and his modern-day descendant, Paul Chevalier. The fact that the movie is widely regarded as terrible really can't be blamed on him though; Englund did what he could with the character. The story was just too ambitious for the writers to handle; the result is basically a drama until the last 30 minutes. There are also a couple of dream scenes that shamelessly exploit Englund's fame as Freddy.
Here's the misleading trailer:
Three years after New Nightmare, Englund paired up with Robert Kurtzman for this horror movie about genies (although the movie uses the original term of "djinn").
In this movie, an ancient djinn is awakened by a young jewelry appraiser; if it can get her to make three wishes, then a door will open between worlds and terrible monsters will destroy the earth.
Here, Englund plays Beaumont, a rich collector of religious objects. When one of his objects breaks, the djinn trapped inside is able to escape. Beaumont throws a big party and the djinn shows up to cause trouble.
Here's the trailer:
A year later, Englund appeared in this odd and nasty, but effective, piece of work that takes place in the body modification underworld.
Dee Snider (the lead singer of the metal band Twisted Sister) plays a psychotic named Captain Howdy (every horror fan should know where that name originally comes from). Captain Howdy kidnaps teenagers and then tortures them with extreme body piercings to force them into a spiritual experience.
Robert Englund has a small role in this movie, but it's an interesting piece of symmetry for his career. He plays a father who leads a group of neighborhood vigilantes to capture and kill a child molester and murderer.
The strange trailer:
In the new millenium, Englund began making connections with other contemporary horror film-makers.
2001 Maniacs (2005)
This is a remake of the 1964 classic horror film Two Thousand Maniacs!. It was produced by Eli Roth - who also has a small cameo in the film (with his dog, Doctor Mambo). Observant horror fans will immediately recognize that Roth's cameo here puts this movie in the same universe as Roth's classic Cabin Fever.
The movie is about a group of college kids on their way to spring break. They follow a detour to a small Georgia town where the townsfolk are getting ready to throw a festival celebrating their Southern heritage. The highlight of the festival is the barbecue, which is made from the people that follow the detour to their small town.
Englund plays the mayor of the town who must organize the festival. He also tries to keep his southern pride intact while dealing with the fact that among the college kids is a black man, a Chinese woman, and a gay guy.
What makes this movie a little weird is that it has the kills and gore of a horror film, but it's really a satire on racist conservative American southerners, and how they just won't accept the fact that the Civil War is over. It's a funny and memorable little flick.
Here's the entertaining trailer:
Englund has never had trouble finding work in the past 40 years, and he's not stopping now.
The Midnight Man (2016)
He's finishing up a new horror movie called The Midnight Man, to be released later in 2016. It's about a girl who gets some friends together to play a game and accidentally summon a monster. The movie co-stars Lin Shaye, from the Insidious movies.
[Fun fact: Englund and Shaye have worked together before. She costarred with him in '2001 Maniacs'].
So while horror fans worldwide give Robert Englund the recognition he deserves for Freddy Krueger, let's not forget to give him the recognition he deserves for his other roles. He's one of the most creative and hardest-working horror actors alive today.