Exclusive: Robert Englund discusses hopes for Nightmare on Elm Street future
The past few months have been an exciting rollercoaster of discussions for the future of the Nightmare on Elm Street franchise with SpectreVision’s Elijah Wood and Daniel Noah expressing interest in developing an installment while The Haunting of Hill House‘s Mike Flanagan revealed he has a pitch for a new film. While discussing his role in Adult Swim’s upcoming series JJ Villard’s Fairy Tales, ComingSoon.net got the opportunity to chat with legendary star Robert Englund to discuss his thoughts on the future of the franchise.
Though its currently unclear who holds the rights to the franchise, the Wes Craven estate are currently the primary group accepting pitches on potential new installments in the classic supernatural slasher franchise and Englund felt that both of Craven’s children, Jessica and Jonathan, are “really smart” and have “got really good taste” when it comes to various facets of making a film.
“Jessica discovered Johnny Depp, Jonathan has been working in the business for years now,” Englund explained. “I would hope that they make sure they get all the scripts that were sent to New Line and to Time Warner in the last ten years or so, at least the last ten years. I think there were some going all the way back to 2005.”
With all of these scripts amassing across the various studios who have had a hand in bringing the Nightmare on Elm Street franchise to the big screen, the 72-year-old star has just the plan for how the two should begin their search for the next potential film.
“Just go to a nice hotel on Long Island somewhere or in Malibu, get a bar set up and put some nice music on and read them all or hire somebody to read them with you or at least narrow them down to ten each,” Englund blissfully described. “Because I’ve heard over the years of a couple of really great scripts, along with just the idea of rebooting with new special effects and a new cast, and that’s fine, but the other thing is that I’ve heard of a couple of other scripts over the years that really sound interesting.”
Having been tied to the franchise for over 30 years now, Englund has heard various pitches and script outlines for potential films in the franchise, and when asked about his thoughts on where it should go from here had three favorite concepts presented to him from the past, including a way to retool the whole franchise, past films and all.
“One is a prequel and it really centers on the courtroom stuff with Freddy and his lawyers and him getting off and Freddy getting caught by the cops and Freddy killing the first kids,” Englund described. “I really think that’s interesting, I’d heard John McNaughton, who’d directed Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer mention it. The other one I heard about was about Tina’s sister, the character from Nightmare 1 had an older sister, a college girl who came back to find out the truth of what happened to her sister. You would do it as a period movie, so it wouldn’t be computers and everything yet, it would be 1985 and she would come back to solve what happened and she would be this interim into Nightmare 2. But it would be a nice end for me to have a prequel, you’d have the “failed reboot” of Nightmare 1 and then you could go into that and then what I would do is I would do an animated and graphic novel style. Very dark, very dark with incredible fantasy sequences, I would do an animated reboot of Nightmare 1, I would never make Nightmare 1 again. Just leave the two alone that are there. Then I’d do the one with Tina and her sister, I would do that live-action.”
In looking back at the timeline of the franchise and the potential restructuring of the series, Englund also felt that giving the first sequel from the original run, Freddy’s Revenge, could be a much more poignant take in today’s world versus the past when certain themes weren’t as readily accepted by general audience members, especially when pertaining to his iconic killer.
“Nightmare 2 really lends itself to a new way of being told that Freddy gets inside the one boy’s head and maybe the boy’s bisexual and Freddy manipulates him into that world, the ‘80s world of Studio 54 and all that stuff that they hinted at in the original,” Englund recalled. “But you really go down that road now and you really make it strange and you do fantasy sequences and everything like that. We’re much more sophisticated now, and then I would start using entirely different effects than were used in the originals.”
While many horror fans would love to hold onto the past way of making films, Englund actually embraces the possibilities of incorporating computer-generated effects into the franchise rather than sticking to strictly practical, pointing out two referential examples of how a new film could evolve in terrifying ways.
“I would use that effect from Inception, and from that Robin Williams movie, Where Dreams May Come, because those are old movies and they can do those effects now so amazingly,” Englund noted. “To put those as a nightmare or a dream or a landscape of a dream I think would be incredible with all of the things that can be created today. Just have the dreams opening and opening and going deeper and deeper, but start it out really subtle. You mutate the Nightmare house, you see the house itself actually move and maybe the house itself actually encompasses another house and becomes it and kills it. Just stuff like that, I think you go underneath the Nightmare house and go under the ground, under the boiler room, down to the source of evil that Freddy tapped in to. All kinds of stuff like that you could do.”
No matter where the franchise goes next, Englund believes the possibilities are endless given it has “such a rich, rich mythology” and that Craven’s kids are “so business savvy” and “have really good taste in writing and casting and production” and knows they “will make some good decisions.”
“I just fear that somewhere at Platinum Dunes or somewhere at Time Warner or somewhere at the bottom of a drawer at New Line Cinema, there’s a couple of scripts that might be worth doing a repolish on and making into a movie,” Englund offered. “I hope they’re not neglected.”
The original A Nightmare on Elm Street was written and directed by Wes Craven and released in 1984. The movie starred Robert Englund as the horror icon Freddy Krueger, Heather Langenkamp, and Johnny Depp. The horror film followed a group of teenagers whose dreams are invaded by the monstrous spirit of a slain child murderer, Freddy, who seeks revenge against the teens’ parents who were responsible for his death.
Flanagan has been a rising star in the horror genre for the past six years beginning with 2013’s Oculus and following it up with the acclaimed Netflix slasher thriller Hush and celebrated prequel Ouija: Origin of Evil in 2016. He continued his relationship with Netflix in 2017 with his first Stephen King adaptation, Gerald’s Game, which received highly positive reviews, followed by the horror series The Haunting of Hill House, which received similar acclaim. He would once again step in to the Stephen King sandbox for this year’s Doctor Sleep which, though receiving highly positive reviews from critics and audiences alike, has been underperforming at the box office in its two weeks since release.
JJ Villard’s Fairy Tales is set to premiere on Adult Swim on May 10!