One, two, Freddy's coming for you… What started out in 1984 as a small, indie horror film directed by Wes Craven grew to become a major box office phenomenon in the '80s and early '90s with seven films, a spinoff TV series, a match-up with Friday the 13th's Jason and even a 2008 remake. Now, the stars of A Nightmare on Elm Street, Robert Englund and Heather Langenkamp, have returned to the original Elm Street house -- exclusively for ETonline!
"The house is as iconic as the glove or the sweater or her pajamas," says Robert of the home featured in the movies (which is actually located in Hollywood in a quiet neighborhood right off of Sunset Blvd.). He adds that fans and model makers have gone so far as to recreate the house out of everything from cardboard to Popsicle sticks, and the original address numbers next to the front door were even stolen by an overzealous individual.
With a new A Nightmare on Elm Street Blu-ray boxed set available this week (featuring all seven original films from the franchise and a new bonus featurette, The Life and Crimes of Freddy Krueger) and the 30-year anniversary of the first film around the corner, Robert and Heather displayed their natural chemistry as they reminisced about the trio of films they worked on together (1984's A Nightmare on Elm Street, 1987's A Nightmare on Elm Street: Dream Warriors, and and 1994's Wes Craven's New Nightmare), Freddy Kreuger's place in pop culture, and the enduring nature of the fan-driven horror series.
"I think we knew we were onto something good," says Robert. "But I don't think any of us thought this would be the iconic franchise that it's become. It set the bar, and certainly has been imitated – which I guess is a form of flattery -- just about more than any other horror film outside of Dracula, probably."
"I was such a short-range thinker in those days," laughs Heather. "I think I was just so happy to have a job, and even when they called for the sequels -- the third one and then the seventh one for me, but certainly every sequel -- I was always slightly surprised that they were going to go for one more round. It never really hit me that we had this franchise until the third movie, and then Robert was making them every year, it seemed like."
Among horror icons, Freddy is now ranked right up there alongside such classic characters as Frankenstein's Monster and Dracula, and Robert gushes, "Any time a journalist puts me in the same paragraph or breath with [Boris] Karloff or those gentlemen, I'm really honored. … I reap that honor as a result of being a kind of logo for the entire experience of the entire franchise, all eight films. I get that sort of by default. … It's the movies themselves that are the reason that thing is so big."
But Heather is quick to deliver credit where credit is due, saying, "There's just not that many actors who give themself to their character in the way that Robert has, because I think a lot of people would look over 30 years and be proud of their character they created, but Robert has actually gone so far beyond that in just the way he will be present for events, so that he can satisfy the fans' desire, and not only to be with him and see him; he's so charming, it's a way that you can hear stories about these films. That's all people want, is to be closer."
Heather even made a documentary about her own character's influence called I Am Nancy. "I was following Robert around the world and I just thought to myself, 'Robert is this icon, and so where does that put Nancy?'" she says, adding modestly, "I know only a small fraction of what it must be like for Robert when I go and have to always be talking about this character, and it's 30 years of talking about her, so I decided to put something down on celluloid."
Having embraced their place in cinema history, Heather also executive produced the extensive documentary Never Sleep Again: The Elm Street Legacy, which Robert calls "a labor of love [and] really illuminating look into a moment of time in Hollywood and of independent cinema."
"When I go off to meet the fans, or to do a Q&A, or to go to a film festival now, it's a huge event. It's really amazing and it's wonderful," concludes Robert. "It's actually a real important demographic that needs to be – what's the line from Arthur Miller's Death of a Salesman? Respect needs to be paid!"
('A Nightmare on Elm Street' clips courtesy New Line Cinema/Warner Bros.)