A Bloody Good Time: Where Are They Now? - A Nightmare on Elm Street Posted by Joseph Lee on 08.21.2014
From Robert Englund and Heather Langenkamp to Johnny Depp, John Saxon and more, 411's Joseph Lee looks at the cast of the slasher classic A Nightmare on Elm Street and sees where they are now!
Opening Logo courtesy of Benjamin J. Colón (Soul Exodus)
Last week I asked you what the theme should be for the upcoming Horror Knockout tournament. You selected "horror movie moments". It's going to be hard to cut it down to a list of 32 so if you have any ideas on what has to make it, please let me know through the usual channels. It's also going to be hard to do write-ups about the moments every week, so I may include the later rounds of the tournament in regular editions. Like "here's this week's column, skip to the end for voting". That sort of thing. Your feedback is welcome.
This week, we continue our "Where Are They Know" series with the third episode, looking at A Nightmare on Elm Street. I'm not including Wes Craven because my guess is that he'll pop up again later. I could do the same for Robert Englund but he's most iconic as Freddy so let's just take care of him now. It's the 30th anniversary of this movie, so it makes sense that we should tackle it now. It's almost thirty years to the day, as the movie arrived on November 9 in 1984. So while you may know what Robert Englund is up to these days, but you can skip ahead to the others.
Role: Freddy Krueger
Before: Believe it or not, there was a life for Robert Englund before Freddy Krueger. At the time he was a classically trained actor and by his own admission, something of a snobby theater kid. He had some small roles at the start of his career, mostly bit parts you probably wouldn't recognize him for. In the horror scene, he appeared in Eaten Alive as Buck, followed by Dead & Buried and Galaxy of Terror. Finally, he got his breakout role as Willie in V. I'll admit, I've never seen V. As an Englund fan I probably should, I just haven't had the chance. Around the time he was in the middle of playing Willie, he got the call to play Fred Krueger in Nightmare.
After: His career pretty much took off. He was already somewhat known from V and when Nightmare became popular, Freddy Krueger was everywhere. Toys, MTV, his own phone line, you name it. Englund never turned down a chance to play the Springwood Slasher, so he ended up coming back for seven sequels, a TV show and anything else they could squeeze Freddy into. He even played Freddy again two weeks ago at Flashback Weekend, to help support the Midway Drive-In. Some people were disappointed that he was just in the make-up and not the sweater and fedora, but those same people weren't actually there. Everyone I talked to was ecstatic.
As for his non-Freddy roles, he's been in everything from a version of Phantom of the Opera to The Mangler, The Paper Brigade, Urban Legend, Behind The Mask and Jack Brooks: Monster Slayer. He's also appeared in an episode of Supernatural, showed up for Married with Childrenand voiced comic villains Felix Faust, The Riddler, Dormammu and The Vulture in various animated shows. He's currently set to appear in a Fear Clinic movie that arrives next year.
Englund is a guy that's been in just about everything over the years. He still does TV work, he still gets starring roles in horror films and he's pretty much a rock star when it comes to conventions. Also, he still has the ability to scare you, especially when you're taking a photo with him and he lets out the Freddy laugh mid-shot. Thanks for that, Robert.
Role: Nancy Thompson
Before: She didn't do much before this movie. She appeared in The Outsiders but her scenes were deleted. She also starred in a movie called Nickel Mountain and a TV movie called Passions. She did beat over 200 actresses to play Nancy though, so she had something going for her. The best part about getting horror roles is that if enough people catch on and see the movie, you've got fans for life (and potentially work).
After: She would play Nancy one more time and then play herself in two more Nightmare movies. She also got a starring role in Just the Ten of Us, where she played Marie for three seasons (and made an appearance on Growing Pains as the character). She hasn't had as many acting roles outside of the 90s, althoug she played Nancy Kerrigan in a TV movie and believe it or not, an alien called Moto in Star Trek Into Darkness last year.
She married David Leroy Anderson and the two now own AFX Studio, which provides special effects and make-up for a variety of movies. Not only did they provide work for the previously mentioned Star Trek film, but they also did work on the Dawn of the Dead remake, Bruce Almighty and The Cabin in the Woods. Just to show my ignorance, I didn't even know she was doing makeup fx until she showed in the special features of Cabin talking about them. My mind was blown.
Role: Lt. Donald Thompson
Before: A Nightmare on Elm Street was actually the start of the second half of John Saxon's career. He started working in 1954 and is still working today. It would be easier to name the movies he hasn't been in, as he's appeared in over 200 different films. His first big role was in Running Wild (1955) and appeared in many different movies, working with directors like John Huston and Mario Bava. He starred in Bruce Lee's most iconic film Enter the Dragon, then later had some TV roles in The Six Million Dollar Man, The Bionic Woman, Falcon Crest and Dynasty. He's also appeared in some classic genre films too like Tenebrae and Black Christmas as well as some lesser known horror films like Cannibal Apocalypse and Beyond Evil. By the time Wes Craven cast him in Nightmare, he had been acting for thirty years as a solid character actor.
After: He would appear in the Nightmare franchise two more times, in Dream Warriors and New Nightmare. After he played Lt. Thompson, he basically went back to what he was already doing: strong character work. He's appeared in low budget horror movies like Blood Salvage, big Hollywood sequels like Beverly Hills Cop III and even a recurring role on Melrose Place, of all things. He's still working today, although not as frequently as he used to. He's set to appear in a movie called Fears later this year, as well as Bring Me The Head of Lance Henriksen. I have no idea what that second one is but it's certainly an eye-catching title.
Role: Glen Lantz
Before: This was his first acting role of any kind. I can't even imagine a time when Johnny Depp was an unknown actor, can you? Before he got the role he wanted to be a musician and even got a record deal with the band Six Gun Method (formerly The Kids). He only got into acting on the advice of Nicholas Cage. So, thank you Nic Cage.
After: He's one of the biggest movie stars in the world. Seriously. We can all say that Robert Englund is the biggest thing to come from Nightmare because we're horror fans and we're biased. But the truth is that Depp had more success than the rest of the cast (and the director) combined. Following Nightmare he appeared in Platoon and his career really took off with a role in 21 Jump Street. The sky was the limit from there. I feel like it would be trivial at this point to even begin to list Depp's movies. You know who this guy is right? He was just in a big budget movie earlier this year with his face plastered all over it. He'd Edward Scissorhands. He's Ed Wood. He's Sweeney Todd. He's Captain Jack Sparrow. You can catch him next in Mortdecai and Black Mass, among other movies. He also plays The Wolf in this year's Into the Woods.
Johnny Depp is a huge star and if you're a fan, that's great. He's probably not going anywhere and at this point he can do whatever he wants (like star in a Kevin Smith movie called Yoga Hosers. Seriously.) and he'll continue to be a huge star.
Role: Tina Gray
Before: Amanda Wyss is one of those actresses who actually had a decent career for herself in the 80s and unless you grew up in that time you probably wouldn't have known it. She had several small roles before Nightmare, appearing in Fast Times at Ridgemont High and some TV shows like Buck Rogers in the 25th Century and an episode of ABC Afterschool Special.
After: She played Woody's girlfriend Beth in Cheers, then played another character named Beth in Better Off Dead. She also had recurring roles in St. Elsewhere, Cagney & Lacey and Highlander: the Series. She's appeared in horror films like Shakma and The Graves, along with playing characters named "Tina" in The Drew Carey Show and CSI. She can also be seen in season one of Dexter. Her most recent role was a guest spot on Major Crimes and she has two independent roles in 2015: Getting the Kinks Out and Assassin's Fury.
Role: Marge Thompson
Before: She's actually known for her music and had several albums in the 1970s before landing the role of Barbara Jean in Nashville, performing her own songs. She was nominated for an Academy Award but lost out to Lee Grant for Shampoo. Not bad for only her second acting gig ever. She continued to put out music and went on tour with Bob Dylan as a backup singer, with vocals on Desire in the Rolling Thunder Revue. She also worked with Leonard Cohen and had some Broadway work, along with TV shows like The Love Boat and Tales from the Darkside.
After: Her last movie was in 1990. Not because she died or anything, she just doesn't act anymore. She still puts out music like 2009's album River Nile and even has some spoken word efforts (including an album called Djerassi Collection last year). She also has her Master's degree from California State University. She's still active on the convention circuit for Elm Street fans.
Role: Rod Lane
Before: Through a large portion of his career, especially early on, the Cuban-American actor actually took roles as "Nick Corri" because I guess he thought he couldn't get them if he went under his real name. Because Hollywood racism, I guess. By "early in his career", I mean Nightmare, because that was his first film role.
After: He appeared in shows like Miami Vice and The Facts of Life in the 80s, as well as movies like Wildcats. He can be seen in Predator 2 as a detective. He appeared in other Wes Craven movies like New Nightmare (in a cameo) and Vampire in Brooklyn. His last role under his fake name was in Candyman: Day of the Dead. He's had minor roles in big Hollywood movies like We Were Soldiers and Collateral Damage, along with a recurring role in Without a Trace as Carlos Aguilar.
Garcia currently runs his own production company called Scott J-R Productions with author John-Roger. They made a movie called Spiritual Warriors in 2005, which Garcia also starred in. He's also an ordained minister in the Movement of Spiritual Inner Awareness. So if you want a Nightmare cast member to preside over your wedding, go with Rod.
Role: Dr. King
Before: He's had a lot of work in Hollywood as both a character actor and a voice artist. His biggest role actually came after Nightmare but we'll get to that. Early in his career he had a lot of TV roles including Aloha Paradise, Laverne & Shirley and Welcome Back, Kotter. You can also see him in the Oliver Stone horror film The Hand. Then he got a minor role in Nightmare as a dream doctor. His role in the movie wasn't all that important, to be honest.
After: Roger. Rabbit. Yes. The man who voiced Roger Rabbit was in a Nightmare movie. How weird is that. The same movie contains Freddy Krueger, Roger Rabbit and Jack Sparrow. Hollywood is a bizarre place. Along with probably the biggest role of his career (and one that defined a lot of childhoods), he also had a variety of bit parts and supporting roles over the years. He's also had voice work in Buzz Lightyear of Star Command and appeared on an episode of Tales From the Crypt.
I actually first saw Fleischer as a kid when he played Arnie on Bonechillers. Am I the only one who remembers that show? It was very short-lived but he played the school janitor who may or may not be a zombie of some kind. He lost body parts a lot.
That's it for this week's edition. I don't think I got everyone, but some of them pop up in other films and so I intentionally saved them for later. I hope you once again enjoyed this trip down memory lane and a look at where some of your favorite horror actors are today. It's on you to decide the next edition of "Where are they Now" for September. I decided to go with films that were celebrating a 20th, 25th or 30th anniversary this year in the poll. There is an other option in case you think you have a better idea.
Closing Logo courtesy of Kyle Morton (get your own custom artwork and commissions at his Etsy account)
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