In 2003, we saw Robert Englund play Freddy Krueger on the big screen for the last time. After Freddy vs. Jason ended, so did Englund's tenure as "the bastard son of a hundred maniacs." Everyone thought they could rest easy, and that their children would be safe from the horrors of the dream master himself. Well for one last time, the legendary horror thespian donned the makeup to haunt the waking nightmares of fans at last weekend's Flashback Weekend in Chicago, and he did it for a cause near and dear to even our hearts.
Fox 32 in Chicago had exclusive access to Robert Englund's make up chair, as he underwent two and a half hours of make up and character prep. What cause was great enough that he would undergo such a labor-intensive process to please fans and raise money? To help Chicago's Midway Drive In Theater keep its doors open by upgrading to digital projectors. Speaking to his personal love and remembrance of the Drive In theaters of his youth, Englund had this to say:
"I love the Midway, I love the fact that they're saving drive in movies. Like many young men of the Boomer generation, I think that's where I lost my virginity."
Horror fans earlier this year balked at the reported $365 price tag to have their picture taken with Freddy Krueger, but it's good to know that this wasn't just another case of an actor trying to raise some easy autograph money. No, this was Robert Englund, taking a cause that he felt deserved the time and effort of resurrecting Freddy Krueger and running with it. True, that sort of scratch isn't just lying around for just anyone to spend, but there are tons of fans that would spend it. Not only did the fans get an awesome, one-on-one photo with Englund donning that famous fire-eaten face of his, but the Midway Drive In got a nice cash infusion to keep the lights on.
There's a certain symmetry to this act of intense professional kindness, as the Nightmare On Elm Street series was a scourge of drive in theaters in the 1980's. One could imagine scores of teenagers (and their underage compatriots and relations who snuck in) watching the razor gloved menace coming at them on a huge screen in an open field with speakers mounted on their car doors. The drive in was waning and independent horror was on the rise, but for one brief moment the two co-mingled and helped each other out.
Which ultimately lead to Robert Englund getting his Freddy on one last time, and giving a helping hand to a venue that helped put him in the firmament of the classic boogeymen that haunt our dreams, as well as helped him score his first run at bat in adolescence. Here's to the great American drive in, now 100% Freddy Krueger approved; and here's to all the pleasant dreams you'll have tonight, dear readers. No promises though, as we all know how persistent Freddy can be. Just remember... if you don't think about him, he might not appear.