As far as horror villains go, you would be hard-pressed to think of someone more iconic than Freddy Krueger. Robert Englund's supernatural serial killer quite literally haunts our dreams, and Wes Craven's A Nightmare On Elm Street remains one of the quintessential 1980s horror movies to this day. After a long absence, Englund recently dusted off the Freddy makeup for his upcoming documentary Nightmares in the Makeup Chair, and it seems that his goal for the project was to show his love for the world of practical makeup and makeup artists. The horror legend explained:
Nightmares in the Makeup Chair is my love letter to the Nightmare on Elm Street series and to practical makeup. I've always been in awe of the multi-talented makeup effects artists. From sketching to sculpting, they realize the design. Then to the fine precision of the molding and the manufacturing of the makeup appliances which are nearly paper thin. And then, the application process where I sit in the makeup chair and I become their living canvas as they glue me in and paint the appliances. This documentary not only captures their talent, but I think it might inspire a new generation of practical effects artists. I was happy to become Freddy once again to share the makeup process with the fans.
Robert Englund's recent comments to EW pretty much echo what fans of horror already know about the genre: practical makeup almost always works better than computer generated imagery -- at least with the current limitations of technology. With Nightmares in the Makeup Chair, Englund wants to pay tribute to the Nightmare on Elm Street franchise, while also celebrating the unsung heroes who work in the practical makeup industry. By shining a light on that particular subset of the film production process, Englund's hope is to inspire more people to pay attention to it and even potentially create a resurgence in the art form.
The importance of practical makeup in horror becomes even more important when we consider the recent history of the Nightmare on Elm Street franchise. Jackie Earle Hayley replaced Robert Englund in the widely panned 2010 remake, and while Hayley delivered a relatively commendable performance as the dream-stalking villain, the CGI-makeup hybrid used to create his horrific, burned visage has already become incredibly dated.
Obviously, the remake suffered from more problems than just bad makeup, but if director Samuel Bayer had been more willing to embrace a practical design for this particular horror icon, we could've at least walked away knowing that Freddy didn't look like he was created in a computer. CGI is in a constant state of evolution, but practical effects never go out of style.
Beyond the upcoming documentary's core thesis, it simply seems like a fantastic way to honor an iconic horror franchise in the best way possible. Check out the trailer for the film below to see Robert Englund slide comfortably back into his classic slasher character:
Nightmares in the Makeup Chair is currently set to debut later this year. Stay tuned for more details!