Nightmares in the Makeup Chair

One of the things I’ve always loved about Robert Englund is that he seems to genuinely love being Freddy Krueger. Some actors grow jaded when they find themselves associated with a single character and their bitterness radiates in every interview (and sometimes in the performances themselves). But Englund? Englund seems seems happy to be there, happy to endure the prosthetics, and happy to have created a character that has resonated with so many people all over the world.

While Englund will most likely never headline a Nightmare on Elm Street movie ever again (and the remake may have killed the series forever), he’s becoming the iconic horror movie killer at least one more time for the new documentary Nightmares in the Makeup Chair, which will pay tribute to the practical effects artists who have brought the character to life over the years.

Entertainment Weekly revealed the first details and the first teaser for the film, which is a bit lo-fi (it’s more of an announcement than a proper trailer) but gets the point across. This isn’t going to be a documentary for everyone, but for that niche group of dedicated fans who are hungry for more Nightmare series anecdotes and want an in-depth look at the make-up process, it could be pretty cool.

Nightmares in the Makeup Chair will be directed by Mike Kerz, with legendary practical effects genius Robert Kurtzman having the honor of bringing Freddy to life this time around. Englund released this statement about the project:

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.

While I’m in the tiny camp that thinks the 2010 remake starring Jackie Earle Haley as Freddy Krueger is a bit underrated (there’s cool stuff in it!), the Freddy make-up in that film leaves a lot to be desired. It’s so muddled, more interested in realism that creating something striking and scary. So the chance to take a closer look at Englund as this character, and to explore what makes that original incarnation work, could be fascinating.

If this all sounds like something you’d be interested in watching, may I recommend the documentary Never Sleep Again: The Elm Street Legacy? It’s 240 minutes long and tracks the production of every film in the series (minus the remake) with everyone involved being brutally honest about everything that went down. It’s spectacular.

Nightmares in the Makeup Chair is set to premiere later this year. I’ll always be more of a Jason fan, but I’m keeping this one on my radar.

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