Actor Robert Englund needs no introduction to anybody that is a lover of the horror film genre. For many of us Englund was the man behind one of the first characters that stayed with us after a trip to the cinema and appeared in our nightmares that night – the character of Freddie Kruger from the extremely popular ‘Nightmare On Elm Street’ franchise.
When I ring Englund to talk about his latest film, the brand new The Last Showing which will be available in Australia in September, he is preparing to for a night out at the… you guessed it cinema… with his wife. Yes, it doesn’t take talking to Englund for very long to learn that this is not only a man who enjoys appearing in films but a man who has seen so many films of the years that he is now a walking film encyclopedia.
“We are so proud of The Last Showing,” says Englund with a laugh after I tell him that after just one viewing I am a huge fan of the film. “This is some of the best work that I have done in years. When I first read the script for this film I really couldn’t put it down. You know they teach you that when you read a script you read it once so as an actor you get a sense of where you are in the timing, but I just couldn’t put this down and I was so eager to do it. I kind of felt like the Robin Williams role in One Hour Photo. ”
So was it just the script that won Englund over to play the role of the villain in The Last Showing? He’s keep to explain there were other factors involved as well. “Actors do jobs for a variety of reasons. Sometimes obviously it’s the money, sometimes it’s the location… who doesn’t want to shoot a film in Paris or Hawaii? Sometimes it is because you want to work with a certain director or actor. That was also the case here for me. I knew who Emily Berrington was from The White Queen and I knew who Finn Jones was from Game Of Thrones and they both do tremendous work in this work. You know without Finn’s performance this movie just wouldn’t work. I get a lot of credit because I am the villain in the piece but Finn starts out as an unlikable yuppie but by the end you are really feeling for him because he is so manipulated by yours truly. So the opportunity to work with Emily and Finn was very attractive to me as well.”
In The Last Showing Englund plays Stuart a talented film projectionist who becomes enraged after being sacked from working at his beloved cinema after years of service. As a result he decides to deliver some payback (and make his own horror film in the process) on some unsuspecting cinema goers attending the latest popcorn blockbuster. So what was it like to spends o much time filming in an actual cinema?
“We actually filmed in this cinema just out of Manchester,” explains Englund. “It was strange because the movie Minions was a huge hit that summer and there was this huge ten-foot Minion in the lobby that we had to move out of the way whenever we were shooting so at the end of the night (they filmed at night) Finn and I would be walking around covered in blood with our shirts out and these little English schoolgirls would come walking in for the early morning screening of Minions with their Mums, their backpacks and lollipops. They’d rush over to pat the Minion and see us standing in all these pools of blood so we really were violating the memories of these English schoolgirls. Wait until they see the movie and can’t bring themselves to eat popcorn again.”
One of the things that angers the character of Stuart in the film is the fact that modern horror films seem to centre around the torture porn genre so what does a horror legend like Robert Englund think about the new wave of horror films? “To be really honest I love period horror and I think we are all getting a little tired of the future, I know I am, I prefer to travel back in time so I’m enjoying things like Penny Dreadful at the moment. It just mashes up all these horror characters in a kind of graphic novel style while taking place in Jack The Ripper’s London. But it has that period detachment which I love… it’s a little bit steam-punk. I love it when horror isn’t afraid to go back in time and especially when they do that graphic novel style, it’s great to see the past reimagined with all the technologies we have today. I’m different to Stuart when it comes to theatres though. While it was sad to see some of the grand old theatres in the States chopped up and made multiplexes I’m not going to sit here and say that I don’t enjoy watching film on Netflix or on demand, and I sometimes enjoy being able to watch a film in a cinema where they bring you cocktails or cheesecake. There’s a time and place for event cinema but there is also a time and place to sit back in your bed with some takeout Chinese food and binge watch some new television shows or movies.”
So there you are horror buffs when The Last Showing becomes available this September get under your doona, grab some beef and black bean with noodles and sit back and enjoy one of the best horror films of the year.