A Nightmare on Elm Street remains one of the most inventive horror film franchises to arise in a decade when horror franchises ruled. Indeed, from the moment audiences first laid eyes on the monstrously melted mug of Robert Englund’s fedora-sporting, razor-claw-wearing demonic dream-invader Freddy Krueger in the original 1984 film, it was REM-wrecking pop-culture kismet. Three decades, several film and television offerings later, Englund will, again, don the fried Freddy makeup for a fan-friendly documentary that pays tribute to the creative process.
The trailer for documentary Nightmares in the Makeup Chair sets the context perfectly about the horror film phenomenon and the endearing, yet macabre fixation of the franchise’s fans for the psychotic child-killer-turned flesh-charred malevolent entity. The short clip notably depicts a patience-taxing process as Englund sits in the makeup chair yet again as legendary makeup effects artist Robert Kurtzman (It Follows, Spawn, Army of Darkness) puts the actor through another round of glues, prosthetics and paints to become Freddy Krueger. In a welcome denouement to the process, Englund channels Freddy for a signature monologue chilling enough to forget the safety of the behind-the-scenes setting.
As Englund muses in a statement:
“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.”
Based on what’s seen here, Nightmares in the Makeup Chair is a lighthearted tribute to the Freddy fan culture and the unsung makeup artists who have brought him to life over the years in myriad movies and shows (as well as the maligned 2010 A Nightmare on Elm Street remake starring Jackie Earle Haley as Freddy). Thus, don’t expect an avant-garde approach. Indeed, the project is the directorial brainchild of one Mike Kerz, whose primary distinction is as co-founder of the Flashback Weekend Chicago Horror Convention in which the film’s fan interaction with Englund is set. As Kerz states:
“I was inspired by the vintage photos of the legendary artist Jack Pierce applying the Frankenstein makeup to Boris Karloff. Sadly, those sessions were never documented on film. That is why we created our documentary – fans will see two modern horror legends at work. Robert Englund is fascinating as he shares insightful stories about the Elm Street films and Freddy with the audience. And it is amazing to watch Robert Kurtzman apply the various stages of makeup to transform Robert Englund into Freddy Krueger.”
Nightmares in the Makeup Chair is still shopping for distribution. The current plan is to premiere the film sometime in 2017 at a film festival.