A Dream Date with Freddy at the Toronto Underground Cinema – Rue Morgue’s Festival of Fear

As a casual guy, one who enjoys horror movies, sports, beer, pizza, etc., I’ve never been into fancy dates, with their luscious bouquets, impeccable clothes and extravagant bills. However, on Friday night, all of that changed. I dressed to impress, spared no cost and checked myself in the mirror a number of times. I had a dream date with the son of a hundred maniacs, Mr. Freddy Krueger himself. Also, I made sure to shave. I didn’t want to give him easy one-liner material before he sliced my face off.

This special night at the Toronto Underground Cinema coincided with the ever popular FanExpo, happening at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre. Thanks to the murderous madmen at Rue Morgue and their frightening Festival of Fear, anyone who parted with a mere twenty dollars was treated to a screening of A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors, and a Q & A with Freddy himself, Mr. Robert Englund.

I knew this would be a busy event, so I decided to show up at 6:30pm, 90 minutes in advance of the screening. I was about the 50th person in line. A group at the front looked like they had camped out overnight. Their eyes were weary and they were sitting on the ground. On second thought, maybe they just hadn’t been sleeping all that well. Bad dreams?

When everyone was settled in their seats we had some prizes given out through a raffle, including a Freddy style sweater. This was followed by a great introduction to Nightmare 3 by a local film critic, and some nostalgic and hilarious vintage horror movie trailers. Also, we got an early look at some of the upcoming programming for the Toronto After Dark Film Festival, including a trailer for the Canadian made film, Monster Brawl. I can’t wait for TAD, under half the programming has been announced and I already think it sounds like an amazing time.

I’m not going to go into very much detail regarding Nightmare 3. It is still great and still has some of the best lines, coolest effects and most grisly kills in the horror genre. Unfortunately, there were a couple problems during the screening. The theatre was a little hot and there were a few projector malfunctions. However, I think that these issues can be chalked up to the heat outside combined with the packed house, and the fact that the reels of film we were watching were 25 years old. The guys at the Underground are great and I’m sure they will address these issues, if they can, in the future.

Finally, on to the best part of the night. Freddy, Mr. Robert Englund.

Englund walked onto the stage to a thunderous standing ovation. It was a special treat to get to sit in on a Q & A session with Englund. He was very charismatic and interacted wonderfully with the crowd. I filmed a short segment of the session, but the quality of the video is abysmal, because I watched the stage with my eyes, rather than with the camera. Below are some highlights of the session, but I should mention that I am just providing the paraphrased jist of the questions and answers. This is not a transcript.

Q: What do you dream about?

A: Guys I am so lame. When I was younger it was snakes and then when I was older, the Alfred Hitchcock paranoia, cops in the rearview mirror. Also, girls with pigtails because of the little girl in the opening scene to The Bad Seed, which I saw when I was nine years old. However, now it’s mainly things like balancing my checkbook.

Q: What is the craziest piece of Freddy merchandise you have ever seen.

A: In a very expensive private art gallery in Russia, during the 1970’s, Chinese pieces of art were very popular and I came across a pill bottle with a picture of Freddy on it. The caption on the bottle said ‘Take one, and see me tonight’.

Q: How did you get the part of Freddy?

A: I was going to a bar where Wes Craven was going to be and I opened up the hood of my car when I got there. I put grease in my hair, and rubbed cigarette ashes under my eyes. I sat at the bar the whole time while Wes was describing the plot of Nightmare 1 and stared at him like a maniac for the entire time he was talking. I got the part.

Q: Will you ever put the glove back on and reprise the role of Freddy?

A: Guys, you have to listen to me. There are some very good movies that are out there. Black and white movies. Get out there and watch some of them, catch up on what you have missed. That’s the beauty about the language of film. While someone else is off reading a book, you can watch six movies in that time and catch up. – This answer was rather odd. I understood that Englund was trying to recommend older films, because there is some great stuff out there, but he never provided a yes or no answer to this question.

This was by far the greatest moment of the night:

Q: Mr. Englund, sir. It’s an honour to be here and meet you. I have a Freddy Glove here from 1984 that my brothers would always terrorize me with. I was just wondering if you would put on the glove and sign it right now.

A: Jeers from the crowd, ‘Ask a real question!’, followed by Englund turning his back to the questioner, bending down and grabbing his ankles and giving the questioner a face full of Englund derrière. It was just for laughs and the questioner was told that he would get his autograph AFTER the Q & A.

That’s it. Thanks to Rue Morgue, Toronto Underground Cinema and of course Mr. Robert Englund.

It was a night to remember.

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