‘True Terror’ – Robert Englund returns to the dark side
Robert Englund may be best-known for playing a serial killer, but in his latest role, he sees himself more in the mold of a Vincent Price.
Premiering Wednesday, March 18, on Travel Channel, “True Terror With Robert Englund” puts the portrayer of razor-finger-tipped Freddy Krueger from the “Nightmare on Elm Street” slasher-movie franchise in the role of host and guide for a journey through real-life tales of horror from yesteryear, as told by newspaper accounts and commentary from experts and historians.
Using ominous tones and a creepy persona, Englund walks viewers through re-enactments of such tales as a boy buried alive during a smallpox outbreak in late-1800s New Orleans, a 20th century Atlanta police station besieged by a vengeful spirit, and a 19th-century North Carolina storekeeper whose premonitions of his own death become a self-fulfilling prophecy.
The common thread here, outside of the element of creepiness, is that they all were reported in mainstream media of the day — aka newspapers — which Englund argues “gives it a strange, different kind of historical American cred, at least from my point of view, than just like a rumor or a myth or a legend or a campfire story.”
“Some of them have been disproved, and we have matured in our understanding and our superstitions since some of these were reported first …,” he allows. “But still, I love the idea that these were stories that were reported in the newspaper.”
And some were even reported by public officials, such as one case of a U.S. president’s encounter with a mythical beast in the early 1900s.
“We have a Bigfoot segment, for instance,” Englund says. “But it’s something that was reported and talked about not only in newspapers but by the president of the United States, Theodore Roosevelt, on his great safari-like hunting expeditions up in Montana – and this is before any of the other Bigfoot or Abominable Snowman reportings.
“So it’s interesting that this one is a newspaper article and the guides that were with him and actually the president of the United States, Teddy Roosevelt himself, talking about it. There’s this sense of credibility.”