Best Robert Englund Performances That Aren’t Freddy Krueger, Ranked
Most know Robert Englund as Freddy Krueger, the face of the A Nightmare on Elm Street franchise. Appearing in eight films and making over 50 credited appearances as Krueger, he’s one of the most iconic horror villains in film history.
But Englund’s career goes beyond the glove and striped sweater. He’s also an accomplished character actor with over 100 films, television, and stage credits to his name. Whether on the silver screen or the small screen, Robert Englund has consistently delivered top-notch performances for nearly five decades.
From his first on-screen role in the 1974 film Buster and Billy to his most recent work on the hit Netflix show Stranger Things, Englund has truly evolved as an actor over the years. Let’s look at some of Englund’s most notable roles and performances outside Freddy Krueger.
10 The Mangler – William Marley
The 1995 film The Mangler is based on a Stephen King story of the same name from his first collection of stories titled Night Shift. Englund stars as William “Bill” Gartley, the owner of Gartley’s Blue Ribbon Laundry Service, where the titular machine is responsible for a series of gruesome deaths. This leads police to start an investigation into the laundromat, uncovering sinister secrets from the past and dark plans for more human sacrifices in the future.
Englund delivers a powerful performance as the enigmatic Gartley, using his presence to create an unnerving atmosphere in each of his scenes. Even with some over-the-top gore and a jagged plot line, he can bring comedic relief to the film that only he could deliver. The Mangler was one of Englund’s first horror roles since his time as Freddy Krueger, and it certainly set the tone for many of his future performances.
9 Wishmaster – Raymond Beaumont
Released in 1997, the supernatural horror film Wishmaster stars Englund in the smaller role of Raymond Beaumont. It tells the ancient story of a Djinn, a genie-like creature that terrorizes a village before being sent into a fire opal. Hundreds of years later, the creature is unknowingly released from the opal and wreaks havoc on a group of people. The movie itself is a fun nod to iconic horror villains, with Tony Todd and Kane Hodder also making appearances.
The B-movie style of the film allows him to shine as the eccentric Beaumont. He brings life to a character whose motivations are hidden behind the facade of a collector. It’s an underrated watch that perfectly blends 90s horror cinema and Englund’s signature wit.
8 Urban Legend – Professor William Wexler
1998’s Urban Legend is another underrated piece of 90s horror featuring Englund as Professor William Wexler. The film follows a group of college students as they slowly uncover the truth behind a series of urban legends-inspired murders. England’s character, Professor Wexler, is not only a folklore instructor for the students but a mysterious figure who is, at one point, even suspected of the murders.
His dynamic performance is one of the most memorable parts of Urban Legend, and it’s surprising how often this movie is overlooked. Englund brings a sense of unease to the role with his subtle mannerisms and theatrical delivery. He is the perfect blend of scary and entertaining, and it’s truly a shame that his character only survived a portion of the movie.
7 The Batman – The Riddler
The Batman animated series from the early-to-mid-2000s was one of Englund’s most impressive roles outside Freddy Krueger. He voiced the iconic Batman villain, The Riddler, and his unique spin on the character added a new level of depth to match the character’s new appearance. His performance was both sinister and humorous, making him one of the best villains to appear on this show.
While The Riddler was only featured in three episodes, he brought life into the character for a new generation of Batman fans. Englund’s unique approach to the role gave viewers a fresh take on an old villain, and it’s a testament to his range of talent.
6 Eaten Alive – Buck
Another project Englund worked with Tobe Hooper on was his first feature film in 1976 titled Eaten Alive. Englund plays Buck in this horror exploitation flick, an unhinged local man in a rural Texas town. It’s a smaller role than the main characters, yet it’s still memorable for the outlandish performance.
Eaten Alive is a great watch if only to appreciate the strange story and Englund’s early work. The character Buck is a wild-eyed menace that adds an extra layer of tension to the film. It marks one of his first performances in the horror genre, unknowingly paving the way for his future as an icon in the industry.
5 Stranger Things – Victor Creel
Englund most recently appeared on the popular Netflix series Stranger Things in a small role as Victor Creel. In season 4, episode 4, titled Chapter 4: Dear Billy, Englund’s character lives in a psychiatric hospital after being accused of murdering his family. His immense guilt over the mistakes he made throughout his life caused him to blind himself with razor blades.
It was such a small role that left viewers wanting to know more about this mysterious character, and Englund does a great job showing Creel’s mixture of sadness and guilt. Will season 5 answer questions about Victor Creel and force him to face his son? Stranger Things season 5 is set to start filming in May.
4 Wes Craven’s New Nightmare – Himself
Wes Craven and Robert Englund reunited for the 1994 film Wes Craven’s New Nightmare, which marked the seventh chapter in the A Nightmare on Elm Street series. Englund portrayed himself and Freddy Krueger in this meta-horror movie where actors from the original film realize Freddy is breaking out of the movies into the real world.
Balancing both roles is no easy feat, yet Englund seems to switch between the two characters at will flawlessly. Even if his self-referential performance only appears in half of the movie, it’s great to watch him work with Heather Langenkamp in one of Wes Craven’s best films.
3 V – Willie
As one of the most successful series of the early 80s, V is a science fiction show revolving around reptile-like aliens attempting to take over the world. Englund appeared in 19 episodes as Willie, an undercover alien who sympathizes with the human race and decides to stay after others retreat back to their planet.
Englund’s performance in this show showed off a different side to his acting abilities, as Willie was surprisingly warm and endearing, showing his talent can go far beyond horror. A stark contrast to his other roles, Willie is a likable character that viewers root for during his journey. It’s a bit dated today, but V remains a classic 80s show worth watching.
2 2001 Maniacs – Mayor Buckman
Robert Englund took a break from dark horror for the 2005 comedy-horror film 2001 Maniacs. It’s a remake of the 1964 movie by Herschell Gordon Lewis titled Two Thousand Maniacs! Englund plays Mayor Buckman, who introduces a group of unsuspecting college students to his home in Pleasant Valley, Georgia. What they don’t know is that this weekend is the town’s annual celebration – and they are the invited guests.
It’s clear Englund has a great time playing Buckman as he puts on an exaggerated performance and charismatically leads the festivities. 2001 Maniacs is not only an underrated classic for the actor but in the horror genre overall. It seems many are quick to overlook this movie, but it’s a must-see for fans of Englund and horror comedies in general.
1 Fear Clinic – Dr. Andover
In the 2014 horror film Fear Clinic, Englund teams up with Fiona Dourif and Thomas Dekker to bring this story of a doctor’s terrifying treatments to life. Englund plays Dr. Andover, a psychiatrist who has developed a way to cure phobias through an invention called the “fear chamber.” This machine places the patient into a dream-like state, allowing them to confront their worst fears in a “safe and controlled environment.” Years later, as patients start returning to the clinic with worsening symptoms, things become more sinister.
Englund’s performance as the benevolent doctor develops into a character with genuine sympathy for his patients. Fear Clinic isn’t the most successful movie of his career, but the presence he’s able to bring to the role helps elevate the movie, making it a solid addition to his filmography. It’s an engaging experience, and any fan of Englund should add it to their watch list.