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. . . In Their Wildest Dreams : The actor: Freddy's back, only this time he's after Robert Englund, who plays himself in the latest sequel.


LAGUNA BEACH — Freddy's back.

But this time it's not the good folks on Elm Street that Freddy Krueger, the fiendish dream stalker, is targeting. This time he's after Robert Englund, the actor behind the gruesome mass of burned scar tissue.

In "Wes Craven's New Nightmare," Englund plays himself. He also reprises his recurring role as Freddy, the demonic terror with the razor-sharp finger blades who turns up this time in Hollywood to haunt the actors and filmmakers behind the popular "Nightmare on Elm Street" movies.

Englund hadn't expected to do another Freddy Krueger movie. After the sixth one--"Freddy's Dead: The Last Nightmare" (1991)--he swore it would be the last. In fact, he said, that's what the studio, New Line Cinema, told everyone.

But then director Craven wrote a new script so good, he said, "that no one could resist. It was too rich."

Back home in Laguna Beach after two weeks of promoting the film on the talk show circuit, Englund said he got a kick out of playing himself on screen for the first time.

Art, however, did not imitate life.

In the film, he's shown living in a stereotypical movie-star manor that, he said, "is actually one of those great old dowager Spanish mansions out by the Rose Bowl. It's so funny. I walked in that place and said, 'God, Wes! You half expect Gloria Swanson to walk down the stairs.' It looked like Norma Desmond's digs."

Englund conceded that playing himself in a movie "was a little strange, but it was fun sending ourselves up. I mean, I don't live in a big mansion in Pasadena. I live in a little two-bedroom cottage in Laguna Beach. And I don't walk around in Armani suits all the time."

An on-screen difference that fans of the series probably will notice is that Freddy's face has evolved, having become more elongated in the new movie.

"The brow is different, the chin is longer and fuller, the skull a little more peaked," explained Englund, who also had to wear opaque contact lenses "from hell" that covered his entire eye.

"I worked in tunnel vision the whole time," he said.

It's not giving too much away to say that Englund didn't have to fight himself (as in Freddy Krueger versus Robert Englund) in the movie. But there's no denying that Englund is being haunted by Freddy.

Still, the big question is whether "Wes Craven's New Nightmare" finally spells finis for Freddy. Englund said he's the wrong person to answer that one.

"I'm the poor guy that got put on the sacrificial altar last time. My credibility is shot," Englund said, laughing. "I never say never after this one."

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