Flash back to 1984. Freddy Krueger, a serial killer with a gloved hand crowned with long, lethal razors, made his first appearance in Wes Craven’s “A Nightmare on Elm Street,” launching one of the most successful horror franchises in film history. And then remember your worst nightmares. Did Freddy star in them?
He did for Adam F. Goldberg, creator of the ABC series based on his childhood in the 1980s, now in its sixth season.
That’s why it was such a casting coup for Goldberg to reel in Freddy, portrayed by Robert Englund, for “The Goldbergs” Halloween episode, appropriately titled “Mister Knifey-Hands.”
To celebrate the show and the season, ABC and Sony Pictures Television held a Halloween shindig on the Sony lot Monday, complete with pumpkin decoration, followed by the main event, a special preview screening with Englund, Goldberg and other key cast members including Wendi McClendon-Covey (Beverly) and her on-screen son Sean Giambrone, who plays Adam.
The episode centers on another set of parents allowing their daughter and Adam to watch “A Nightmare on Elm Street,” against Beverly’s express wishes. As she predicts, Adam is afraid to go to sleep after that. A face-off between the two families ensues but the real action comes when Freddy comes to life in Beverly’s dream/nightmare, teaching her a lesson about her relationship with her son.
“I’ve always wanted to do Freddy, as I’m an obsessed horror guy,” Goldberg said in a Q&A after the screening. “It’s been on my bucket list but it took a lot of convincing and a hard sell to get Robert to be on ‘The Goldbergs.’”
“I don’t own the rights,” Englund noted, and said lots of shows wanted him. “But if you get me, you gotta go with my makeup man.” His melted/burnt face makeup reportedly takes 12 to 13 hours to apply — and three more to take off.
For those wondering, Englund appeared without makeup but with the infamous razor hand.
“People have told me stories about how they remember watching ‘Nightmare on Elm Street’ as a family, how it was a shared experience. They have fond memories of their families being together especially if they’ve lost some of the people since then,” Englund said. “I have been responding as that generation is sharing these stories. Then, I was ostracized as a purveyor of gore. Now, it’s different. This script touched me so much and became part of this response. It’s so authentic.”
Giambrone said he only watched some of the “Elm Street” movies as they were shooting the episode. “I didn’t throw up, like Adam did,” he said.
McClendon-Covey said it was hard to watch her momma-bear character see her son suffer, but something deeper was at stake. “Her nightmare is Adam saying he doesn’t want her as a mom,” she said. “I loved the script, especially when she’s falling asleep with the TV on — and then it happens.”
Part of the scene with Freddy occurs in a closet with sweaters, which the character of Bev is known for.
The cast joked about scaring the kids and Englund admitted that as a child, he was scared by the music cue in “Bambi.”
The conversation turned to the purposeful f-bombs that are bleeped. The Halloween episode contains three.
“ABC hates f-bombs, but we traded cutting one line about Bev being a prime-time bitch for one of them,” Goldberg said with a laugh.
Next on his casting bucket list: Bette Midler as Bev’s mom — or Barbra Streisand.
(The Halloween episode of “The Goldbergs” airs Wednesday, Oct. 24, at 8 p.m. ET/PT on ABC.)