As dream stalker Freddy Krueger in eight A Nightmare on Elm Street feature films and two seasons of Freddy’s Nightmares, Robert Englund expertly exploited people’s fears before adding yet another Elm Street notch to his kill list. But as Dr. Andover in Robert Hall’s 2009 Fear Clinic web series, Englund played a character with benevolent traits opposite of Krueger’s malevolent methods. Dr. Andover helped patients conquer their fears by having them face their personalized horrors in hallucinatory, dream-like states induced by his innovative Fear Chamber.

Englund recently reteamed with co-writer/director Hall to reprise his role as the good doctor in the Fear Clinic feature film, now available on home media from Anchor Bay, and we caught up with the legendary actor to discuss how Dr. Andover has changed since we last saw him in the web series, the David Cronenberg-esque elements of Fear Clinic, what would happen if Freddy Krueger tapped into the Fear Chamber, and much more.

How is the Dr. Andover we see in the Fear Clinic feature film different from the Dr. Andover we saw in the 2009 web series?

Robert Englund: He’s obviously had his license removed and he’s sort of working under the radar, but in the web series he’s younger and he’s up and running and then things start to go wrong. In the movie, he’s lost one of his favorite patients, Paige. She’s died on him and he can’t explain it, so he’s closed the clinic and stepped into the isolation chamber. He’s trying to find his way back into whatever his connection was to the Fear Chamber to correct something that’s gone wrong, to fix it.

He’s absolutely tortured with the death of Paige and it’s as if he’s just been drinking Scotch, smoking cigarettes and letting his hair grow for nine months—he’s not taking care of his hygiene or anything. Then his other clients begin to have phobia flashbacks and they start to return to him—beginning with Fiona Dourif’s character [Sara]—seeking help. Their flashbacks are triggered by a traumatic experience they all shared. So that’s sort of the difference, that Dr. Andover’s very damaged goods. Will Andover rise to the occasion and try to help these patients?

Fear Clinic features a blend of psychological scares and David Cronenberg-esque body horror. What was your reaction to those elements mixing in the script and coming to life (literally) onscreen?

Robert Englund: I certainly saw and felt the Cronenberg stuff and I think that comes from [co-writer/director] Rob Hall. I think it was kind of fun for him being out from under the ticking clock of Teen Wolf, the pressure of the makeup effects and the directing on that, and to really get rock and roll—kind of Cronenberg with a heavy metal edge—on this.

I think it was liberating for Rob. We had some problems with the weather in Cleveland and some juxtaposition of scenes that we had to do. We had to work a bit around Corey Taylor’s schedule because he was doing a lot of Christmas charity work in December. For Hall, it was almost like three-card monte with shifting stuff. At one point, Hall went right up to Christmas Eve. We just had to take this leap of faith, because he was mutating it [the story] a little bit. You could see that he’d found this kind of mutation he wanted to film, acting spontaneously as it snowballed towards the conclusion and got more and more hallucinogenic. And we just had to make that leap of faith with Rob. I mean, one day I found myself naked on a basement floor with melted snow on it, next to the beautiful Fiona Dourif, this gorgeous young actress who I’ve had a crush on since the first time I saw her at Rob Hall’s shop up in Glendale, California.

At that point in time, it’s sort of like when an actor takes over a role on stage, he kind of owns it, and in this particular experience, working around the clock in Cleveland with a low budget, we just sort of had to surrender to Rob and trust him and I’m happy with the way it came out. I love the way it mutates.

And I think it leaves the door open for more. You know, there’s a great element in all of the Nightmare on Elm Street movies with this strong, adolescent woman coming of age and finding herself and her strength—the woman warrior mythos. And I think it’s terrific that it ends the way it ends, with his original and closest patient who has fear of the dark—which means something on so many levels—maybe taking over, maybe becoming his nurse practitioner in future franchises. Fiona Dourif: Fear Buster [laughs]. Diving into that Fear Chamber to rescue people, I just love that concept. And perhaps I’m in a wheelchair helping her.

It’s very hallucinogenic, too, which attracted me to the web series, which was originally a movie script. Now, finally we’re doing the movie script extension of this essay about a mad scientist and his phobias and his patients, because that’s such a rich, fertile world. Phobias just sort of lend themselves to a potential horror franchise because there are so many of them—from fear of spiders all the way to fear of clowns to the very common ones like claustrophobia, hydrophobia and things like that, which we exploited in the web series.

As someone who has made a career out of conquering other people’s fears, what is Dr. Andover scared of? What wakes him up at night in a cold sweat?

Robert Englund: He’s playing around with some dangerous stuff. It’s like doctors who prescribe dangerous, untested medicines. And so in the Fear Clinic film, I think his fear is that he’s lost Paige, one of his favorite patients, and that’s really damaged him. It’s sent him into a spiral. He no longer trusts himself or trusts the Chamber. He doesn’t know what’s going on.

My concept is that the Chamber’s simply leaking a residue of the accumulated fear and angst that’s been in it, that’s been removed from all of these prior patients. And his fear, what’s manifesting in him, is this leakage. This residue has gotten in him as well, it’s entered his psyche and I think his fear is fear of failure. He’s such an arrogant man, and this is why he’s broken so many rules of his profession, and I think that his hubris is his arrogance and his fear is the fear of failure.

What would happen if someone sought help from Dr. Andover because Freddy Krueger was haunting their nightmares? How would Dr. Andover and the Fear Chamber fare in a fight with Freddy?

Robert Englund: Well, Freddy’s strength comes from him entering the subconscious of a potential victim. He operates out of some purgatory, where he’s able to access their dream state and get into their REM [sleep]. He knows what makes them tick, what they’re afraid of. He knows what’s in their diary. And so Freddy would have a field day exploiting the fears, much like he took advantage of the girl who’s afraid of insects in A Nightmare on Elm Street 4.

It would be interesting. It’s an adolescent male fanboy’s wet dream, you know? Freddy versus the Fear Chamber. It would enhance Freddy’s access into potential victims, but it would have to be an Elm Street brat that came to Andover, and then Freddy would manifest. It would have to be some child, cousin, aunt, uncle, or other relative of one of the original vigilante parents that burned him alive, who had a phobia that Freddy would exploit.


  • Derek Anderson
    About the Author - Derek Anderson

    Raised on a steady diet of R.L. Stine’s Goosebumps books and Are You Afraid of the Dark?, Derek has been fascinated with fear since he first saw ForeverWare being used on an episode of Eerie, Indiana.

    When he’s not writing about horror as the Senior News Reporter for Daily Dead, Derek can be found daydreaming about the Santa Carla Boardwalk from The Lost Boys or reading Stephen King and Brian Keene novels.