March 23, 2015

Horror Legacy: Freddy vs Jigsaw

During the build up to the last Monster Mania, I had a few conversations about Tobin Bell's legacy. This was not really a jab at Tobin Bell's ability, it came up when I had him on my “maybe” list for meeting at the convention. He was a maybe for me based on what I was assuming his cost was going to be versus what I felt it would be worth. It was an interesting conversation as we discussed the idea of autograph/meet and greet value to those who perceive the performer in different lights.

Tobin Bell has had a long and solid career as a working actor. He is someone who blended into the work, overshadowed by the stars of whatever movie or show he was working on. Think about his role on Seinfeld as the record store owner, it was a great bit but hardly one that would jump you up the convention circuit. I look over his credits and he has been involved in a lot of good films. He was in Mississippi Burning, An Innocent Man, In the Line of Fire, as well as a lot of television shows, mostly one offs, but did have a run on 24. Still, nothing that really makes him jump out as a reason to really want to meet him. Not that he is a bad or mean guy not worth meeting, but these things are expensive.

When you look at Tobin Bell's legacy, it is pretty much limited to the Saw series. Yes, his presence had an enormous impact and loomed large over the seven films, but that is pretty much the limit of his legacy. His great voice sermonizing on the value of life.

Of course, the conversation was not limited to Bell's legacy, I had to come up with some form of counterpoint. You see, the discussions were with those who were all in favor of meeting him. On the other hand, I countered with Robert Englund. He is someone I see as a true icon of horror and worthy of the fans he has. My opposition countered by saying he was only good in the A Nightmare on Elm Street films. I believe the implication was that just like Bell, Englund only has one series worth remembering him for.

Granted, all of this is personal preference and how you view their careers and their value. Still, I was tempted to revisit this after watching a movie that just hit DVD called The Last Showing. It is a new horror film starring Robert Englund (of course). The movie is not great, but it was still quite entertaining, but it made me think about a difference between Bell and Englund, but more about Englund.

Shifting gears into Englund's legacy.... Sure, he will always, ALWAYS, be associated with Freddy. That will always be his cash cow, his claim to fame, and the reason he draws five hour lines at conventions. However, to me, he is much more than Freddy. Where Tobin will always be Jigsaw/John Kramer, Englund will be Freddy, Professor Gordon Crowley, Mayor Buckman, Professor William Wexler, Bill Gartley, The Phantom, Ranger, Harry, Buck, and never forget Willie! Yes, I had to look back through his credits for a lot of the character names, but the fact remains, I remember his appearances in a lot more films.

Robert Englund is someone always ready to take a job and make it his own. It doesn't matter how bog or small the role is, Robert Englund has a way of bringing something to that character and making him memorable. The man is a horror star. There is no other way of looking at it. He has the obvious love of the genre, the acceptance that he will always be Freddy, and the charisma to stand out in other roles. He has a legacy in the genre that stands the test of time and he will always be remembered for it.

I am not sure if any of this rambling makes any sense, but I stand by my assertion that Robert Englund has a long horror legacy that goes beyond Freddy Krueger, while Tobin Bell's begins and ends with Jigsaw. I did end up meeting Tobin and he was quite delightful, and I am glad I met him. Still, I will always rank Englund well above him.

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