The following story contains very light spoilers for Stranger Things Season 4, Episode 4.
The people behind Stranger Things have never been shy about how much they like paying tribute to two things: the horror genre and the 1980s. The entire show is, essentially, done in the style of a Stephen King story like IT. And each season has featured at least one notable ’80s icon: Season 1 had Matthew Modine (Full Metal Jacket) as Dr. Brenner, Season 2 had Sean Astin (The Goonies) as our dear sweet Bob, and Season 3 had Cary Elwes (The Princess Bride) as the slimy Mayor of Hawkins. Season 4 brings two of those things together when introducing a character named Victor Creel, a creepy old man played by the one and only Robert Englund.
Englund, of course, precisely captures both the ’80s and horror in his very essence, as he’s best known for playing the dream-infiltrating villain Freddy Kreuger from the Nightmare on Elm Street series.
It’s fitting, then, that Englund appears as someone who may be sinister himself—or may be one of the earliest victims of Season 4’s Freddy-esque, Pennywise-esque villainous monster, Vecna.
Who is Victor Creel?
Courtesy of Netflix
Ahhh! Yeah, that was us when we saw how ol’ Victor looked in the image above when he was introduced in Episode 4 of Stranger Things Season 4. Turns out, Victor was a man who had just earned a nice chunk of money due to an inheritance, and moved his family—wife and kids—into a new house just after returning from WWII.
But Vecna wasn’t going to let him have this; Victor’s wife and kids were slaughtered in the house, leaving Victor behind looking incredibly guilty. He ended up in prison for a long, long, time—where eventually he stabbed his own eyes out. And around him, the legend and myth of Victor Creel—the man who slaughtered his family—only grew. And that’s where it remained, until the Vecna once again came to light, and Nancy and Robin found him in the mental hospital with some gnarly scarring where his eyes used to be.
Victor Creel is played by horror icon Robert Englund.
Juan Naharro GimenezGetty Images
Englund only appears in one single episode of Stranger Things Season 4, but it’s a vital role that is referenced both before and after his actual appearance. And in an interview with IGN, The Duffer Brothers revealed how huge it was that it was actually Englund himself who approached them, with the idea of him appearing in the show.
“The fact that he came to us in a season that’s so deeply inspired by the Nightmare series and by his performance especially in those movies, it felt like fate,” Matt Duffer said. “It felt like, ‘okay, this is meant to be.’ “
Englund is best known for playing Freddy Kruger in eight movies and one short-lived TV series across the Nightmare on Elm Street franchise.
New Line Cinema
With Wes Craven’s 1984 horror classic A Nightmare on Elm Street, Englund began playing one of the most iconic villains in the horror genre: Freddy Kreuger. Freddy is one of the most popular Halloween costumes year-in and year-out for good reason, and that reason is that he’s absolutely terrifying. A burnt face child killer/predator who lives in your dreams, where he’s omnipotent and can kill you not only in your dream but in real life too? Yeah, that’ll do it.
Englund played the character—who began very serious and eventually became more and more comedic (while still quite deadly)—in six films in the main Nightmare on Elm Street series, along with the meta-spinoff Wes Craven’s New Nightmare and crossover film Freddy Vs. Jason. Are they all masterpieces? Hell no! Are they all fun? Hell yes!
Freddy—still played by Englund—also appeared in a short-lived TV series called Freddy’s Nightmares, which only just recently began streaming for the first time on a platform called Screambox.
And he’s performed in roles that have played on his legend status before.
Anchor Bay Entertainment
Englund’s appearance in Stranger Things is an obvious and delightful bit of stunt casting, much in the same way that the appearance of Modine, Astin, and Elwes was; this is just someone who really belongs in the ’80s. And his appearance as someone at the center of a gruesome horror plot just feels right.
It’s not the first time Englund has played in this kind of role that plays on his status as a horror legend. In 2006’s Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon—a dark horror comedy mockumentary—he played a hero doctor who protects the protagonists. In this case, we got to see Englund as more of a Dr. Loomis (from the Halloween films) than Freddy himself.
Stranger Things, casting Victor as seemingly a victim of unfortunate circumstance, seems to be doing something similar. If only he could bring those eyes back.
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