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True Terror with Robert Englund review: Pure popcorn fun series channels a bit of the Twilight Zone

Robert Englund in new Travel Channel series True Terror
Englund is here to scare you straight and give you a history lesson while doing it. Pic credit: Travel Channel

True Terror with Robert Englund is a new scripted “ripped from the headlines of yore” series on Travel Channel.  The “dark shadows of our nation’s history” are the creative playground for Englund who is delightful in this capacity.

And those of a certain age who grew up with The Twilight Zone and Outer Limits may get a bit of those macabre vibes watching this creepy look back at unsolved and flat out bizarre happenstance from the past.  The difference between this and those shows of long ago is that these reenacted vignettes are based on real news items.

Our guide, much like the iconic Rod Serling, is Robert Englund, a perfect choice to shepherd us through the murderous yarns that actually did go down many years ago.

Englund, of course, was the Freddy Krueger from A Nightmare on Elm Street, and now guides us through this six-part historical series.

What is True Terror with Robert Englund about?

Englund has become an explorer of arcane news items from decades past. The TV series will follow a format similar to the NatGeo series Mars by combining scripted elements — all rooted in archival historical fact — with unscripted expert interviews analyzing what could have happened.

Englund’s obsession thanks in large part to his own place holder in horror history is well served with the eerie homage and similar format in pacing to Rod Serling of The Twilight Zone – the difference being Englund’s anthology series tales are genuine stories which are laced with academics, paranormal experts, historians and others interspersed with the scripted reenactments and Englund’s deeply pitch-perfect and persuasive voice over.

The six-part docuseries will feature Englund as he scours newspaper reports wending together a trilogy of “spine-tingling tales” – from kids being buried alive and creatures calling on phantom phone calls in the night to evil possessions and hauntings – all in a bid to further cause us anxiety in this fraught-filled world we live in.

The reenacted scenes are well done, with competent actors and well-scripted exchanges who relay the actions of these arcane news items and refuse to ham it up or ruin the effect and the tableau that Englund has put forth in the opener.

Englund is a perfect choice for this fun popcorn and blanket series that will work for a wide swath of family and generations (not for the littlest kids, though.) My only real criticism is that is should be a Friday night scheduled event, like Tales from The Crypt on HBO back in the late ’80 and 1990s.

Who created True Terror?

Discovery-owned adventure network Travel Channel has greenlit the six-part True Terror with Robert Englund from Los Angeles studio Workaholic Productions. You can thank Workaholic’s Luke Ellis, Kurt Knutzen and Jeff Kuntz serve as executive producers on the series alongside Travel Channel’s Ron Simon.

Also for Travel Channel, Daniel Schwartz is VP of production and development, Matthew Butler is GM, and Henry S. Schleiff is group president of Investigation Discovery, Travel Channel, American Heroes Channel, and Destination America.

“Revealing the sinister side of our history, I’m thrilled to bring nightmares to life on True Terror,” said host Englund in a statement. “These are tales so terrifyingly twisted, we can only hope they stay on the blood-soaked pages of the newspaper headlines from our past.”

“We’re delighted at Travel Channel to have the true icon of horror films, Robert Englund, take a ‘stab’ at leading our viewers through these hair-raising tales,” added Travel Channel’s Butler. “In his signature spooky storytelling style, Robert resurrects the creepy and odd of America’s past, bringing viewers real stories that reveal sometimes our fears aren’t mere figments of our imagination after all.”

Go with it, you’ll have fun.

True Terror with Robert Englund premieres across Travel Channel on Wednesday, March 18 at 10/9c.

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April is an accredited entertainment writer, interviewer and television critic. She is a current member of the Television Critics Association (TCA), Gay and Lesbian Entertainment... read more
April Neale
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