True Terror with Robert Englund - Season 1, Episode 1: “Twisted Relationship” TV Episode Review

Written by Stuart D. Monroe

Premiered on Travel Channel

true terror with robert englund season 01 poster large

Directed by Kevin R. Hershberger
Written by Ron Nelson and Patrick Rogers
2020, 43 minutes, Rated TV-14
Premiered on Travel Channel on March 18th, 2020

Robert Englund as Himself/Host
Adam Jones as Jonah Middleton
Amberly Calvert as Miss Lilly
Mike Marunde as James Connors
Maggie Curran as Mary
David Peterson as George Banks
Justin Young as Officer Calvin Hart
Paul Henry Stober as Officer Jack Stone
Vince Eisenson as Peter Lester
Joseph D. Durbin as Edward Smith

true terror with robert englund s01 e01 01 true terror with robert englund s01 e01 02


There’s a cool thing that happens when a show arises that takes a concept we’ve admittedly seen before – the creepy true tale from history – and presents it in a way that actually backs the truth in a researchable way (this is the internet age, after all) and still gives you dramatic reenactments that don’t feel cheeseball or hokey. Then cool becomes something wondrous when you add a host whose voice, style, and visage are truly iconic and pepper it with an Unsolved Mysteries flavor.

Welcome to True Terror with Robert Englund. The official press from Travel Channel summarizes better than I could:

Hidden away in the dark shadows of our nation’s history are tales so terrifying, they must be true. Now, veteran actor and legendary horror movie icon Robert Englund (Freddy Krueger of the A Nightmare on Elm Street franchise) scours news reports of yesteryear to bring viewers twisted tales ripped straight from the headlines in True Terror with Robert Englund. In each episode, Englund uses his ominous tones and creepy charisma to masterfully weave together a trilogy of spine-tingling tales, guided by newspaper accounts and layered with commentary from historians and experts that prove that truth is always stranger than fiction. From flying monsters to creatures in the night, to evil possessions and hauntings, these twisted tales will leave viewers wishing the stories really were only in their dreams.

I like that, but it only scratches the surface of the potential of True Terror with Robert Englund. The show is formatted with three segments per episode. Each is introduced with an intro from the man himself (who doesn’t need any makeup or a glove to be seriously menacing) as he ponders the truth of each dark tale and foreshadows with bad intentions. Englund pops in frequently during the surprisingly effective dramatic reenactments via voiceover to either move the action along give you a quick shiver down your spine, and it’s a nice touch that keeps you connected to the story.

Experts and historians weigh in on each tale with educational explanations of the customs of the time and info on how things were in the old days. Visual cuts to newspaper headlines (complete with publication and dates) reinforces the truth of the inexplicable history. You get to learn while you’re entertained. That’s never a bad thing.

true terror with robert englund s01 e01 03 true terror with robert englund s01 e01 04

Robert Englund is the perfect host. He’s an American pop-culture icon who’s instantly recognizable regardless of your generation. More than that, he’s a classically trained and highly educated elder statesman of the genre. He lends instant credibility to go along with that aforementioned creepy charisma. Simply put, when he talks you listen. You’re kind of powerless.

In the first episode, we are told the tale of a North Carolina shopkeeper named Jonah Middleton (Adam Jones) who, in 1848, has a nightmare of premonition where he meets a bunch of dead old friends who tell him he’ll die in six weeks (“See You in Six Weeks”). The second segment is the tale of a young boy stricken with smallpox who’s mistakenly declared dead in 1875 New Orleans. He’s then taken to the cemetery to be buried alive by an unscrupulous charity wagon driver named James Connors (Mike Marunde; Harriet) with shocking results and fallout (“Dead Enough to Bury”). The final tale is the story of Peter Lester (Vince Eisenson), a murderer who runs into an Atlanta police station in 1909 to escape the ghost of the man he strangled some years before, a lover of his wife named Edward Smith (Joseph D. Durbin; Maxwell Stein). What follows baffles even the police (“Graveyard Shift”).

All three stories are classic scare tales (archetypes, really), but that doesn’t keep them from being well told. Each story flies by, never overstaying its welcome while giving you enough meat to chew on in both the reenactment and the voiceovers from the host to keep you fully in the moment.

True Terror with Robert Englund is a more than worthy addition to not only the Travel Channel lineup but the genre at large, an educational show with creepy ambience and legitimate creep factor hosted by one of the faces on the Mount Rushmore of horror. My only question is: why wasn’t he doing this sooner?

Move over, Robert Stack…there’s a new host in town.

true terror with robert englund s01 e01 05 true terror with robert englund s01 e01 06


Episode: 4 Star Rating Cover
Buy from Amazon US

This page includes affiliate links where Horror DNA may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you.

Stuart D. Monroe
Staff Reviewer
Stuart D. Monroe is a man of many faces – father, husband, movie reviewer, published author of short horror, unsuccessful screenwriter (for now), rabid Clemson Tiger, Southern gentleman, and one hell of a model American who goes by the handle "Big Daddy Stu" or "Sir". He's also highly disturbed and wears that fact like a badge of honor. He is a lover of all things horror with a particular taste for the fare of the Italians and the British. He sometimes gets aroused watching the hardcore stuff, but doesn't bother worrying about whether he was a serial killer in a past life as worrying is for the weak. He was raised in the video stores of the '80s and '90s. The movie theater is his cathedral. He worships H.P. Lovecraft, Stephen King, and Clive Barker. When he writes, he listens obsessively to either classical music or the works of Goblin to stimulate the neural pathways. His favorite movie is Dawn of the Dead. His favorite book is IT. His favorite TV show is LOST.
Other articles by this writer



Join Us!

Hit the buttons below to follow us, you won't regret it...