Blu-Ray Review: NEVER SLEEP AGAIN: THE ELM STREET LEGACY (US Blu-Ray)
One, two, Freddie’s coming for you,
three, four, better lock the door,
five, six, grab your crucifix,
seven eight gonna stay up late,
nine ten, never sleep again…
I first saw A Nightmare On Elm Street (1984) on a weekend in November/December of 1985. I’m going to say it was a Saturday morning on HBO or Showtime. Loved the movie on first viewing. When the sequel came out A Nightmare On Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge (1985) I skipped seeing it at the theater based solely on my best friends reaction to it. He had seen it without me, which dismayed me a little bit, and said it wasn’t all that great. I remember the Fangoria coverage of it, and I seem to think I was perusing one of those issues in his room when the told me about seeing it the night before.
I have no immediate memory of when I eventually saw it on cable.
Now when A Nightmare On Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors (1987) was hitting theaters early in ’87, it was a whole new ball game for my friends and me. For some reason we were all excited to see this particular one. It probably had to do with the fact that this sequel was being tied directly in to the events of the first film and that Nancy (Heather Langenkamp) was making a return and taking on Fred Krueger once again. It also helped that Dokken had been recruited to do a song for the movie and if you’re an Elm Street fan from the 80s you know how iconic that “Dream Warriors” song has become. For me, sequel 3 is when Freddy started to become a big deal.
The day I saw Dream Warriors at the movies was also a big deal. It was a Saturday afternoon and my mother was driving me, Gerry (my best friend), his brother, Tony, and I seem to think one other person to the movies. I want to say it was Ashley, an in-school friend I knew through Gerry, or it might have been Jim, another of Gerry’s friends. Strange that I can’t remember who that third person was. Anyway, I remember Gerry telling me when he got into the car he had avoided seeing any of the commercials for the movie because he wanted to go into it knowing nothing and being surprised.
We all had a ball and as a far as Elm Street sequels go it’s one of the better ones they cranked out. By the time A Nightmare On Elm Street 4: The Dream Master (1988) rolled around, I was all graduated from high school, Gerry had left to join the army and I had made a new best friend, Chris, whom I had met in school six months before graduation. He was the one I saw The Dream Master with and to be honest we were slightly disappointed. I recall Fangoria covering the movie and based on those articles Chris and I had a totally different interpretation of what this Dream Master Freddy was going to take on was. We had the impression this otherworldly being was going to show up or something and kick Krueger’s ass. Still we had fun watching it and to date I still like it. My only other memory from this time was Chris driving me home that night and both of us trying to do Freddy impressions.
Trying being the operative word.
That’s the last Elm Street movie I ever saw in a theater. I was still single at the time, but Chris wasn’t. He decided this time to see A Nightmare On Elm Street 5: The Dream Child (1989) with his chick rather than me. Then again I don’t recall having a lot of desire to want to see it anyway. Regardless their critique of Dream Child was not a good one, so I didn’t end up caring too much in the end about having not been invited along. I’m pretty sure I saw it on cable, but I have no concrete memory of that particular event, or a lot of the movie itself. I guess it was a fairly forgettable sequel after all.
Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare (1991) is the only Elm Street movie I never saw and still have no desire to see. By this time my interest in these movies had all but waned. I have memories of seeing the commercials on TV, and thinking, ‘Ugh, another Freddy Krueger movie?!’
I remember getting somewhat re-interested in them when Wes Craven’s New Nightmare (1994) was being covered in Fangoria and quite liking that sequel when I saw it, as usual, on cable. Though Freddy’s appearance at the end of that one almost nulls and voids the dread you get from the rest of the movie. I always felt he was too physically personified at the end of that one.
The next and what looks like the last time I ever find myself in a theater watching Fred Krueger kill off “all his children” is when Freddy Vs. Jason (2003) came out and I tell you I absolutely loved that movie. As with all “old movies” these days, and with some new ones now that I think about it, Hollywood remade A Nightmare On Elm Street in 2010 but based on all that I now know about it there was never any desire to go see it. It’s been on cable and still I have never felt the urge to check it out. I guess that makes two Elm Street movies I never want to see; Freddy’s Dead and the remake.
It’s 2014 and we now have in existence an extensive 2-disc documentary called, Never Sleep Again: The Elm Street Legacy. It clocks in at 4 hours and through interviews with as many cast members, filmmakers and anyone else that was even remotely connected to the making of these movies that were willing and available to talk a definitive critique on this particular horror franchise from conception to release was created.
I really loved the opening credits. Taking key scenes from the franchise they are reproduced in stop motion animation style. Very clever and very well animated. Aside from not being able to get Johnny Depp and Patricia Arquette to participate the filmmakers try to turn over every stone they can find in an effort to make this the definitive Elm Street documentary by even including the extra who played Girl On Bus #2 in an early dream scene from Freddy’s Revenge.
What I noticed from listening to this, an in the process kind of diminishing my interest in these movies, Craven’s first film not withstanding, was that New Line didn’t want to turn Freddy Kruger into the truly evil force he could have been. Wes Craven even wrote the initial screenplay to Dream Warriors and what he wrote was a much darker movie than what he created for his first film but New Line didn’t want to go in that direction and you can see with each subsequent sequel the child molester/child killer got more and more “lighter.” Not that that was an entirely bad thing, I suppose, from New Line’s perspective. Most of those lackluster sequels pulled in a butt load of money for the company.
After learning how dark initial scripts were I now would have liked to have seen Kruger become more evil rather than the almost light-hearted evil he became for the remainder of the series.
The doc also reveals after Dream Warriors the M.O. for New Line was to create a poster and set a release date without having a completed script and The Dream Master and The Dream Child scripts were written as the movie was being filmed; more so, if I can remember, with The Dream Child. It amazes me that they were even able to put together a coherent narrative that could be marketed. The MPAA really didn’t like The Dream Child either forcing director Stephen Hopkins to cut the gore down.
As I stated before I had never seen Freddy’s Dead and after seeing this doc I’m glad I didn’t. It appears to be the worst of the sequels; almost a comedy I dare say.
I especially liked the talk about the Freddy’s Nightmares series. I never watched that show on any consistent basis back in the day and was astounded to learn how a lot of the directors thought it was crap. Robert Shaye says the first hand full of episodes were good after that forget it. And since it was syndicated and the directors were left alone to do what they want the series became rather sexually explicit and gory. I personally don’t remember any of that, but as I said I only caught a few episodes. I didn’t hate Freddy’s Nightmares but on the other hand I didn’t really like it either. I didn’t really come around to it until the Chiller Channel started airing it and I caught a few episodes.
The end credits to this doc were cleverly done too. They had some of the actors look into the camera and do some of their lines from their movies.
Did I mention Heather Langenkamp narrates?
You also get a commentary by directors Andrew Kasch and Daniel Farrands, writer Thommy Hustson and cinematographer Buz “Danger” Wallick.
Now onto Disc #2, which has these features on it:
Extended Interviews (1:40:55): These are snippets that were cut out from the various interviews done on the doc in Disc #1, probably to keep the runtime from getting too unholy. Most of this is pretty good stuff that should have been kept in, but I digress.
First Look: Heather Langenkamp’s ‘I Am Nancy’ (6:42): I forgot Langenkamp had a documentary in the works. This is a little sneak peek of it. She seems concerned that Freddy is more popular than Nancy.
For The Love Of The Glove (18:16): This is here is basically a video love letter to Fred’s iconic weapon. Several collectors who specialize in reproducing this prop and selling it are interviewed.
Fred Heads: The Ultimate Freddy Fans (12:50): Interviews with various cast members and filmmakers on why they think Fred is popular and a look at some of those fans who worship him.
Horror’s Hallowed Grounds: Return To Elm Street (23:10): A very cool concept, to revisit some of the locations Wes Craven’s movie was filmed at. Sean Clark does the hosting for this featurette and even bumps into some of the cast members.
Freddy Vs. The Angry Video Game Nerd (5:30): This is basically about a kid who reviews old video games and there was one based on Craven’s movie.
Expanding The Elm Street Universe: Freddy In Comic Books & Novels: (15:45): I was always aware of the Freddy Vs. Jason Vs. Ash comic but never knew there were other Elm Street comics or even novels that were written about Freddy. This featurette talks with some of those authors and looks at those comics.
The Music Of The Nightmare: Conversations With Composers & Songwriters (13:40): Members of Dokken and other composers who did music for the series discuss who their songs and music came about.
Elm Street’s Poster Boy: The Art Of Matthew Joseph Peak (7:31): Peak created a majority of the posters for the franchise. Here he tells you what inspired him, and that he was also a fan of Dreamscape (1984), so much so he worked the snake creature from that movie into the poster of the first Elm Street movie.
A Nightmare On Elm Street In 10 Minutes (10:07): This is basically actors from each movie reenacting portions of their dialogue.
Last but not least you get a Never Sleep Again Teaser Trailer
This documentary initially hit DVD back in 2010. It took 3 long years but we now have it on blu-ray courtesy of Image Entertainment. Image has this doc framed at 1.78:1 and in 1080p high definition, with a lossless 2.0 DTS-MA audio configuration. Both the video and the audio were fine, crisp and clear. I never saw this when it came out in 2010, so this was all new to me and quite fun to watch.
I know this is stating the obvious but if you’re a die-hard Elm Street fan you will probably want to upgrade to this blu-ray as soon as possible.