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October 28, 2010

Movie Review: Never Sleep Again: The Elm Street Legacy - Collector's Edtion

Let me start by saying, I am not a huge fan of the Nightmare On Elm Street series. The original film was fairly brilliant and quite frightening – easily one of Wes Craven's best films. The sequels didn’t portray Freddy Krueger as the true “monster” that he embodied in the first film. I’ve drifted back and forth over the years watching the series grow: the six sequels, Freddy Vs. Jason, the ill advised but inevitable remake and of course, Freddy’s Nightmares. Over the past 25 years, of all the popular movie monsters (Chucky, Jason, Pinhead, Michael Myers), Freddy has reigned supreme. Why not make an epic documentary on all things "Freddy", four-hours in length, and unleash it on all the Freddy-fanatics? Directors, Andrew Kasche and Daniel Farrands, thought that was an excellent idea - but will that bring in the non-fans or those folks in the middle (like myself)?


Heather Langencamp (“Nancy” from the series) narrates Never Sleep Again: The Elm Street Legacy. Each film is represented in segments with some seriously creative clay animation at the opening of each “Nightmare” piece. All the films (even the lesser entries like “Nightmare II”) have some interesting production background. Some of the stand-out information I digested in the segment for Nightmare on Elm Street were the origins of the script. It’s based on a real-life tragedy that took place in the Philippines, involving a disturbed and sleep deprived youth. Another link to the story I found intriguing was that one of Craven’s childhood bullies also had an influence on the story. This brought a personal touch that I didn't expect. His name – Freddy. We’re also treated to surprising casting story; British actor, David Warner, was the original choice for “the gloved one” – not Robert Englund.
The sequels are covered in just as much detail as the original film on Never Sleep Again. Nightmare On Elm Street II: Freddy’s Revenge, has some humorous anecdotes about it’s gay subtext brought to light by several cast and crew members. Nightmare On Elm Street III: Dream Warriors (considered by many, to have saved the series) is next up on the documentary. Frank Darabont and Chuck Russell are given a pat back for this feat. If you’ve seen Nightmare III, you may just remember the “Freddy-Snake scene”. The design of the snake had to be altered as it was a bit on the "Freudian side". With that change, Nicolas Cage remains the only giant penis to attack Patricia Arquette.

Nightmare On Elm Street IV: The Dream Master follows with some interviews featuring the outstanding assemblage of make-up FX talent - including Howard Berger, John Carl Buechler and Kevin Yeagher . You may just appreciate the “chest of souls” scene that much more after watching part four’s segment. With such a positive result coming out of Renny Harlin’s entry in the series, we get the opposite with the next film, Nightmare On Elm Street V : The Dream Child. Riddled with a constantly changing script, a very un-commercial story-line(Abortion) and ridiculous censorship of many of the more elaborate (and splattery) FX scenes, The Dream Child’s fate was set. The series was done…oh wait, what about 3D ? Freddys Dead, soon became a reality with this gimmick intact. Freddys Dead, for as bad as it was (in my opinion) it did get a certain talented genre director by the name of Peter Jackson his "Hollywood chops". Jackson penned the first-draft of the script.

The New Nightmare marks the return of Freddy's daddy, Wes Craven. It’s also a reunion of sorts; with much of the cast from the original film returning. Craven’s pretty open in the interviews about his relationship with New Line Cinema president, Robert Shaye. Both of the gentlemen had a bit of a falling out, but some extra cash and a stake in merchandising go along way in coaxing the Nightmare creator re-visit familiar territory. Next up, the fan-fuled, “Clash of the Titans”, Freddy Vs. Jason . The stories behind Freddy Vs. Jason have all the recipes for disaster. The ever changing story-line (including Freddy raping Jasons mother) with 17 writers pecking at their keyboards - was one thing that stood out. It’s a surprise the movie actually turned out somewhat decent.

Never Sleep Again: The Elm Street Legacy also includes a ton of extra features:
On the first disc there is a filmmaker commentary with Farrands, Kasch and Hudson. It’s a nice listen but some of the specific items from the documentary are repeated. For four hours though, these guys do a hell of a job . The second disc includes some extended interviews, and several nifty “Elm Street” related bits: Heather Langencamp’s documentary, I Am Nancy, For The Love Of The Glove photo gallery, Fred Heads: The Ultimate Freddy Fans, Horrors Hallowed Grounds: Return to Elm Street, Freddy Vs. The Angry Video Game Nerd, Expanding The Elm Street Universe: Freddy in Comic Books and Novels, The Music Of The Nightmare, Elm Street’s Poster Boy: The Art of Mathew Joseph Peak, Nightmare On Elm Street in 10 Minutes and finally the teaser trailer. This Collector's Edition also includes a poster of the DVD cover-art.

1428 Films have created a remarkable documentary that not only looks beautiful in its presentation of the interviews and rare behind-the-scenes footage, but moves at such a brisk pace - you'll be astonished that what you are watching, has a four-hour run-time. This is easily one of the best DVD's of the year.

Release Date: October 5, 2010
Number of Discs: 2
Presentation: Widescreen
Aspect Ratio: 1:85:1
Format: Color
Language: English
Sound: Stereo
Subtitled: English
Running Time: Disc 1 (feature presentation) 240 minutes; Disc 2 (bonus features) 240 minutes (total running time: 480 minutes)
For Region 1 use (US and Canada) only

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