For decades, Freddy Krueger has slashed his way through the dreams of countless youngsters, scaring up over half a billion dollars at the box office. In this thrilling retrospective, fans will enter the world of Freddy Krueger and A Nightmare On Elm Street like never before: exploring what spurred mastermind Wes Craven to craft the first groundbreaking film; delving deep behind the scenes of the original and all of its sequels; learning how the cast and crew brought their worst nightmares to life; and finally, understanding the impact the series and its myths have had on modern pop culture and the horror genre. Child murderer. Dream demon. The son of a thousand maniacs. Any way you slice it there can be only one man, one monster, who epitomizes horror like no other.
With never-before-seen photos, behind-the-scenes footage, conceptual art, and publicity materials, the documentary features exclusive interviews with over 100 key cast and crew from every Nightmare including Wes Craven, Robert Englund, Heather Langenkamp, Jack Sholder, Mark Patton, Kim Myers, Chuck Russell, Jennifer Rubin, Renny Harlin, Lisa Wilcox, Tuesday Knight, Stephen Hopkins, Kelly Jo Minter, Rachel Talalay, Lisa Zane, Alice Cooper, Patrick Lussier, Miko Hughes, Monica Keena, Brendan Fletcher, Ronny Yu and many more.
If you were an adolescent in the mid-80s to early 90s, you possibly enjoyed, or at least certainly knew all about Freddy Krueger. If you were like me, Freddy played a significant part in your life. Weird as that may sound, the horror movie character was indeed a pop-culture icon and an inescapable phenomena that could not be avoided. Of course, there was Jason Voorhees and Michael Myers invading homes all across America at the same time, but Freddy, with his horribly disfigured face, his finger-knives glove. and his maniacal one-liners was the reigning king of the genre. He was the sort of household name known by everyone in the family. From your grandparents and the five-year-olds in the family to the TV talk shows and the kids down the street, Freddy was the talk of the town and his impact on cinema cemented ('Mahakaal').
From the makers of the equally excellent 'His Name was Jason,' documentary filmmakers Daniel Farrands and Andrew Kasch set out to demonstrate Freddy's impact on culture, genre, and cinema in the outstanding 'Never Sleep Again.' Clocking in at an intimidating nearly four-hour runtime, the doc is an incredibly exhaustive attempt to give a complete overview of the entire franchise, one which will surely test the patience of the most hardened and loyal Krueger fans. Surprisingly, Farrands and Kasch use their time wisely and deliver a fantastically entertaining study of the series. It not only covers the usual behind-the-scene anecdotes but also delves, however lightly, into some interestingly perceptive notions about dreams and our fascination with the character.
Many of those points understandably come from 'Nightmare on Elm Street' mastermind Wes Craven, but Robert Englund, the man solely responsible for bringing Freddy Krueger to life, adds some weighty thoughts to the conversation. The idea of a maniac killer possessing the power to invade the dream world of kids is a terrifying thought unto itself, but seen from the view as the worst violation of personal privacy opens various doors for deeper analysis. The first three movies in the series benefit the most from such a discussion, particularly when understood as teenagers facing deep-rooted fears about social pressure. A shockingly honest and critical talk on the first sequel is arguably the best and most amusingly insightful. But Craven's aspirations behind part seven, about celebrating the monster almost as a means of controlling it, are also thought-provoking enough to revisit the movie in a new light.
Although comments from Johnny Depp and Patricia Arquette are sorely missing, the documentary features fairly recent interviews with a majority of the cast and crew. With Heather Langenkamp providing the narrating voice-over, much of the time is spent sharing memories from the set and reminiscing on each person's experience working on a particular film. Amazingly, not a single moment ever feels dry or boring, as each story does a splendid job of giving fans some wonderful insight into the production of every movie. It's pretty clear that every person, whether they worked on part two or the equally terrible part six, put a great deal of love into their involvement and look back at it as a genuine highlight in their life. It was also great to hear the backstories of 'Dream Warriors' director Chuck Russell and 'Dream Master' helmer Renny Harlin as they explain the reasoning behind putting their unique spins on the franchise.
With the original 'Nightmare on Elm Street' film celebrating its 30th Anniversary this year, it only makes sense to revisit this comprehensive but intimidatingly long retrospective, as well as seeing it released on Blu-ray for the first time. In spite of its daunting runtime, the documentary shockingly flies by with each movie in the franchise given approximately a half hour of discussion time and a few minutes in the middle devoted to the 'Freddy's Nightmares' television series. It all comes to an emotional end with several participants tearing up while talking about the impact Freddy made on their lives, especially to New Line Cinema creator Robert Shaye, who owns a great deal to the character. Indeed, when reminiscing on my adolescence, Krueger played a big role and inspired a passionate love for the genre. Mine is definitely another house that Freddy built.
The Blu-ray: Vital Disc Stats
RLJ and Image Entertainment bring 'Never Sleep Again: The Elm Street Legacy' to Blu-ray as a two-disc Collector's Edition. The first is a Region A locked, BD50 disc containing the documentary in its entirety while the second on the opposing panel is another Region A locked, BD50 with all the bonus material. At startup, viewers are taken directly to an animated menu with music playing in the background.
The awesome documentary finally makes its way to Blu-ray with a rather second-rate and average looking 1080p/AVC MPEG-4 encode (1.78:1). Clips from the 'Nightmare' movies, TV episodes and other random footage are understandably of poor quality, but the cast & crew interviews, which were shot more recently, are surprisingly softer than expected. There is some visible definition and detail, to be sure, but it's not a significant improvement over the DVD counterpart, at times even looking much like standard definition. Some very mild banding can occasionally be seen in the background, and a few conversations show terrible resolution. Black levels come off much too strong, creating noticeable crush in the darker portions and ruining shadow delineation. Contrast wavers between middling and decently balanced to downright flat and ugly. Colors benefit the most from the upgrade, yet they're not all that impressive. In the end, the high-def transfer is a bit of a disappointment.
'Never Sleep Again' invades your nightmares with a slightly stronger yet not entirely pleasing DTS-HD MA stereo soundtrack. To be fair, an exhaustive documentary such as this isn't necessarily required to offer an immersive experience. Indeed, the lossless mix gets the job done, but it's also not very engaging and falls a bit more on the flat side. Imaging is reasonably good, as music and a couple discrete effects bleed into the other two channels, widening the soundstage somewhat. Dynamic range, however, is pretty uniform and rather limited, failing to deliver any warmth or presence. Bass is appropriate and surprisingly weighty, and dialogue reproduction is clear and well-prioritized. All in all, it's not a terrible high-rez track, but it's nothing to be excited about either.
English subtitles for the hearing impaired are also included.
All supplemental material can be found on the second Blu-ray disc.
With the original 'Nightmare on Elm Street' film celebrating its 30th Anniversary this year, the comprehensive and exhaustive documentary 'Never Sleeps Again' finally arrives on Blu-ray. The intimidatingly long retrospective is an awesome collection of cast and crew interviews with BTS footage that looks back at the entire franchise with loving nostalgia. The high-def presentation sadly is bit disappointing with average yet passable picture quality and slightly strong lossless audio. Supplements are ported over from the 2-disc DVD, which means owners of that set won't likely upgrade. Those who have yet to purchase the documentary will find the overall package more than satisfying.