A Nightmare on Elm Street Collection (U.K. Import)
- Street Date:
- October 17th, 2011
- Reviewed by:
- M. Enois Duarte
- Review Date: 1
- December 27th, 2011
- Movie Release Year:
- New Line Cinema
- 657 Minutes
- MPAA Rating:
- Rated R
- Release Country
- United Kingdom
Portions of this review also appear in our coverage of 'A Nightmare on Elm Street Collection.'
The Movie Itself: Our Reviewer's Take
A Nightmare on Elm Street
Growing up, few horror movies made me behave like such a scaredy-cat, and along with Michael Myers and the demon Pazuzu of 'The Exorcist,' the vengeful ghost of a child-murderer terrorizing the dreams of kids on Elm Street made me cower in fear of the boogeyman. As if his backstory weren't enough to creep out most viewers, his appearance is one which simply seeps into our memory banks and resides there permanently. Just as Tina (Amanda Wyss) and Nancy (Heather Langenkamp) found his image disturbing, the thought of a man with a burnt face wearing a grimy fedora hat and a torn red and green stripped sweater hiding in the shadows is pretty unsettling. Added to that, the weirdo also likes to make loud screeching sounds and has a hideously sinister laugh.
Of course watching the movie today, it doesn't exactly draw the same kind of reaction, but that may have more to do with the countless number of times it's been watched and not directly related to any faults within the film. 'Nightmare on Elm Street' still possesses a certain eeriness to it which makes it fun to watch and holds a great sense of nostalgia for a time when such flicks were original and fresh. Director Wes Craven cemented his name as master of horror and has since become recognized as a legendary filmmaker for originating one of the most iconic characters in the genre — right up there with Dracula and Frankenstein. And if not for the absolutely one-of-a-kind performance by Robert Englund, Freddy Krueger would not be the household name it is today.
While the successes of Carpenter's 'Halloween' and Cunningham's 'Friday the 13th' arguably opened the doors for Craven's vision to be realized, 'Nightmare' stood as a unique and terrifying revelation to the latest cliché-ridden craze sweeping low-budget horror — sexually-promiscuous teens meet their demise in savagely gory fashion. Eventually spawning a franchise loved by many, the original not only used many of the same characteristics as previous movies but also expanded upon them by taking the dark, brooding psychopath into the one place we normally feel the safest — our dreams. Equipped with a basis in reality and several other inspirations, Craven's 'Nightmare' furthermore brought some interesting features that make it stand out amongst others in the subgenre, revealing a smart and clever horror film.
'A Nightmare on Elm Street' introduced a supernatural element to the slasher formula with the killer stalking his adolescent victims in their nightmares, making it difficult for them, and the audience, to distinguish between dreams and reality. Rather than simply being a large, bulking mass of lunatic rage, Freddy brazenly toys with his prey and speaks to them with malicious and diabolical mockery. 'Nightmare' also shows weak relationships between parent and child, presenting teenagers from dysfunctional families. The film moreover takes the "Final Girl" epithet a step further in the Nancy character. Adding to the idea of being sexually unavailable, Nancy ups the ante by being skillfully resourceful and a clever survivalist. For me, these subtexts add to the film's appreciation and really make Craven's horror classic worth more than its violent, gory parts. (Movie Rating: 4/5)
After the immense success of Craven's 'Nightmare,' New Line exec Robert Shaye took advantage of its commercial appeal with this poorly-conceived follow-up. In fact, this is the one movie of the entire franchise seen by many, including its own creators, as the best-forgotten stain on Freddy's history. Part of the problem is the attempt to stray from Craven's clear guidelines of the Freddy Krueger mythos, something which later installments try to correct. Working from a script by newcomer David Chaskin, director Jack Sholder proudly brought the killer out of the dream world and into reality, taking it even further by involving a possession/psychological element that ultimately seems silly. Nevertheless, there are a few aspects worth appreciating in this sequel.
One of them, which evolves into the franchise's signature trademark, is Freddy's god complex and his witty, cynical one-liners just before killing his victims. None of it is quite as blatant or meant wholly humorous as others in the series, but we can see the makings of a beloved and celebrated horror icon in this sequel. His interactions with Jesse (Mark Patton) are a bit comical and twisted though Sholder's direction maintains a certain level of spookiness throughout. Freddy also displays a playful, maniacal side in his reign of terror, enjoying the many ways he toys with his victims. Unfortunately, much of this seems defeated in a script that drags in several places with conversations questioning Jesse's mental health. Too much about Jesse and not enough time spent with Freddy.
Another troubling aspect of 'Freddy's Revenge' is the removal of a central female protagonist. On the surface, it seems like a silly notion to gripe about, but as this movie proves, watching one's dream violated by a child murderer is more terrifyingly effective with a character like Nancy. With Jesse, the story carries an underlying implication of homoeroticism and a teen struggling with sexual identity. Much of this goes in line with the plot's psychological element and one prominent scene showing Jesse unable to be affectionate with Lisa (Kim Myers). The whole affair simply takes away from the movie's fear factor and is worsen by the idea that Nancy's former house contains the ghost of Freddy Kruger. In the end, the sequel is really the least memorable of the 'Nightmare' franchise. (Movie Rating: 2/5)
Things drastically improve with the third installment, which brings back the franchise's creator Wes Craven to write a screenplay that makes better use of Freddy's mastery over the dream world. The previous movie never really took advantage of this concept and its imaginative possibilities, so from its opening moments Craven's story seems determined to do precisely that. It also features a central female character in a very young Patricia Arquette as Kristen, and like Nancy, the teen has a distant relationship with her mother that coincides with a sleeping disorder. However, those issues are lightly gleaned over in favor of what fans really want. Right from the start, 'Dream Warriors' makes itself known as a slasher horror flick about nightmares with Freddy at the center of it all.
It's easy to gather that Craven aimed the second sequel as the franchise's return to its origins and make the last entry a forgotten dream. Freddy doesn't just haunt one kid, but chases after a group of teens fearing the one place where they should feel safest. Upping the ante, the kids are a troubled motley of psychiatric patients with highly active imaginations, allowing for director Chuck Russell to be wonderfully creative with each nightmare sequence. This is where Freddy's warped sense of humor is solidified, showing that he enjoys taunting his victims in ingenious and often hilariously ironic ways. And Englund loves every minute of it. With this in place, 'Dream Warriors' also takes a moment to give Freddy a bit more history and background, revealing he's "the bastard son of a hundred maniacs."
Craven's story idea, which was later tightened a bit more by Frank Darabont ('The Walking Dead,' 'The Shawshank Redemption') in one of his earliest industry jobs, makes a further connection to the first movie by having the kids be "the last of the Elm Street children." It's a bit of a stretch to be sure, but nicely rectified with Heather Langenkamp reprising her role as Nancy Thompson, now working as a therapist and sleep specialist. Demonstrating Freddy's power to control the dreams of others doesn't hurt either. Nonetheless, it's all part of a master plan as fans watch Nancy's father (John Saxon) and her coworker (Craig Wasson) try to locate Freddy's remains in an auto salvage yard. Basically, Craven intended to bring any possibility of a franchise to a screeching halt, but fortunately for us horror maniacs, that attempt quickly failed. (Movie Rating: 3.5/5)
The Dream Master
I still remember walking out of the theater after watching 'Dream Warriors' thinking that was the end of Freddy Krueger. How could filmmakers possibly resurrect the infamous child-murderer with the finger knives after that conclusion? However, when part four was released, I quickly learned that anything is possible in Tinseltown, no matter how ridiculous. And the way in which the makers of 'Dream Master' bring Freddy back is incredibly stupid though still pretty hilarious — a dog's fiery urine is apparently the spark of life he needed. Interestingly, it sets the movie's tone as something that doesn't take itself seriously, as in part two, and the plot establishes a clear departure from Craven's original concept in an ingenious manner that works surprisingly well.
The plot takes place soon after the events of the previous movie. The last of the Elm Streets kids, Kincaid (Ken Sagoes), Joey (Rodney Eastman) and Kristen (now played by Tuesday Knight), return for Freddy to finally complete his revenge. But not until after Kristen shares her unique ability with her shy, daydreaming friend, Alice (Lisa Wilcox), which is where we find the real genius of the story. The script by Brian Helgeland ('L.A. Confidential,' 'Mystic River,' 'Man on Fire') and the Wheat brothers ('Pitch Black,' 'The Fly II') has our iconic villain's thirst for taunting teens extend beyond the Elm Street neighborhood. Through Alice, Freddy's legend grows so that other kids fear and bring him into their dreams. Essentially, the movie has the makings of an ongoing franchise.
And like the third entry, the movie explores the highly inventive potential of seeing nightmares come alive. A yet-unknown at the time, Renny Harlin ('Cutthroat Island,' 'The Long Kiss Goodnight') directs with a cartoonish delight, carefully balancing the scares and the laughs without feeling terribly silly or goofball. In fact, his strengths as a filmmaker are seen during the dream sequences as each kid meets their demise by confronting personal fears and phobias. Of all the 'Nightmare' flicks, 'Dream Master' has some of the craziest and most memorable special effects, with Freddy's death being a highlight which continues to astound. Admittedly, the movie comes with many drawbacks, namely the amateur acting, but it's fun and amusing nonetheless. (Movie Rating: 3/5)
The Dream Child
After the spectacular finale of the previous movie, it's difficult to imagine how Freddy could ever return or have a comeback as equally fantastic. But this fifth installment tries to do just that, opening with one of the most bizarre birthing scenes imaginable. A mix of flashback and nightmare, audiences are made to witness Kruger's birth at the infirmary of the insane asylum and looking like the demon prune from hell with an oversized head. After crawling to a dilapidated chapel conveniently engulfed in shadows, Freddy howls from growing pains and quickly fills into his iconic outfit with the fedora and gloves. The whole event is laughably excessive, but weirdly fitting for the 'Nightmare' universe. Sadly, the rest of the movie fails to live up to this absurdly sensational beginning.
Lisa Wilcox returns as Alice and unwittingly becomes responsible for Freddy being reborn and haunting the dreams of her new friends: Yvonne (Kelly Jo Minter), Mark (Joe Seely) and Greta (Erika Anderson). Following the continuity of the two movies that came before it, she and her boyfriend Dan (Danny Hassel) move on with their lives as recently-graduated high school sweethearts. We don't learn of the particulars behind Freddy's mysterious resurgence until much later, only after a wacky but somewhat creative death scene involving a literal speed demon. As far-fetched and dim-witted as it may seem, we have to give the three screenwriters responsible for this silliness some credit for at least developing this one original plot device. However, the teen pregnancy angle opens some pointless melodrama as well and ultimately goes nowhere except more bad acting.
Director Stephen Hopkins, who later moved on to helm 'The Ghost and the Darkness' and 'Lost in Space,' does what he can with the material, which is really nothing more than goofball fun. He doesn't make an attempt at being taken serious, aware of the sort of movie he's making and goes with it to a certain degree. And 'Dream Child' is all the better for it. How could any filmmaker sell the comic-book fight or the M.C. Escher-inspired final showdown with complete earnestness? But at the same time, it's also the movie's downside, coming across more as a comedy than horror and further transforming the Freddy persona into a perverse prankster. The visual fatuousness and overall zaniness of the movie are about the only saving grace and the laughs make it tolerably watchable. (Movie Rating: 2.5/5)
Freddy's Dead: The Final Nightmare
By the time we reach the sixth entry — and the formally last in the series' continuity — filmmakers seem conscious of the franchise's clownish faults but embrace it nonetheless as the circus-like freak-show it had become. As with her predecessor, director Rachel Talalay, who also served as producer of parts three and four and later helmed the wacky dystopian 'Tank Girl,' makes the best of the eccentrically gonzo direction Freddy had taken and further exploits the character's comedic side. Freddy is now a sadistic mischief-maker who toys with his victims in some questionably stupid, roll-your-eyes moments. (The pothead, videogame sequence takes the cake for one of the worst deaths.) But sadly, the best intentions are not enough to save this entry beyond being amusingly bad.
'Freddy's Dead' also features some of the worst acting of the entire franchise, which when compared to the other movies that came before it means it's pretty dreadful. Leading the pack, unfortunately, is Lisa Zane as Maggie, a therapist working with troubled teenagers. As the plot's main attraction carrying a secret with close ties to the Kruger saga, her role is rather vital, but Zane appears as if only half-committed and completely bored. Conversely, Shon Greenblatt and Lezlie Deane as John and Tracy can't seem to contain their enthusiasm for taking part in a Freddy movie, delivering their lines with unconvincing histrionic elation. The only two actors with any seriousness to their performances are Yaphet Kotto ('Alien') and Robert Englund, with the latter showing a great deal of fun.
On a positive note, the movie does add to the Freddy mythos and expands a little on the character's life prior to invading the nightmares of teens. Although the very brief explanation of the Dream Demons is a bunch of cockamamie nonsense, Talalay's story, which was scripted by producer Michael De Luca ('In the Mouth of Madness'), reminds fans that the celebrated horror icon is a child-murdering monster, allowing us a sneak-peek into his repulsive secret room in the basement. Unfortunately, the possibilities within the plot feel wasted in this sixth installment and degraded further with a conclusion that's nowhere near satisfying, let alone even respectful to Freddy Kruger's legacy. Cameo appearances by Johnny Depp, Roseanne Barr, Tom Arnold and Alice Cooper insert some amusing humor, but the movie is only worth watching to see those small tidbits into Freddy's past. (Movie Rating: 2.5/5)
Wes Craven's New Nightmare
After the disappointing finish of the last movie, it's no wonder its creator Wes Craven returned to his beloved character with a decidedly unflattering look at what had become of him. Story goes that franchise producer Robert Shaye asked the horror director his opinion about the film series and Freddy's demise. Out of the frank conversation came a need for one final entry that would give the celebrated horror icon a proper farewell. Craven also set out to eliminate Freddy's comically cartoonish demeanor of previous movies and restore his frightening image as a perverse psychopath that invaded the dreams of his victims. The result is one of the best and smartest installments of the franchise since the first and interestingly serves as a precursor to the similarly-themed 'Scream' series.
As the title suggests, the film intends to be seen as something distinct from the rest of the franchise while also celebrating the aspects which made the original memorable and fun. For this, Craven returned to the initial premise he conceived for 'Dream Warriors,' a light but ultimately silly examination on the origin of scary stories. Most clever, however, is the concept's amusing attempt at breaking the fourth wall where viewers are essentially watching the making of a Freddy movie as it being written by its creator — or better yet, as it is being dreamt up. Craven does a far better job at bringing the character into the real world than Jack Sholder's sequel, and much of that is due to an understated dissatisfaction with the franchise. It's almost as if Freddy is angry with the way he'd been portrayed over the years and intends to reaffirm his position as a villain worth fearing.
Freddy's victims this time around are not teens who believe him to be only an urban legend, but rather the filmmakers facing more true-to-life horrors and nightmares. Many involved in the first film return as themselves with Heather Lagenkamp leading the way, slowly realizing her dreams become strenuously difficult to distinguish from reality. Events in the last quarter melding with those from part one are particularly amusing and smartly brought to fruition. Freddy, himself, receives a scarier make-over to differentiate him from the others and works well for this dark reimagining. A couple aspects of the script, however, slow things down, like Lagenkamp and Craven's conversation, and some optical effects look terribly dated. But all in all, 'New Nightmare' is true to Craven's vision and makes a great conclusion to a much-loved horror franchise. (Movie Rating: 3.5/5)
The Blu-ray: Vital Disc Stats
'A Nightmare on Elm Street Collection' comes courtesy of Warner Home Video/New Line Cinema and imported from the United Kingdom. It's a five-disc package where only the first movie is contained on a disc all to itself, identical to the standalone U.S. release from 2010. The rest are squeezed onto the next three Region Free, BD50 discs — two films to each with supplements. The fifth disc is a Region locked, DVD-9 with a collection of bonus material exclusive to this U.K. boxset, but presented in the PAL format.
They are all housed together on individual panels that flip over inside a blue, slightly-larger-than-normal keepcase. The package arrives with a cardboard slipcover showing a new cover art. At startup, the discs with two movies give viewers the option to select which to watch. Afterwards, they're taken a basic main menu with a still image and music playing in the background.
The Video: Sizing Up the Picture
A Nightmare on Elm Street
The first nightmare arrives with the same, identical 1080p/VC-1 encode as the U.S. release. Clarity and resolution are a clear improvement over its DVD counterpart, though contrast runs just a tad hotter than it should. A few spots show their age, as expected, but the overall picture quality is crisp and very well-defined with revealing facial complexions and outstanding visibility of background info. Colors, especially the primaries, are vibrant and full-bodied while blacks are intense with excellent shadow detailing throughout. This is the best video presentation of the first Freddy Krueger movie. (Video Rating: 4/5)
Krueger returns with a very good 1080p/AVC MPEG-4 encode that greatly improves upon past incarnations. The nicely-defined picture shows a strong, stable contrast level, giving it a sharp, crisp appeal with lots of visible information. Fine object and textural detailing is surprisingly good with hardly a scene dropping in quality. Blacks are also consistent and quite energetic, providing some nice depth of field throughout, and dark, murky shadows are rarely problematic. Colors, especially greens and reds, are vibrant and richly saturated without appearing artificial or affecting flesh tones in a horribly negative way. Overall, the sequel looks great in HD. (Video Rating: 3.5/5)
The second sequel, which makes a far better follow-up than the previous movie, unfortunately gets the shaft with this average and somewhat problematic AVC-encoded transfer. While a few scenes look pretty good on occasion, fine object and textural details are often blurry and lack any clear, distinct sharpness. There are also many moments when resolution significantly drops, ruining overall definition to a greater degree. Contrast and brightness feels about right for a horror flick of this age, but they're unexciting and a bit flat nonetheless. Colors are appear accurate as well, but don't seem to benefit much from the upgrade. The image also shows a thin grain structure that's consistent. The biggest distraction, however, is the noticeable telecine judder every time the camera slowly pans, which is worst in the first half than the second. In the end, 'Dream Warriors' doesn't look all that great in HD. (Video Rating: 2/5)
The Dream Master
Part four comes to Blu-ray with an average though not completely terrible 1080p/AVC MPEG-4 encode (1.85:1). Like the previous movie, the picture is an improvement to its DVD counterpart, but it's not a night and day difference. Details are generally well-defined for a good chunk of the movie's runtime. Fine lines around hair and clothing are fairly good and stable. Several scenes, however, appear quite soft, particularly in the darker, nightmare sequences with plain resolution quality. Black levels are also noticeably weaker in these instances with murky shadows obscuring smaller background objects. On the plus side, contrast is nicely balanced and consistent, maintaining great clarity in the distance during daylight exteriors. Primaries are bold and vibrant with accurate flesh tones, making the overall high-def transfer acceptable if not perfect. (Video Rating: 3/5)
The Dream Child
Another middling 1080p/AVC MPEG-4 encode of Freddy flick hits Blu-ray, showing passable resolution levels with average definition throughout. There are a couple decently detailed sequences here and there, but not enough to leave an impression or to signal a clear upgrade from its DVD counterpart. The entire 1.85:1 presentation, as a whole in fact, lacks any evidence of benefiting from the jump into high-def, looking pretty flat and dull with serviceable contrast. Blacks also appear grimy and lifeless in nearly every scene, except nighttime exteriors offer some reasonable quality, and shadow delineation leaves much to be desired. Colors are on the same boat with competent rendering, but nothing to convince viewers this is any better than an upscaled DVD. (Video Rating: 2.5/5)
Freddy's Dead: The Final Nightmare
Similar to the last three, the sixth entry in the series looks as if made from an old print with little or no effort to clean it up in the slightest. The AVC encode (1.85:1) shows little improvement in color saturation though the palette is rendered without any visible artifacts. Fine object and textural details are mildly appealing at best, providing only small hints that we're even watching a Blu-ray. Most of the time, the presentation is on the softer side and hardly looking any better than standard-def. A thin veil of grain washes over the picture, and it's consistent from beginning to end. Contrast and brightness is disappointing, however, making the transfer appear flat and dreary throughout, yet delineation is not a complete loss during scenes with poor lighting. (Video Rating: 2.5/5)
Wes Craven's New Nightmare
The true final entry of the franchise arrives to Blu-ray with a competent but not wholly satisfying 1080p/AVC MPEG-4 encode (1.85:1), which I imagine could look much better if given a proper remaster. Some scenes, particularly brightly-lit exteriors, look better than others with fairly good definition and clarity of the small, distant objects. Darker sequences with poor lighting tend to be the worst with average visibility of the details within the deep shadows. Contrast is nothing special though consistent with clean whites, and black levels are well-balanced for the most part but lack any richness or pop. Colors look the best with nicely rendered primaries and healthy skin tones on actors, but overall, the transfer appears flat and only passable. (Video Rating: 3/5)
The Audio: Rating the Sound
A Nightmare on Elm Street
The Wes Craven horror classic breaks free from the dream world with a very good DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack, which is also a nice improvement over previous releases. Rear activity delivers some great ambient effects that not only extends the soundfield but adds an immersive quality. Best aspect is the iconic musical score spreading into the back speakers, enveloping the listener with a satisfying atmosphere. The front soundstage displays a wide stereo presentation with excellent channel separation and well-prioritized vocals. Though the mid-range exhibits some negligible trouble spots, dynamics and imaging are clean and crisp. Low bass is responsive and adequate for a 25-year-old soundtrack, making the entire lossless mix a fun and highly enjoyable lossless mix. (Audio Rating: 4/5)
The DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack, unfortunately, doesn't impress as well as the video. It's not wholly terrible, just rather plain and conventional. Vocals are nicely prioritized and intelligible, making Jesse's funny screeches perfectly audible and piercing. The rest of the soundstage is also contained mostly in the center of the screen. There's hardly any movement throughout while the mid-range often feels limited and narrow. The same goes for the low-frequency effects, which are used on occasion but lack a great deal of power and depth. The musical score is scarcely heard in the back speakers, often feeling somewhat forced and a tad distracting. If engineers had kept this in the original mono, the lossless mix would probably be better. (Audio Rating: 3/5)
For the audio, those mentally disturbed kids sound better than they look with this very good DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack. Dialogue reproduction is clean and precise in the center while the other two channels provide lots of fun off-screen effects, which open and widen the soundstage. The lossless mix displays plenty of sharp detailing in the mid and upper frequencies. The low-end, however, doesn't offer much even though it's audible in the several scenes requiring deep bass. Although the design is mostly presented as a stereo presentation, as it should, it does offer a bit of activity in the rear speakers. Other than a few, very distant atmospherics, the musical score spreads into the back smoothly and nicely enhances the soundfield, making this a very enjoyable high-rez track. (Audio Rating: 3.5/5)
The Dream Master
'The Dream Master' arrives to Blu-ray with a surprisingly good DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack that does far better than could have been expected. Coming from a stereo design, the frights are largely maintained in the front soundstage with excellent balance between the channels and delivering a fairly wide imaging. Vocals are very well-prioritized and clear throughout while several off-screen effects sound convincing without drowning out Freddy's silly one-liners. The mid-range isn't very expansive, but the track comes with several high-pitches during the many scares that are sharply rendered. Bass is also mild but does the job appropriately, providing the music and song selections with some depth. Discrete effects in the back speakers are pleasing and enhance the soundfield in satisfying fashion along with the music. Overall, this is a great lossless mix for an entertainingly corny Freddy horror flick. (Audio Rating: 4/5)
The Dream Child
Offering a much more worthwhile presentation is this DTS-HD MA soundtrack which spreads evenly across the soundstage with ease — no surprise there coming from a stereo design. Only, the mid-range isn't very extensive, and the few moments of high frequency are rather mild and even. Still, imaging is cleanly delivered with a decent sense of space and a healthy low-end for a two-decade old recording. Dialogue reproduction is also spotless and plainly audible in the center, even amongst the movie's loudest segments. The real surprise is the minor discrete effects and music which move lightly into the rears without being too much of a distraction or easily localized. It's not consistently used, but it also doesn't feel artificial, making this an enjoyable lossless mix. (Audio Rating: 3.5/5)
Freddy's Dead: The Final Nightmare
Right from the start, 'Freddy's Dead' aims to impress with a loud and active DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack. The original design was recorded in four-channel surround Dolby, which really only means that it has a fuller, wider front soundscape. And it shows. The soundstage feels fairly spacious with an imaging that's engaging and spreads out nicely amongst the speakers. The mid-range is clean and quite distinct, especially during the movie's loudest segments, and low-frequency effects provide an appreciable depth to the music and action. Dialogue is well-prioritized, allowing listeners to better hear the bad acting and line deliveries. On occasion, atmospherics are very lightly employed in the rears, and they sound surprisingly good though not convincing. (Audio Rating: 3.5/5)
Wes Craven's New Nightmare
On the audio front, things show better improvement in this seventh and final installment to the Elm Street franchise. Rear speakers deliver quite a bit of activity with some pleasant ambient effects throughout. Though they fail to convincingly immerse the listener, they remain an enjoyable surprise during key sequences. The score is a bit more effective at enhancing the soundfield and generating a creepy atmosphere. Dialogue is clear and right smack in the middle of the screen though one or two whispered conversations seem a tad strained. The rest of the soundstage exhibits strong dynamic detail and good movement between the front channels. Low bass is healthy and appropriate to the action, but not the sort to really impress, making this a very good lossless mix overall. (Audio Rating: 3.5/5)
The Supplements: Digging Into the Good Stuff
Warner ports over many of the special features found on the DVD boxset from a few years back, except the 'Nightmare Series Encyclopedia' bonus disc, and from last year's re-release, except for the 'Freddy Vs. Jason' movie. The first Blu-ray disc is identical also to last year's release.
A Nightmare on Elm Street
- Audio Commentary — The two audio tracks are preserved, and both are quite entertaining and enlightening for fans and newcomers alike. The first is between director/writer Wes Craven, cinematographer Jacques Haitkin, Heather Langenkamp, and John Saxon. The conversation, while amusing, is typical scene-specific quips and comments. Craven and Langenkamp do most of the talking about working with the actors and other aspects of the production, but the solidarity between them makes the banter an enjoyable listen for fans.
The second commentary is a bit of a Frankenstein monster, pieced together from separate recorded interviews, and remarks are continuously rotating with narrated intros. The observations are incredibly varied, covering anything from production anecdotes, history, influences, admiration of the cast and characters, special effects work, and on the lasting impression of Freddy Krueger. The track features Craven, Langenkamp, Haitkin, Robert Englund, Amanda Wyss, Ronee Blakley, composer Charles Bernstein, editors Rich Shaine and Patrick McMahon, make-up artist David B. Miller, mechanical effects creator Jim Doyle, film historian David Del Valle, and producers Robert Shaye, Sara Risher, and John Burrows. Although slightly jarring at first, listeners will quickly adjust to the constant switching back and forth between voices and find a thoroughly informative commentary track.
- Never Sleep Again (HD, 50 min) - This exhaustive and well-done documentary on all aspects of the film is the real highlight of the set and a must-watch for everyone. It starts with a quick introductory background on Wes Craven and the origins of 'Nightmare on Elm Street.' Then it moves on to casting, production difficulties, and the incredible work done by the special effects team. It finally ends exactly as one would expect with a look at the film's initial reception and its lasting impression. With plenty of behind-the-scenes footage and interviews with cast and crew, this retrospective makes for good infotainment.
- The House That Freddy Built (HD, 23 min) - This is another good featurette that ultimately works best as an extension of the previous doc. It examines the impact made by 'A Nightmare on Elm Street,' the franchise which quickly followed, and its influence on other horror films. The title is taken from the nickname given to New Line Cinema after the movie's commercial success transformed the minor distributer into a major film studio. Although the ending feels much like a promotional piece, the brief look at the importance of Craven's horror classic to the history of the studio is enjoyable.
- Night Terrors (HD, 16 min) - With interviews from various psychologists, this piece explores the strange things that can occur while we dream. From thoughts on the possibility of people dying while they sleep to disturbing accounts of murder, the conversation definitely makes a strange topic to consider. The only drawback is that I was left wanting a little more from the discussion.
- Alternate Endings (HD, 5 min) - The three slightly different endings which Sean Cunningham famously requested of the director are collected here. The happy ending is Wes Craven's original intention, but the ending used in the final print was the better - and still is the best - conclusion to the film.
- Fact Track - Identical to its DVD predecessor, this trivia track appears periodically on screen as a simple white text while the movie plays. Those intimately familiar with 'Nightmare' and its history will not find anything new, but neophytes can benefit from some of these finer points of the movie.
- Focus Points - Despite the name change, this featurette is also identical to what is found on the Infinifilm edition of 'Nightmare.' While watching the movie, a yellow icon that looks like a rotating DVD suddenly appears in the upper left corner. When clicking on it, viewers are shown either an alternate take of a particular scene or a short clip from the 'Never Sleep Again' documentary.
- Heroes and Villains (SD, 6 min) — With a slight apologetic air to it, the piece has filmmakers discuss story origins and its place in the franchise.
- Psycho Sexual Circus (SD, 3 min) — Filmmakers talk about the homoerotic and sexual undertones within the movie.
- The Male Witch (SD, 3 min) — An all-too brief look at the special make-up effects by Kevin Yagher.
- Freddy on 8th Street (SD, 5 min) — A discussion on a publicity stunt done by Jeffrey Wells prior to the release of the sequel.
- Trailer (SD)—The original theatrical preview.
- Behind the Story (SD) — A section containing seven separate featurettes, like actors finding everlasting fame once they appear on a Freddy movie ("Fan Mail," 1 min). "Onward Christian Soldiers" talks about developing the story and thoughts about the end product (9 min). "Snakes & Ladders" discusses the special effects (6 min). "Trading 8's" is an amusing talk about the beginning of Freddy delivering his funny one-liners (4 min). "That's Showbiz" has Robert Englund reminiscing about his memories working on set (2 min). The cast takes a turn discussing their experiences on set in "Burn Out" (4 min). Director Jack Sholder quickly gives his thoughts on New Line Cinema's newfound success in "The House that Freddy Built" (1 min).
- Music Video (SD) — 80s hair-band Dokken performs their awful song, "Dream Warriors."
- Trailer (SD) — The original theatrical trailer for part three.
The Dream Master
- Krueger, Freddy Krueger (SD, 8 min) — An entertaining piece about the production with cast & crew interviews talking about Renny Harlin being hired and the challenges with writing the script.
- Hopeless Chest (SD, 4 min) — After a few words on the pizza gag, viewers are given a closer look at the special effects behind the spectacular ending.
- Let's Makeup (SD, 2 min) — Make-up artist Howard Berger talks about applying the Freddy face and shares a funny memory of being surrounded by a horde of fans.
- The Finnish Line (SD, 2 min) — Director Renny Harlin reminisces about the reaction to his movie and his excitement.
- Trailer (SD) — The original theatrical preview.
The Dream Child
- Behind the Story (SD) — Another collection of smaller featurettes looking at various aspects in the production. "Womb Raiders" (6 min) kicks things off with the origins and explanation of the script. This is followed by "The Sticky Floor" (6 min), which has crew members talk about the art direction and special effects. "Take the Stairs" (1 min) is a very short interview with the director on the M.C. Escher-inspired conclusion. "Hopkins Directs" (1 min) is a throwaway clip of Hopkins directing Englund. And finally, "A Slight Miscalculation" (1 min) is a somewhat apologetic chat on the movie.
- Music Videos (SD) — Two amusingly corny songs are collected here, starting with the Fat Boys performing "Are You Ready for Freddy?" and followed by "Anyway I Gotta Swing It" by Whodini.
- Trailer (SD) — Finishes with a theatrical preview.
Freddy's Dead: The Final Nightmare
- Rachel's Dream (SD, 3 min) — A talk on long-time producer Rachel Talalay finally being given the opportunity to direct a Freddy picture.
- 3D Demise (SD, 2 min) — A frank discussion on the concerns of shooting the movie with 3-D effects in mind.
- 86'D (SD, 2 min) — Producer Robert Shaye explains to viewers his overall satisfaction with the franchise.
- Hellraiser (SD, 1 min) — Author and filmmaker Clive Barker gives his opinion on the series, basically admitting to being a fan.
- Trailer (SD) — The original theatrical preview is included.
Wes Craven's New Nightmare
- Audio Commentary — With optional subtitles, director Wes Craven offers his thoughts about his own movie and the overall production. It's a very friendly conversational piece with the filmmaker explaining a great deal of his thought process and his aim. Making the track a worthwhile listen is hearing Craven slip in his opinion about Freddy's popularity, the character, the relationship with dreams and storytelling, and the various clever ways he blurs the line between reality and fiction. For most of its runtime, he provides amusing anecdotes about the people involved and shenanigans on set. It's a good commentary that fans can enjoy.
- Becoming a Filmmaker (SD, 8 min) — Beloved horror director Wes Craven talks a bit of his career prior to filmmaking and how he eventually, after several years, moved on to direct horror movies.
- An Insane Troupe (SD, 1 min) — Again, an interview piece with Craven's thoughts on how to make a horror film.
- Two Worlds (SD, 2 min) — Craven shares his aspirations and goals about 'New Nightmare.'
- The Problem with Sequels (SD, 2 min) — As the title suggests, the director tells his reasons for returning to the franchise.
- Filmmaker (SD, 5 min) — Craven is asked about his opinion on his career as a filmmaker and lightly delves into an interesting conversation about real-life violence and the cultural significance of film.
- Trailer (SD) — The original theatrical preview brings it to an end.
HD Bonus Content: Any Exclusive Goodies in There?
For fans who really want this, the set includes a few supplements exclusive to this U.K. home video release, but available on its DVD counterpart. Unfortunately for U.S. audiences, the fifth disc comes on a Region B locked, DVD-9 disc in the PAL format.
- Fear Himself: The Life and Crimes of Freddy Krueger (SD, 30 min) — A new and terrific retrospect that examines and even analyses the franchise, the Freddy Krueger character and his popularity. The various interviews with cast, crew and film experts are very recent discussions on the story's origins, Wes Craven as a horror filmmaker, Robert Englund's signature performance and the phenomenon which led to seven sequels. It all ends with a few praises on 'New Nightmare' and Freddy as an ironically celebrated pop-icon. This is definitely worth a watch for even the mildest of fans.
- Freddy's Nightmares (SD, 94 min) — Two episodes from the 44-episode television series are included here and each is 47 minutes long: "It's a Miserable Life" featuring future film director John Cameron Mitchell and "Killer Instinct" starring Lori Petty and directed by Mick Garris. The late-80s TV spinoff is far from memorable but nice to have as a collector's item. However, it's a shame they didn't include the pilot episode directed by Tobe Hooper.
- Welcome to Prime Time (SD, 50 min) — Thirteen separate brief interviews with director Wes Craven and others, which can be watched sequentially. They are essentially deleted scenes from the other docs and worth watching as they feature several interesting anecdotes related to the history of the 'Nightmare on Elm Street' franchise. It ends with one last surviving alternate ending to the first movie.
- Conclusions (SD, 18 min) — A series of 10 short interviews with University of Virginia professor, Mark Edmundson, author of Nightmare on Main Street, horror fiction writer Clive Barker, filmmaker Sean S. Cunningham, and actor Robert Englund. In each piece, participants offer an intriguing opinion and analysis of the 'Elm Street' series, the overall symbolism of the Freddy Krueger character and the cultural significance of the horror genre in general. It's all good stuff.
As an added bonus, producers of the boxset have hidden one Easter Egg for fans to enjoy. After selecting language preference and special features on the fifth disc main menu, scroll down to the "Welcome to Prime Time" segment and press the left arrow button on the remote. When the eyeball highlights, press Enter and you'll find a 5-minute piece of Freddy acting like MTV video jockey and promoting 'Dream Warriors.'
Of the hundreds of movies released during the golden age of slasher films, only a handful of notable figures survived the 80s as lasting icons of the genre. Though they've become caricatures of their former, brutal selves, their names live on as embodiments of all the things we demand in contemporary horror. Every year around Halloween, we celebrate these fictional characters by donning their faces and weirdly pretending to be just like them for one night. Wes Craven's original is one such film that has left a major impact and continues to be just as entertaining today as when it originally premiered, leaving behind a cultural legacy and several sequels.
Hitting Blu-ray for the first time, Warner Home Video and New Line Cinema presents the franchise in a nice boxset dubbed 'A Nightmare on Elm Street Collection' with all seven films that directly relate to the series. Except for the first movie, the picture quality is a bit of a disappointment — transfers likely struck from the same masters used for making the DVD sets. The audio presentations of each are more impressive but for the most part, leave much to be desired. Supplements are also copied from their DVD counterparts although missing a few choice selections, but the fifth bonus disc makes up for some of the loss. Altogether, the package is worth the purchase for Freddy fans but only available in the U.K. at the moment.
- Five-Disc Set
- 4 BD-50 Dual-Layer Discs / 1 DVD-9 Dual-Layer Disc
- Region Free (Except Fifth Disc)
- 1080p/AVC MPEG-4
- 480i/MPEG-2 (Supplements Only)
- English DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 (First Disc Only)
- English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1
- English SDH
- Audio Commentaries
- Music Videos
- Alternate Endings
- Deleted Scenes
- Interactive Trivia Track
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