Never Sleep Again: The Elm Street Legacy Blu-ray Review
Written by Steve Pattee
Blu-ray released by Image Entertainment
Directed by Daniel Farrands and Andrew Kasch
Written by Thommy Hutson
2010, Region A, 238 minutes, Not Rated
Blu-ray released on January 21st, 2014
Just about everyone who was involved with the A Nightmare on Elm Street series
Narrated by Heather Langenkamp
When you think of the greatest icons of horror franchises, the list is a short one: Michael Myers, Jason Voorhees, Leatherface, Candyman, Chucky, and of course, Freddy Kreuger. A Nightmare on Elm Street and its seven sequels are so popular with even the most casual fan of horror, the now defunct New Line Cinema – the studio responsible for releasing the series – is subsequently also known as "the house that Freddy built".
From the mind of horror legend Wes Craven (The Last House on the Left, Scream), Elm Street was released in 1984 and was an instant success. Fans loved this movie about the bastard son of a thousand maniacs, slicing and dicing his victims in their dreams with his glove of razor-sharp knives. With a budget of just under two million dollars, the film made over $25 million and a new villain, franchise, and competition for the big three (Myers, Voorhees, Leatherface) was born. With interviews from a majority of the people involved with the series mixed in with clips and behind-the-scenes footage, Never Sleep Again: The Elm Street Legacy is a documentary that goes into glorious detail of both the good and bad of the Nightmare franchise, from the first film all the way up to Freddy vs. Jason.
Narrated by Heather Langenkamp (Nancy in the series) and with a running time of about four hours, Never Sleep Again is easily the end-all be-all of the Elm Street world. Over 100 cast and crew members share their experiences from each film, and what makes this documentary so wonderful is that there are no punches pulled. In separate interviews, Robert Shaye (the head of New Line at the time) and Craven openly discuss the falling out they had. Robert Englund (Kreuger) is brutally honest about his feelings on some of the questionable choices for his character in some of the films. And seemingly each actor from each film candidly discusses their own Elm Street experience. There's a lot to love here, and perhaps one of my favorite parts of the topics covered are the amusing responses from the interviewees regarding the homosexual overtone of Freddy's Revenge, and how a lot of those involved with the film never saw it during the shoot. The writer, of course, says different.
To give you an idea how in-depth Never Sleep Again is, 1428 Films (the company that also brought us the wonderful Crystal Lake Memories: The Complete History of Friday the 13th) didn't just track down and interview the main players of the Elm Street series, they dug much deeper. So in addition to interviews with the likes of the aforementioned Shaye, Craven, Englund, and the numerous stars from the films, you get the unexpected and pleasant surprises like Kane Hodder (who played Jason in many of the Friday the 13th films). Genre authors Craig Spector and David Schow talk about the experiences they had, the ideas they had proposed for the series, what was used, and what ultimately became a case of the what-could-have-beens. The people behind the effects (both visual and makeup) are talked to at length, with tons of behind-the-scenes footage to accompany the discussions. Hell, even Dokken is here talking about their seminal song for A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors. You couldn't ask for a more comprehensive documentary.
Naturally, not every cast member could be obtained. There are some noticeable absences, such as Johnny Depp (A Nightmare on Elm Street), Laurence Fishburne, and Patricia Arquitte (Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors) to name a few, but it's hard for me to fault the filmmakers because there is no doubt they made the effort to get these people considering it looks like everyone else involved with the series is in the documentary.
If there is one (very small) niggle I have, it's the interview with one of the stars of Freddie's Dead: The Final Nightmare. While every other interviewee on the disc had no other motive but to talk about the film(s) they worked on, this clown chose to be interviewed while her friend (or art project or whateverthefuck) kneels beside her and spikes the camera (as seen in the picture above). This attempt to make the segment about her instead of the true subject matter just stinks of pathetic desperation. Fortunately for the viewer, the filmmakers wisely make no mention of her obnoxious getup, and play it as straight as one could hope. I can only imagine the jackassery they had to deal with while filming that particular part.
Never Sleep Again: The Elm Street Legacy is quintessential for fans of Freddy, horror, or just great documentaries. It effectively covers all things Elm Street from its inception to Freddy Vs. Jason, and all things in between. The good, the bad, the controversies, it's all there. It was first released on DVD in 2010, and if for whatever reason you don't have it yet, there is no excuse why you shouldn't pick up the Blu-ray now. And I haven't even gotten to the special features.
Video and Audio:
RLJ/Image Entertainment's 1080p presentation is more than suitable for the subject matter. Colors are vivid at times, flesh tones natural and while some of the archive footage that's used throughout the film leaves a lot to be desired as far as quality, this is obviously an issue with the source material.
As this is a documentary, the only major expectation is dialogue be crisp and clear, and the DTS-HD MA 2.0 audio delivers in that regard.
- Commentary with Directors Andrew Kasch and Daniel Farrands, Writer Thommy Hutson and Cinematographer Buz Wallick
- Extended Interviews with Cast and Crew
- Horror's Hallowed Grounds: Return to Elm Street
- Expanding the Elm Street Universe: Freddy in Comics and Novels
- A Nightmare on Elm Street in 10 Minutes
- The Music of the Nightmare: Conversations with Composers and Song Writers
- Freddy vs. The Angry Video Game Nerd
- Elm Street's Poster Boy: The Art of Matthew Joseph Peak
- First Look : Heather Langenkamp's "I Am Nancy"
- For the Love of the Glove
- Fred Heads: The Ultimate Freddy Fans
- Never Sleep Again: The Elm Street Legacy Teaser Trailer
Whoa. Look at all of those goodies. Up first is the commentary with directors Andrew Kasch and Daniel Farrands, writer Thommy Hutson and cinematographer Buz Wallick, which is surprising for two reasons. The first is the fact that there even is a commentary for a film that has a running time of about four hours. That alone would set the bar for other discs with an average feature length, but instead of just setting it, the filmmakers raise that bar because the commentary is quite enjoyable from beginning to end. And yes, they even discuss the jackassery behind the interview with the actress from Freddie's Dead. I have to admit, they are far more diplomatic than I could ever be.
If you didn't feel like you had enough of the interviews (and, really, who did?), you get another hour and forty minutes of the good stuff on the second disc, all of which is worth the watch.
Horror's Hallowed Grounds: Return to Elm Street follows show creator Sean Clark as he takes us to the various filming locations of A Nightmare on Elm Street and what they look like today. There are some nice cameos found in this 23-minute piece.
A Nightmare on Elm Street in 10 minutes is exactly what you think; just some highlights from the films.
There is a fourteen-minute piece centering on the music of the series in The Music of the Nightmare: Conversations with Composers and Song Writers. As a child of the '80s, I was very happy to see Dokken represented for their song in Dream Warriors, but it's an interesting mix all around from the composers to some of the bands that did tracks for the films.
At a rather perfect running time of about five minutes, Freddy vs. The Angry Video Game Nerd is a brief discussion with Angry Video Game Nerd himself James Rolfe about his Nightmare on Elm Street (the NES game) webisode.
Elm Street's Poster Boy: The Art of Matthew Joseph Peak is an aptly titled 8-minute piece that goes into the man behind the artwork of majority of the films.
While more of a sneak peak than an actual feature, First Look : Heather Langenkamp's "I Am Nancy" gives you a 7-minute taste of what to expect of Langenkamp's own documentary on her experience with the fans since her seminal role as Nancy.
Fred Heads: The Ultimate Freddy Fans is exactly what the title suggests, a thirteen-minute featurette centered on the collectors and fans of the franchise.
Wrapping it up is a trailer for the film.