Blu-ray Review: NEVER SLEEP AGAIN: THE ELM STREET LEGACY Is A Must Own Horror Documentary
Never Sleep Again: The Elm Street Legacy will be available for the first time on Blu-ray this Tuesday (tomorrow, January 20). It is a comprehensive look at the history of the Nightmare on Elm Street horror franchise. From its genesis in the mind of creator Wes Craven, being bought by New Line Cinema, to the six sequels (reboot not included of course) and anthology television series Freddy's Nightmares, the history of the franchise is pretty well covered.
Filmmakers Daniel Farranda and Andrew Kasch speak with pretty much everyone and anyone involved. Key figures like Craven, Robert Englund and New Line Cinema CEO Robert Shaye who bought the film when no one else would, to nearly every key actor in the film, directors, screenwriters, composers, and visual effects staff were interviewed and shared their experiences. Pretty much, if they were a part of an Elm Street film and they are not top tier talent by now (read Johnny Depp, Patricia Arquette and Kelly Rowland) then they showed up for the interview.
There are a lot of themes in the films like the lost innocence of the children of Elm Street. They spend a lot time talking about how Freddy's Revenge is the Top Gun of horror films in terms of homoerotic subtext. And the psycho-sexual undertones and nuances in the storytelling and production. It bears repeating, of course, that Freddy Krueger was a child murderer, so everyone talks openly about these sexual themes in their interviews. In other words, he fooled around with children, so it is okay to talk about these other things. Eek!
As a short-lived fan of the Elm Street series (I stopped after The Dream Master, it was just getting too silly), I am glad that a doc like this exists. I could catch up with the entire series and think back fondly to those lazy summers rewinding the nurse scene from Dream Warriors over and over again (which, by the way, is briefly presented in hi-definition in this doc - PAUSE BUTTON!).
I did find the scenes towards the end of the doc lamenting the decline of New Line Cinema a bit of a distraction from the whole experience. I guess credit is due because New Line did step up and take on the franchise when no one else would. It felt, obligatory. Having said that, the doc also delivers, by way of example, a warning to other studios that rush sequels too fast to capitalize on successful films. It is something that we already know and see all too often, but like Freddy's sins, this also bears repeating.
The second disc is loaded with extra features. The extended interviews bring more insight. Heather Langenkamp continues to campaign for her professional career and cultural relevancy in her own documentary "I am Nancy". There is a featurette about the iconic Glove and the many custom artisans making their own to sell to you. Fred Heads talks to many fans of the Elm Street films. Horror's Hallowed Grounds tours some of the sites used in the first film, with some of the actors.
Then there is the needless Freddy vs. The Angry Video Game Nerd, where a guy swears at an old NES Nightmare on Elm Street game. I don't get it. Another featurette interviews three novelists and a comic book artist about expanding the Elm Street universe. It boils down to a nipple ring. Really. And there are interviews with some of the composers and poster artist Matthew Joseph Peak. The final featurette is all seven films boiled down into ten minutes by having all the interviewees quote some of their best lines. Saving that for last really puts a cherry on top of the whole experience.
With nearly four hours of material on two discs, Never Sleep Again is a must have for Elm Street fans and Fred Heads.