Monday, May 17, 2010

DVD Review: Never Sleep Again- The Elm Street Legacy (2010)

Never Sleep Again: The Elm Street Legacy
239 minutes
not rated
Available on DVD May 5th, 2010.

by Scott Mendelson

Nearly eight hours on two discs. With a four hour documentary on disc one, and three hours and forty minutes of supplemental features on disc two, this absolutely mammoth collection is an absolute treasure trove of goodies for anyone even remotely intrigued by the A Nightmare on Elm Street franchise. Yes, especially where the first film is concerned, there is plenty of crossover information from the content found on the recent Plantinum Line DVD/Blu Ray release of the original A Nightmare on Elm Street, as well as the Nightmare Series Encyclopedia supplemental disc released in late 1999 (the latter containing three-and-a half hours of documentary content). But the sheer number of participants (around ninety) that agreed to be interviewed for this epic documentary makes it a lovely gift for the fans still nursing wounds from the misguided remake. Aside from a few obvious absences (Johnny Depp, Craig Wasson, Laurence Fishburne, Patricia Arquette, etc.), every plausible person of note from the eight A Nightmare On Elm Street pictures makes several appearances at the appropriate intervals. All of the usual cliches are discussed (New Line's troubled start and tragic finale, the gay subtext in Freddy's Revenge, Craven's initial inspiration for Freddy Krueger, the descent into camp with the later sequels), but there are plenty of new tidbits and revelations that will likely surprise even the most die-hard Freddy fan.

I could spend a paragraph tossing off random bits of trivia that amused me (David Warner was originally cast as Fred Kruger?! Robert Englund was replaced by a stuntman during the initial days of A Nightmare On Elm Street 2: Freddy's Revenge?!), but just know that this is a wonderfully info-packed collection, delivering with a mix of talking-heads and behind the scenes footage (we even see glimpses of the unrated death scenes from The Dream Child). The participants generally bring an honesty that comes with hindsight, even if those involved are quite ready to admit what a boring botch Freddy vs. Jason turned out to be. And to their credit, those bashing the underrated Freddy's Revenge are quick to note that director Jack Sholder's next film, The Hidden, was a modern classic of sci-fi action. The first disc contains the full four-hour feature, in 1.85 anamorphic widescreen and English 2.0, with optional English SDH subtitles. The second disc is divided up into two main pages. There are about 105 minutes of extended interview segments, ordered by the film being discussed (and climaxed by a very brief clip of Craven and company complaining about the remake). The remaining two hours goes to about a dozen features that cover areas not included in the feature. There are, among other things, segments on the poster art, the music scores, Freddy's glove, the crazed fans, and even the 1990 Nintendo video game (yes, they included The Angry Video Game Nerd review).

The presentation isn't anything to write home about. The image looks fine and the audio on the main feature is a perfectly reasonable English 2.0 mix. Bonus points are won for the inclusion of English SDH subtitles for the main feature, but lost for failure to include a subtitle stream on the bonus disc (since the bonus disc is about as long as the feature, why not include subtitles on everything?). Please note that there are allegedly some minor audio issues in some of the bonus material, as some of the supplemental clips aren't mixed quite right (they played okay in my non-existent 2.0 set-up). But content-wise, this is obviously a labor of love from both those who created it and the Elm Street alumni who chose to participate.

Point being, if you're a fan of this franchise, there is absolutely no reason not to pick up this collection. It's well under $20 on Amazon and fits perfectly alongside the original Nightmare On Elm Street Collection DVD cases (presuming you bought the original set and not the red-case separate releases). Minor audio issues and my personal complaints involving supplemental subtitles aside, this is an easy call. It is an exhaustive and informative piece of work. It is simply wonderful entertainment for any and all Fred Krueger fans.

Grade: A


Anonymous said...

On the money. Got it last weekend and devoured the whole thing in one day. Just great, great stuff in this documentary and the supplement material.

Also agree with you about Freddy's Revenge. I've always been of the opinion that Englund was much more menacing and vicious in Freddy's Revenge than the original. Plus, Freddy's Revenge has the best score out of all the films.

Great documentary...even for people, like me, who thinks the remake is probably the third best in the series...go figure.

Scott Mendelson said...

That's a bold thing to admit. I wish I enjoyed the remake as much as you did.


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