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A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET...
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Reviewed by: Andre Manseau

Directed by: Various

Starring:
Robert Englund
Heather Langenkamp
Patricia Arquette
Lisa Wilcox

Movie:  
star star star star
Extras:  
star star star star
Overall:  
star star star star
What's it about
The Nightmare on Elm street collection has finally arrived in High Definition! If you don't know anything about the NOES series, you should probably leave this website immediately. It follows the exploits of child-killer turned dream stalker Freddy Krueger as he tortures would-be victims in their dreams with his trademark sense of evil humor and razor sharp glove. This box set contains the original 7 Nightmare films and does NOT include the Platinum Dunes remake.
Is it good movie?
Boys and girls, I really don't know how to review this set without it taking days and days to do so, but bare with me. I'll give you a few quick thoughts on each flick and rate it out of 4- but if you ever really want to know what I think, e-mail me and we'll get a good Fred Chat going.

A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984): For my money, this film is almost perfect, and Iím absolutely certain that when it was released in 1984, it *was* the definitive horror experience. The idea of a killer who attacks people in their dreams is something that every single one of us can relate to. Nightmares are not discriminating creatures, and happen to every one of us. The creative possibilities are endless, and they're explored here. Nancy (Heather Langenkamp) is a real live teenage girl, not some buxom blonde who trips over tree roots and goes the wrong way. She does a fantastic job of bringing the character to life, and will always be one of the best horror heroines. My only problem with the movie is that I thought that the ending was sort of weak, the whole Home Alone (I know this came first) type of approach didn't really work for me, and some of the effects got pretty bad near the end. The movie brings the gore, and is rather unforgiving. The soundtrack, while sounding a little like disco, is still rather effective and packs a punch as well. The cinematography is intense and atmospheric, and all of this adds up to one of the best horror films ever made. Click here for my full review from the DVD release a few years back.
Rating: 4/4 Stars

A Nightmare on Elm Street 2 - Freddy's Revenge (1985): This one came as a result of the fact that New Line struck absolute gold with the Krueger character. This time around, all logic (what little logic there was) goes out the window as Freddy is literally trying to inhabit the body of young Jesse (Mark Patton). Known in many circles as "the Gay Nightmare film" (seriously, the whole thing seems like a deliberate and extended metaphor for coming out of the closet), this one hasn't aged well and just feels rushed. Drill sergeant Jack Sholder is brought in to helm things and the movie isn't totally awful, but it's arguably the most bizarre and ill-fitting entry in the franchise (exploding bird, anyone?). Bringing Freddy so easily into the real world was a bit tough to swallow too. This is an interesting entry in the series, but arguably one of the most skippable. Good effects though.
Rating: 1.5/4 Stars

A Nightmare on Elm Street 3 - Dream Warriors (1987): Oh man, this movie is so awesome! If anyone ever wants to know what makes a decent Nightmare flick, this is it. They just hit the right balance with this one. Written by Frank Darabont, Chuck Russell directs this return to Springwood, which features the return of Heather Langenkamp as she helps out kids who've been locked away in a mental hospital's psychiatric ward. The kids all have their own unique personalities and share one common, terrifying vision: Krueger. This entry features a great and memorable cast (though Langenkamp is just awful in this one) including a young Larry Fishburne and Patricia Arquette, and some of Freddy's most memorable kills (welcome to Prime Time, anyone?).  This one's just so creative and fun, and Freddy manages to remain scary while infusing more of his dark, evil humor. On top of all that, they've got it all wrapped up in an awesome theme song from Dokken. In my mind, and the mind of many other Elm Street fans, this is the definitive entry in the series, and unquestionably the greatest sequel.
Rating: 4/4 stars

A Nightmare on Elm Street 4 - The Dream Master (1988): This has always been the Elm Street flick I forget about the easiest. Every time I think of watching a NOES movie (and watched Dream Warriors recently enough), I slide this one in because I can never really remember what it's even about. We've got the original, the gay one, the mental hospital one, and then..this one, which has become known as the birth of "MTV Freddy". See, this is about the time when audiences were absolutely nuts for the Springwood Slasher and couldn't get enough of him. Creative and young (and then unknown) director Renny Harlin was at the helm for this one, which starts out with Freddy being reborn through flaming dog piss. Yeah, they pick up right where the last one ended, kill off some memorable characters from the last one and revive Freddy with flaming dog piss.  Patricia Arquette has been recast by the not-quite-up-to-snuff Tuesday Knight, and she's joined by series favorite Lisa Wilcox as Alice (and with good reason, she's a strong, well developed character) to take out the bogeyman once again. There are some cool set pieces here (love the roach motel, and the pizza), but Freddy's the full on jokey star of this flick.  There are a ton of foolish plot holes too (if you're being picky, even by Elm Street standards). Freddy's death is weak sauce here too. At this point, there's nothing menacing about the series at all, and this entry just breezes by. Made almost 50 million bucks, the highest grossing entry in the series!
Rating: 2/4 stars

A Nightmare on Elm Street 5: The Dream Child (1989): I know it's arguable, but this is my list and although part 2 is wacky and feels like a strange entry into the series, I 'd have to say that part 5 is easily my least favorite chapter. A demonstration of a series on cruise control, this one is directed by Predator 2's director, Stephen Hopkins. Anyway, the plot is something about Freddy trying to get to Alice (Wilcox) through her unborn child or some foolish thing like that. This one looks and feels rushed, but does bring a crueler, darker edge to the tone of the film. Freddy doesn't help either, because the guy's really stretched thin here with really goofy one-liners and my least favorite Freddy makeup of the franchise. It could be argued that Freddy actually hurts this movie because he's just so tired here (skateboard/Super Freddy- nuff said). More nonsense hurts things too, as Freddy's final showdown with the dream child (who's unborn) has him as an eight year old for some reason? Things are just looking worn here and the K-man is just a shell of his former self. Again, a few cool sequences (I liked the opening at least, and the cinematography is decent), but this is an easy least favorite.
Rating: 1.5/4 stars

Freddy's Dead: The Final Nightmare (1991): I know that everyone hates this movie, but dammit, this is my review! I've always had a soft spot for this flick. It's the first NOES film I ever saw, and I was only a wee one when I did. I'll never forget how nervous I was, daring to take in a hefty helping of the Springwood Slasher. Let me get this out of the way though, I can fully admit that this movie is far more of a pop culture cartoon than anything else, but I like the light-hearted balance of this entry. It knows that it's silly and not so scary, and keeps a relatively consistent tone. Directed by series every-lady Rachel Talalay, I always thought the look and style of the film were slick and comic-esque with some memorable sequences (Freddy as the Wicked Witch, the Power Glove, etc). It has something to do with Freddy taking down the last Springwood teenager and trying to track down his kid. On the downside , this is a really weak way to get rid of Freddy and things end with a brutal 3D sequence that is beyond silly. Plus, rules really get broken here if you've been paying attention, and the flick tacks on some goofy explanations for things. Still though, I'll always have a soft spot for the cast in this one, Breckin Meyer and Shon Greenblat were enjoyable. Lisa Zane, not so much. Of course, this wasn't the end of Freddy. The best way to describe this one is that it's Freddy for the timid 12 year old in all of us.
Rating: 2.5/4 stars

Wes Craven's New Nightmare (1994): This bizarre, post-modern take on Freddy seems to divide audiences and although it's a bit heavy handed, I always thought the Meta concept was really cool. This entry marks Wes Craven's final flirtation with Freddy as he jumps back in the director's chair to revisit Heather Langenkamp as she plays herself. The former Nancy still dreams about Freddy, but decides to make one last film to help forget about him once and for all. Meanwhile, her son Dylan (Miko Hughes) seems to become haunted by the manifestation of Evil in the form of Freddy. The evil force is essentially taking him over, while the line between fantasy and reality blurs even further. It's really neat to get little winks back at the franchise, especially the first film. This one seems to serve as a great bookend to the series, and most certainly does Freddy some justice. He's not really Freddy in some ways, but the embodiment of evil and as a result gets a bit of a redesign. He's just super evil and practically unstoppable. Things get pretty silly during the final act, and I still thing Langenkamp isn't totally up to task. but this is a return to true horror in an intelligent and intricate way.
Rating 3.5/4 stars
Video / Audio
Video: All of these flicks are presented in 1080p with a 1.85:1 Widescreen ratio.

NOES:† Looks quite good, despite the age of the print and the source material being less than stellar. About as good as this film as ever looked!

Freddy's Revenge:† This one looks good as well, with a clear picture for the most part, though there is a fair amount of blur in some areas which makes things a bit uneven, but still, a worthy HD transfer.

Dream Warriors: Unfortunately, the crowd favorite gets one of the worst HD transfers and is just all over the place. It's uneven, grainy at times and lacks any sharp detail or real color balance. Too bad.

Dream Master: This one fares better, with good attention paid to details (clothes look good, hair looks good, etc) but things are a bit blurry at times and muddy too. Not a great transfer, but alright.

Dream Child:† Another so-so transfer here, with nothing overly special. This one looks even a bit worse than Dream Master, but slightly better than dream warriors. Simply passable, again.

Freddy's Dead:† The colors are bright and seem to make the image pop here with a few decent scenes that stand out, but nothing really impressive here either. Unfortunately, this comic-book esque Nightmare is again a bit disappointing.

New Nightmare: This one's a newer movie obviously, but the HD presentation is again nothing super impressive. A lot of this flick takes place during the day, and details look good, but when things get dark they tend to get muddy and a bit ugly. Again, just alright.

Audio: All films come with a DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack, and New Nightmare's is lossless.

Rather than going through every single film in detail, know that NOES and the Dream Master stand out as having the best audio mixes, while every other film sounds fairly decent, though Freddy's Revenge seems to be a bit front heavy and doesn't make good use of the surround speakers.
The Extras
All features for the first film are in HD, and every other feature is in SD. Each film has an SD presentation of the trailer included.

NOES:
We get a commentary track by director Wes Craven, stars Heather Langenkamp and John Saxon, and director of photography Jacques Haitkin, and is chock full of technical information from the film's creator. A second commentary is available as well, pieced together with various thoughts from other cast members.

We also get some alternate endings that were shot, some for the studio's satisfaction, some to appease Craven, and quite honestly, I think that Craven's original ending was probably best.

Never Sleep Again is the making of featurette that basically goes over the entire making of process of the film, from production to set design to make-up, it's awesome, and each feature can be selected separately. It offers the most new material and is nice and detailed.

The House That Freddy Built: The Legacy of New Line Horror was also a great feature, as Bob Shaye, head of New Line and a host of others basically detail how NOES put them on the map, from distributing schlock to becoming a multi-million dollar company. Each NOES film is also glossed over in this doc, with uncensored thoughts from cast and crew. New Line makes an interesting point several times in this doc- they own three of horror's biggest franchises in Freddy, Jason and Leatherface. What's next?

There's also Night Terrors: The Origins of Wes Craven's Nightmares, which is a great piece about what creative juices were flowing in the mind of this master of horror before he became a master of horror. Craven didn't even want to do any more horror films for a while before he made NOES! The impact that dreams have on us all, what a great idea to put on this disc. This feature is a great little supplement, quality stuff.

Don't forget, there's also the Focus Points, which is essentially the DVD's† Infinifilm feature, which allows you to watch many deleted scenes and featurettes while watching the film. I personally would rather watch this stuff separately from the movie, and most of it can be watched on its own, but there are certain features only available in the infinifilm version of the movie, and it's slickly produced too.

There's also a Nightmare fact track. I love fact tracks, because sometimes commentary can take away from the enjoyment of the movie when you want to hear a favorite line spoken in a scene. Kudos for fact tracks!

Freddy's Revenge:
Heroes and Villains is a brief, 5 minute little fluff piece about how the movie came to be, and what kind of weight it holds in the series. Funnily enough, time seems to make those involved with this one seem a bit like they're sorry for what they wound up with.

Psycho Sexual Circus touches on all of the homosexual overtones the flick is infused with. Lasts a couple minutes.

Male Witch is a quick effects piece with Kevin Yagher.

Freddy on 8th Street revolves around a little publicity piece that was created for the film when it was released. Again, only a few minutes long.

Dream Warriors:
Behind the Story seems like a lengthy documentary, but it really runs about 25 minutes or so, and breaks things up into sections, like the notoriety of being in a NOES movie, the creation of the story, the effects, Freddy's gags, a talk with Englund and the rest of the cast, as well as director Jack Sholder.

The video for Dokken's Dream Warriors is here! Complete with an appearance from Freddy himself! Englund must have spent years of his life in that makeup.

Dream Master:
Krueger, Freddy Krueger is a brief piece about how tough it was working with Renny Harlin, New Line and even coming up with the script for the flick.

Hopeless Chest deals mostly with the lame ending of the film, and touches a bit on the awesome pizza gag.

Let's Makeup once again talks about effects for a couple of minutes and retells the whole "burst out of the makeup trailer to please the fans" story.

The Finnish Line is a little blurb with Renny Harlin as he discusses the trials, tribulations and successes of making this flick.

Dream Child:
Rachel's Dream is a quick chat with Rachel Talalay as she gushes over finally being able to make her own Freddy flick. Too bad it didn't turn out better.

3D Demise is 2 minutes of talking about the awful, awful 3D ending that was tacked on to this movie. Dream demons! Sheesh.

86'D offers Bob Shaye(head of New Line)'s opinion about the franchise. He really likes it.

Hellraiser is a one-minute clip of Clive Barker talking about his love for the glove.

New Nightmare:
This one features a commentary track with Wes Craven, and it's loaded with plenty of information. It's almost a sentimental visit with Freddy's creator. This track is provocative, informative, and full of great technical details. A must listen for any real fan.

Becoming a filmmaker is a piece that runs about 10 minutes long and features a chat with Craven, as he discusses how he got involved with directing, as well as what he did beforehand.

An Insane Troupe is 1 minute with Craven talking about the key elements of any horror film.

Two worlds and The Problem with Sequels are a couple of 2 minute pieces dealing with Craven's main themes with New Nightmare, and his explanation for coming back to direct an entry in the NOES series.

Filmmaker is another interview with Craven that runs about 5 minutes or so as he waxes philosophical about violence and how films etch themselves into our brain.

Rounding things out are a few NEW features that weren't just ported over, like Fear Himself: The Life and Crimes of Freddy Krueger. This piece is about a half an hour long and really celebrates the whole franchise. It focuses a lot on Englund, Craven, and everything in between. Great stuff.

We also get a couple of episodes of Freddy's Nightmares, the awful low-budget horror anthology show featuring our hero as a horror host. We get It's a Miserable Life, directed by Tom McLoughlin (Friday 7!) and Killer Instinct, directed by Mick Garris (and featuring Lori Petty). As for the episodes, Miserable Life is by far the better inclusion, as it captures a cool dream sort of setting with a good sense of humor. You'll even notice Friday 7's star, Lar Park Lincoln in a lead role! Very little Freddy though. As for Killer Instinct, it's really out there, and really busy, so it's easy to watch at the very least. Deals with Chris (Petty), who's trying to bounce back from getting cut from a High School track team. Again, very little Freddy. These episodes are hideous in terms of video/audio quality too.

Finally, (fittingly), things wrap up with a quick piece called Conclusions. It runs about 20 minutes and is essentially a series of brief interviews with Clive Barker, Sean Cunningham and Robert Englund. They give their two cents about what Freddy became, what he represents and the impact that the Nightmare series has made on our culture today. Good stuff.
Last Call
I'll always love the Nightmare series, even though it's really uneven. To be brutally honest though, this set doesn't have a lot of extras that weren't included on the DVD set from years ago, and most notably missing is the inclusion of Never Sleep Again, the amazing Elm Street documentary released a few years ago. New Line should've gotten the rights to it, as it's by far the best companion piece to this series. On top of that, the A/V quality is just alright for the most part, so it's not like it's a gorgeous remastering.

On the other hand, the price is right, even on launch date. I'd be buying this on day one, just because of my love for the series and Krueger in general- he's one of the absolute icons of 80s horror and a lot of horror in general. Ultimately, at under 50 bucks. this set is totally worth it but isn't as comprehensive or as beautiful as you might hope. It still comes highly recommended by this guy, even if the set, like the films themselves, are uneven.
ARROW IN THE HEAD'S RATING SYSTEM
star star star star I'D BUTCHER MY FAMILY TO SEE THIS AGAIN
star star star HANG ME BUT I DUG IT A LOT
star star AN OK WAY TO KILL TWO HOURS
star JUST SLING AN ARROW IN MY HEAD AND LET ME DIE IN PEACE

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