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