NEVER SLEEP AGAIN: THE ELM STREET...
Reviewed by: JimmyO
Daniel Farrands and Andrew Kasch
What's it about
Never Sleep Again is a no-holds-barred documentary on the making of a legendary horror movie monster. From Fred Krueger’s bloody beginnings, to the recent remake, we learn about everything Elm Street with a lot of love and heart inside.
Is it good movie?
It’s so nice to be back to Elm Street, and no I am not talking about the recent Platinum Dunes remake. The nostalgia is purely in the unbelievably jam packed documentary Never Sleep Again: The Elm Street Legacy. You don’t believe me? Well all you need to do is check it out, but you’re going to need a little bit of extra time. Never Sleep Again explores the popularity of all the Elm Street films and it even dips into the old series “Freddy’s Nightmares” and of course, the inspirations that started it all. And at a whooping four hours, it manages to uncover new ground with a refreshing honesty about who didn’t like who and why. As a fan of A Nightmare on Elm Street and a good number of its sequels, I thoroughly enjoyed this trip down memory lane with so many of those involved in the making of all the films.
This fascinating look at the history of Fred Krueger slices deep into the legacy of Elm Street. Hosted by Heather Langenkamp (ANOES Part 1, 3 and Wes Craven’s New Nightmare), a name that any Elm Street fan knows well, the fantastic documentary examines each film carefully. The difference between this and the recent His Name Was Jason, we have no horror journalists talking about why they think Freddy is cool; the people interviewed are the ones who made the films. This is much more interesting as a fan of the series, because instead of hearing very basic information, we have a detailed exploration of the joys and sorrows of making A Nightmare on Elm Street and its numerous sequels. While it is still a “talking heads” doc, nearly all of the stories will be very appealing to those looking to hear about their favorite dream haunting boogeyman.
Starting from the early stages of the series, we find out how Elm Street was made, and of course, the all important casting which helped make the original a true classic. But they don’t skimp on the rest, as far as the sequel go, they explore each and every one with detail and energy. We find out all about the drama and the intrigue that went on throughout the series. From the very gay aspect of A Nightmare on Elm Street Part 2: Freddy’s Revenge, and on to some of the rumored relationships during A Nightmare on Elm Street Part 4: Dream Warriors. If you are a fan of the series, you will fall in love with this in-depth feature that is more than you even thought you’d need to know. If you are only somebody with a mild interest in the series, this may feel a bit like overkill, but listening to these actors and filmmakers talk about the behind the scenes is pretty addictive. It is hard to believe that a four hour documentary could be so damn engaging.
Some of the names you will see here include Langenkamp, of course, and what would this be without Robert Englund himself? Aside from those two, you also have Wes Craven and nearly everybody involved in each of the sequels. And yes, we also hear from some of the cast members from Jason vs. Freddy. Sure there are some disappointments. I would have loved to hear from Ronee Blakely and Johnny Depp from the original. And it would’ve been nice to share some memories with Patricia Arquette. But even though a few names don’t appear, you have so much to keep you occupied that you won’t miss it too much.
I also have to give some credit to the wonderful stop motion animation that makes this a cut above the rest. Michael Granberry offers little snippets of the Elm Street history through animation which is very clever and it adds to the charm of Never Sleep Again. It is a blast to see a little clay Freddy terrorizing his victims. As I mentioned, this is mostly a talking heads documentary, these little spurts of creativity enliven it so much, as does the energy of the interviewees. There is so much to love about taking this late night stroll down Elm Street, that it makes me excited to be a fan again. Four hours? You’ll be wishing it was even longer… well, check out the special features on Disc 2.
Video / Audio
Video: This is a terrific looking 1.85:1 DVD.
Audio: This is a terrific looking and sounding flick. Love to hear Freddy’s knives in glorious Dolby.
And the nightmare continues…
You’d think that the four hours of interviews would be enough, but surprisingly, I was happy to hear more. The Extended Interviews section explores about ten to thirteen minutes of extra interviews from each of the films, and also the series Freddy’s Nightmares. Ironically, they do have a section on the 2010 version of A Nightmare on Elm Street, those interviews only last 2 minutes and 35 seconds. Let’s just say there wasn’t a ton of love for the remake here.
Next up we have First Look: Heather Langenkamps’s “I Am Nancy” (6:53) which is a quick look at Heather’s own documentary that she is working on. It is a pleasure watching her go from convention to convention trying to find “Nancy” memorabilia. As a fan, I did enjoy this, but I wonder if it will generate the same excitement as Never Sleep Again seems to be gathering.
In For the Love of the Glove (18:14), we see, quite literally, people’s love for Freddy’s glove. It is almost shocking to see how many of these are out there. I want one. After this glove love, we have more fan action with Fred Heads: The Ultimate Freddy Fans (12:49). I had fun with both of these featurettes, just because it is enjoyable to see other fans and the lengths they’d go to for the love of Fred.
I was thrilled to see Horror’s Hallowed Grounds: A Nightmare on Elm Street (23:17) on here. Once again, Sean Clark adds his own quirky humor and fan geekdom to explore some of the original sets from the first film. He spends time with Heather Langenkamp, Amanda Wyss and even a couple of fellas from Nightmare Part 2, Robert Rusler and Marshall Bell. This is funny stuff, and easily one of my favorite features on this particular DVD.
Another fun little feature is Freddy vs. The Angry Game Nerd (5:34). James Rolfe created these little segments where he reviews really bad horror movie Nintendo games. I had watched this before, but it was fun seeing the guy behind it talking about what went into this particular selection.
You think Elm Street in only on screen? Not at all. With Expanding the Elm Street Universe: Freddy in Comic Books and Novels (15:53) we find that Freddy haunts other places as well. I may have to do some more reading myself…
Another favorite of mine is The Music of the Nightmare: Conversations with Composers and Songwriters (13:14). It is an interesting trip to hear the music makers talk about giving the nightmare its sound. I had no idea Lisa Zane recorded a song for “Freddy’s Dead”… it wasn’t used. This is a treat for me, as the music from Elm Street has always been some of my favorite movie music.
Do you remember the first time you ever saw the poster for A Nightmare on Elm Street? I do, and I thought it was fascinating. In Elm Streets Poster Boy: The Art of Matthew Joseph Peak (7:24) we hear about the inspiration from Matthew himself. I’m a sucker for poster art, so I really enjoyed this.
Imagine A Nightmare on Elm Street in Ten Minutes (10:05). I guess with this you don’t need to. As clever an idea this was, I think it would’ve been more interesting to actually do a YouTube type of cut instead of just the actors reading a few choice quotes in ten minutes.
Finally, we see the reason why we wanted to watch this in the first place with Never Sleep Again: The Elm Street Legacy Teaser Trailer. In other words, there is a whole lot of stuff for fans and maybe just those interested in the history of a pop culture icon.
Never Sleep Again: The Elm Street Legacy is a dream come true for Nightmare fans. This is a wealth of information that will surprise, excite and shock you. It is an honest and insightful look at the franchise that is an absolute must own. While I enjoyed the fluffy nature of His Name Was Jason, this is a much more satisfying watch that stands head and shoulders above the horror documentaries that came before. So if you know what’s good for you, “Don’t… fall… asleep!” until you finish watching this incredible two disc Nightmare on Elm Street bit of greatness.