Freddy Krueger has always been a iconic character in horror, whether one is a fan of horror films or absolutely loathes them, the name Freddy Krueger is a “household” name in pop culture, pretty much more so than almost any other character from horror films, excluding the Universal horror classics from the 1930′s and beyond. Along with Jason Voorhees, of FRIDAY THE 13TH fame, Freddy Krueger and A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET is probably the most recognizably well-known character in American horror films and worldwide. A big part of that reason is that Wes Craven directed the fist installment of the series and Robert Englund made the Freddy character extremely memorable.
The 2-disc DVD collector’s edition of NEVER SLEEP AGAIN: THE ELM STREET LEGACY (I really had hoped to be reviewing the blu-ray edition for readers, but the little guys take what they can get!) runs just two minutes shy of 4 hours! Through a massive plethora of interviews, including a clip of Johnny Depp from “Inside the Actor’s Studio” talking about working on the original A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET, more than 100 key cast and crew offered a great deal of insight and in-depth interviews to give casual fans and die-hard fans alike, the most comprehensive background and history of all the films in the series. Having to go through and picking apart all 9 films in the slasher franchise, one can see why the documentary is almost 4 hours. That roughly almost breaks up to give each film about a good 30 minutes, probably a little bit less because the directors, Daniel Farrands and Andrew Kasch, chose to also include “interesting” television anthology series in 1988 “Freddy’s Nightmares”, hosted by Robert Englund as Freddy Krueger and featuring a different story with each episode.
Wow. I can say that after having watched it quite a few times (Kind of crazy for this fella because I personally will choose Jason Voorhees over Freddy Krueger any day of the week) that NEVER SLEEP AGAIN is one of the most comprehensive and exhaustively researched documentary that I have ever seen. As any good documentaries should exhibit, editing is crucial key to keeping viewers interested and keep their work a showcase of intriguing entertainment instead of a lesson in utter boredom. Writer Thommy Hutson, who also wrote HIS NAME WAS JASON: 30 YEARS OF FRIDAY THE 13TH (also recommended viewing) and wrote some additional material to MORE BRAINS! A RETURN TO THE LIVING DEAD (more recommended viewing and reviewed HERE), orchestrates a wonderfully informative and entertaining piece of documentary work, filled with literally hundreds and hundreds of key questions and exhaustive research evident through the film’s use of clips, never before seen photos of cast and crew, and interviews pieced together with literally every individual involved in the horror franchise.
I will be honest that I was splendidly surprised that not only did NEVER SLEEP AGAIN include all the major players involved with the film such as Wes Craven, Robert Englund, Heather Langenkamp, Robert Shaye, John Saxon, Mark Patton, Renny Harlin, Lisa Wilcox, Tuesday Knight, and a slew of others that were involved in the films but it also had the glam rock band DOKKEN talk about their involvement with making the theme song for A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET 3: DREAM WARRIORS. To be totally honest, I was really hoping that Patricia Arquette and Johnny Depp would have been interviewed for the exhaustive documentary, but as the commentary states, they were asked to be a part of the doc but their filming schedules and availability just did not allow it. Since both actors are big names, Johnny Depp probably bigger than most in Hollywood, it makes sense that there was not much time to squeeze in some interviews for some lower-budgeted horror films that they made early on in their movie careers. Still, I wish they had found or made time to get interviewed for this. It would have been quite epic.
One really cool aspect and interesting bit of history involving the burnt-skin, knife-fingered, sadistic, dream terrorist is that the behind-the-scenes business goings-on with New Line Entertainment, Wes Craven, and Lin Shaye. The filmmakers give viewers all the dirt on a great deal of what went on between key players involved with the franchise. One thing I did notice that may not really detract from the documentary’s experience is that I did notice while viewing the film with the commentary track that at about 32.5 minutes into the commentary, when coming to talking about Ronny Blakley (the mother in the original NOES), the sound cuts out for about 45 seconds or so and it sounded like the commentators (Andrew Kasch, Daniel Farrands, Thommy Hutson, and Buzz Danger Wallick) had their comments just silenced out intentionally. Not sure if this was intended or not, but it did sound like they were about to dish some dirt out on her. I may be wrong, but from this point on, once the guys come back to the commentary it is no longer perfectly synched up with what is up on the screen. There is a 10-15 second delay so what is being shown on the screen behind what the commentators are talking about. This was sort of annoying. Like I said, maybe this is only on the DVD or it has been corrected and fixed since coming out officially (since I am reviewing a retail copy for review), but if the issue has not been rectified, that would sort of suck. Maybe the Blu-ray has no issues, though. Of course, I would not know.
The extra features on the 2-disc DVD include, in addition to the documentary’s commentary on Disc 1, Extended Interviews, a first look at Heather Langenkamp’s “I AM NANCY“, “For the Love of the Glove”, “Fred Heads: The Ultimate Freddy Fans”, “Horror’s Hallowed Grounds: Return to Elm Street”, and “Freddy Vs. The Angry Video Game Nerd”, “Expanding the Elm Street Universe: Freddy in Comic Books and Novels”, “The Music of the Nightmare: Conversations with Composers and Songwriters”, Elm Street’s Poster Boy: The Art of Matthew Joseph Peak”, “A Nightmare on Elm Street in 10 Minutes” and the documentary’s own Teaser Trailer.
Of these extra features I really enjoyed the Extended Interviews especially a nice heart-melting reunion between Kim Meyers and Mark Patton, as well as quite a bit of shit-talking towards each other. It was quite interesting and there is a great deal of interviews and segments that got cut short. The sneak peak of Langenkamp’s documentary, I AM NANCY, looks like it is quite a bit lower in terms of the production level and has quite a bit of footage taken from a bunch of horror conventions, which I don’t mind. I love going to horror conventions! It is funny because in Langenkamp’s film, she shows how there is mostly Freddie Krueger memorabilia and almost zero Nancy merchandise. Seems like she accepts and explores the fact that her character tends to be forgotten. Hopefully her documentary is not also one NOES fans forget.
The “For the Love of the Glove” segment showcases Mike Becker, the owner of the infamous missing glove from the original NOES. He is a huge collector, obviously, and he talks about how he obtained the glove from a sale on eBay. Yes, anything can be found on eBay, including Freddie’s glove. Apparently, it was stolen from the set of the 2nd NOES. Very cool trivia and stuff for die-hard NOES fans. Also for die-hard fans is the segment “Fred Heads”, which also includes rabid collector Mike Becker, as he shows viewers his Freddy masks and other various NOES props.
“Horror’s Hallowed Grounds” features host Sean Clark (also the show’s creator), who convention fans may recognize as working with actors and actresses with his company Convention All-Stars that he started in 2006. Previously known for writing articles for Dread Central, Bloody-Disgusting, and HorrorHound magazine, his written column Horror’s Hallowed Grounds became a t.v. show, now in its 2nd season (with what looks to be on hiatus with sporadic episodes being listed on IMDB.com). The show is pretty interesting, especially for those that want to see where the actual locations are that were used in NOES. The show also includes several of the actors/actresses from the films talking with Clark about specific scenes.
The geek-out portion of “Fred Heads” and “Love of the Glove” is surpassed by the supremely nerdy segment “Freddy vs. The Angry Video Game Nerd”. Showcasing segments of video game playing and a nerd swearing his ass off incessantly about how lame and weird some of the games are, this segment looks like it should have been featured on Youtube.com and not on this 2-disc DVD, but it was fairly entertaining none-the-less. If one plays video games, you may love this feature. Me, I was only mildly amused.
Next up, “Expanding the Elm Street Universe: Freddy in Comic Books and Novels” and I did not thin things could get even geekier. Books and comics expanding on the movies and characters in the NOES films. I really wondered if some of these books were published independently or were actually put out by a major publisher. Myself a comic book collector, I did like that they covered the comic books and their spin-offs. After watching “The Music of the Nightmare” and “Elm Street’s Poster Boy”, I was dripping with NOES sweat, knowledge, and odor. I was getting maxed out on the hours of extra features. Both the aforementioned segments were pretty cool, but I was looking forward to its end. Can there ever be too many extra features? I guess if I was more of a Freddy fan, I probably would be in heaven…or hell since Freddy is involved! One can just skip the NOES in 10 Minutes part. It was not very funny, although it tried to be.
I really felt that the commentary was almost just as interesting as the actual documentary and I especially LOVED the portion of the commentary when they all talk about Roger Ebert and his thoughts on the franchise films, as well as other horror films. It really added to the film, complementing the documentary even more. The stop-motion claymation sequences in the beginning, done by Michael Granberry (known for his work on ROBOT CHICKEN), and the opening title sequence’s music by Charles Bernstein (well-known to me for his soundtrack to THE ENTITY (1982)) who also composed all the music for the original A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET get the film off to a running-start and the movie really never lets up in intensity or steam. For fans of horror—I recommend NEVER SLEEP AGAIN: THE ELM STREET LEGACY. For fans of the NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET franchise—I recommend NEVER SLEEP AGAIN: THE ELM STREET LEGACY. Finally, for fans of the horror genre and really just movies, in general—I recommend NEVER SLEEP AGAIN: THE ELM STREET LEGACY.