Tuesday, May 4, 2010

NEVER SLEEP AGAIN: THE ELM STREET LEGACY

"Every town has an Elm Street..."

With the new remake of A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET imminent, Daniel Farrands and Andrew Kasch, the makers of the definitive FRIDAY THE 13TH retrospective documentary, HIS NAME WAS JASON, have turned their attentions to the other iconic 80's horror franchise, with NEVER SLEEP AGAIN: THE ELM STREET LEGACY (2010).

Co-produced and narrated by Heather "Nancy" Langenkamp, NEVER SLEEP AGAIN chronicles the history of the ELM STREET series from the original 1984 Wes Craven classic through 2003's FREDDY VS. JASON. The documentary is comprised primarily of interviews with virtually every key player in the ELM STREET saga, including Wes Craven, New Line Cinema founder Robert Shaye, Freddy himself, Robert Englund, directors Renny Harlin, Chuck Russell, Stephen Hopkins and Ronny Yu, make-up experts Kevin Yagher, Howard Berger and John Buechler, composers, cinematographers, editors, producers... as well as most of the actors and actresses who were featured in the films.

Clocking in at four hours (!), NEVER SLEEP AGAIN exhaustively covers the development, production and reception of each movie in the series, touches on the late 80's TV spin-off, FREDDY'S NIGHTMARES, and examines how the success of the franchise shaped production company New Line Cinema's evolution from tiny indie distributor to major Hollywood studio, as well as the horror series' impact on pop culture.

Despite the marathon running time, NEVER SLEEP AGAIN is never boring. The interview segments are expertly cut together to create a remarkably smooth narrative, and the anecdotes, trivia and reminisces are engaging. These people are, on the whole, extremely proud to be part of the ELM STREET "legacy," and their enthusiasm is infectious. Doesn't mean there's no "dirt," though - Craven is pretty frank in his opinions about how New Line handled the character and franchise without him, and the producers are willing to admit to the mistakes made along the way.

The DVD from 1428 Films is a two-disc affair. Disc one contains the documentary. The 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen presentation is perfectly satisfactory, considering that the feature is made up of talking heads and brief film clips. There are no extras on this disc, unless you consider optional subtitles an extra.

Disc two, on the other hand, contains a vast selection of extras, with a combined running time rivaling the main feature. Where the documentary focused on the people who made the films, these supplements mostly explore other aspects of the Freddy Kruger phenomenon. These include extended interviews, featurettes focusing on ELM STREET's fans and memorabilia, interviews with the composers, an interview with the talented illustrator responsible for the original theatrical posters, a look at ELM STREET comic books and spin-off novels, A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET IN 10 MINUTES, and a video visit to the more prominent film locations, and - as they say - much more. It's an amazing package.

For fans of Freddy Kruger and the NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET films, NEVER SLEEP AGAIN is a treasure trove of behind-the-scenes stories and an affectionate celebration of the franchise's place in horror movie history. It's also great to see the stars of the movies (minus Johnny Depp and Patricia Arquette, unfortunately) as they are today, reflecting on their ELM STREET experiences.

Highly recommended.

BUY: Never Sleep Again: The Elm Street Legacy