January 11, 2011

DVD Review: Never Sleep Again - The Elm Street Legacy

The slasher genre may have developed its formula in the 1970's, but it was the 1980's that it got its groove with the creation of some of its most most enduring icons. One of those slasher icons happens to be the focus of this documentary. Never Sleep Again takes a look at the cinematic history of Wes Craven's classic A Nightmare on Elm Street and it's entire legacy. Now, on the surface that may not sound like a terribly engaging documentary, but believe me when I tell you that it is. It really is.

I took a long time getting around to watching this. I really shouldn't have done that. Never Sleep Again, made by some of the same folks behind the Friday the 13th documentary, His Name was Jason, is an all encompassing look into this history of the series. They even include Freddy vs. Jason and the short lived Freddy's Nightmares television series!

The team of Daniel Farrands, Andrew Kasch, and Thommy Hutson were able to get an extraordinary collection of interviews of virtually all the notable players (notable exceptions being Johnny Depp and Patricia Arquette) and it has its fair share of backslapping and subtle finger pointing. The bottom line is that if you are a fan of the series, you need to watch this.

Interview subjects include, but is not limited to Wes Craven, Bob Shaye, Robert Englund, Heather Langenkamp, John Saxon, Jack Sholder, Chuck Russell, Renny Harlin, Ronny Yu, Mick Garris, Lisa Wilcox, Jsu Garcia, Clu Gulager, Rachel Talaly, and more cast members, special effects guys, and others than you can shake a stick at.

Each film gets about a half of time. Yes, you read that right. Never Sleep Again wants to make sure that you don't with a run time that runs close to the four hour mark. The surprising thing about that length is that when it's over, you want more. I swear, the time just flies by.

This DVD set makes up for all those bare bones DVDs of the series. This is better than any amount of promotional featurettes they could have scrounged up. Interviews, set photos, clips, bits of deleted scenes, and some great new animation take us into the development of each film, the troubles and trials they went through. To take the time to go through all of the good stuff here would just take too long.

Never Sleep Again was clearly made for fans. The pace is quick, the information is interesting, the talent is engaging, and it is was just wild to hear all of these stories. What is pretty surprising is that as inside as it seems at times and looks to be just for the fans, I encourage non-fans to check it out. If you are just interested in how some of these movies get made, this proves to be quite interesting.

Oftentimes you have to wonder how some of these movies get made, why they are not always tat good and just what those involved were thinking at the time. This documentary takes you through a lot of those thoughts. It is not that they go into each successive project not wanting to make a good movie, but there are a lot of people with ideas and tight schedule.

However you want to look at it, this is four hours of near joy. I should really stop as I am feeling a little repetitious. Let's just say that if you like Freddy Krueger then you need this.

Wait a second. The four hour documentary is not all there is. First there is a commentary track with the directors and other crew members. I did not listen to the entire track, but it is a good one as they talk about  getting all the interviews and their original plans for the documentary. It is a good listen.

On top of that, there is a second disk with extra interviews for all of the films. Each one of these segments run another 8 to 15 minutes apiece. Then there are featurettes on the glove and die hard fans who make them, conversations with the composers, a teaser clip from Heather Langenkamp's documentary I am Nancy, and lots more. This is a treasure trove of Nightmare goodness.

Highly Recommended.

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Article first published as DVD Review: Never Sleep Again - The Elm Street Legacy on Blogcritics.


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