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Thursday, May 16, 2013

A Nightmare On Elm Street Blu-ray Collection (2013)

There is no question that Freddy Kruger is one of the most prolific horror icons ever created. Through 7 films Kruger has been slicing people up in their dreams and blurring the fine line between film and reality in Wes Craven’s New Nightmare.

Now, the whole collection is finally available on blu-ray and the result is a nice package but sadly lacks in the quality of features that Never Sleep Again: The Elm Street Legacy set before it. 
 Before you even open the Blu-ray box you notice that it’s just a bigger standard blu-ray box. Not a book shape like you would find in the Aliens Anthology or Star Wars blu-ray collection. It’s very disappointing. There are 7 films in this collection which include: A Nightmare On Elm Street on disc 1, A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge and A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors on disc 2, A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: Dream Warriors and Nightmare on Elm Street 5: The Dream Baby on disc 3, Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare and Wes Craven’s New Nightmare on disc 4 and a Standard DVD special features disk on disc 5  Lets start out with Disc 1

Disc 1
This is probably the best disk in the whole set. You get the original Nightmare on Elm Street in high definition. The transfer is good but it’s not the best blu-ray transfer also, the sound is good but not up to par with other blu-ray transfers like Alien.

The special features are where this disk really shines. You get an hour-long documentary called Never Sleep Again: The Making of A Nightmare On Elm Street. It’s a great inside look on how the film was made starting from Wes Craven’s childhood memories and news articles he read that inspired the film, through the actors and actresses to the MPAA and distribution troubles. It’s a really comprehensive feature that leaves no detail unturned.

The other special feature here is The House That Freddy Built, which is another documentary but this time focusing on New Line Cinema and how A Nightmare on Elm Street propelled the studio to the top and became the New Line Cinema we know today.  What’s interesting here is that they expand, not just on how Freddy and the Nightmare on Elm Street franchise shaped the company, but on how other horror franchises helped the company such as Leatherface: Texas Chainsaw Massacre III, Critters, the Blade franchise, Final Destination and Friday The 13th which was acquired by New Line from Paramount back in the early 90’s for Friday the 13th: Jason Goes To Hell.

The final documentary that this disc holds is Night Terrors: The Origins of Wes Craven’s Nightmares. It’s an in-depth look at dreams and how cultures all around the world interpret them. Doctors who specialize in dreams all give their knowledge as well as Wes Craven giving his knowledge he gained while researching the film. They also dive into the theory of if anyone can kill someone while they’re sleeping. It also goes through the theory of if you die in a dream you die for real. It can be interesting to some and I am happy it’s in here but you will probably watch it once and never again.
The rest of the features on the disc are pretty standard, you get a fact track option, which displays trivia about the film as you watch. But they come up like subtitles and it’s just very unappealing.
Focus points also make an appearance as a special feature. As you watch you can hit enter on your remote when signaled to and it will take you to a tidbit of information about that scene in the film. Some are interesting such as alternate takes, but most of it is taken straight from the Never Sleep Again: The Making of A Nightmare on Elm Street mentioned earlier in this review.
You also get two commentaries one is a carry over from A Nightmare on Elm Street DVD which features Wes Craven, Heather Langenkamp, John Saxon and Cinematographer Jacques Haitkin. The other commentary features Wes Craven, Robert Englund, Heather Langenkamp, Ronee Buckley, producer Robert Shaye and co-producer Sara Risher. This commentary get’s on your nerves because it’s not your standard commentary. The people are not in the room watching the film and talking about it, it’s all sound clips with a voice introducing them i.e. “Wes Craven, writer and director.” Or “Robert Shaye, producer.”

Rounding out the special features are the alternate endings, which consist of three very different ways the film could have ended. It’s a nice touch to the blu-ray and I am definitely glad it’s there. And the last one is the theatrical trailer.

Disc 2 

Disc 2 contains both A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge and A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors.

A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge is I think the worse one, it just doesn’t sit well with me because Freddy comes out of the dream world and the whole homosexual overtones just didn’t fell right in a Freddy film. Yeah, the blu-ray transfer is the same as the first one, so it’s passable but even revisiting A Nightmare On Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge in HD the problems are still there.

The special features are nice though. We have an unintentional comical featurette called Heroes and Villains where the director, Jack Sholder, tries and defends what he did and saying “Oh, we didn’t expect this to be a franchise, we just knew the last one was a scary movie.”  

Psycho Sexual Circus, yeah, the name of that featurette really stands out. You have Robert Englund, Jack Sholder, and Rachel Talalay discussing the infamous homo-eroticism the film has. It’s kind of weird watching Sholder say “Well we didn’t know it had all this homo-erotism in it at that time.” How could you not?  I am glad they didn’t just shutter away from the subject matter and it’s on the disc because, especially in these times it needs to be talked about.

A short almost pointless added tidbit is called Male Witch, where it’s five minutes of the make up designer going I wanted him to be a male witch with the pointed down nose. Uhh, cool story bro, moving on.

The last feature is Freddy on 8th Street and it’s just a five minute little thing about how they needed to publicize A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge then Robert Englund gives his two cents on why Freddy was popular.

The last thing on Freddy’s Revenge is a theatrical trailer.

There is no commentary to be seen sadly, which is a shame because there is so much controversy, like the fact that Freddy is out of the dream world and the homo-eroticism elements it would have been interesting to hear the cast and crew discuss it in a commentary track. Nightmare 2, it’s in here, it’s bad, whatever.

Now, one of my favorite Freddy films is A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors. This is the film that got the series back on track, it also introduced a new comical Freddy, cracking one-liners after each kill and a story about kids coming together and facing their fear. This is it “The big break in the blu-ray case, welcome to primetime, bitch.”

Title Screen of Nightmare 3
The featurettes on this disc are fine at best but the first one titled Fan Mail is a talk show host, who explains that if you’re in a Freddy movie or Freddy type movie you will have a whole new set of fans. The final line just baffled me beyond belief when he said “Sorry, I haven’t answered your fan mail.” What the fuck? Okay, thanks for the apology dude.

Christian Warriors is sighted right beside the sheer wackiness of the Fan Mail feature. This covers the start of the film with interviews of Wes Craven talking about the initial first draft of the script, Robert Englund discussing his treatment and script for his vision of the third film. Bruce Wagner also talks about his role in writing the first draft. The featurette ends with how they made Freddy go from complete scariness to comical.

Snakes and Ladders is an interesting piece covering the special effects of the film. The special effects make designer discusses the Freddy worm and how they wanted it to be shaped into a male penis. We also hear from the director Chuck Russel and screen writer Frank Darabont on the barking pig and how it was almost cut out of the movie due to budgetary means. It’s short but very informative.

Trading 8’s covers Freddy’s one-liners. Robert Englund discusses how the most popular line in the film “Welcome to prime time, bitch.” was his idea and how the script said something different. We also hear from Bruce Wagner of where the idea of the marinette scene came. Also thrown into the mix is Chuck Russel and Frank Darabont returning to discuss the hall of mirrors and ponder who came up with that scene.

There is a lot of random shit on disc 2 especially on the Nightmare 3 side. The feature called That’s Show Biz is right up there with Fan Mail. This is where Robert Englund tells a story of how he and Chuck Russel were working over 20 hours one day and they need a burrito and standing there were transvestites. Why is this a feature on the actual disc? This should have been inserted on Snakes and Ladders or Trading 8’s, not have it’s own section.

The burn out feature is awfully cut, I mean, we have John Saxon recalling his time on the set how much the difference was between the first few days of filming to the last day of filming. I can see that it’s called burn out meaning the cast was burnt out. But John Saxon’s part only lasts like 4 minutes, so they throw in Heather Langenkamp and she discusses how she came to be in the film. IT HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH BURNING OUT OR ANYTHING. Again, just like That’s Show Biz it should have been put in another feature. This next feature is just laziness it’s called The House That Freddy Built which is a good look into New Line Cinemas rise which is on the first disc. Here they took Jack Sholder, director of Freddy’s Revenge of all people, they took his 3-minute segment and threw it in here! Why? WHY! That’s complete laziness and stupidity on the part of New Line. 

The last 2 features are a music video by Dokken full of the 80’s hair and cheese and a theatrical trailer.

The same complaints are from Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge is here NO COMMENTARY!!!! I want commentary; it would be so awesome to have Frank Darabont, Wes Craven and Robert Englund share their thoughts on Freddy’s first foray into his comedic personality.

I am actually really surprised at that sheer desperation of features they are just grabbing and throwing in. It’s kind of ridiculous because there are so many archived features, interviews etc. to make Nightmare 3 an amazing blu-ray disc in itself.

Disc 3

Disc 3 contains A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master and A Nightmare on Elm Street 5: The Dream Baby.

The Dream Master is almost as bad as Nightmare 2. It doesn’t have that scare factor or that wondrous oh my god what kind of dream sequence will happen next. The film looks good it’s a notch up from standard DVD but not the best blu-ray transfer but it satisfies. Kruger continues to crack his one-liners which is always a nice thing to hear but it doesn’t reach up to the standards that Dream Warriors set before it.

The Dream Master does have some pretty cool imagery in it. Like when Freddy opens up his shirt and you see all the children screaming and imbedded into his burning scars. I also love the last scene when the children are struggling in this sack like thing. But a few images don’t make up for a lack luster film. But i'd rather watch this and Freddy’s Revenge before that god awful platinum Dunes remake.

The 5 special features on here are okay at best.

The first one mocking James Bond is called Kruger, Fred Kruger. This starts off with Al Sharpio the president of theatrical distribution talking about how Nightmare 3 was awesome critically and financially. This quickly picks up with Bob Shaye, director Renny Harline and a few others in the crew discussing the writers strike that was going on at the time, Bob Shaye admitting that he despised Renny Harline for his lack of creativity and the one of the reasons why he chose him was because he was big and had great stamina to work all night due to the film being rushed quickly.

Hopeless Chest covers the two most memorable effects of the film. The soul food pizza with the children’s faces as meatballs and the children trying to break out of Freddy’s skin. It’s interesting, but we have seen it all before.

Let’s Makeup is another short feature where special FX make up artist Howard Berger explains how he put Robert Englunds make up on.

The final feature is called The Finish Line where Renny and Bob talk about how rushed the project was, the nerves they felt when test screened the film etc. oh, and a theatrical trailer.

No commentary again sadly and most of the features here or either boring or have been seen but done better in other documentaries or special edition DVD’s.

This brings us to the 5th installment of A Nightmare on Elm Street called The Dream Child. This one is better then the Dream Master, but doesn’t stack up to the quality of the first or third one. I personally love the line “IT’S A BOOOYYYYY.” by Freddy. The picture quality is okay and the sound is passable but it’s not up to par to what you would expect.

The special features on this disc are the same as the rest nothing sticks out. The first special feature is called Womb Raiders, where Rachel Talalay talks how she was burnt out and didn’t want to do it. We also have the director Stephen Hopkins explain his vision of the film as well as a lengthy discussion of wombs and how they didn’t want to over kill it with that subject in the film. The Sticky Floor starts with Robert Englund talking about the time of special effects and how they were just going into the computer graphics age. Alan Munro, visual effects supervisor also explains how hot it was filming the last scene of the film. He also touches on the explosion they did and how the incident lead to a sticky floor.

David Miller, make-up artist, also comes on to explain the look of the Freddy baby.

Right after getting through the sticky floor we get thrown into the Take The Stairs feature. This should really have been thrown into something else because its just five minutes Stephen Hopkins explaining how he envisioned the stairs scene and that’s it. It’s like why? This doesn’t need to be it’s own feature.

Hopkins Directs is a three-minute look at a conversation between Hopkins and Robert Englund on the stairs scene. It was kind of cool watching it but it’s way too short and really Hopkins is just clarifying not directing.

The final featurette here is A Slight Miscalculation. This feature starts out with Alan Munro talking about how they miscalculated the audience interest of what they want when they go and see a Freddy movie. Hopkins also gives his take explaining how a shocking horror film couldn’t be done this day in age. That feature lasts not even five minutes.

Also included are two music videos and a theatrical trailer. The first music video is one entitled Fat Boys Are You Ready For Freddy, which is the most far out of left field crazy thing I have ever seen on a blu-ray. The next one is even crazier titled Whodini Anyways I Gotta Swing It.

Well that’s one way to go out on blu-ray, was not expecting those rap videos.

The zaniness ends here as we go to the final blu-ray disc.

Disc 4

Disc 4 is the final blu-ray in this collection but not the last disc. This disc holds Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare and Wes Craven’s New Nightmare. Freddy’s Dead, as crazy as it is, I still like it. It's got good one-liners but the attempt at a back-story completely falls flat on its head.

The special features on this disc start out with Rachel’s Dream. Robert Englund starts this one off by talking about Rachel Talalay and how she was up for the job.  Talalay then comes in and talks about her vision of the film and how she wanted to create more back-story then the previous entries had. She also openly admits about being inspired by Twin Peaks and wanted to incorporate that into the film.

Coming at you in full fledge 2D is the 3D Demise featurette. This is where Talalay admits the struggle with the ending being in 3D. 

86’D is just Robert Shaye talking about Freddy’s Dead and how they exhausted all other ideas for Freddy and the only real way they could freshen it up was 3D.

Hellraiser is a nice breath of fresh air as Clive Barker, writer of the Hellraiser series comes in and talks about how hard it is trying to keep things fresh in a fifth installment of any franchise. The final one here is the theatrical trailer.

This leads us to the final film in the collection, Wes Craven’s New Nightmare.

Wes Craven’s New Nightmare looks great and the audio is actually really good too compared to the other discs for some reason. The special features on this disc include a transfer of Wes Craven’s commentary from the original DVD release. 

Becoming A Filmmaker is Wes Craven explaining how he was a teacher and his super religious up bringing that lead him to become one of the most iconic horror directors to ever grace the screen. Located right next to Becoming A Filmmaker is a featurette titled An Insane Troupe.  This feature is 5 minutes of Wes Craven talking about what you have to do first before you audience can be scared of whatever villain you want in your film.

The Two Worlds feature is an interesting little feature with Wes Craven explaining his reasoning for making New Nightmare and dives into the subject of the film and why he wanted to do this story.

The Problems With Sequels is just Wes Craven talking about his outlook on sequels and what he honestly thinks of it and also adding his comments on the Nightmare sequels.

The last featurette on the last blu-ray in this set is called Filmmaker and its just Wes Craven explaining what the term filmmaker means to him and his views on either if films are art or just films. Also included is the theatrical trailer.

Disc 5

This final disc in the collection is just a standard DVD. Why? I have no idea. On the disc you get 2 episodes of the TV series Freddy’s Nightmares, which is a fun little thing to enjoy. Fear Himself: The Life And Crimes Of Freddy Kruger is an in-depth look at the villain and his humble beginnings. Welcome to Prime Time are little clips of footage and interviews from other Nightmare documentaries.

The last thing in this collection is called Conclusions which you have a university of Virginia professor Mark Edmundson, Clive Barker, Sean. S. Cunningham and Robert Englund discussing the nightmare legacy.

The Best Documentary
This is a solid blu-ray box set, Freddy vs. Jason is not here sadly as well as the horrible Platinum Dunes remake, which would have been nice to add just to say it was included in the blu-ray. With all the special features combined through out this collection nothing compares to what Never Sleep Again: The Elm Street Legacy has. That being said you have Freddy Kruger on blu-ray with a good assortment of features and really, what more could a Nightmare fan want. For the ultimate Freddy viewing experience I highly recommend picking up Never Sleep Again: The Elm Street Legacy along with this blu-ray box set.

4 out of 5

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