Sunday, May 16, 2010

Never Sleep Again: The Elm Street Legacy

When I got my copy of Never Sleep Again, I admittedly popped it into my DVD player and flash-forward to almost four hours later, I must say the documentary flew by. This documentary is indeed the Holy Grail for any Nightmare on Elm Street aficionado. This documentary does not pull any punches at all. In the documentary itself, every Freddy Krueger film is explored in-depth, and to my pleasant shock, they even did a review of the Freddy’s Nightmares television series that aired in the 80’s.

I can only applaud producers Heather Lagenkamp (Nancy Thompson from the original Nightmare on Elm Street, Nightmare 3, and Wes Craven’s New Nightmare), Daniel Farrands and Thommy Hutson, on a comprehensive DVD that satisfies the hunger of any true Nightmare fan. I consider myself a true fan of this film franchise, and after watching this DVD, I feel so enlightened.

The examination of the filming of the first film is very intriguing (it’s around 43 minutes long in itself- because there is so much material to go over). I think what’s splendid about this is that this documentary goes much more into the turmoil that was involved in the original film more so than the documentary on the Infinifilm DVD of the original Nightmare. I always kind of understood where Wes Craven was coming from in the first one, but I never understand how much Bob Shaye sacrificed and gave when Nightmare on Elm Street was being made. It’s a testament to Bob’s savvy and business smarts that he was able to see the genius of Nightmare on Elm Street and in turn, not only keep New Line in business but make them players in the film industry. I have to just bow to the man’s talent. Every major Hollywood studio turned down the film, but Bob Shaye, being the maverick he is, decided to have New Line release the film on their own.

I wonder if those studios are still kicking themselves to this day? They should. After all, New Line Cinema is the House That Freddy Built.

The discussion of A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge, is really good and finally, there is admission from David Chaskin that the subtext of Nightmare 2 is a homosexual theme. It has always been widely debated by fans and this documentary does not just touch upon this, it goes straight into the controversy without fear. Not only was the lead actor, Mark Patton (Jesse) gay, but there were so MANY scenes that I didn’t even realize that touched on the gay theme. For instance, I didn’t realize that there was a board game called PROBE and a sign that read: NO CHICKS ALLOWED. And Clu Gallagher is absolutely hysterical in this documentary. I think my favorite line he said is (and I quote verbatim):

“When I was shooting I had no notion this was happening. Although, I didn’t get a blow job on the set, if that’s what you mean.”

Please Hollywood, cast this man immediately- in anything. He is a gem.

And I had no clue that Bob Shaye was the bartender dressed in leather at the gay bar that Jesse and Coach Schneider are at in the film. Bob’s re-telling of how he went to the Pleasure Chest to get suitable garb for the film is priceless (he took his children with him as he went shopping to make the story even more hilarious).

I agree with Wes though that the second film was indeed weaker than the first and the idea of Freddy attacking the kids at the party was a tad silly. However, Freddy’s line, “You’re all my children now!” is pretty darn iconic.

The examination of Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors, was something that I really wanted to see mainly because of the various rumors of Wes having a problem with Frank Durabont and Chuck Russell doing the film (there were rumors that Wes had a problem with Chuck after “Dreamscape”). To my pleasant surprise, Wes admitted that he thought Frank and Chuck did some great things from his original draft (with Bruce Wagner). I must admit, I read Wes’ original, and there’s some great things in there, but Frank and Chuck enhanced a lot of things. I love how the Dream Warriors were more pro-active and could fight back at Freddy. So, it wasn’t just people being hapless victims anymore. This documentary did admit though that Chuck at the time, may not have spoke to the actors correctly. Ken Sagoes relates one tale in the special features were Heather Lagenkamp defended the other actors who were being talked down to. Ken, for the record, is still as awesome as I remember him in the 3rd and 4th Nightmare films. His recounting how everyone- especially Rodney Eastman- was enamored with Patricia Arquette was superb. Even though it seemed that the shooting may have been hectic and stress-filled, there were a lot of great ideas that were thrown around during this film. Also, it was nice seeing how the original death scene for Jennifer Rubin’s character (Taryn) didn’t quit work out because they couldn’t make the exploding head work.

And this documentary features the Dokken “Dream Warriors” video. KICK ASS!!!

The tale of how Bob Shaye encountered Renny Harlin and how Renny basically kept coming back to New Line has to be seen. Along with that, the tales of how Renny wanted practically every woman on his set to show nudity- in particular Tuesday Knight also has to be seen.

And following this, the DVD actually gives the audience an inside look into the Freddy’s Nightmares series. Wes Craven stating that he thought New Line was looking to just completely milk the cash cow out of every forum was pretty much on-point. I never remembered the series as being particularly great, and what’s hysterical is, neither do most of the cast and crew. I did like how since no one seemed to dole out much money or care to the show, the producers of the show (and writers) just did whatever they wanted for their own amusement (including obscene amounts of gore and nudity that they knew would never air).

Every Nightmare film is explored- and they even go into detail about Peter Jackson’s idea for Nightmare 6 (entitled the Dream Lover), which I think is a better premise than what ended up in “Freddy’s Dead”. Basically, Peter’s idea was that Freddy has become a joke and kids are looking for excuses to enter the dream world, to beat him up. Clever concept which definitely could have been explored, but alas, it wasn’t.

That just summarized the documentary itself. The second disc is a buffet of Freddy trivia and tidbits. We met the writers of the Freddy comics and novels, we see a sneak pick of Heather Langekamp’s upcoming documentary, I Am Nancy, and so much more.

What are you waiting for? Don’t just walk- run and buy this dvd at:

This is the motherload for all things Freddy. Don't consider yourself a true fan without this as a part of your collection.

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