A Nightmare on Elm Street (Blu-ray Review)

A Nightmare on Elm StreetHorror movies have never been my cup of tea and if my memory serves me correctly, I believe the original Friday the 13th was my first exposure to the genre.  It scared the hell out of me as I was somewhere around 6 or 7 years old.  My parents would never let me watch that kind of movie (with good reason), so I would go over the neighbor kid’s house who must have had really liberal parents.  Somehow, as scary as the movie was, I couldn’t take my eyes off of it.  It was a year or so later when he had a VHS copy of A Nightmare on Elm Street that a bunch of us kids watched, and holy crap, the terror factor went through the ceiling for me.  Despite my lack of horror film viewing these days, that film sits atop the list of horror movies I can actually say I enjoy.  Here we are in 2010 and the film is now available once again, this time in the beauty that only Blu-ray can offer.


Wow, I can’t say I’ve ever been in a situation where I am to explain a movie’s storyline to an audience that hasn’t heard what the story’s about.  It’s like trying to explain soccer to a Brazilian.  What can you say that they don’t already know?  Well, here goes.  The teens of Elm Street are haunted in their dreams by a ghastly man with severe burns and a right-handed glove adorned with blades.  That tormented soul is none other than Freddy Krueger.  We learn that Freddy was once human; a disturbed man who preyed upon the innocence of children.  After his fiery death, he began to resurface years later in the dreams of the Elm Street adolescents.  These are not your average nightmares, however.  These deadly dreams can prove violently lethal as the fedora-clad maniac still seeks his defenseless prey, even if it means doing so from beyond the grave.  Once these kids fall into slumber, they enter Freddy’s world, where nothing is as it seems and reality is skewed.  It is here where the killer claims his victims of Springwood High. 

Starring Robert Englund as Freddy, the man smartly delivers a sly, wise-cracking villain that audiences around the globe have come to appreciate.  Englund had already been in his fair share of roles up to this point, but it was Nightmare that would put him on the map.  Also sharing the screen is the film’s heroine, Heather Langenkamp as Nancy Thompson; a good girl from a broken family who just wants peace and normality in life.  Her boyfriend is played by 1984 newcomer and 2010 mega star, Johnny Depp.  That’s right; A Nightmare on Elm Street was Depp’s first big movie.  The film is littered with some bad acting, but looking back on this movie that’s 26 years old, you can see even then that Depp had spunk and talent.  Although his character didn’t have the chance to do a whole lot in the movie, I will go as far to say that it’s one of the best performances in the film. 

As for the more seasoned veterans of acting, John Saxon joined the fray as Lieutenant Thompson, Nancy’s father and local cop.  Saxon literally does have a resumé that’s a mile long.  He’s been in everything from the 1973 Bruce Lee flick Enter the Dragon, to the more modern TV hit, CSI.  He has a bit of a commanding presence in front of the camera that is proof of all his years of experience.      

The original A Nightmare on Elm Street probably wouldn’t strike a chord with younger audiences today as it did back in the 80’s.  This is mainly due to the dated effects and appearance of the film.  Nevertheless, it’s still a classic with a dash of mess-with-your-head psychology thrown in for good measure.  This 91-minute fright fest will always hold a special place with many a viewer and its arrival on Blu-ray is one that’s sure to be well-received. 

A Nightmare on Elm Street


From early on, you will notice occasional grain during the film, though this is by no means due to a lack of attention during the transfer process.  On the contrary, if it was originally shot looking like that, high definition will make such ‘flaws’ more visible.  The visual noise is not too distracting and the film does present some pore-revealing, sweat-dripping scenes in the VC-1 encode, 1080p display with a 1.85:1 aspect ratio.  During the day shots, the colors come across with easily recognizable vibrancy while some of the night scenes are not so crisp.  I’m sure a lack of lighting will cause this but if a 1980’s Rambo can look good on Blu-ray, so can any other big name film from that time. 

Some of you may not know this but A Nightmare on Elm Street was released as a Canada-only Blu-ray some months back.  This north-of-the-border disc has some mild differences that are noticeable when compared to the US version.  I’ll be the first to admit that I probably paid way too much for it, but with an indefinite (at the time) US release, I had to have this movie, so I jumped on it.  Now while I don’t have two TV’s and Blu-ray players side by side, I was forced to pause a scene, save it to memory, eject the disc and watch the other disc with the same scene.  The Canadian release didn’t always bring out that ultra fine detail like its US counterpart, yet this lack of depth did hide some of that grain a little better. 

A Nightmare on Elm Street


Arguably, the movie’s best audio moment is in the very beginning when the title hits the screen and all your speakers jump to life in unison.  It’s not that things are bad from here on out, rather, you just have to wait a moment or two until things start bumpin’ again.  There is an obvious air of despair that is properly demonstrated through the rear channels consisting of the shrill sound effects and ominous overtones while those up front bring you a clear and intelligible track of dialogue.  The lulls throughout the film make you forget there’s still a subwoofer in the room and when that kicks in, it can be pants-changing experience if you know what I mean.  The only drawback is the film’s music-heavy use of the rear speakers that seemed to want to carry the film itself.  A more ambient feel would have been more appropriate here rather than the dominating focus it provided.

A Nightmare on Elm Street

Special Features 

I was very impressed to see some solid content in this disc that is displayed in 1080i.  For a film that’s as much of a landmark as A Nightmare on Elm Street is, I breathed a sigh of relief when I discovered those behind the Blu-ray transfer had the sense to put the goodies in high def.  Not only are they up to par in the video area, but they have substance as well.

  • Commentaries – You will find two sets of commentaries on this disc, both of which provide some great insight though annoying intros.  For instance, you will have already heard Robert Englund speak.  His voice will come back later on only to have a narrator’s voice introduce his name and title (‘actor’) again.  This happens for everyone on the commentary.  If Wes Craven was the director 26 years ago, I’m sure that position didn’t change in the last 5 minutes.  In short, there’s no need to repeatedly introduce everyone and their position. 

The first commentary includes director Wes Craven, actors Heather Langenkamp and John Saxon, and cinematographer Jacques Haitkin.  The second commentary contains Wes Craven, Robert Englund, Heather Langenkamp, Ronee Blakley, producer Robert Shaye and co-producer Sara Risher.

  • Focus Points – Activating this extra will reveal disc icons throughout the movie.  When an icon appears, pressing a designated button will reveal information about the scene or movie.
  • Never Sleep Again – The making of A Nightmare on Elm Street that also includes a little background on Wes Craven’s past (49:54).
  • The House That Freddy Built – The Legacy of New Line horror (22:47).
  • Night Terrors – The origins of Wes Craven’s nightmares (15:58).
  • Fast Track – Watch the movie with texted pop-up trivia.
  • Alternate Endings – Here you will find three variations of the film’s closure, all of which are very similar, save for the last few seconds.  They are not as exciting as they sound (4:56).
    • Scary Ending
    • Happy Ending
    • Freddy Ending

A Nightmare on Elm Street

Final Thoughts 

Few films today…let me rephrase that…few original films today bring the bang for your buck thrill that A Nightmare on Elm Street did over a quarter century ago.  The initial movie spawned numerous sequels and even a fan-favorite crossover of the two biggest horror powerhouses ever;  Freddy vs. JasonNightmare was even good enough to encourage a remake due out later this month.  Love or hate this movie, you have to acknowledge that when a film is remade, it’s done so to play off the success of the original.  Halloween just came a little early this year as it’s a treat to own this nightmare on Blu-ray.


 Pre-order A Nightmare on Elm Street on Blu-ray today!



A Nightmare on Elm Street Blu-ray Cover Art




6 Responses to “A Nightmare on Elm Street (Blu-ray Review)”

  1. Gerard Iribe

    “This…is God.”

    Man, that scene still creeps me out. Look how he runs after her all creepy and shit!

  2. Gregg

    Hahaha! Teeee-NAH!

  3. Brian White

    I’m not sold on the new Freddy yet. I know he looks realistic with the burns and all, but in a way he looks stupid too. What’s wrong with me? He doesn’t appear to have the personality of Robert Englund either. I’m shutting up now.

  4. Gerard Iribe

    “Tina! Watch this….”

  5. Jay


  6. Eric Flapjack Ashley

    One of my favorite horror films with such an ingenious story…

    It should be noted that the original commentary track (with just Wes Craven, Heather Langenkamp, John Saxon and Jacques Haitkin does not have the annoying intros because it was recorded as a group for the laserdisc, and is the much better commentary in my opinion. The other one is pieced together through audio interviews and is not scene specific. The featurette of New Line’s history of horror is a great watch.