Never Sleep Again: The Elm Street Legacy (Blu-ray Review)

Never-Sleep-AgainI’m a big big fan and lover of the A Nightmare On Elm Street franchise.  I grew up with Freddy Krueger as well as Michael Myers and Jason Voorhees.  Freddy became the absolute phenomenon of those guys though.  He was everywhere.  And he’s left an incredible legacy and a ton of fans.  Never Sleep Again chronicles the journey from his first film to Freddy Vs. Jason.  It even covers some memorabilia aspects and that TV show that’s not so fondly remembered, Freddy’s Nightmares.  This came out on DVD back in 2010 and 1428 mentioned there were no plans for a Blu-ray.  However, Image Entertainment has come to the rescue of us that live and die by the Blu and brought this documentary to the Blu-ray format!

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Never Sleep Again is a documentary that covers the entire run of the original cannon of the A Nightmare On Elm Street franchise.  Led by a narration from star Heather Langenkamp, the film consists of almost everyone living that was involved with the film coming back and telling the story of this franchise.  There are notable omissions that are expected, such as Johnny Depp, Patricia Arquette, Yaphet Kotto and Laurence Fishburne.  This is an incredibly in depth and expansive documentary clocking in at a 4 hour runtime.  For me, this is the definitive(and best) film franchise retrospective documentary ever made.  And yes, I’m counting Empire Of Dreams.  One of the undersold aspects of the documentary is how it tells the tale of the rise and fall of New Line Cinema (inception to Warner Bros purchase).  It was the “House That Freddy Built” so its obviously a part of this legendary story.

As I said before, there are some notable omissions, but I feel it is to the strength of the documentary that those people aren’t present.  This gives all the other folks, some that haven’t been seen in years (they managed to find Mark Patton for this and the guy had disappeared from Hollywood shortly after Elm Street 2 and took to Puerta Vallarta).  These are the people who have nothing to lose by being honest about their experience.  It paints a much more full, honest and colorful picture of how all these films came together.

In 2013, 1428 Films followed up this documentary with one on the Friday The 13th franchise (that one is 8 hours!).  That one is highly recommendable too, but I think the strength of which Never Sleep Again tops it easily, is that there was a familiarity between all the films in the series.  Whether it be on screen or behind the lense, there were always a good chunk of carry over people working film to film.  It almost gave it a familial aspect and there seemed to be much more of a focus to it all.  And like the Friday the 13th film’s casts, Crystal Lake Memories showed that that series seemed to just line them up and knock them down and then line up a fresh batch again with their productions. Not with Elm Street, there was always Bob Shaye and Rachel Talalay, Lisa Wilcox, Robert England…people who strung through all of them.

At 4 hours, this film can seem like a monster challenge, but trust me, it’s a cinch.  Especially if you’re a fan, you’ll find it hard not to get sucked.  The format of the presentation goes movie by movie, so you’ll find yourself thinking “Okay, just one more movie” and then another and another and all of a sudden you’re finished.  For this review it was the 4th time I’ve watched it.  I consider as much a part of the franchise as I do the remake (I’ll be honest, I consider it MORESO than the remake).  Every time I do my marathon viewing of the series, I always end on this documentary.  Its 4 hours, but it’s a lot of fun and a complete blast.  All the interviewed cast and crew are an energetic and fun bunch to listen to share stories and anecdotes about a series I love and adore.

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It’s slightly disappointing to say that while this 1080p MPEG-4 AVC picture looks good, it has an array of some nit pick issues.  A lot of that has to do with the way this thing is lit.  Its very noticeable in the claymation interludes as they don’t feel like they’re producing as good a quality image as they could be.  There’s also some crushing present during interview segments.  The detail in the 1:78.1 frame is a step up though.  There’s much more detail in the hair, clothes and facial textures than there was on the DVD.  This is a documentary, so all the problem stuff really isn’t going to deter one’s enjoyment, but I don’t think this is the massive leap it could have been from DVD to Blu-ray.

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The 2.0 DTS-HD MA track on the other hand is pretty kicking.  It’s got some oompf.  It’s also a really dynamic track and feels very full.  The effects and such are kept at fun and varying levels sounding crisp and clean throughout.  All the vocals here are clear and consistent.  This track feels like its been configured for the high definition format as opposed to the video.

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This thing is loaded with extras.  Aside from the commentary track, all the extras are located on the 2nd disc (also a Blu-ray disc).

Commentary With Andrew Kasch, Daniel Farrands, Thommy Hutson, Buz Danger Wallick – A commentary for the full length feature with its makers.

Extended Interviews (HD, 1:40:56) – More content from each segment of the film that provides a feature length films worth of additional interview material.

First Look: Heather Langenkamp’s “I Am Nancy” (HD, 6:54) – A look at the sister documentary to Never Sleep Again that follows the life of actress Heather Langenkamp through attending conventions.  This one is already out and available and its not too shabby, so check it out.

For The Love Of The Glove (HD, 18:16) – This focuses on fans making and collecting Freddy gloves.

Fred Heads: The Ultimate Freddy Fans (HD, 12:50) – A piece focusing on the collections of fans and art they make inspired by the movies.

Horror’s Hallowed Grounds: Return To Elm Street (HD, 23:10) – An episode of the show infamous for appearing on Scream Factory releases.  Sean Clark visits the locations from the original film with some of the actors from them guesting.  Fun thing I didn’t know, the exterior of the high school from the first film is the same high school used in another favorite of mine (and fellow Why So Blu writer Aaron Neuwirth), Grosse Point Blank.

Freddy Vs. The Angry Video Game Nerd (HD, 5:30) – Web series sensation James Rolfe discusses the Elm Street movies as well as shows his episode of Angry Video Game Nerd in which he reviews the NES A Nightmare On Elm Street game.

Expanding The Elm Street Universe: Freddy In Comic Books And Novels (HD, 15:45) – Jeff Katz along with other comic and novel writers discuss their comic book and novel series and what went in to making them and how they were inspired by the franchise.

The Music Of The Nightmare: Coversations With Composers And Songwriters (HD, 13:40) – Well, the title pretty much says what this one is!

Elm Street’s Poster Boy: The Art Of Matthew Joseph Peak (HD, 7:31) – The artist of the posters for films 1-5 and the soundtrack cover for 6 discusses how he got the job and his inspiration and evolution through each poster.

A Nightmare On Elm Street In 10 Minutes (HD, 10:07) – This is pretty much the same as the end credits of the documentary with all the interviewees spouting out their famous character lines.

Never Sleep Again: The Elm Street Legacy Teaser Trailer (HD, :56)

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If you’re a fan, you probably already have this on DVD.  And while I’m giving this a 5, unless you’re a stickler and want as much of your DVD library having the Blu-ray upgrade as you can, you can hold onto your DVD copy.  There’s nothing new here other than a picture, sound and menu upgrade.  But for those of you who don’t have it, or were waiting for a Blu-ray version, your time has come.  This amazing documentary is here!  It may be 4 hours, but you can watch it in segments if you choose.  It’s a ton of fun, educational and an overall blast to watch.  You’ll be intrigued, relive your favorite moments, get a new perspective on certain things, find appreciation for a film where there may have been none before and you’ll laugh like crazy from some of the cast and crew’s stories.  A STRONG RECOMMEND!



2 Responses to “Never Sleep Again: The Elm Street Legacy (Blu-ray Review)”

  1. Brian White

    oh wow! I never saw the DVD of this and heard so many great things about this title! Bravo for covering it Brandon!

  2. Eric Flapjack Ashley

    I have the DVD version of this and I have to say, this is the best horror documentary I have ever seen. I initially thought that four hours was going to be too long, but when it was over, I was left wanting more. 🙂 Two discs totaling about seven hours worth of great stuff!