Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Never Sleep Again: The Elm Street Legacy (2010)

I finally got my grubby little hands on the new Nightmare on Elm Street documentary and this past holiday weekend was the perfect opportunity to watch the four-hour film uninterrupted. As soon as I popped it in I knew I was in for a treat because the opening credits are done in amazing stop-motion animation, replicating memorable scenes from the series. This stop-motion technique is used throughout the film to introduce each segment, which are broken down chronologically by film. The doc starts with the first Nightmare on Elm Street, helmed by Wes Craven, and then goes through each and every one of the series’ films, including the ill-fated television show all the way through to Freddy vs. Jason. For each film all the appropriate players, from directors, producers, actors, writers, special FX artists, etc., discuss their involvement in the films.

I loved how directors Daniel Farrands and Andrew Kasch took us through all the films chronologically to really show the progression of the series and all the hard work that went into each film, whether it was dealing with difficult directors/producers/actors, etc., working with silly scripts or creating complex special FX (most in the series were practical FX and didn’t utilize the then non-existent CGI technique). The film even touches on New Line, “the studio that Freddy built”, and how the NoES series basically launched the studio and put it on the map.

The documentary’s focus is on the people involved in creating each NoES film, and many familiar faces pop up throughout the film. Heather Langenkamp, star of the original film, Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors and New Nightmare, does a fantastic job both narrating and appearing in the documentary. Also a prevalent face is Wes Craven, who is known for hating all NoES sequels (besides his New Nightmare) and the direction the series took after the original. And, of course, the doc stars the only true “Freddy” (at least according to this horror fiend), Robert Englund. However, I love how the doc features a wide variety of people involved with the franchise instead of just focusing on just a few of the more famous face. There are lots of “where are they now?” type moments as many actors from the films are interviewed. It was a real kick to see so many actors from the films and find out what they are doing now! I loved hearing each and every one’s memories of working on the series and appreciated everyone’s honesty as they discussed tensions involved while filming, problems encountered, obstacles overcome and so on. There is definitely no sugar-coating here!

You would think a four-hour documentary would get old after a while, but this is definitely not the case with Never Sleep Again. My eyes were glued to the screen the entire time and never once did I get bored. Everyone’s personal recollections on the franchise were so unique and engaging and the filmmaking was so sharp and focused that once I started watching I couldn’t stop! I didn’t even want to take a bathroom break I was so engrossed in the film!

This retrospective is absolutely stunning – from the awesome stop-motion animation used (a clever nod to some of the special FX used within the franchise) to the sheer number of participants interviewed (pretty much the only people missing are Johnny Depp from the first film and Patricia Arquette from the third film) with everyone from Craven to Alice Cooper to metal band Dokken to all of the “final girls” (from Heather Langenkamp to Monica Keena) making an appearance, this documentary is all-encompassing! Never Sleep Again: The Elm Street Legacy is the definitive behind-the-scenes look at the Nightmare on Elm Street franchise and boogeyman Freddy Krueger himself.

Required viewing for all horror nuts and Freddy fans!

Available from Amazon!

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