The Nightmare on Elm Street films have been very profitable for New Line Cinema. Robert Englund’s portrayal of Freddy Kruger has made the character one of the most iconic in modern horror. Now, a documentary recently released on Blu-ray covers the entire history of the franchise. Never Sleep Again: The Elm Street Legacy (2010) is a comprehensive look at the movies, from the original entry in 1984 thru 2003’s Freddy vs. Jason. The film runs four hours, and is an exhaustive look at the making of the series. There are in-depth interviews with almost everyone involved with the Elm Street films, including stars Englund & Heather Langenkamp, writer-director Wes Craven, as well as a host of other actors, writers, directors, producers, and make-up and special effects artists.
Executive produced and narrated by Langenkamp, the film begins with a brief history of New Line Cinema’s origins as a company, and then moves on to the conception and production of the first film, 1984’s A Nightmare on Elm Street. Each movie is given it’s own “making of” segment and there are behind the scenes videos from the sets of the films, as well as photos, clips and production drawings. There’s even some coverage of the short lived TV series, Freddy’s Nightmares. The stories told by the cast and crew members are fascinating, and if you’re a fan, you’ll really enjoy this documentary. There’s a refreshing amount of candor about the quality of some of the entries in the series, and a frank discussion regarding the tension between creator Craven (who never wanted to do a sequel, much less start a franchise) and New Line executive Bob Shaye.
The better films in the series stood out from the other “slasher” movies because Freddy was a character that got at you through your dreams, a place where you couldn’t truly escape his power. His original motive for killing the children of Elm Street was getting revenge for his own death. Freddy had been a child murderer (softened from his original portrayal as a child molester), who was killed by the parents in an act of vigilante justice. Craven discusses what inspired him to write the original story, and there’s a lot of information regarding how the character and concept was changed, updated and refined over the course of the sequels. Various cast and crew members also discuss the thematic subtexts (some intentional, some unintentional) of the various films in the Elm Street saga.
One of the best films in the series, Wes Craven’s New Nightmare (1994), took the story in an entirely different direction. It featured the actors playing themselves as filming begins on a new Elm Street movie; they are threatened by Freddy, who is portrayed an evil force that seeks to invade the real world and cause mayhem and death. Englund cites this entry as his favorite. The cast and crew also talk about Johnny Depp’s and Patricia Arquette’s pre-stardom appearances in the series. Also included is an interview with the heavy metal band Dokken, who provided the theme for A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors (1987); the MTV-era music video for the song included a cameo by Englund. All in all, this is probably everything you ever wanted to know about the Elm Street series, and more.
While this informative film may not appeal to casual viewers due to its length, it is a thorough look at how genre projects are produced, released and marketed to the public. It even makes reference to the fact that Peter Jackson, the man behind the Lord of the Rings films, made an unused story pitch for one of the sequels. It's also noted that without the financial success of the Elm Street franchise, New Line may not have been able to produce the Lord of the Rings movies! Never Sleep Again: The Elm Street Legacy (2010) was originally released on DVD, and is now available on Blu-ray. Both versions include extensive additional interviews and featurettes as extras. Here’s a link to the trailer for the film: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=js_hu0iPyM8 and Dokken's music video for A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JDveKxl7Ohs.