Director: Daniel Farrands, Andrew Kasch
Cast: Heather Langenkamp, Robert Englund, Wes Craven, John Saxon, Renny Harlin
Length: 238 min
Label: Image Entertainment
Release Date: January 21, 2014
Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC
Aspect Ratio: 1.77:1
Audio: DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0
Subtitles: English SDH
- Extended Interviews
- First Look: Heather Langenkamp’s “”I Am Nancy””
- For the Love of the Glove
- Fred Heads: The Ultimate Freddy Fans
- Horror’s Hallowed Grounds: Return to Elm Street
- Freddy vs. The Angry Video Game Nerd
- Expanding the Video Game Universe: Freddy in Comic Books and Novels
- The Music of the Nightmare: Conversations with Composers and Songwriter
- Elm Street’s Poster Boy: The Art of Matthew Joseph Peak
- A Nightmare on Elm Street in 10 Minutes
- Never Sleep Again: The Elm Street Legacy Teaser Trailer
As a fan of horror and many of the numerous franchises it has spawned, it is rather refreshing to see documentaries about the genre that aren’t relegated to special features on special edition DVDs. Thusly, the arbitrary sense of individuality offers increased legitimacy amongst the production, and what could have been written off a long time ago now becomes a fascinating and unique look into the films that are so laborious and micromanaged yet also so fun, inventive, and imaginative. It’s by these means that Never Sleep Again, the definitive four hour documentary on the Nightmare on Elm Street franchise, exists, and now on Blu-ray from Image Entertainment, is presented with a greater definition than ever before.
An exceptionally curious and fascinating tale of an unlikely independent film franchise, A Nightmare On Elm Street, and a struggling independent film distributor, New Line Cinema, Never Sleep Again is a documentary in the purest sense, more focused on the narrative of what happened behind-the-scenes instead of any open-and-shut internal drama. The story being told is that of decades of films, filmmakers, actors, fans, and iconography, and the 239-minute running time never feels overbearing or monotonous. There’s plenty of anecdotes, footage, rarely-seen footage, and more that keeps the documentary fresh and engaging around every turn, as well as a sense of passion that oozes from every frame. It’s a documentary for horror fans made by horror fans, and almost every franchise participant shows face to talk about the impact they made on Freddy’s longstanding chronology.
Directors Daniel Farrands and Andrew Kasch construct the documentary with impressive tonal precision, piecing together singular stories from the words of many who lived and breathed those experiences. Cinematographer Buz Wallick contributes to this greatly, as his frames give each participant a visual continuity and keeps the production from ever feeling low-rent or patchy. Furthermore, the singular storyline of both the films and the people behind them comes courtesy of Kasch, co-editor Michael Benni Piece and writer Thommy Hutson, who hit all the right marks throughout and never seek refuge in the more uncomfortable aspects of the production, which sometimes include allegations of racism, sexism, and egos-gone-wild.
Never Sleep Again also benefits from having an excellent array of contributors, from actors to filmmakers to effects artists to executives. From A Nightmare on Elm Street to Freddy Vs. Jason, actors from every film show face, including Heather Langenkamp, Zack Ward, John Saxon, Lin Shaye, Clu Gulager, Alice Cooper, and Robert Englund. Even if actors like Johnny Depp, Patricia Arquette, Brad Pitt, and Breckin Meyer are only seen through archive footage, their recognition by contributors is no less heralded, and the film even throws some curveballs in the way on interviewees, which include Kane Hodder and Jason Mewes, both of whom have never appeared in a Nightmare film. However, none of the contributors hold back in their accounts of the films or their dealings with New Line, which, although never revelatory, is always satisfying in their candor.
The video quality on this release is a significant improvement on the DVD release, offering the look of the native HD-Video shooting style and offering brighter, fuller colors on the digitally added backgrounds. Skin tones vary from shot-to-shot, but overall, the disc’s HD transfer is successful and works well with the overall intended design of cinematographer Wallick.
Albeit unremarkable, the audio is handled well, with the reproduced voices both crisp and clear, and Sean Hennessy’s score populates the background nearly diegetically, never stepping on the feet of the necessary information.
Obviously, the features provided are a perfect companion to the definitive documentary, adding further insight into the films and those involved. The Filmmaker Commentary track proves the passion behind the project, while the Extended Interviews provide a lengthier look at each individual film through the various contributors. The second disc is filled with features for every Nightmare fan, between featurettes on Freddy collectors, the original glove of Freddy, Heather Langenkamp’s autobiographical documentary, the locations of the original film, the original Nightmare video game, the legacy of the films, and even a hilarious rundown of all seven original films into a 10 minute summary.
Frankly speaking, casual fans of horror and die-hards will know whether or not a four hour Nightmare on Elm Street franchise documentary will be joining their Blu-ray collection. However, any hardcore horror fan that’s debating the purchase shouldn’t debate long, as Never Sleep Again is the finest hour for Nightmare fans. The information, the footage and the love of the series is so apparent and delicately crafted into a compelling narrative that should offer something new to even the most hard-headed Nightmare superfan.