JWR Articles: Film/DVD - Never Sleep Again: The Elm Street Legacy (Directors: Daniel Farrands, Andrew Kasch) - October 15, 2010
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Never Sleep Again: The Elm Street Legacy

4 4
240 min.

Of Screams and Dreams

Just the mere mention of Freddy Krueger can unleash terrifying memories of film’s most notorious child-molesting slasher.

Preying on the grim reality that every human being has nightmares that seem ever-so-real as they are experienced, the Nightmare on Elm Street series regularly spooked the planet from the original (1984) through Freddy vs. Jason (2003). With so much gore and gags in the vault, directors Daniel Farrands and Andrew Kasch have cobbled together a tour of terror that is chock-a-block full of interviews with the stars (notably Heather Langenkamp who also narrates and signed the cheques as executive producer, Robert Englund who most certainly owns the role of Freddy, and Alice Cooper—Johnny Depp, who appeared in the first feature, is seen but not heard in the present-day chats).

Of course, not a frame of this remarkable franchise would ever have been shot had it not been for Wes Craven’s bloody, morality-infused creativity and New Line Cinema dynamo, Robert Shaye. In many ways, the films mirror the rise and takeover (by Warner Brothers in 2008 where the corporate monster sent the irascible founder permanently off set) of the little indie that grew, resulting in a saccharine coda that is more self-serving than insightful. Still, like many of the productions under discussion (for no apparent reason, Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master is largely missing in action), the ending is at odds with the generous runtime that will delight seasoned fans and lure newcomers to the DVD store.

Sean Hennessy’s original score is at one with the subject matter. The dominant hue of celeste and strings is wonderfully at odds with the frequently stated antidote to certain death: “Don’t fall asleep.” Slipping in a wee bit of harpsichord when the notion of a gothic setting is mentioned—The Dream Child—is also a nice touch. For even more background about the music tracks, the second-disc bonuses include a section about the scores and their composers. Puzzling here is Christopher Young’s assertion that the music for each film had to be different, only to be followed a minute later by Rachel Talalay (director of Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare) explaining how Angelo Badalamenti’s (the composer of David Lynch’s Blue Velvet) work was rejected in part because the nightmare theme (composed by Charles Bernstein for the original) was missing—Dokken’s collective talents were added to the mix for Dream Warriors.

Hilariously, the apparent revelation that Freddy’s Revenge is as gay as The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert (nearly all of those involved except writer David Chaskin and out-actor Mark Patton expressed innocent surprise) is as astonishingly naive as it stretches the credibility of the artistic/production trust. Now dubbed a “homoerotic classic,” it seems the principals in that outing were struggling with more than horrors overt.

No worries. There are enough factoids and footage (both from the series and relevant archival segments spanning The Three Stooges, Frankenstein and Ronny Yu’s Bride of Chucky) that attention never wanes and the appetite for a relook at the dream robber is whetted like the proverbial flame for the helpless teenage moth. JWR

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