Sunday, August 18, 2013

Never Sleep Again: The Elm Street Legacy

Nine ten,
Never sleep again....
-Creepy Elm Street Kids

Okay,  I was almost off the hook with the Freddy films until I remembered, that it wasn't quite over. Because the Elm Street Legacy continues, in documentary form.

And how could I forget? It's one of my favorite documentaries. No matter if you love the Elm Street movies, hate them, or are just fairly ambivalent to them, you'll still enjoy this documentary, it's THAT good. Never Sleep Again is smartly written and edited, and it's entertaining as all get out. No horror documentary can touch it and it represents a lost opportunity of other docs who have tried. His Name Was Jason, I'm looking at YOU.

Narrated by Heather Langenkamp, each chapter in Never Sleep Again is devoted to a different Nightmare On Elm Street movie, and involves interviews with cast members, crew, directors and New Line executives and each is introduced with some delightfully clever clay animation created by stop-motion artist Michael Granberry.  It so thorough that no movie is given the brush-off, even the later unpopular ones. There's even a section on the Freddy's Nightmares TV series as well as a section on the Nightmare remake, which was scheduled to come out around the time of the documentary release. 

Some of it is funny - a look at the gay subtext in Part 2 will literally make you laugh out loud. Some of it is super-interesting, including a look at a young upstart named Peter Jackson's proposal for a Nightmare movie and the various ideas writers were coming up with for Freddy Vs. Jason. Some of it is just plain cool - like Wes Craven's daughter insisting he cast an unknown by the name of Johnny Depp in the first film. Speaking of Johnny, he's noticeably absent, as is Patricia Arquette, but that's too be expected and you won't miss them much. The cast that do appear are an entertaining bunch and all too happy to share their experiences.

The whole documentary gives viewers a new appreciation for the Nightmare series, how it started out, what it became, and how it eventually ended, as well as an insight into New Line films - pretty much "The House that Freddy Built." The behind-the-scenes stories, onset mishaps and little-known facts behind each movie are priceless. And even if you hated some of the films, it will make you want to watch them again, just to see how everything turned out. 

Highly recommended and one of my favorite documentaries of all time. No matter how you feel about Freddy, it's worth a viewing or even two. Heck, just pick up the collector's edition which as a second bonus DVD including commentary by the documentary filmmakers, extended interviews and more. It's worth it.

Favorite Moments (may contain spoilers):
  • The look at how the original Nightmare came to be, and all the hard work, blood sweat and tears that went into creating the first movie.
  • The cast interviews about the homosexual element in Freddy's Revenge, especially the reactions of Robert Rusler and Clu Gulager. Plus the director's insistence that he didn't get it at all. Yeah, right.
  • Lezlie Deane. Look for her in the Freddy's Dead section. She's....um......different? And she has a human puppet with her. Yeah.
  • The tears in Robert Shaye's eyes as he describes the end of the New Line era. Awww.
Fun Facts Kids!
  • The editing of the final version was done right up to the final release date and the filmmakers were working on virtually no sleep.
  • Robert Englund spent hours giving his interview, as he was in every movie and according to the documentary makers was very patient and didn't get tired.  
  • There was an apartment fire in the building where one of the filmmakers lived. Their initial thought before anything else was basically "save the film".
  • Lezlie Deane originally looked somewhat normal in the original interview but due to sound issues, they couldn't use it. When they went back for the re-shoot, she went in with her somewhat unusual appearance.
Agree? Disagree? Or just have a random string of curse words you'd like to share? Comment!

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