Farrands & Kasch’s ‘Never Sleep Again: The Elm Street Legacy’ is almost 4 hours long, but is totally worth the commitment. Here are 10 reasons why!
10. It Has Almost Anything a “Fredhead” Could Want
It’s a broad reason, I know, but Never Sleep Again is like the definitive Freddy documentary!. Believe me, it’s just jam-packed with facts, anecdotes, history, theories as to what Fred Krueger represents, and behind-the-scenes production zaniness. Honestly, I think this documentary could win converts, even among those who’ve hated Freddy in the past. It could even be a Freddy movie for people who hate Freddy movies. I swear! It has a 100% positive Rotten Tomatoes rating, and may be one of the few films that 100% deserves it.
If that’s not enough…
9. It’s Loaded with Special Features
Want an Angry Video Game Nerd review of the NOES Nintendo game? Check! It’s on the 2nd disc of special features on the DVD. Want to know where you can acquire a realistic Freddy glove? Hey, they’ve got that! it’s part of the special called For The Love of the Glove! They also discuss what makes the glove so iconic, and show one super-fan’s successful quest in acquiring every Freddy glove he can get his hands on — including one thought to have been stolen!
One feature re-visits shooting locations, another is about the franchise’s composers & songwriters, then there’s Freddy in comic books and novels, and a focus on Nightmare‘s poster artist, Joseph Peak. I’m certainly not mentioning everything here, either.
8. You’ll Laugh
I can’t say it’s the funniest movie ever, but it definitely has some funny moments. Another example? They examine homo-eroticism in A Nightmare on Elm Street 2 with plenty of humor. Also, did someone threaten to quit if the “snapping pig” wasn’t in Dream Warriors? Watch and find out!
Bonus points go out to the animated openings to each chapter — funny and fun!
7. You’ll Cry
I can’t say it’s the saddest movie ever, but it definitely has some sad moments. The biggest one, I think, involves New Line’s Robert Shaye, reflecting on how New Line has changed over the years. You learn how personally invested he was in the franchise, while lamenting how New Line Cinema — “The House That Freddy Built” — just ain’t what it used to be. It actually is pretty sad, even if one has mixed feelings about Shaye’s decisions over the Freddy-verse.
6. You’ll See Practical Effects in All Their Gory Glory
By their very nature, practical effects require deeper creative involvement. Never Sleep Again brings us back to this era, when practical effects were king, and where crews were highly dedicated to getting everything right. It wasn’t about animation software, but makeup chairs. The results were not always 100% successful, but the same can be said of CG effects. Definitely one of the best effects moments is the “Phallic Freddy” in Dream Warriors, which is discussed in fair detail in this fine film.
5. It’s Narrated by Heather Langenkamp
What would Freddy have been without Nancy? Well, okay, she wasn’t there the whole time, but Heather Langenkamp definitely helped craft Freddy’s legend. Here she does it again, and isn’t afraid to step into the interviewee role, either.
Wes Craven in Never Sleep Again – Courtesy of RLJE Films
4. Rags-to-Riches Stories
Usually, rags-to-riches stories sound like B.S., used to promote a floundering “American Dream” myth. In fact, quite often they are just that. However, there are times when they’re pretty much true, and Never Sleep Again mentions a few. Not only is New Line Cinema itself such a story, but some Elm Street actors and directors seem to fit the mold, too. For example, Renny Harlin was apparently desperately looking for work, and his determination and stamina in hounding New Line helped him land the job as director for Nightmare 4.
Another example is obvious: Johnny Depp. Sure, Depp probably wasn’t dirt-poor when he was cast, but he wasn’t a big star, either. A Nightmare on Elm Street was actually his first movie role! Never Sleep Again offers a little insight into these star’s lives, and humanizes them.
3. Robert Englund — Freddy Himself
Freddy Krueger pretty much is Robert Englund. His speaking style, mannerisms and overall look are basically synonymous with the character. For many, the problem with 2010’s Nightmare re-boot was it’s lack of Robert. Never Sleep Again helps explain why. Although Freddy over-saturated the pop culture landscape by the late ’80s, there’s no doubt that a future Freddy would have to be similar to Robert in key ways. Freddy has personality and style. Mess that up and your ship is sunk!
2. All the Other Actors and Directors
Never Sleep Again contains 106 interviews, which means many different takes on things. We also get to see the actors and directors years later, and how they view things in retrospect. We get behind-the-scenes info, insights into their personalities, and a nice reunion between Mark Patton and Kim Myers (stars of Freddy’s Revenge).
Fun interviews include Ken Sagoes, who seems as cool as his character, Roland Kincaid. Clu Gulager is also quite funny and insightful. Rock god Alice Cooper (AKA Freddy’s stepfather) appears as well. Then, of course, there’s the other Alice, Lisa Wilcox, who’s a giant in the Elm Street universe.
1. It Explores Wes Craven’s Vision, and How it Grew
A Nightmare on Elm Street has lots of themes, subtexts and theories underpinning it. “Never Sleep Again” does a great job of exploring the philosophical underpinnings of the original — as well as its sequels. While Craven says the sequels strayed from his vision, it becomes clear that Freddy has become larger than his creator, and larger than New Line.
Freddy is a representation of fear, much like Wes Craven himelf argued. You also have themes like vigilante justice, lying to our kids, psychological control, and blurred lines between reality and imagination. Never Sleep Again looks at the dreamscape in which Freddy dwells, and what it means to have a monster in your head who can kill you at any time — after he’s done playing with his meal!
What do you think? Have you seen Never Sleep Again? Let us know in the comments!