Never Sleep Again: The Elm Street Legacy
Netflix l Blu-ray l DVD l Amazon Prime
Directed by Daniel Farrands & Andrew Kasch
Written by Thommy Hutson
Starring Heather Langenkamp, Wes Craven, Robert Englund, Robert Shaye, Lin Shaye, Sara Risher, Rachel Talalay, and David Chaskin
1428 Films/ Panic Productions
Not Rated | 240 Minutes
Release Date: May 4, 2010
Horror movies were becoming one-dimensional and sequel-crazy. By mid-1984, three Halloweens, and four Friday the 13ths had come out. Then along came Freddy Krueger.
Freddy was different from all his horror icon predecessors. Whereas Michael Myers and Jason were silent masked stalkers, Freddy had personality. A child killer murdered in an act of town-coordinated vigilante justice, he unfortunately becomes a dream demon and stalks the children of his killers while they sleep. His grotesquely burned face left nothing to the imagination, and his ability to work within the dream world made him limitless as a killer and gave the filmmakers the freedom to go crazy with off-the-wall kills.
The thing that separated Freddy from the silent stalkers before him was the personality provided by star Robert Englund. Englund played Freddy with sickening delight, torturing his young victims before killing them. By the third sequel (Dream Warriors, my personal favorite) Freddy began incorporating witty and comedic one-liners to his kills, most notably his now famous “Welcome to Primetime Bitch!” Thirty years this past fall, Wes Craven’s A Nightmare on Elm Street sliced its way into theaters and made Freddy a household name for all time. To celebrate his thirty years of razor-gloved, dream-invading terror, kick back and spend nearly four hours (!!!) with Never Sleep Again: The Elm Street Legacy; the definitive, all-encompassing documentary on Craven, Freddy, and the entire Nightmare saga.
This is the kind of documentary horror geeks will “kill” for. This isn’t a third-person long-distance retelling, but rather the actual stories from all the people involved at nearly every level, from New Line head Robert “Bob” Shaye to Director/Creator Wes Craven, to the casts and crews of the nine films starring Freddy (seven original, one crossover, one remake). It’s even narrated by Nightmare’s original final girl Nancy (Heather Langenkamp).
Here are some of the juiciest nuggets from the documentary which is conveniently in chronological order.
– Freddy the character was based on a creepy guy from Craven’s childhood and was intended to be much older.
– David Warner was originally cast at Freddy.
– Freddy was supposed to be a child molester, and a lot of the subtext clues are still in the film (his tongue wagging, “I’m your boyfriend now…”)
– Part 2 is universally recognized as one of the gayest movies ever. This is NOT an insult. Check out Decider.com here. Mark Patton even refers to himself as the “first male Scream Queen.”
– Wes Craven was a script contributor on Dream Warriors, but when many of ideas were balked by new director Chuck Russell, Craven walked away and didn’t return until Part 7. Russell got additions from relatively unknown writer Frank Darabont who would become famous later for a little film called The Shawshank Redemption and as one of the creators of the widely popular horror series, The Walking Dead.
– Parts 4 & 5 (Dream Master and Dream Child) were shot back-to-back with largely unfinished scripts. One great story involves Part 4 director Renny Harlin running out of time and money and thus necessitating Rick (Andras Jones) shadowboxing and getting killed by an invisible Freddy.
– Seeing the joy of Rachel Talalay, who grew up in New Line, getting to direct Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare.
I don’t want to spoil all the fun, but rest assured, if you’re a horror fan who grew up loving the Freddy and Nightmare films, then the four hours will fly by. It’s one of the most fully encompassing film documentaries I’ve seen and you can see how much a burn-face slasher villain means to the people who created him, played him, ran from him, and were killed by him.
New Line studios appropriately is nicknamed “The house that Freddy built.” Here’s hoping we can all erase the memory of the crappy 2010 remake and relive the greatness of Robert Englund’s Freddy for decades more to come.
Never Sleep Again is available for streaming on Netflix, and also on Blu-ray, DVD, and for rental on Amazon Prime. Tell em Freddy sent you!