Monday, 17 May 2010

Never Sleep Again: The Elm Street Legacy

[Stop Press! I am about to write a feature length spec screenplay. A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Return is my response to the lethargic lacklustre studio remake. Horror is chaos and I will spare no sentiment. I would like your support. Click the poll on the sidebar to do so. I appreciate.]
A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors 1987 opens with a quote from Edgar Allen Poe. Not all the sequels used epigrams. Some of those that did – Freddy’s Dead 1991 – resorted to the superficial. The epigram became quasi-traditional in the Elm Street films so it is appropriate that this most definitive documentary on the franchise opens with one.

Early to rise and early to bed
makes a man healthy and wealthy
and dead.
James Thurber

A good documentary will best a great blog. Moving pictures communicate in a more visceral form to seduce its audience. Its very nature lends itself to better access. Documentary is supplement to the subject. A documentary made by fans is a love letter. Never Sleep Again: The Elm Street Legacy 2010 is what Romeo would have filmed of Juliet - but he killed himself before the technology was invented.

Co-directors Daniel Farrands and Andrew Kasch are more than mere fans. They made His Name was Jason 2009 a film which serves as harbinger for this DVD. Never Sleep Again is split over two discs. The first is the four hour feature. Disc 2 has four more hours of extras that include extended interviews and featurettes. There is not a minute wasted.
The feature is a congregation of Elm Street alumni assembled to reminisce for our viewing delight. Conspicuous by absence are Johnny Depp Patricia Arquette and Kelly Rowland. I didn’t expect any of those three to participate but I was surprised at the absence of Bradley Gregg (Phillip in Dream Warriors). His death was gnarly. It was memorable. It is mentioned in this doc. So wherefore art thou Bradley?

He’s alive and well and can be found on his website with nary a mention of Elm Street.

The legacy is of eight films and each is allotted the same amount of time (approximately 40 minutes). There are good nightmares (A Nightmare on Elm Street 1984 Dream Warriors). There are the bad (The Dream Master 1988 Freddy’s Dead 1991 Freddy Vs Jason 2003). There are the worthy failures (Freddy’s Revenge 1985 The Dream Child 1989 Wes Craven’s New Nightmare 1994). Never Sleep Again does not differentiate; the recollections make the bad interesting and the good more enticing.

Robert Englund should change his name to England because he is a bit of a luvvie. His breakout role – in industry terms - was in V a 1983 TV show. The irony is the 2010 remake is currently being broadcast on ABC (in the States and Syfy in the UK). He’s not in that either. However he does take centre stage in this doc as well he should. Englund is one of only two people who were involved in all eight movies the other being Robert Shaye – who tried to bump him from Freddy’s Revenge.
Jsu Garcia is credited as Nick Corri in the original. It’s an idea his agent had because it was taboo to be Latino in 80s Hollywood. It was a lesson already known to Ramón Estévez. Incidentally his son Charlie Sheen wanted the Johnny Depp role.

There are anecdotes, justifications, denials, accusations, resentments, gossip and genuine love for the series and for the fans. Ken Sagoes who played Kincaid tells a story of how Heather Langenkamp stood up to director Chuck Russell for the young actors on the set of Dream Warriors.

“… that’s why I love her to today.”
Ken Sagoes
She really has become Nancy.

Disc 2 has a featurette Horror’s Hallowed Grounds presented by a goofy Sean Clark. At separate points he’s joined by cast members including Amanda Wyss and Heather. It is twenty-odd minutes of visiting the locations of the original and is actually good fun. Once again this shows the dedication of the alumni to the fans which makes Sean’s antics forgivable.
For the Love of the Glove documents fans that have taken the franchise to industry – cottage or otherwise. These men and women hand craft and market the most famous prop in Gen-X horror. Through their own endeavours they have become part of the wider Elm Street mythos.

There’s also a preview of Heather’s own upcoming documentary I Am Nancy where she visits conventions and mingles. The cream of the featurettes is Freddy in Comics and Books. This is where the writers outside of the motion pictures tell of their work in expanding the Elm Street Universe. I’m currently writing (on spec) A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Return. I will be one of them.

Never Sleep Again illustrates the phenomenon that is Elm Street and its 25 year legacy. Wes Craven’s creation has touched those who worked on it officially and unofficially and those who consume it. Horror is story. The bells and whistles are add-on. Platinum Dunes does not understand this. No one is going to make a documentary of their heresy.

Where most horror films do not have a happy ending this one does. 
Never Sleep Again is the antidote to the horror of the remake.

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