Saturday, May 29, 2010

My Thoughts on Never Sleep Again: The Feature

I’m going to start off by stating that this is going to be a two-part post. The first part will be about the feature documentary The Elm Street Legacy and the second half will be about the extra features. So, without further adieu… let’s get started.

Nightmare on Elm Street has been very close to me and ranks number 3 on my favorite horror films of all time. I would always remember my thought process into checking out from the library since it was right after I saw The Thing and The Blob, I figured nothing could scare me like those movies… and I was wrong. Nightmare On Elm Street is probably the most watched horror film that I ever saw and even as a kid there was some kind of numinous connection that I had with the movie. I guess it’s because I had insomnia as a kid so this film was sort of how I felt and it kept me entertained all those sleepless nights. I grew attached to the movie. Well, finally, after all these years I was brought back to Elm Street to relive my childhood memories.

Directed by Daniel Farrands and Andrew Kasch, The Elm Street Legacy is “a love letter to Nightmare on Elm Street,” says Blood Type Online and that’s the best way to describe this movie. I want to first state that I really enjoyed the claymation just because I’m such a fan of that art and I think it’s an underrated special effect. Seeing a Freddy doll reenact all his famous scenes on a model while the credits rolled really hit a home-run with my inner geek. It made the documentary even more fun.

Lets get right to the meat of the documentary. The film is broken up into parts and is told in segments, each segment pertaining to one of the Nightmare on Elm Street films. They tackled all the films including Freddy vs. Jason and the bookends are how the Nightmare concept started and the legacy it left behind. They brought everybody back and interviewed them from Wes Craven, to the hall monitor from the first movie, to the composers all the way down to puppeteers. For me, it was so nice to see all these people brought back and united because of a movie that wasn’t even supposed to be as big as it became. It was so nice to see how they looked, what there lives are and what their opinions of the movie were after its success.

What was such a breath of fresh air was how honest this documentary was because everybody told why they hated the last two Freddy movies, how pissed Bob Shaye got when he couldn’t get this song, how sexist things got on set, how hair-pulling it was to work with this person band the stress it was to keep everything under control. It was brutally honest and I was shocked how they really felt about certain parts of the films. As one person told me, it also sort of shows how Wes thought of the other sequels and he wasn’t as thrilled or as happy as I thought he would be. It taps into the humorous aspects of the chemistry between the actors the crew and it felt like a family gather of sorts. There were problems, but in the end… everybody loved each other.

The documentary also answered several questions that I had in mind as I watched these films over and over again such as: how did they do the Freddy soul pizza? How was the fountain of blood in the first movie accomplished? How did Charles Bernstein come up with the score? How was this special effect pulled off? What inspired the production designer to make the creature or Dreamworld look like this? There were so many stories of how things malfunctioned and how things worked out when they were expected to have a certain outcome; it was like listening to your grandpa enlighten you his old war stories or his childhood memories. Each scene and each film had a particular memory and it was so nice to hear the cast and crew share that with us.

Personally for me, the best and most tear-inducing part of the whole documentary was the segment entitled The House That Freddy Built because it told of the legacy that Nightmare on Elm Street left behind and the impact it had on it’s cast and crew. I knew that New Line took a gamble with this but I never knew the back-story of the producers or Wes and to see them get so emotional over the film because of what it did for them made me act the same way. To see Renny Harlin, the guy who directed Die Hard 2 and Cliffhanger, attribute Nightmare on Elm Street 4 as being is breakthrough movie and helping him pay off money sent shivers down my spine. I knew that Nightmare on Elm Street had such a following but I never thought that it had such a huge impact on the people that worked on the series. It was heart wrenching to see these men and women talk about how much this movie, this small, little, independent movie had such meaning to them and I think that’s where this film hits gold. It’s a personal documentary that these people shared with us.

The cast and the crew of the Elm Street movies are like one big close knit family and I feel, as one of the people they appeal to, as though I am a family member as well so it was very personal for me to watch this movie. It brought me back to the first time I laid my eyes on the VHS and how I felt when I popped the tape in to the player. As a amateur filmmaker and a student of the film business, I can relate to many of these problems the crew had and I could see the passion that they had and it just spoke to me. If they could take a film and mold it into a work of art, I can do the same thing. After the movie was done, I sat in my chair and pondered for a while… taking in everything that I heard and smiling. This is a movie made for the fans, it’s a love letter to the films, it’s sincere, it’s awe-inspiring and it’s 4 hours of spine-tingling fun. If you love horror, especially the Nightmare on Elm Street films, or any type of movie for that matter… do yourself a favor and buy it. It’s one of the best documentaries out there.

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Pax Romano said...

Just got my copy and watched the entire thing - very enjoyable, and so many facts that I felt I needed a notebook to jot them all down. A great find for NOES fans, and film fans in general.

HorrO said...

I definitely need to check this out. I am glad to hear you say they were very honest with the documentary. I don't want to watch a documentary where they just tell you how great everything was, and how great the movie was. I didn't know they discussed all of the movies. Now I am more excited to see this. Looking forward to reading your 2nd post on this.

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