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A Nightmare on Elm Street Collection Blu-ray Review

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#1 of 3 OFFLINE   Neil Middlemiss

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Posted March 26 2013 - 03:55 PM

A Nightmare on Elm Street Collection Blu-ray Review

In 1984, Wes Craven created a horror classic featuring a suburban universe invaded by an unstoppable killer who stalks the dreams of children in the town of Springwood. When the film was released, the horror scene was rife with stalker killers who slashed and slaughtered teens with elaborate expediency, seeking them out when they were most vulnerable, campsites, sleepovers and proms, when they were having fun. Films such as Black Christmas, Prom Night and Friday the 13th had defined the scene, but the onset of a tedious predictability had begun. There was a need for something different and that something happened to be in the form of Craven’s creative concept killer of Freddy Kruger. Not a lurking or lumbering slasher, but an evil and wickedly clever character with a sly wit and an affinity for showmanship; a killer who teased his victims and, freed by the unbound dreamscape, could torment and murder with flair and imagination.

Craven did not believe there was life beyond the original film. He did not see sequel potential. But the strong box office performance of the first film and the surprisingly strong showing of the sequel, helped fuel a series that would run for seven films and a remake in 2010. And the slender killer Freddy Krueger became more than just the evil force in a popular film series; he became a pop culture legend


Cover Art


Studio: Warner Brothers

Distributed By: N/A

Video Resolution and Encode: 1080P/VC-1

Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1

Audio: English 2.0 DD, English 5.1 Dolby TrueHD, English 7.1 Dolby TrueHD, Spanish 2.0 DD, French 1.0 DD (Mono), Cantonese 2.0 DTS-HDMA

Subtitles: English, English SDH, Spanish, French, Portuguese

Rating: R

Run Time: 91, 85, 96, 93, 89, 89, 112 Minutes

Package Includes: Blu-ray

Disc Type: BD50 (dual layer)

Region: A

Release Date: 03/05/2013

MSRP: $59.99




The Production Rating: 3.5/5

A Nightmare on Elm Street
4/ 5

A Nightmare on Elm Street took classic urban legend material and fashioned a sinister and seemingly unstoppable madman who stalked the children of a small town, Springwood, in their dreams. The killer, Freddy Kruger, was an accused child killer who escaped prison on a technicality. He was free and clear until the parents of Springwood’s children tracked Krueger down, torched his house with him inside, and then covered up what they had done. Killing Krueger should have put an end to the killing, but somehow the children are dying again and it seems that it is Kruger hunting them in the place they should be the safest - their dreams.

The film was in instant success. Heather Langenkamp played the lead, Nancy Thompson, a young teen who is one of the first to dream of the badly burned killer in his red and green striped sweater, fedora hat and knives for fingers. The strength of her character and fight she puts up are clearly cut from the cloth that made Jamie Lee Curtis a darling of the horror genre, vulnerable but never afraid to outthink the pursuer and fight hard to survive. Her father, played by John Saxon, is the disbelieving town police chief with whom Nancy cannot seem to communicate even after her best friend, Tina (Amanda Wyss), is viciously slain under bizarre circumstances. Johnny Depp also stars and has perhaps the best death scene of any victim in this film or its six sequels when his bedroom becomes a roaring blood bath. The horror of A Nightmare on Elm Street is simple; once you fall asleep, you can die. Never mind the brutality of the slayings once you enter dream land, the mere idea that you have to stay awake to stay alive is great genre fodder. Robert Englund’s iconic performance as the burned supernatural killer was a welcome antidote to the slew of dull psychos parading in and out of small town America offing people left and right (without so much as a witty quip or sickening grin). No mask here – if you don’t count the horribly burned appearance. Freddy Kruger’s taunting and terrorizing style helped A Nightmare on Elm Street stand out from the crowd.

The Freddy Kruger character eventually descends into little more than a ‘one-liner spewing’ entertainer through the string of ever more fantastical sequels, but in the original, his mythology and fearsome and sinister ruses is top notch. You can certainly find a few fun moments in the sequels, but nothing beats the inaugural outing of the iconic & creepy "child killer’.


A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge
3/ 5

Jessie has moved to a new house and a new high school. He’s an awkward boy living in a house that has a history, something he discovers are he is afflicted with terrifying nightmares and bizarre events. With his high school friends and his new girlfriend, Jessie uncovers the dark secret behind his neighborhood and the burned figure haunting his dreams.

The first sequel immediately sought to darken the tone and expand upon the framework laid down in the original. That it is considered the weakest of the sequels should not take away from a number of things the film accomplishes. First, the nightmare sequences become more elaborate. The opening scene where the school bus carrying protagonist Jessie and a couple of unlucky passengers careens into the desert where the ground falls away and it dangles precariously atop pillars of rock as fire lashes below is the start of what would become a staple of the franchise – fiendishly elaborate death sequences. Second, the core of the script could be interpreted as a meditation on the evil within us and what we must do to temper or suppress what perhaps any of us are capable of. That Freddy Krueger must manipulate a poor soul into giving him a window to crawl through back into reality is a great device (and one that would be more explicitly explored in part five). A pity then that so much gets in the way of this film being a winner.

Besides the apparently unintentional gay overtones of the male characters, exacerbated by the intentional S&M element, the weakness of the portrayals and the bizarreness of several scenes (including the out of place canary attack) hurt the overall effectiveness of the picture. Director Jack Sholder channels Kubrick’s The Shining from time to time, giving shots an ethereal quality, and generally speaking the film is well made with the make-up effects being top-notch, though it’s hard to completely excuse the change to the horror’s logic.



A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors
4/ 5

Kristen is a damaged girl. Haunted by her dreams, she is committed to an institution following an apparent suicide attempt with other troubled teens – the last of the Elm Street children – as they fight to stay alive whenever they must fall asleep. Kristen and her friends of circumstance, Taryn (Jennifer Rubin), Kincaid (Ken Sagoes), Joey (Rodney Eastman), Phillip (Bradley Gregg), Ira (Will Stanton) and Jennifer (Penelope Sudrow) have no hope until the arrival of a new therapist, Nancy Thompson (Heather Langenkamp). Dr. Neil Gordan (Craig Wasson) has been managing the care of the kids, but conventional means are showing no positive results, and so Nancy’s arrival comes at a critical time. It has been several years since Nancy fought Fred Krueger and survived. Now she must do everything she can to help these imperiled kids stay alive, even if that means going against the rules of the hospital.

Dream Warriors is the franchises most creative outing, with a wonderfully solid plot, better than average performances, the welcome return of Nancy (Heather Langenkamp), and masterful visual and make-up effects. Making her feature film debut is Patricia Arquette as Kristen Parker, a troubled teen with the special ability to pull others into her dreams. Special mention should be made of Laurence Fishburne’s invested orderly, Max, and the return of John Saxon in the role of Nancy’s father.

Perhaps the most welcome of developments for the Krueger character is his taunting wit. No more mere ominous derisions, the bladed-hand slasher unfurls a string of pithy proclamations when dispensing with the children of Elm Street (“welcome to the prime time, bitch”), and evolves quickly into a nemesis the audience can almost root for even if it is to enjoy the ‘how’ of his murderous acts. Director Chuck Russell does a sound job pulling together the story of how to end Freddy once and for all with the most elaborate collection of visual and make-up effects to date. The homage to Ray Harryhausen as the bones of Freddy fight being laid to rest in the junk yard is marvelously entertaining.



A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master
3.5/ 5

The survivors of Dream Warrior have reclaimed their lives outside the institute. But when Kristen dreams once again of the now derelict house on Elm Street, Freddy Krueger is able to come back from beyond the dead. Unable to fend off the evil of her dreams, Kristen succumbs to Krueger though is able to pass on her dream powers to her shy friend, Alice. In Alice, Krueger sees an opportunity to reach a new set of children. But Alice is stronger than she appears.

Patricia Arquette was unable to resume the character of Kristen due to pregnancy and the role was recast with Tuesday Knight (who also provided the vocals for the opening song). Knight didn’t share the natural vulnerability of Arquette and so it is wise that the story transfers focus onto the new character of Alice (Lisa Wilcox), a shy type who is able to absorb the ‘powers’, confidence and traits of those slaughtered by Freddy. The film also stars Andras Jones as Alice’s brother Rick, Brook Bundy as the tough Elaine, Toy Newkirk as the nerdy, asthmatic Sheila, and Danny Hassel as the all-star Dan Jordan with whom Alice has a crush.

Though the most successful of the entire series in terms of box office take, A Nightmare on Elm Street 4 marks the beginning of the end for Krueger and the stalker of Elm Street kids dreams. Having firmly infiltrated popular culture (including the release of The Fat Boys “Are You Ready For Freddy?” and an anthology television series that ran for two seasons), the elaborate death sequences and spry derisions by the burned killer begin to wobble on the rails. The fourth installment, directed by Renny Harlin, is capably produced, brighter in feel and even lighter in tone, but is far too glossy when all is said and done to match the tenor of Craven’s invention. It’s fun for sure, but the compelling characters of the 3rd films institute, and the freshness of the dream sequences is largely missing, though the sequence involving Alice falling into the movie screen is well produced.

The Dream Master is more a series of set-pieces than a logically thought-out plot or compelling collection of characters. The visual effects are firmly in control, creatively, and whatever clever ideas may be involved with the storyline, they aren’t the driving forces that would have elevated the film. Still, as a life-long Nightmare on Elm Street fan it is hard not to watch this film (and its lesser sequels) without a strong dose of nostalgia.


A Nightmare on Elm Street 5: The Dream Child
3/ 5

Freddy Krueger has been laid to rest, the souls of his victims released, and the dreamscape of children freed from the red and green sweater-adorned demon. That all changes when the once shy Alice discovers she is pregnant and the untethered dreams of her fetus provide Freddy the avenue he needs to crawl back into the realm of the surviving kids nightmares.

The cardinal sin for a horror film series like the Elm Street collection is to dive too headlong into an origins conceit, or to add a baby to the mix. The Dream Child does both, though it does conjure up some interesting visuals along the way. Following The Dream Master, the series’ lightest adventure, The Dream Child sought to rediscover the darker roots of the Krueger mythos. To have continued in the lighter vein would have risked becoming parody (which part six firmly embraced), but the sharp right-hand turn taken here into decidedly gothic territory surely alienated the fans who turned out in droves for parts 3 and 4.

Director Stephen Hopkins (Blown Away) completed the shoot in an absurdly short amount of time and an equally short time to edit the picture. And although the finished product doesn’t appear rushed, the same can’t really be said of the script which struggles to balance the ‘son of 100 maniacs’ roots of Freddy with the evilly playful scoffs of the killer who won’t stay dead. Performances are average for the franchise including the new blood, Erika Anderson as smart beauty queen Greta, Kelly Jo Minter as the talented diver Yvonne and Joe Seely as the comic-book artist Mark.

The nightmare sequences aren’t as honestly creative, even the MC Escher inspired final act feels wilted. There are attempts to expand the visuals stylistically, most clearly during the elaborate comic-book sequence with its blend of black and white, animation and a nod to European synth-band Aha’s memorable ‘Take on Me’ music video, though the results are mostly mediocre. Part of the issue here is Lisa Wilcox continuing portrayal of Alice. Unlike Langengkamp’s Nancy, the Lisa character remains awkward and unconvincing as the tough heroine. She’s a likeable character and easy to stand behind, but performance-wise, there is precious little variation in her emotions or fighting spirit. The Krueger character is also handled poorly. The quips are tame and his fiercer edge is dulled with entirely too much cowering for a character intended to inspire fear. Though it turned a profit The Dream Child is considered a disappointment, especially when compared to the lucrative previous entry.


Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare
4.5/ 5

Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare begins ten years after the events of Krueger’s failed attempt to re-enter the realm of nightmares through Alice’s unborn son. All of the children of Elm Street are dead except for a lone teenager, John Doe, who has no knowledge of who he is or where he comes from. Doe is tormented by wild nightmares of the town of Springwood and a horribly burned man with knives for fingers. During a nightmare, he is pushed past the city limits – a limit that the evil figure (Krueger) cannot cross. Suffering from amnesia, John Doe is taken to a shelter for troubled youth, run by Dr. Maggie Burroughs (Lisa Zane) and Doc (Yaphet Kotto). Trying to cure the new John Doe of his memory loss, Burroughs, along with a few other stowaway tenants from the shelter, takes a trip to Springwood and, unbeknownst to them, risk letting Freddy Kreuger out of his cage.

Rachel Talalay’s self-aware sixth installment is an entertaining balance of referential fun and grandiose exposition. At the pinnacle of the series power, despite (and perhaps because of) the failure that was The Dream Child, The Final Nightmare wonderfully blends a stock set of kid characters, twists and the laughable gimmick of a 3D ending to put the series in its original form firmly to rest.

A genuinely good cast is assembled here, notably Yaphet Kotto as Doc and Lisa Zane as Maggie Burroughs. Adding in adults to the primary cast is welcome relief and harkens back to the balance found in The Dream Warriors. For all intents and purposes, The Final Nightmare was the big goodbye. Featuring a number of celebrity guest stars, including Rosanne Barr and Tom Arnold, Alice Cooper and Johnny Depp, this installment wrapped it all up with a newly introduced theory of demonic origins and Krueger’s tormented upbringing. It doesn’t really feel connected to Craven’s original and while it stands on the shoulder of the previous films, the veering into pantomime and Krueger offering up quips purely for the audience, especially when killing one of the kids in a video game (“Hmm, great graphics”), are clear attempts to make the film a good time rather than a good film.

Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare isn’t a great Nightmare on Elm Street film, it isn’t even a good film, but it is a fun experience. Getting together with a crowd of friends to watch this final entry in the Nightmare canon was worth the shaky acting, tacky ending and dodgy dream logic. And so, despite its many flaws, Freddy’s Dead remains a clever swan song though broad negative sentiment towards this film from fans and critics alike seems to be the prevailing opinion.


Wes Craven’s New Nightmare
3.5/ 5

Hollywood actress Heather Langenkamp has been invited to play Nancy Thompson one last time, but terrorizing phone calls from someone sounding like the fictional villain she fought in the Nightmare on Elm Street films, and strange dreams she is having have unsettle her. Her son too has been acting strangely and appears to not be sleeping. When her husband, a special effects man, is killed in a suspicious car accident after secretly working on a new glove for the Freddy character (his chest is slashed with four cuts), Heather begins to suspect that Freddy Kreuger may be more than just a fictional villain played onscreen by her good friend Robert Englund. When she discovers that Wes Craven has already been writing the new Nightmare on Elm Street film, and the events on the page are turning into reality, her world and life is threatened and she must fight her onscreen nemesis for real.

Just three years after the supposed Final Nightmare, Wes Craven sat in the director’s chair to explore an idea he had initially hoped to tell for the part three of the series; a meta tale of a film within a film and the darkness of an evil trapped in the fictional world of the Nightmare films attempting to break through to the ‘real’ world. There’s blending of elements found in Freddy’s Revenge and The Dream Child, but the fictional reality of the setting offers something entirely more interesting than the base elements it leverages.

The ‘real’ Freddy Krueger at the heart of this final outing is more brutal than the ‘fictional’ character, with reimagined and more menacing burned make up effects and glove. It’s a fresh take on Craven’s original horror concept and a precursor in a number of ways to another horror franchise he would launch with the Scream film. Where the film falters is in pacing. The longest of the franchise at 112 minutes, a good deal of time is devoted to watching Heather’s world come crashing down with only fleeting appearances of the full ‘Freddy’ during the first and second acts. It doesn’t help that the audience is ahead of the plot for most of that time.

A return to serious horror with a good idea central to the plot was a unique direction to take the sequel. The character of Freddy has been imagined in many ways over the original seven film run (and blandly for the remake) and Craven has always handled his menace most expertly. New Nightmare is a more competent film than the disappointing box office take indicates but it still pales in comparison to the original and best of the series.



Video Rating: 3.5/5  3D Rating: NA

A Nightmare on Elm Street 4/5
A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge 3.5/5
A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: The Dream Warrior 3.5/5
A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master 2.5/5
A Nightmare on Elm Street 5: The Dream Child 3/5
Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare 2.5/5
Wes Craven’s New Nightmare – 3.5/5

With the exception of the first film (1080p VC-1 encode), the video quality for this collection is decidedly a mixed bag. Culled from old transfers, most are only marginally better than the rather good DVD release from a few years ago (with exceptional packaging for those who are so inclined to appreciate such things). Part 2 includes a number of scenes that benefit nicely from the increased resolution and being among the darker (lighting wise) of the sequels, it needs it. Other scenes are a little worn, including the silly canary attack and the questionable locker room shower death. Parts two through seven are 1080p AVC MPEG-4 encodes.

Part 3 is hit-and-miss, generally faring well, especially during the opening scene and the scenes at the institute, it seems to fall apart in shots taken outside (with the funeral scene in which Dr. Gorden encounters a mysterious Nun a low resolution moment that sticks out like a sore thumb).

Parts 4 and 5 are among the weakest, with pervasive softness and a lack of pop in the colors – murky blacks and closer to the DVD resolution than the others. Freddy’s Dead is also weak, faring no better than the DVD version and in desperate need of a proper re-mastering. That the 3D ending isn’t available as it was on the DVD version is also a shame.



Audio Rating: 3.5/5

A Nightmare on Elm Street 4/5
A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge 3.5/5
A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: The Dream Warrior 3/5
A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master 2.5/5
A Nightmare on Elm Street 5: The Dream Child 3/5
Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare 3.5/5
Wes Craven’s New Nightmare – 4/5

As with the image, the audio fares best on the original Nightmare on Elm Street which clearly received the most attention with its DTS-HD MA 7.1 with English 5.1 being the default option for parts two through seven. Clarity is mixed throughout the films with Parts 1 through 3 experiencing the best of it. From time to time there is a rumble in the effects, again the bus sequence that opens part two benefits nicely but so do scenes like the Freddy snake attack in part three and the pervasive aftershock quakes in part seven.

The mono options are welcome and although the 5.1 surround doesn’t exploit the sound-sphere to its fullest potential, the scraping of Krueger’s glove in metal, the menacing laugh and the reasonably good horror scores from the likes of Charles Bernstein, Angelo Badalamenti and Craig Ferguson can be effective.



Special Features Rating: 4.5/5

A solid collection of special features comes with the set porting over almost all of the extras from the excellent DVD set - though not all. The extra disc featuring new special features is nice, however. There is plenty to satisfy fans of the collection. Most are in SD though the original Nightmare gets a few choice HD extras (as does the extra disc).

Disc One:
A Nightmare on Elm Street
Audio Commentary: Craven, DoP Jacques Haitkin, Heather Langenkamp and John Saxon
Audio Commentary: Assorted cast and crew
Never Sleep Again: 50-minute HD documentary
The House that Freddy Built: 23-minute HD documentary
Night Terrors
Focus Points
Alternate Endings
Fact Track

Disc Two
A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy's Revenge
Heroes & Villains
Psycho Sexual Circus
The Male Witch
Freddy on 8th Street
Theatrical Trailer

A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors
Onward Christian Soldiers
Trading 8's
Snakes and Ladders
Burn Out
That's Showbiz
The House that Freddy Built
Fan Mail
Music Video
Theatrical Trailer

Disc Three
A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master
Krueger, Freddy Krueger
Hopeless Chest
Let's Make Up
The Finnish Line
Theatrical Trailer

A Nightmare on Elm Street 5: The Dream Child
Womb Raiders
The Sticky Floor
Hopkins Directs
Take the Stairs
A Slight Miscalculation
Music Videos
Theatrical Trailer

Disc Four
Freddy's Dead: The Final Nightmare
Rachel's Dream
3D Demise
86'd
Hell Raiser
Theatrical Trailer

Wes Craven's New Nightmare
Audio Commentary with Wes Craven
Becoming a Filmmaker
Craven Interview
The Problem with Sequels
An Insane Troupe
Two Worlds
Theatrical Trailer

Disc Five
Bonus Disc
Fear Himself - The Life and Crimes of Freddy Krueger: 30-minute retrospective
Two Freddy's Nightmares TV episodes
Conclusions: 20-minutes of interviews
Welcome to Prime Time: an additional 50-minutes of materials



Overall Rating: 3.5/5

The Nightmare on Elm Street horror franchise remains one of the most successful of all time. The DVD release several years ago was comprehensive in its special features, tailor made ‘game’, and effective packaging. The new Blu-ray set shoots for a more expedient release, slim no-nonsense packaging, some new extra features and little by way of transfers that take advantage of what the HD medium has to offer. One must conclude that this is likely the best we’ll see of Nightmare in High Definition and with that in mind, and the relatively comfortable price-point, this can be recommended for fans of the series.


Reviewed By: Neil Middlemiss


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#2 of 3 OFFLINE   Jesse Skeen

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Posted March 26 2013 - 04:34 PM

My main issues with this are that the movies are 'full-screen' instead of true 1.85 as they were on the DVDs, and on all the sequels the original New Line openings and closings have been replaced with the current one, with the "A TimeWarner Company" byline. Particularly ruins the end of the 2nd movie as the music continues into the replaced logo. Love all the languages on this though, you can hear Freddy speak German, Czech and Thai!


Home video oddities, old commercials and other junk: http://www.youtube.com/user/eyeh8nbc

#3 of 3 OFFLINE   Neil Middlemiss

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Posted October 15 2014 - 10:08 AM

Folk are watching these movies as part of the Official 15th Annual HTF October Scary Movie Challenge 2014, and I may very well join them as of all of the horror series out there, this is by far my favourite.

 

A little surprised by the rating I gave Freddy's Dead: The Final Nightmare...that had to be nostalgia speaking :)


"Equipped with his five senses, man explores the universe around him and calls the adventure Science" – Edwin Hubble
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