Blu-Ray Review: A Nightmare on Elm Street

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One, Two gonna write a review. Three, Four hope you don’t think it’s a bore. Five, Six it’s time for a horror film fix. And why not have it be the one film that jumped started a new dimension in the telling of horror films. I remember seeing this film way back when and not being able to sleep for days without waking up in a sweat. Now, much older and wiser I have watched it again. This classic has come to a true telling with this new Blu-Ray edition. If you thought seeing this film on the big screen or even on VHS/DVD before, you are in for a surprise. In the HD, 7.1 surround format, Wes Cravens nightmare of a creation comes out more vivid than ever before.

Wes Craven has been delighting and scaring us whether we are awake or in our dreams since his first cult classic ‘The Last House on the Left’ in 1972. His penchant for writing characters that delve into the human psyche are unmistakable with the one that anyone, even if they’ve never seen the film knows, Freddy Krueger. Now most know the story of ‘A Nightmare on Elm Street’, an accused child molester is burned by a couple locals and he comes back to wreak revenge on the children of those who did the burning. He’s weapon of choice, their dreams.

I’m not going into details of the plot or the ‘oh my god that was so fake’ but rather the interesting aspects of the creation of this film as this is the Blu-Ray edition. Having seen the original back in the day I decided to watch the Focus Points version of the movie. During the movie, a disk flashes and when you press the ‘enter’ button it cuts away too many aspects of the preproduction, mutli-angle takes, different versions of the same shot or insight from specialist about dreams. It was quite humorous to find out the character of ‘Freddy’ was named after a bully of Craven’s named Fred and Krueger because he thought a German name would be frightful. How many of you wanted to know how they created the face in the wall effect, spandex. (Yes it can be used for something other than clothes and I still stand behind spandex is a privilege not a right.) Or that even today doctors are still trying to understand the meaning and process of dreams.

What I found the most interesting is how the use of dreams was based on the theory that if you die in your sleep you die in real life and that of articles Craven came across about mysterious deaths among Hmong tribesmen. The tribesmen were stricken by an unexplained illness that caused them to die in their sleep in such a horrible way; people thought it was their dream that killed them. It was between these two happenings that Craven was able to piece together a story that can be told as a ghost story. To boot ‘Freddy’ was based on a true character as well. He may have been named for a bully but his actions are that of a drunken man Craven had run into when he was a child. He had the hat and the bugged out, expressive eye’s that one actor made famous.

 What about those actors? How can you forget Robert Englund? A classically trained actor who was chosen to play what would become an icon in the horror genre. Englund took all the words and advice from Craven and added the fact that he would have to show up hours before anyone else to get ready and put that emotion, that anger into one of the most menacing characters on film. To fuel that emotion he had on screen was some of the ‘beautiful’ actors in the film, Namely Heather Langenkamp who played the lead heroin Nancy Thompson and a young man making his debut, Johnny Depp. Yes, THE Johnny Depp. A fun fact was that Craven was looking at potential actors for the part in which Depp would play, Glen Lantz, and when his daughters saw his picture they said, “Dad, you have to use him. He’s hot!” Wonder how many others they have been able to lead to stardom?

You will enjoy this production for many reasons. You have two different commentary tracks, alternate endings or the trivia track. The extra content in the special features is also fun and entertaining for any movie buff or anyone wanting to know more about dreams; Never Sleep Again is a making of the film; The House That Freddy Built is a history of what the Elm Street franchise became; Night Terrors an inside look with professionals on the study of dreams.

To put it simple this is a must for any true collector of the horror genre. This film set a standard that many have tried to duplicate but none have been able to do. Craven is a master of suspense, storytelling and messing with the human psyche. He is quoted as saying, “Horror films don’t create fear. They release it.” Well you should see this film in its new format and be ready to check your heart rate after. Seven, Eight watch this movie with a date. Nine, Ten, what’s this, déjà vu again?