Never Sleep Again: The Elm Street Legacy – A Benchmark for Film Documentaries
Never Sleep Again: The Elm Street Legacy is nothing if not the perfect love letter to the fans of this franchise. 1428 Films (get it?) goes all out with this documentary, leaving no bloody stone unturned. This is much more than just a series of interviews, this is a compendium of the entire Freddy Kruger universe. Almost everyone involved with the production of these movies was involved: actors, directors, producers, screenwriters, special effects artists, composers… even a hilariously random cameo by Jason Mewes (not actually involved, but was a clear inspiration for a character in Freddy Vs. Jason). Oh yeah, and Dokken… because, why not?? If the word “exhaustive” can be used as a term of endearment, consider this my attempt to do so. They discuss everything… from New Line’s Cinema’s inspired inception as a distribution company, all the way up to Freddy’s showdown with Jason (even including the short-lived television series). NSE was released just after the 2010 Platinum Dunes reboot, and that exclusion really isn’t missed here. While I would’ve been interested in hearing what some of these people thought of Michael Bay’s new vision, I like how this piece is bookended around Robert Englund’s reign as the bastard son of a hundred maniacs. There are so many people who come back to tell their stories, you don’t miss the likes of superstars such as Johnny Depp, Patricia Arquette or Lawrence Fishburne. All the actors that return to share their memories start their segments by reading the introduction of their characters directly from their original scripts, which is an especially nice touch.
I think my favorite thing about this 4 hour documentary is the honesty that comes through in all the interviews. Most are genuinely proud to be part of the Nightmare lineage and have great fondness of their experiences. But there is no shying away from some of the more embarrassing moments of the films, and the humility is strangely satisfying. This is very apparent during the segment featuring NOES 2: Freddy’s Revenge. They very openly discuss the (not-so) latent homoeroticim of that first sequel and their ignorance of this while in production. In fact, that movie may be my least favorite but shines as one of the funnier segments in this documentary. I was lucky enough to share that admiration with Mark Patton and Robert Russler when I met them at the 2013 HorrorHound Convention in Indianapolis.
“Freddy was to dreams what Jaws was to swimmers…” Lynn Shaye
An honest review wouldn’t be quite so honest without a bit of criticism. Some of the interviews were shot a little too dark, and very close to the faces of many of the cast and crew. Something they would do a much better job of in the Friday the 13th documentary, Crystal Lake Memories (review to come soon). Honestly, I had to reach for that minor gripe. It’s really a non-issue and doesn’t remotely affect the enjoyment of this experience.
The bottom line is that this is a MUST HAVE for any fan of the Nightmare On Elm Street series. It’s an absolute requirement, a moral imperative, even. It’s evident how much blood, sweat and tears went into creating this documentary. It’s so good, it almost makes you hope they never make another Elm Street film, just so this will live on as THE most comprehensive resource for all things Freddy.