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A Nightmare on Elm Street(1984)
Nancy is having nightmares about a frightening, badly-scarred figure who wears a glove with razor-sharp "finger knives". She soon discovers that her friends are having similar dreams. When the kids begin to die, Nancy realizes that she must stay awake to survive. Uncovering the secret identity of the dream killer and his connection with the children of Elm Street, the girl plots to draw him out into the real world.
For more about A Nightmare on Elm Street and the A Nightmare on Elm Street Blu-ray release, see A Nightmare on Elm Street Blu-ray Review published by Martin Liebman on April 3, 2010 where this Blu-ray release scored 4.0 out of 5.
Starring: John Saxon, Ronee Blakley, Heather Langenkamp, Amanda Wyss, Nick Corri, Johnny Depp
Director: Wes Craven
» See full cast & crew
A Nightmare on Elm Street Blu-ray Review
One, two, Freddy's coming....yeah, never mind, you know the rest.
Reviewed by Martin Liebman, April 3, 2010
What is seen is not always what is real.
When it comes to modern Horror, there are three names that immediately spring to mind: Jason Voorhees, Michael Myers, and Freddy Krueger. They are the younger generations' Dracula, Frankenstein, and The Mummy, and there's no shortage of debate in the world of Horror movie fandom as to which of these three icons of terror is greatest of them all. No doubt the Horror genre has given these killers some heated competition over the years -- Jigsaw Leatherface, and Pinhead being prime examples -- but there's no contesting the mythos surrounding the "big three" that have become the de facto faces of the genre. Their popularity soared in the 1980s, waned a bit in the 1990s, and they are currently enjoying resurgences thanks to an influx of remakes in their names in the past several years, and their exploits new and old have put a definitive stamp on Horror both now and forevermore. Theirs is a legend that's practically unrivaled and responsible for making the 1980s one of the most crucial and memorable for Horror moviemaking in film history.
On a quiet neighborhood street in Anywhere, USA, the deformed killer Freddy Krueger (Robert Englund, Zombie Strippers) has returned from the grave with a new weapon in his arsenal against Elm Street's youth: the ability to attack them in their dreams. Young high schooler Tina (Amanda Wyss) is the first to experience the haunting figure in her sleep, and she soon learns that her friend Nancy (Heather Langenkamp) has also recently dreamed of the same demented figure. It doesn't take Freddy long to kill Tina in her sleep, for his powers allow him to inflict physical, real-world damage through his victims' dreams. Nancy's boyfriend Rod (Nick Corri) is blamed for the death, and it's not long before he's apprehended by the local sheriff, Don (John Saxon), who is also Nancy's father. Nancy soon realizes that Rod isn't behind the slayings as she pieces together the clues that lead her to believe that the maniac from hers and Tina's dreams is the true assailant behind the slaying. As Krueger haunts Nancy, she desperately tries to remain awake with the help of her boyfriend Glen (Johnny Depp) as she struggles to learn of a way to defeat the mysterious and deadly killer, a killer with a deeply-hidden past known to some around Nancy and who believe the real-life Krueger to be long since dead, buried, and rendered harmless.
Of the "big three" modern Horror icons and their respective series of films, Freddy Krueger and his A Nightmare on Elm Street proves the most unique. Although the film contains the basic elements of teenagers in peril, graphic violence, and plenty of chase-and-run sequences, it's the interesting twist of pitting reality against the complexities of the mind that set it apart from both Friday the 13th and Halloween. Additionally, Horror fans are here treated to a killer that's not the silent, hulking type; Freddy Krueger is a verbal participant in the film and his antics add another dimension to the story. While there's plenty that's terrifying about a wordless giant stalking victims with a large bladed weapon, the personalization and interaction that Freddy injects into the film creates a different -- but no less frightening-- atmosphere. Indeed, A Nightmare on Elm Street smartly innovates while also treading on familiar ground, allowing Horror aficionados to enjoy something new while also settling into a comfort zone where promiscuous teenagers are brutally slaughtered, where blood flows freely, and where a lone female protagonist manages to beat the odds and face off with the killer one-on-one at film's end.
A Nightmare on Elm Street is also one of the the more brutally graphic pictures of its time. While it's certainly no Saw VI in terms of hardcore and disturbingly realistic gore, there's plenty of splattered and gushing blood from wounds that are often made of visibly phony prosthetics but nonetheless prove effective in context. The film delivers several scenes that become completely awash in the red stuff, and there's a host of additional gruesomeness in the form of various insects and snakes that add to the grotesque and fantastical world the picture so painstakingly creates. Indeed, Writer/Director Wes Craven (the Scream franchise) in his film shapes a vivid universe where reality and dream-induced terror become one and the same, where the line between the waking and sleeping worlds is eliminated and where there's seemingly nowhere to run from something as simple as nature taking its course. It's a stroke of storytelling genius to place danger in something that comes so naturally as sleep; it's something to which the body must succumb, is required for proper and aware function, and despite one's best efforts to defeat it, sleep is a relentless stalker that will ultimately defeat even the staunchest and most clever of those that try to beat it. In the case of A Nightmare on Elm Street, it's one's potentially fatal submission to the call of nature and the ticking of the clock that's the driving force behind the most original element the film has to offer.
Though it gets plenty right, A Nightmare on Elm Street is still a product of its era; as mentioned earlier, the buckets of blood splattered all over the screen don't exactly equate to the realistic violence to which 21st century Horror aficionados have become accustomed, but one must watch a movie like this with as much an eye towards its historical relevance as one of the grandfathers of the modern Horror movie while also enjoying it for its straight-up value as a fun Slasher movie. The picture's special effects are effective but fairly primitive by today's standards, and its synthesizer-heavy score also puts an unmistakable 1980s timestamp on it. Fortunately, neither prove to be a deal-breaker to the film; in fact, they only add to the picture's charm and retro 1980s feel, though no doubt both the effects and the music worked far better in 1984 than they do in 2010. A Nightmare on Elm Street is also hampered by some wishy-washy acting; Robert Englund proves the picture's best asset even though he's not yet brought the character to the level of a living cartoon that he'd adopt in later franchise outings. He's more menacing here than elsewhere, but still demonstrates that evil charm that's made him a genre icon. John Saxon was, then, the film's biggest name star, and he delivers the most steady effort of the bunch, while Heather Langenkamp does well enough as the film's obligatory last-girl-standing. Also featured is Hollywood superstar Johnny Depp in his first screen appearance.
A Nightmare on Elm Street Blu-ray, Video Quality
A Nightmare on Elm Street delivers a dreamy 1080p, 1.78:1-framed transfer. The 1080p resolution allows for some of the lesser special effects to stand out as particularly phony in look, but the tradeoff is a substantially improved image over standard definition releases. New Line has restrained from wiping the film clean of grain; as a result, the image retains many fine details and textures throughout, even if some darker scenes appear particularly busy and grainy, but the end result is a high quality film-like transfer through and through. The aforementioned detailing is solid whether in the picture's many darker scenes or the several bright exterior or well-lit interiors, for instance Nancy's school or a hospital room. There's a good sense of depth across the board, and while Freddy Krueger's make-up is a bit obscured in the darker scenes, this transfer does reveal the fine definition found on various character faces, whether pores, beads of sweat, or freckles and moles. The image is constantly sharp, and the color palette -- as varied as it is -- impresses throughout. Whether the darker and grimier interiors or the various and vibrant shades found in some of the less intensely-scary scenes, the transfer never wants for a better color presentation. Skin tones remain nicely rendered throughout, and shadow detail -- crucial to so many of the film's more important scenes -- remains nicely presented and stable throughout with no extensive crushing or washed out blacks. Despite a few fleeting speckles, the print is very clean and lends another element to what is a handsome 1080p transfer from New Line that's sure to satisfy even fans that have seen A Nightmare on Elm Street dozens of times on lesser home video formats over the years.
A Nightmare on Elm Street Blu-ray, Audio Quality
A Nightmare on Elm Street slashes onto Blu-ray with an impressive DTS-HD MA 7.1 lossless soundtrack. This disc provides a hearty and aggressive sonic presentation that delivers plenty of back-channel information; the opening chase scene in particular is awash in music and sound effects that pour from every speaker and create a hopeless but exciting atmosphere that sets a strong tone for the rest of the movie and, indeed, its lossless soundtrack. Surround information both discrete and atmospheric impress; from blowing steam and screams to more subtle effects such as heavy breathing or buzzing insects heard during a nighttime scene, the track delivers a full, mostly clear, and solidly immersive listen during both action/horror scenes as well as those more dialogue-intensive segments. There's even a chilling realism to a shot featuring Freddy scraping his sharp blades against a surface that plays like the old fingernails-on-chalkboard sound, and it's every bit as shiver-worthy and spine-tingling here as that sound is in real life. The synth-heavy score, too, plays aggressively and with a good bit of clarity, the music seeming to spread evenly all over the soundstage to help truly engulf the listener in the entire A Nightmare on Elm Street experience as played via this lossless soundtrack. Though a few lines of dialogue can play as slightly muffled, there are no lines that are unintelligible of unclear. Overall, this is a fine presentation of an aging but still immersive and chilling soundtrack.
A Nightmare on Elm Street Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
New Line's Blu-ray release of A Nightmare on Elm Street scares up a large collection of informative and worthwhile bonus materials, the package headlined by a pair of audio commentary tracks. The first, labeled as a "filmmakers' commentary," features Writer/Director Wes Craven, Actors Heather Langenkamp and John Saxon, and Cinematographer Jacques Haitkin. For a track with four participants, it flows nicely and never comes across as goofy, unfocused, or jumbled as often is the case with tracks containing more than one or two participants. There's plenty of discussions about the film's origins and story as well as several conversations revolving around the shoot and look of the film. The actors share more anecdotal stories from the shoot while the crew members cover more substantial elements. All in all, this is a quality, well-balanced track that's neither too technical nor too meandering.
The second track, dubbed the "Cast & Crew Commentary," features a plethora of participants, including Writer/Director Wes Craven; New Line Cinema founder Robert Shaye; Actors Robert Englund, Heather Langenkamp, Amanda Wyss, and Ronee Blakley; Producers Sara Risher and John Burrows; Cinematographer Jacques Haitkin; Composer Charles Bernstein; Editors Rick Shaine and Patrick McMahon; Mechanical Special Effects Designer Jim Doyle; Special Makeup Effects Artist David B. Miller; and Film Historian David Del Valle. Whew. No surprise, this isn't one huge cast and crew reunion commentary; its participants are recorded individually and edited together for content and flow, and are introduced audibly by name and title as they speak. Though not a traditional commentary that allows for back-and-forth banter, fans will be thrilled at the wealth of information to be heard here from a fantastic cross-section of participants. This is a must-listen for A Nightmare on Elm Street fans.
Behind the Story is a collection of four larger supplements grouped under one heading. Focus Points is a feature that allows viewers to, when prompted, click an icon to be taken to various behind-the-scenes segments, some of which are simply culled from other supplements found around the disc. Never Sleep Again (1080i, 49:54) proves an exceptional making-of documentary that cover a broad swath of Nightmare information, looking at the background of Writer/Director Wes Craven and his previous work in the film industry before A Nightmare on Elm Street, the creation and design of Freddy Krueger, the process of selling the story to New Line's Robert Shaye, casting the parts, the challenges of the shoot, the process of creating and applying the Freddy Krueger makeup, prop design, special effects creation, Englund's performance, the prodigious amount of blood in the film, the extensive stunt work, the various endings, the editing and scoring processes, and the film's release and legacy. Next is The House That Freddy Built (1080i, 22:47), a solid piece that looks at A Nightmare on Elm Street's impact on both the Horror genre and New Line Cinema, along with a solid overview of the various films in the Nightmare franchise, the legacy of the series, and New Line's Horror films that followed. Also available is Fact Track, a pop-up trivia track that offers various information about the film, the cast, the crew, and more. Rounding out the extras from the Behind the Story tab is Night Terrors (1080i, 15:58), a piece that features a host of professionals discussing the world of dreams. Also included are three alternate endings, each presented in 1080p high definition: Scary Ending (1:39), Happy Ending (1:31), and Freddy Ending (1:46).
A Nightmare on Elm Street Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
The idea behind A Nightmare on Elm Street actually proves more frightening than does the actual film itself, but there's still plenty of juicy violence and gore here to satisfy genre fans, and more importantly, the picture proves a must-see as a slice of Hollywood history and the starting point for what would become one of Tinseltown's longest-running, popular, and bloody Horror franchises. Much like Friday the 13th, it's what the movie represents more than what it actually does that has made it such a long-lasting tribute to the Horror genre, but Wes Craven's ability to craft a Slasher Horror picture with a novel idea that both recreates the typical run-chase-hide and hack-and-slash style of Horror with a unique twist that adds a new dimension of terror to the story sets it apart from the pack and solidifies the movie as one of the best of its kind. Longtime fans of the franchise should be thrilled with this Blu-ray release. New Line has delivered a picture quality that's nothing short of excellent while also featuring a loud and aggressive lossless soundtrack and a wonderful array of extras. Here's hoping the remaining Nightmare films soon find their way to Blu-ray, but until then, there's no reason not to make A Nightmare on Elm Street a proud new member of the Blu-ray collection. Highly Recommended.
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• A Nightmare on Elm Street Collection Blu-ray - January 9, 2013
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• A Nightmare on Elm Street Blu-ray Announced (Update) - January 7, 2010
Warner Home Video, in conjunction with New Line Home Entertainment, has announced the Blu-ray release of Wes Craven's modern horror classic 'A Nightmare on Elm Street' for April 6. This BD release will exclusively include a BonusView feature titled Ready Freddy ...
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