Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Never Sleep Again

I have been reading quite a bit about Never Sleep Again: The Elm Street Legacy. Johnny over at Freddy In Space had great things to say about it and he's clearly a fan of the series. And it came with a poster signed by Heather Langenkamp so how could I resist?

I couldn't.

Of course. You probably had figured that out. Like it was a rhetorical question or something.

Never Sleep Again is a four-hour documentary on the Nightmare On Elm Street series. Yes, four hours. When was the last time you saw a four-hour documentary on a romantic comedy series? See, there is a lot to say about horror movies and a lot of people with a serious amount of passion for them, not least those making them.

In that four hours, the documentary covers eight films - from the original through Freddy's Dead, then New Nightmare and, finally, Freddy vs Jason. Almost everyone involved in those movies is interviewed, with some big name exceptions like Johnny Depp, Patricia Arquette and Lawrence (or Larry as he was called then) Fishburne. Actually, now that I think about it, I don't think Fishburne even got a mention and yet they were all talking about how great Arquette was... I wonder why..?

While four hours may seem ridiculous, when split between that many movies, I couldn't help finding myself wishing for more. For example, the make-up change that came with Elm Street 5 is mentioned in a throwaway comment but I would love to have heard more about that. And I'm sure there was much, much more to say about the original film. Some things seemed missed entirely, like Fishburne...

Nevertheless, it was great to see all the movies get covered. Aside from pre-release articles in the likes of Fangoria, there was never a huge amount said about some of those later films. Certainly very few insights from the people involved. And there was loads to talk about. It was especially fun hearing everyones take on Elm Street 2, the gayest horror film ever made (I'm sure it's not - I think there is a gay horror sub-genre out there but, in terms of mainstream horror, Freddy's Revenge takes the very gay cake).

Loads of insights and stories from those movies and what's great about the documentary is that I really felt I got to know some of those people. Englund himself, of course, but others too, like Renny Harlin for example or Wes Craven himself. It was especially interesting getting Craven's view on individual sequels.

And as if four hours wasn't enough, a second DVD includes loads more interviews from the same people covering even more topics. Including their thoughts on the recent remake.

If there is one area I felt it fell down a little it's in plain honesty. So they can all laugh about Freddy's Revenge and Wes Craven doesn't hold back (nor does some guy with a beard - not sure who he was), but when I hear cast and crew talking about how cool the 3D in Freddy's Dead was (it wasn't) or how great the cameos were (they weren't), I begin to question their honesty. Freddy's Dead was one of the worst films ever made as a result of some of those things people are telling me were cool. And the director, Rachel Talalay, was so involved in production of the other films (let's be honest, not all of them great), that it seems people were reluctant to come straight out and explain why that movie was as shit as it was.

And, when it comes to any movie, documentary or not, we're looking for drama. I certainly wanted the dirt dished on the shit films. Who thought what was a great idea and who knew they were working on something ridiculously shit? That honesty would have added so much more to the documentary.

As it is, it's a love letter to the Elm Street series for better or worse. Mostly for better. Certainly loads here for any Elm Street fan and a worthy tribute to a (sometimes) great series.