A Nightmare on Elm Street (Infinifilm Edition)
Tagline: If Nancy doesn’t wake up screaming, she won’t wake up at all
Starring Heather Langenkamp, John Saxon, Johnny Depp, Ronee Blakley, Amanda Wyss, and Robert Englund
Directed by Wes Craven
Written by Wes Craven
Distributed by New Line Cinema
DVD Release Date: September 26, 2006
Remastered Picture – Restored from the original film negative
Dolby Digital 5.1-EX Surround sound and DTS-ES 6.1 surround sound
“Never Sleep Again” – The making of A Nightmare on Elm Street
Beyond the Movie:
“The House That Freddy Built: The Legacy of New Line Horror”
“Night Terrors: The Origin of Wes Craven’s Nightmares”
Infinifilm Interactive Features:
Pop-up prompts, Nightmare Fact Track and video clips
Exclusive Infinifilm ROM content
Feature length commentary with Wes Craven, Bob Shaye (Producer/New Line Founder), Robert Englund, Heather Langenkamp, Amanda Wyss, Ronee Blakley, Sara Risher (New Line Co-Producer)
Archived audio commentary with Wes Craven, Heather Langenkamp, John Saxon, and cinematographer Jacques Haitkin
Premise: Dig your claws into the chilling masterpiece that spawned the greatest horror franchise in film history – now remastered and featuring hours of new Infinifilm extras. Starring Robert Englund as infamous horror icon Freddy Krueger, this “insomnia-inducing” (Kirk Ellis, The Hollywood Reporter) original from director Wes Craven “goes straight to the heart of terror” (Jim Emerson, Seattle Times).
When her best friend Tina is brutally murdered, teenager Nancy Thompson (Heather Langenkamp) suspects the killer isn’t Tina’s boyfriend but rather a much more horrifying figure from her dreams. Convinced that this vicious murderer is stalking her friends and killing them as they sleep, Nancy enters a desperate race against time to bring him out of dream world and stop the bloodbath… before she falls asleep and becomes his next victim!
Plot Breakdown (spoilers): Fifteen-year-old girl Tina Grey (Amanda Wyss) has a disturbing nightmare in which she is being stalked through a dark boiler room by a figure with distinctive razor-sharp knives for fingers on his right hand. Just as he catches her however, she wakes up screaming, only to discover four razor cuts in her nightdress identical to the cuts in her dream. The next day, she finds out that her friend Nancy Thompson (Heather Langenkamp) experienced the same dream. That night, Tina, Nancy and Nancy’s boyfriend Glen Lantz (Johnny Depp) have a sleep-over to make a distraught Tina feel better. Tina’s rebellious boyfriend, Rod Lane, crashes the party and goes to bed with Tina in her mother’s bedroom. Later that night, Tina has another nightmare, and this time the killer catches her and brutally murders her. Rod wakes up to find Tina being cut open by invisible knives and then dragged across the ceiling. Rod, being the only other person in the room at the time, is suspected of the killing, and is arrested the next day by Nancy’s father Donald Thompson (John Saxon), a police lieutenant.
Later, Nancy has three sadistically violent nightmares where she is viciously stalked, then attacked by the same terrifying figure that attacked Tina. These nightmares lead her to talk to Rod in prison, who tells her what he saw in Tina’s mother’s bedroom. Much to the dismay of her mother Marge (Ronee Blakley), Nancy becomes increasingly convinced that the figure appearing in her dreams is the same person who killed Tina. After having a prophetic dream in which the horrific figure visits Rod in jail, Nancy, and a skeptical Glen, rush to the police station in the middle of the night to check on him, only to find that he’s been strangled by his own bed sheets. To everyone except Nancy, it appears to be a suicide.
In an effort to help her daughter, Nancy’s mother takes her to a dream therapy clinic to ensure she gets some sleep. Once again, she has a horrendous nightmare. This time, her arm is badly cut, but she finds that she has brought something out from her dream: the killer’s battered hat. It arouses concern, but also other feelings in Nancy’s mother, who is clearly hiding a secret. Eventually, Marge, increasingly drink-sodden, reveals to Nancy that the owner of the hat, and the killer, was a man named Fred Krueger (Robert Englund), a child murderer who killed at least twenty children over a decade earlier. Furious, vengeful parents burned him alive in his boiler room hideout when he was released from prison on a technicality. Now, it appears he is manipulating the dreams of their children to exact his revenge from beyond the grave. Nancy’s mother reassures her that Krueger can’t hurt anyone, pulling Krueger’s knife-fingered glove from a hiding place in the furnace, reinforcing this supposed fact.
After days of not sleeping, Nancy devises a plan with Glen to catch Krueger. However, Glen succumbs to sleep and is viciously killed by being sucked into his bed and shot back up in a fountain of blood. Later that same night, Nancy, convinced she can carry Krueger out of her nightmare like she did the hat, sets various booby traps throughout her house, all while her mother sleeps from her consistent drinking. When ready, Nancy falls asleep and confronts Krueger, successfully holding onto him as she awakens. Nancy is then left alone with Freddy after pulling him into the real world. She runs through her house and forces him into the booby traps she had set earlier, effectively battering the supernatural killer. After setting Freddy on fire, Nancy locks him in the basement, and finally gets her skeptical father and the police to help. When arriving on the scene, they find Freddy has escaped and follow his fiery footsteps that lead upstairs. As Nancy and her father find the footsteps’ endpoint, they witness Freddy smothering Marge with his flaming body, disappearing to leave her corpse to sink into the bed and fade away. After sending her father out of the room, Nancy turns her back on the horrific scene and calls to Krueger, knowing he’s still there and that she is still dreaming. Freddy rises back up from the bed and threatens to kill her. In response, Nancy faces down Krueger and turns her back on him, draining him of all energy and destroying him. She then leaves her mother’s bedroom and appears outside her house, unaffected from the events of the last few weeks. Marge soon joins her daughter at the front door and sends her off to school with her seemingly alive friends, who had just driven up in Glen’s car. When Nancy gets into the car, the doors lock, trapping her inside. Freddy possesses Glen’s car and makes him and the gang drive away, with Nancy screaming for help at her indifferent mother. As Marge watches the car drive off, Freddy’s gloved hand bursts through the door’s window and pulls her through.
The Good: A Nightmare on Elm Street is a true modern horror classic. Wes Craven’s humanities influence is easily recognizable here, as he utilized many different themes to weave this terrifying tale – including revenge, guilt, tragedy, isolation, secrecy, inner-strength, and the supernatural. The premise of the film, which not necessarily original, was executed in a way unlike any horror films before. Whereas most villains of the time were comparable to the “person next door”, Fred Krueger was given a distinct look, weapon, and ability. Instead of the victim’s physical self being at the forefront, the human condition carries and drives the story. And although physical violence is portrayed, the psychological strain bares an unexpected, nerve-biting element not found in the usual film.
The direction style Craven used in A Nightmare on Elm Street is very energetic, which doesn’t leave time for the audience to let down their guard. The cast all perform well, especially Langenkamp, whose portrayal of Nancy Thompson grounds the film and gives the premise credibility. In combination with the horrific dream/effects sequences, solid production, and Charles Bernstein’s dreamy but lively score, A Nightmare on Elm Street’s effectiveness is undeniable.
This terrific DVD release is part of New Line Cinema’s new “Infinifilm” line, which provides the viewer with an interactive experience when watching the film. While the film plays, popup menus appear that allow viewers to choose among relating interview or alternate scene snippets, giving extra insight for scenes or concepts. Some never-seen-before alternate/deleted footage is included in these snippets, and most of the interview segments are new, recorded especially for this DVD.
The restored film transfer here is stunning, with bright and crisp colors, superior in quality to that of previous releases. The film’s soundtrack has also been remixed, giving a different take on the familiar track. Many specials fill this set, which provide in-depth information regarding the film’s making-of and its impact. Never Sleep Again tracks, in great detail, the genesis of the film through its successful theatrical release, narrated by the various parties involved, including Wes Craven, Bob Shaye, Heather Langenkamp, Robert Englund, and many more. The House That Freddy Built provides a great history overview of New Line Cinema and the impact Nightmare has had for the company, followed by their other horror properties. The Nightmare on Elm Street Companion provided most of the merchandise filmed for this featurette. Night Terrors is a fine look at Wes Craven’s inspiration for the film, along with comments from various experts regarding the nature and context of dreams.
The new commentary included here is taken from the various interview segments found on Never Sleep Again, presented in a forum format. In addition to the new commentary, the archived commentary from the 1996 Elite laserdisc edition has also been included. The Fact Track provides various fun facts regarding the film and actors, and the trivia game includes questions regarding the film and its sequels, mostly taken from the specials and the Nightmare on Elm Street Companion. Rounding out the features for this set is the film’s theatrical trailer and the film’s three alternate endings, the Freddy ending being a personal request of mine for the fans.
The Bad: This DVD release, while excellent overall, does have some slight problems. While the film transfer is wonderful quality, it loses the darkness of previous transfers, which causes some scenes to be not as scary or dramatic. The remixed soundtrack loses some of the sound effects used in the original track, and in some scenes, Bernstein’s score has been softened – all of which causing some scenes to lose their urgency.
While this set does provide never-seen-before footage, it would have been better for it to include all the alternate/deleted footage available, especially that which is found on the Elite anniversary laserdisc. In addition to the available TV spots and script/storyboard revisions, this set could have been more complete.
Final Comments: The Infinifilm DVD edition of A Nightmare on Elm Street is an excellent release, providing an interactive experience for its audience. Never-seen-before footage, new interviews, and informative featurettes have something for everyone, fans and novices alike.
Grade: A (film) | A (DVD release)