Directed by Wes Craven
Distributed by New Line Home Entertainment
Wow. I remember seeing A Nightmare on Elm Street in theatres way back when I was just a little kid. The Eighties do not seem so long ago, and it really trips me out when I overhear folks talking about some films from this decade being classics. In my childhood movies that were considered classics were usually filmed in black & white and were released sometime during the Thirties through the Sixties. But alas, the years they are passing me by. Lots of flicks I grew up watching are now considered modern classics by today’s youth and society in general. While that may be a bitter pill for me to swallow age-wise, I must admit some of them are very worthy of that moniker. Big screen bads like Jason, Michael Myers, Pinhead, and of course Freddy are without question this generation’s Frankenstein monster, Dracula, and Wolf-man. With the release of New Line’s Infinifilm DVD of the original A Nightmare on Elm Street, we finally get to see one of our own receive the royal DVD treatment it deserves.
I’m not going to sit here and relate to you just what makes Freddy’s first fear film foray a classic. Nor am I going to give you a brief synopsis of the movie’s plot. If you’re reading this and do not know who or what Freddy is by now, then you need a lot more guidance than even Dread Central can give you.
Instead, let’s look at the main reason you’re here: to find out what — if any — reason there is to replace your fine old original Elm Street DVD.
Let us begin with the look and sound of the product. By now it almost seems cliche to talk about a DVD transfer. DVD technology has pretty much been perfected, so it is safe to assume (unless otherwise noted) that the picture quality and sound are going to be on par with what you would expect. However, just as I would note a bad transfer, I have to also make mention of a truly stellar one. The bottom line here is that this version of A Nightmare on Elm Street is simply brilliant. It literally looks like it was filmed just a few months ago instead of the decades it has been. The perfect complement to the pristine video transfer is this disc’s sound mix. The 5.1 and 6.1 tracks are a true treat for the ears. It’s obvious that A LOT of love and attention went into this remastering as a whole. If this disc were bare bones, I’d get it just for the print. It’s that damned good. Prepare to see and hear this film like you never have before. Bravo.
Now let’s get straight to the nitty-gritty — the Infinifilm aspect of this DVD release. For the uninitiated, Infinifilm editions of a particular feature are a viewing experience the likes of which we seldom get. How the Infinifilm supplements work is like this: After choosing the Infinifilm option, the movie will play as per usual. However, throughout the film’s run time you will be prompted via a special pop-up onscreen menu to click an option that will lead to supplemental material (i.e., a behind-the-scenes segment, kill scenes from one of the other Nightmare films, or a brief interview) as a means to either learn more about a particular segment of the film or just be treated to a related / similar kill that took place later in the franchise. Once the Infinifilm extra ends, the movie then resumes until you make another choice when prompted. Sound a bit confusing? Try explaining this feature! Sheesh, I’m still not sure if you get the picture, but rest assured once you start messing with the options, you’ll get into the swing of things in no time at all.
While the aforementioned behind-the-scenes footage and interviews are cool, the star of this package for horror fans will be all of the alternate takes of scenes that are included as Infinifilm extras. I’ve never seen the footage of Freddy dragging Tina across the ceiling during her death scene. It was like finding a long lost piece of a puzzle that you’ve only heard about or imagined. The good news is that there are plenty of extra scenes involving the clawed one included here that are just as rare, and just as much fun to finally watch. My little black heart is ready to burst with mean spirited joy!
As if the Infinifilm feature wasn’t enough, you can even further enhance your viewing experience. The DVD packs two commentaries. One from the original DVD release with Wes Craven, Heather Langenkamp, and John Saxon (which flows better and is more intimate), and one with what seems like every conceivable person who had anything to do with the film’s production. From the F/X coordinator to Englund himself, the gang is all here. Well, all in the sense that everyone contributes, but not all in the sense that they were contributing at the same time. The new commentary is comprised of several commentaries that were recorded at different times and then edited together. Almost sounds as confusing as explaining what Infinifilm is, doesn’t it? Yep, there’s an awful lot of stimuli here. Brace yourself and let’s move along.
Along with the two commentaries and the Infinfilm features, there’s also a subtitled fact track that runs throughout the film. The sick thing? You can watch and listen to all of these features at the same time. That’s right, you can turn on the subtitle fact track while listening to a commentary and while clicking and watching the Infinifilm features. If you are a fan, watching the movie this way will school you on everything you ever wanted to know about this franchise and then some. All in all it took me almost two and a half hours to go through the entire movie like this. It was a bit overwhelming but thankfully laid out in a fashion that is never confusing.
So what about those of you who don’t want your Elm Street experience tampered with? Is there a way for you to see all of this cool stuff including the alternate takes and three — count ‘em — alternate endings without them interrupting the movie? You betcha! That’s what Disc Two is for!
Disc Two, or the All Access Pass as it is called, lines up most of the Infinifilm supplements featurette style. Each one runs between ten to twenty minutes, and honestly you couldn’t hope for more. The first featurette entitled Never Sleep Again: The Making-of A Nightmare on Elm Street follows the process of bringing Craven’s vision to the big screen. From casting to the F/X, no stone is left unturned. Back then the giant we all know as New Line was just a fledgling company. While listening to Robert Shaye and crew, one begins to wonder how this project ever got off of the ground to begin with. Thankfully it did, and the rest is horror history.
From there we get a little ditty called The House that Freddy Built: The Legacy of New Line Horror. Yep, it’s no secret. New Line was built upon the scarred shoulders of one Freddy Krueger. As a result, the studio has a ton of admiration and love for the genre. This featurette details all of their other horror franchises, like the Final Destination series, and most notably how they were able to bring everyone’s favorite pissed off mamma’s boy, Jason, and even Leatherface to their table. Could Pinhead and Myers be far off? The New Line crew doesn’t think so. Ponder that for a moment. Never mind Freddy Vs. Jason, can you imagine the serial killing battle royale that could take place should everyone get their ducks in a row? Sure, it’d probably be kind of silly, but hot damn, who wouldn’t want to see more of their favorite villains square off?
Things then get rounded up with a featurette known as Night Terrors: The Origins of Wes Craven’s Nightmares. Fans in the know have all heard Craven’s stories about his inspiration for the Nightmare movies, and truth be told I thought this was going to be yet another rehashing. Instead, it’s a fairly detailed exploration of what nightmares are and how they affect the people who have them. Pretty nifty, and thankfully not just the same old stuff.
Companies need to go a long way for their DVD packages to be considered perfect. With this release New Line has proven that they not only are prepared to go that far, but they’re willing to go even further. A masterful job, indeed! I know I am gushing like the geyser of blood that emits from Depp’s bed, but with good reason! Freddy fans rejoice! This DVD is your dream come true.
Five … Six … Go and buy this disc!
Special Features Disc One
Remastered picture restored from the original negative
Dolby Digital 5.1 – EX surround sound and DTS-ES
Original mono track
Two feature length cast and crew commentaries
Subtitle fact track
Behind-the-scenes footage and interviews
Alternate / extended takes
Kill scenes from other Nightmare films
Three alternate endings
DVD ROM content
Special Features Disc Two
Never Sleep Again: The Making-of A Nightmare on Elm Street featurette
The House that Freddy Built: The Legacy of New Line Horror featurette
Night Terrors: The Origins of Wes Craven’s Nightmares featurette
Three alternate endings
DVD ROM content
5 out of 5