NEVER SLEEP AGAIN: THE ELM STREET LEGACY (2010)
By far the most comprehensive documentary I’ve seen of any film series, NEVER SLEEP AGAIN will keep you awake with amazing insights for the entirety of its 4-hour running time.
With participation from pretty much every key player (and then some), each of the 8 films (including FREDDY VS. JASON) and the short-lived TV series that featured the razor-gloved psychopath Freddy Krueger is given lavish attention with no (grave) stone left unturned.
Narrated by Nancy herself, Heather Langencamp, it’s an exhaustive oral history filled with clips and behind the scenes footage that even surprised me. I have obsessed over the NIGHTMARE films since they first appeared with A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET (1984) and I learned a great deal from this documentary, which features “warts and all” recollections that don’t hold back on the reality of how these films were made or eventually perceived.
What was even more impressive is that it features interviews with New Line Executives as well as people who had fleeting connections with the franchise, such as writers who didn’t ultimately write the final script. The only notable missing contributor is Johnny Depp, which is a shame as the original film helped launch his career.
The documentary also covers the rise of Robert Shaye and his New Line Cinemas culminating with its purchase by Time Warner and then his eventual ousting from the company he created and shepherded to levels of success that most only dream of.
Even though the films themselves were hit and miss with some real stinkers in the bunch, it is utterly fascinating to understand how and why each movie turned out the way it did. It’s clear that at a certain point Freddy Krueger became too big for his own good and once you have the importance of marketing eclipsing the importance of good storytelling, there’s bound to be a fall.
I can’t recommend NEVER SLEEP AGAIN enough. Directors Andrew Kasch and Daniel Ferrands have done a great thing by chronicling this iconic horror franchise and I do hope they turn their insightful lens to other horror franchises with this much aplomb.