But it’s hardly the reason this five-disc box set holds
purchase appeal. That is, of course, the chance to have the initial
stretch of Freddy Krueger movies together on Blu-ray — a format the last four sequels hadn’t been released on until now.
near-instant phenomenon upon its 1984 bow, Wes Craven’s A
Nightmare on Elm Street remains a classic of boogeyman cinema,
if admittedly rough around the edges, establishing Robert Englund’s
hideously burned, razor-gloved killer as a nightmarish persona; that he
is one both in the figurative and literal sense is part of why he tapped
into the pop-culture consciousness. It’s important to note and remember
that Freddy didn’t begin as the wisecracking quip machine the later
entries would bring; Craven’s creation was one to be feared, not
Jack Sholder’s 1985 follow-up, A Nightmare on
Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge, intended to continue that
character trait, but its supposedly inadvertent homoerotic themes
distracted audiences. As a result, what was considered a disappointment
then (not in box-office returns, mind you) is revered by cult
enthusiasts today for its camp qualities.
Craven returned — at least for scriptwriting duties — for Chuck
Russell’s A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream
Warriors, my favorite of the series. It introduces elements of
humor that would come to dominate (perhaps most notably, “Welcome to
prime time, bitch!”), yet takes the fright seriously.
With the next
year’s A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master,
director Renny Harlin fully yields to the comedy, which Stephen Hopkins
continued in ’89’s A Nightmare on Elm Street 5: The Dream
Child, despite some splatterpunk ideas to varying success (yes
to the motorcycle death, no to the comic book-inspired Super Freddy). This pair of pictures tells a continuing story centered on girl-next-door type Alice (a winning Lisa Wilcox), arguably a more appealing heroine than Heather
Langenkamp’s Nancy of chapters one and three.
Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare is not as
conclusive as its title suggests, but Rachel Talalay certainly treats it
as such. It’s one of the slicker-looking entries, and works both as a
greatest-hits piece and Mad magazine-style parody of
itself. Pulling out all the stops, it even concludes with a 3-D sequence. Note that this Blu-ray presents it flat, so those with the 1999 New
Line Platinum Series version on DVD and its included red-and-blue
cardboard glasses may wish to hang on to it.
became the first returning director in the series with 1994’s divergent
Wes Craven’s New Nightmare, which finds actors
Englund and Langenkamp (and even Craven himself) being terrorized by
Freddy in “real” life. While not entirely successful, the meta approach
is certainly interesting, and one he would perfect two years later with
the biggest hit of his career, Scream.
Collection is loaded with extras from commentaries,
featurettes and deleted scenes to trailers, music videos and all the
ephemera from the ’99 DVD set, but without the annoying navigation of
that edition’s Encyclopedia bonus disc, which
required clicking through a seemingly endless maze to get to (read: luck
upon) unlabeled bonus content. Again, completists may not want to let
go of that; either way, this Blu-ray set is a hell of a deal.