Some time ago, Warner Home Video released the first of the "Nightmare On Elm Street" movies on Blu-Ray, making it kind of a teaser for the rest of the series. Now, without much ballyhoo, the studio has actually prepared all seven of the original films on Blu-Ray and brings them to us as a five-disc set.
The set starts out with the original Wes Craven film, A Nightmare On Elm Street, the movie that started the entire phenomenon. We witness in full 1080p high def glory how Freddy Krueger begins to stalk innocent teenagers in their dreams and kills them off one by one. Quality-wise the transfer found on this disc is identical to the one on the previous single-disc release of the movie, with rich colors and wonderful detail that allows you to see the dark world of Freddy in all its beauty. It features a DTS 7.1 HD Master Audio track that makes the most of the film's sound elements.
The next disc contains, Freddy's Revenge arguably the worst of all seven films in the series. With an inconsistent script that broke many of the rules that were put in place in the first movie, this film is nonetheless a lot of fun to watch, especially when it comes in such a great presentation as on this Blu-Ray Disc. To be honest with you, I had really bad memories about the film but when I revisited it on this release it just felt like a really campy - and thus funny - slasher flick, and no way as bad as I remembered. I guess time gets us a little distanced from the expectations we once had towards these releases when they first hit theaters. The transfer is once again beautiful and revels in detail and the cool dream textures.
My personal favorite of the series, right after Wes Cravens original comes next on the same disc. Dream Warriors is not only the most cinematic of all films it is also the one that explores the inner demons of Freddy and his victims the best. Combined with the kick-ass soundtrack found in this part, "Dream Warriors" is a Freddy fans dream. I must have seen this film a thousand times before, but never did I see it like this. The 1080p high definition transfer is so much better than anyone could have hoped for, breathing new life into the film as a whole. With powerful colors and so much visual detail, the presentation brings out the best of the film's great cinematography.
Part four in the series was Renny Harlin's take on Freddy. What was truly powerful about The Dream Master is the way how Harlin blurred the lines between dreams and reality. You never knew whether what you saw was real or just people's imagination running wild, though very dangerously so. The film constantly toys with the viewer, which still makes it one of my favorite sequels in the series, although it already shows some of Harlin's weaknesses in dramaturgy that would become even more pronounced in his later films. Nonetheless "The Dream Master" looks better than ever and the haunting soundtrack is coming through very nicely on this disc as well.
The Dream Child was the next film in the series and showed clear signs that the writers were struggling to find new edges they could hold on to, to tell another interesting story about Freddy. For the most part "The Dream Child" works quite well and blends in nicely with the style of "The Dream Master", making it a good sequel to that particular part. Sadly Freddy himself has become more and more of a live-action cartoon character over the past sequels and in "The Dream Child" it is taken to the point that he is not no longer scary, but instead a cartoony comedy character. Nonetheless, "The Dream Child" finds a spectacular presentation on the Blu-Ray Disc in this set, that will, no doubt, please fans of the series.
When the creative people behind the "Nightmare On Elm Street" series found that they had covered almost everything there is to cover with Freddy as a character, they decided to end the series with a great finale, called Freddy's Dead. This film is a wicked attempt to give Freddy free reigns and let him wreak havoc on his victims until he is finally put to rest. The notion that Freddy has turned into a cartoon character by now is actually used within the film itself by turning him into a video game villain how fights the player. It is a very funny scene, just like many other effects of the film. The film also featured a 3D ending and Warner has included the ending on this disc.
For a long time, Wes Craven had felt that the Freddy Krueger of the continuing series had very little in common with the character he had originally created and envisioned. To him Freddy had always been a mature villain and not simply the teenage slaying, one-line-spitting slasher we got to see in all the sequels. Freddy was much darker in his mind and to make a statement he decided to once again take full reign of the franchise he created and wrote Wes Craven's New Nightmare, the last film in the original series. Together with "Dream Warriors", "New Nightmare" is clearly the best of the sequels and carries a very unique stamp. The film is very mature and has a totally different atmosphere. Gone are the teenagers and the funny lines for Freddy. This time we go to the set of the original Nightmare film and witness how Freddy comes alive during the shooting of that film. We see how he starts to possess the people involved in the film and how Freddy starts manifesting himself in the real world. Starring much of the original cast who actually play themselves in this movie, Wes Craven has created a remarkable film here that skillfully toys with the dream sequences and always raises the question, "Is Freddy in all of us?"
For the most part, you will find all the bonus materials on the release that were part of New Line's glorious DVD set from 1999. There are countless featurettes recounting the production of each of the film as well as various aspects of it. One of the most staggering things about New Line's release at the time was how complete it was in giving fans a look behind the scenes and into the mind of the creative people behind the franchise. Also included are all the commentary tracks, deleted scenes, extended scenes, music videos, etc, so fans trying to replace the DVD set will not have to worry about losing anything.
In addition, Warner Home Video has actually added a brand new featurette "Fear Himself: The Life and Crimes of Freddy Krueger" which gives you even more material to salivate over.
Despite its completeness and overall quality, one of the most striking things about this release is how low-key it was. Freddy Krueger used to be New Line's crown jewel and the DVD version of the release back in 1999 came with a lot of fanfare and as a box set that truly stopped your breath. Now that New Line is owned by Warner Brothers, the glitz is gone. Freddy is no longer important and as such we get a slim Blu-Ray case that looks only fractionally larger than a regular Blu-Ray release, only that somehow the studio managed to squeeze five discs into it. For fans of the franchise and those of us who have witnessed how Freddy had essentially built New Line, this is a sad testament of how things have changed in Tinseltown.
"A Nightmare On Elm Street Collection" is a must-won for every fan of Freddy Krueger. The transfers are immaculate, offering so much more definition, depth and color than the previous releases, that add new life to an old villain.