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Our review of A Nightmare on Elm Street Collection (Blu-ray), published March 18th, 2013, is also available.
If you think you'll get out alive. You're dreaming!
Interestingly enough, as the A Nightmare on Elm Street sequels begin to show up on Blu-ray, New Line decided to give us Freddy's Revenge and Dream Warriors together in one combo disc. Fans have been speculating this is to prevent dismal sales of what some see as the weakest link in the franchise, the first sequel seemingly breaking all the established rules for its serial killer with the finger knives. Whatever the case may be, the double feature marks some of Robert Englund's best work, as starts to inhabit his role as the bad dream guy all too easily.
A Nightmare on Elm Street Part 2: Freddy's Revenge is the one everybody seems to want to forget about. Wes Craven was not involved with the production, because he (like many horror masters) thought his original film should stand alone without a franchise built around it. The result is a film that feels quite different than any other Elm Street installment, presenting variations on Freddy's abilities which never surfaced again. Part Two marks the only time Freddy Krueger materialized in the real world or attempted to possess another person. It's also the last time the house on Elm Street plays a pivotal location role, and the only time the synthesized dream lullaby music is not used in the score.
The story revolves around young Jesse Walsh (Mark Patton, Come Back to the Five and Dime, Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean) who moves into Nancy's house from the first film. Plagued by fevered nightmares of Freddy Krueger, he eventually starts to sleep walk. Jesse's new girlfriend (Kim Myers, Hellraiser: Bloodline) begins to notice this strange behavior and helps him to uncover what'ss happening. Jesse's good friend Ron (Robert Rusler, Vamp) also tries to assist, but both have to figure out how to help him fight off the dream killer before it's too late for them all.
A Nightmare on Elm Street Part 2: Freddy's Revenge is an interesting piece of horror history, because it's easily the most homoerotic slasher film ever made. The lead is a guy who seems more than a little torn between his beautiful girlfriend and athletic guy friend, and this whole struggle with Freddy could easily be seen as a metaphor for "coming out." There is an over the top sequence where Jesse even picks up a victim in a gay bar, and then Freddy offs him using a naked S&M style execution in the gym shower. Yeah, it's pretty much that gay and unapologetic about it. Screenwriter David Chaskin identified as homosexual, and lead actor Mark Patton was also a member of the queer community. Together they manage to sprinkle informed notes throughout the film that will resonate with GLBT viewers more so than general audiences.
Part Two plods along in most places, taking time with the characters and never becoming as gory as what we'd see in later films. Playing out more like a drama, Freddy is absent through much of the narrative, scoring only thirteen minutes of screen time in the film's eighty-five minute run. He materializes in the real world through Jesse, and this is the only time that ever happened. Freddy seems intent on escaping the realm of sleep, but we never really understand why. A rather lackluster pool party sequence descends into camp with the killer running after a whole gang of teens who look taller and more menacing than him. Yet somehow the idea of Jesse struggling with Freddy's urges inside of him works, and the film manages to stay coherent and interesting despite the pacing problems and lack of logic.
Two years later, A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors heralded the return of Wes Craven's involvement with the series, bringing along original heroine Nancy (Heather Langenkamp, A Nightmare on Elm Street). The decision was made to do a more direct sequel to the first chapter, as well as return Freddy solely to the realm of dreams, as much as they could. A more humorous tone was also added with the killer showing a new penchant for delivering Henny Youngman one-liners before offing any kids.
Dream Warriors was the first project for a young Patricia Arquette (Medium), and featured both Craig Wasson (Body Double) and Laurence Fishburne (The Matrix) in supporting roles. It also brings a more fantastical feel to the kills, which all happen in dreams and feature some of the most memorable deaths in the series. Who can forget the puppet master version of Freddy, the phallic snake monster, or nurse Freddy who shot tongues at his victim? It's more of a hoot than the second film, and moves at a much quicker pace with verve and purpose. The film even provides a nice origin story, courtesy of a mysterious nun who would go on to figure prominently in future installments. Dream Warriors breathed much needed life into the franchise, and rightfully made Freddy the star of the show.
The Blu-ray gives each film its own menu, once you decide which feature you want to explore. Presented in 1.85:1 1080p high definition, the transfers look stunning, far more evolved than what has been previously released on DVD. Surprisingly, it's Freddy's Revenge that benefits most from the HD upgrade, looking more polished and clear with nice detail popping through. Dream Warriors looks great too, but it's a little darker and harder to see detail as clearly, and the film's many special effects start to show their seams in high definition. The DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio tracks help both films with the atmospheric sound fields that ups the scare factor nicely.
Bonus features don't offer up anything new, but might be for anybody who did not purchase the elaborate DVD sets with their Encyclopedia feature. What is offered are four featurettes on Freddy's Revenge and seven featurettes on Dream Warriors. All of these were produced for the 1999 DVD box set. We also get music videos, which provide some additional cheesy fun.
If you're a fan of the Elm Street series, the tech upgrade makes this release a fun double feature. In one package, we get the most experimental version of the character, followed by the film that defined him for the rest of the sequels. Warner Bros. has released a complete series Blu-ray set, collecting all seven films and a bonus disc of new extras. With any luck, we'll get around to reviewing that as well.
Guilty of giving me bad dreams at least 2 or 3 times the night I watched this
Elm Street double bill.
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Scales of Justice, A Nightmare On Elm Street 2: Freddy's Revenge
Perp Profile, A Nightmare On Elm Street 2: Freddy's Revenge
Studio: New Line
Distinguishing Marks, A Nightmare On Elm Street 2: Freddy's Revenge
Scales of Justice, A Nightmare On Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors
Perp Profile, A Nightmare On Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors
Studio: New Line
Distinguishing Marks, A Nightmare On Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors
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