Wednesday, January 25, 2012

A Nightmare on Elm Street Blu-ray Review

Reviewed by Jami Ferguson

I’ve been a big fan of horror movies since I was kid, and I’m not picky about the type. I love zombies, werewolves, vampires, serial killers, creature features – you name it. Good horror movies, and bad – I usually love them all.  One thing I don’t have warm and fuzzy feelings about is the Nightmare on Elm Street franchise. I usually find horror movies very entertaining, but not actually scary. As a child/teenager I found Freddy Krueger to be downright scary.  Some of the other “big names” in the horror business might scare a lot of people but in my mind, I always thought they were no big deal. I’m pretty sure I could out run both Jason Voorhees and Michael Myers. Since vampire and werewolf movies aren’t based in reality, I’m not overly concerned with meeting my maker at the hand of some supernatural being. But a guy who is the definition of evil and can kill you in your dreams – THAT’S SCARY and I’m not okay with it! It had been at least 10 years since I’d seen Freddy, so I got my Snuggie, locked the doors and windows, and put A Nightmare on Elm Street in the Blu Ray player. I’m happy to say I survived the experience, and even enjoyed myself a little.

Film (4 out of 5 stars) 

This is a re-imagining of the Nightmare on Elm Street franchise, directed by Samuel Bayer. It is not a sequel or a prequel, and it doesn’t require any knowledge of the other movies to appreciate or understand it. Although this is a remake, the filmmakers made a very smart decision to keep some of the important iconic elements of the original Freddy Krueger. Freddy is as terrifying as ever, in his striped sweater, fedora and a glove of knives. I doubt Freddy Fans would have stood for a movie that left any of those elements out. They also wisely chose to use the creepy “one two…Freddy’s coming for you” song. The plot too, remains the same. Very simply, a weirdo pedophile gets burned alive by the parents of his victims. He then takes revenge on the children (now teenagers) in their sleep although it isn’t ever explained why he chose to wait until they became teenagers to start invading their dreams. The teens soon realize that they are all having similar dreams and that when you die in your dream, you die in real life. After Freddy invades their nightmares, many attempt to avoid sleep which leads to uncontrollable “micro naps”. The lines between the waking world and the dream world blur and the characters are constantly in danger from a very vengeful Freddy.
Watching A Nightmare on Elm Street, I started thinking a lot about the dilemma that the kids faced –how to kill Freddy. Freddy was murdered and takes his revenge on his victims while they are dreaming. In the dream world, Freddy is in complete control and cannot be killed. Eventually, they come to the conclusion that the only way they can kill Freddy is to lure him out of the dream world into ours, which will make him mortal. This is the part I have a problem with. If Freddy was sent to the dream world to terrorize people after his own brutal death, doesn’t it stand to reason that killing him would just send him back to the dream world again? If it were me, I would have been thinking of a way to contain Freddy in our world since killing him obviously doesn’t have the intended effect. I’d be afraid that killing him twice would really make him angry. It’s possible I’m over thinking this.
One thing that’s new is the look of Freddy. He used to look like he was wearing a mask, now he really looks like a burn victim and you can tell a lot of time and care went into creating his new look. Initially, I thought no one but Robert Englund could play Freddy Krueger. Now I can admit that Jackie Earle Haley was an excellent choice. In this film, you see him as Fred Krueger who is a gardener at the preschool and of course later as Freddy Krueger – undead homicidal maniac. Haley does a great job filling Freddy’s shoes, or striped sweater, in this case.
Overall the writing was good, but I think this could have been a much scarier film. It seemed to me that Freddy Krueger had an excessive amount of dialogue. The more he talked the more human he seemed, and a lot less frightening. The image of Freddy chasing someone, knives at the ready, is scary enough. He doesn’t need to explain why he’s so angry and doesn’t need to verbally taunt his victims non-stop.

Video (4 out of 5 stars) 

This is a seriously dark movie, and the video quality does not disappoint. Freddy’s victims are repeatedly drawn into his dark, dank, steamy basement that serves as his hunting ground and the video quality is more than adequate to see the terror on their faces despite the ever present darkness.  Speaking of the darkness, the black levels were deep and inky and maintained good detail most of the time.   I did notice dirt in some parts and the color palette kept changing from a blue-grey steel look to a warmer orange hued look which may have been what the director intended.  Some of the scenes looked soft but I liked the wide-screen (2.35:1) picture quality overall.

Audio (4 out of 5 stars) 

This film made very good use of the 5.1 Dolby Digital surround sound. There was a lot of creepy breathing, and scary noises that kept me looking over my shoulder. The atmospheric feel of the movie was enhanced by using every channel extremely well especially by rain and stalking scenes.  I definitely felt like I was in the middle of the action. This isn’t an action flick with big explosions and gun fire, but the blood curdling screams are heard loud and clear and thumps from the sub-woofer don’t disappoint either.  Dolby Digital 5.1 French and Spanish tracks and subtitles are also available.

Special Features (3 out of 5 stars) 

This disc has some deleted, alternate, and extended scenes as well a new Maniacal Movie Mode that doesn’t work as well as it could have if it had just been used as another extra.
Alternate Opening – Interesting to watch, but I’m glad this was not the opening they used. It was a good decision to start the movie in a creepy diner and start off with a nightmare right away.
Alternate Ending – Again, I think the ending in the film makes a better ending. In the alternate ending you see Freddy go back to his unburnt former self. This ending has a whole different feel to it, and I prefer the movie as is.
Freddy Krueger Reborn – Offers a lot of insight into the planning of this film. Filmmakers and actors discuss in detail how long and hard they worked to get the film made. It is clear they are all fans of the original films and took care to do it justice with their reinvention of Freddy Krueger.
Maniacal Movie Mode – This is basically a picture in a picture featurette. You can turn the maniacal movie mode on or off during the film. When the featurette pops up, there doesn’t seem to be a specific rhyme or reason. It doesn’t specifically relate to that particular part of the film currently playing so I think this should have just been a, stand alone featurette. Watching this and the film at the same time is confusing. I caution you not to turn Maniacal Movie Mode on for your first viewing because you will miss a lot of the film, and will find the featurette distracting.
BD-Live – Not very interesting as all it has are some previews for upcoming releases.

Final Thoughts (4 out of 5 stars) 

This remake of A Nightmare on Elm Street is less campy than the original classic horror franchise it should still appeal to long-time fans. Freddy Krueger has a more realistic burn victim look and is as terrifying as ever. I beg fans of Robert Englund to give the new Freddy a chance. Visually, this is a very dark film which shows well on Blu Ray. I hope to see a sequel to this movie because as horror fans know, the bad guy never really dies.
Get your copy today!

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