Fears on my Pillow

nightmare collectionEvery film in the “Nightmare on Elm Street” series was already available on DVD before New Line Home Video reissued them a while ago, but they did it anyway – the films, all eight of them, fit in two collections that contain four films each. These sets might seem like overkill, but the idea behind the whole “4 Film Favorites” series is to squeeze an entire franchise into one or two DVD collections. They even did it with the “Matrix” franchise, which is a special kind of achievement since it only inspired three theatrical releases.

Are the “Nightmare” collections worth the price, though? They’re $19.94 each, which is pretty cheap compared to the eight-disc box set that turned up for $60.98 about 10 years ago. On top of everything, the first collection came out before the release of the eighth film, “Freddy vs. Jason,” so you’ve got a bonus movie right there.

But hold on. When was the last time you felt like watching “Freddy vs. Jason”? Or how about the fifth film, subtitled “The Dream Child”? Or “Freddy’s Revenge” in the second film? Do you remember any of the characters, or the countless attempts that Freddy made to murder them?

Who cares? Hardcore fans, mostly, but everyone else might want to give it some thought before buying them. When you’re dealing with a franchise that inspired eight movies, you can expect more than a few missteps. There are a few good ones, though – deciding which ones outdo the others is up to you.

The only film that deserves your attention is the first one, which director Wes Craven made with a desperate budget and a solid script. Few films have been transformed by the digital treatment as dramatically as this one – if you’ve only seen it on video, you owe it to yourself to revisit it on DVD, where the picture is chillingly clearer. (Besides, after seeing the trailer for the remake, don’t you appreciate the original better?)

Some viewers like the third film the best, “Dream Warriors,” which Craven worked on as an executive producer and co-writer. (Frank Darabont, who would go on to direct “The Shawshank Redemption” and “The Green Mile,” helped him write it.) Craven came back to write and direct the seventh film, “New Nightmare,” which debuted in theaters 10 years after the original.

“Saw VI” opens soon. Will that series be remembered as fondly as this one 10 years from now? In your dreams.

enablingThe “Nightmare on Elm Street” series was one of the pivotal franchises of the ‘80s, along with “Police Academy” and “Friday the 13th.”

However, what originally spawned this series was the original 1984 classic, which is on par with “The Exorcist.” The original, which featured John Saxon and a young Johnny Depp, was without laughs and played strictly on the horror elements.

The follow-up, “Freddy’s Revenge,” was a role reversal, almost carbon copy of the original. A nearly strict horror with one intentional problem – the lead actor Mark Patton was a homosexual – causing the plot to come off more like a drama of a man coming to terms with his sexuality than a “Nightmare on Elm Street” film.

At one point, he decides to hide in his best friend Grady’s house (Robert Rusler) because he is afraid to have sex with the Meryl Streep look-alike, Kim Myers. Fans have all made their own interpretations, though most perceive it as a campy, delightful mid-‘80s movie.

“The Dream Warriors” is the best of the sequels because of the imaginative use of special effects and original concept with the help of Frank Darabont. The cast make it a worthwhile experience and the humorous side of Freddy started to reveal itself.

By part four (“The Dream Master”), the humor totally overshadows the horror, but the actors are capable, the deaths, gruesome and the overall experience is great.

If you don’t want to spend money on the entire collection, the first volume of the fan favorites is well worth your money and you can skip the second.

The series took a turn for the worst after the dark entry, “The Dream Child.” While watchable, the rest are waste of time. “Freddy’s Dead,” “New Nightmare” and “Freddy Vs. Jason” all stink up the winning series.

-Anthony Benedetto

About David Guzman 207 Articles
I just received my degree in journalism at Brooklyn College, where I served as the arts editor for one of the campus newspapers, the Kingsman. When it comes to the arts, I’ve managed to cover a variety of subjects, including music, films, books and art exhibitions. I’ve reviewed everything from “Slumdog Millionaire” (which was a good film) to “Coraline,” (which wasn’t) and I’ve also interviewed legendary film critic Leonard Maltin.

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