Written by: Matt Molgaard
I’m a freak for documentaries. I have absolutely zero problems letting a strong doc swallow me whole. It doesn’t necessarily happen all too often, but when it does, it’s almost magical. And when it comes to the genre in specific there are a number of stellar pics out there. There’s an amazingly informative Jaws documentary out there, a few kick ass Scream docs, a fun Roger Corman piece and even a conspiracy laced picture about The Shining (the recently released Room 237) available. And that’s only a small slice of the wicked genre docs available. There are stacks to sort through, and some are genuinely riveting. Take for example Never Sleep Again: The Elm Street Legacy, a four hour film that covers every base imaginable from Wes Craven’s original Nightmare to the financial freight train, Freddy vs. Jason.
The only Nightmare pic not covered in this extensive film is Samuel Bayer’s 2010 remake, which landed in theaters about a week prior to the release of Never Sleep Again. It’s obvious that Never Sleep Again was a promotional tool to help drive remake sales through the roof (I wouldn’t say it worked, exactly), and that was a fair game plan. Even if it didn’t work out quite as well as it could have, it was solid timing, but I would have loved to see Bayer’s film covered as well, because I’m itching to hear what rubbish Super Bitch, Rooney Mara (seriously, the snobbiest wretch in the business today) might come up with. Maybe we’ll see that somewhere down the line.
This specific piece is packed with insight from just about every key player involved in the series (sans Johnny Depp, who would’ve made for a nice addition). From creator Wes Craven to famed producer Bob Shaye to Heather Langenkamp, to Robert Englund, the crucial lineup is present and candid. We get a look at how some of the franchise’s most iconic scenes were put together (Tina’s death in the original, which involves a complete revolving room and a lot of interesting info about the assembly of the wild contraption, for example), hear from just about every lead performer to tangle with Freddy (sadly, Patricia Arquette is missing from the production), examine subtext, learn about the special effects work invested over the years, and a whole lot more. It’s comprehensive, to say the least.
Something is working rather well when a four hour film holds my attention in a death grip. And I couldn’t peel myself away from Never Sleep Again. It’s so informative it is insane, and some of the blunt truths about these movies is educational to say the least. The mood remains light throughout the documentary (until the final few minutes, in which a teary eyed Wes Craven reminds us that the heyday of the franchise is something long, long gone), and the jokes are hurled about freely. This is an awesome piece of work that’s damn near guaranteed to have your eyelids peeled back for 240 minutes straight. Seek it out, buy it.