Never Sleep Again: The Elm Street Legacy


‘…Freddy fans will relish this, but even for the non-adherent, there’s plenty of juicy Elm Street gossip here to keep you awake at night…’

Yikes! After completing last year’s six hour plus Friday the 13th documentary, you’d think I’d have had enough of forensically detailed accounts of famous horror franchises, but unfortunately I’m just the kind of person who wants the group of survivors to split up so I can investigate the noises coming from the disused boiler-room by myself. Never Sleep Again is from the same distribution stable, 101 Films, and while this two-disc edition has plenty of extras to offer, the main meal is a detailed 2010 recounting of the rise and rise of Freddy Krueger, paralleling the ascent to the top of indie New Line Cinema. Freddy was a pop culture figure that everyone knew, but were his films any good?

My first view of Freddy was while I was still at school; we’d dog off back to someone’s house and watch what the UK government had helpfully branded ‘video nasties’ in the late afternoons. While the original Nightmare on Elm Street was not one of these films, it was equally a must see for inquiring teenagers; the story of some teens who find that the child-molester that their parents murdered is now seeking bloody revenge in their dreams, Wes Craven’s film harnessed a latent power in firmly connecting sex and violence; the key image is Freddy’s threatening silhouette standing with ridiculously outstretched arms, a grotesque parody of a Christ figure and deliberately disturbing for youngsters. Never Sleep Again devotes a good 45 minutes to interviewing key cast and creative from the first film, and then works methodically through the remaining rather less scary seven films, tv show, video games and other Freddy Krueger related items.

While the access to talent is remarkable, what’s revealing in Daniel Farrands and Andrew Kasch’s doc is how honest the film-makers are about the short-comings of their product; these frank interviews explain far more than a hundred YouTube tributes could. From David Warner’s test as Freddy to Peter Jackson’s wild notions for the sixth film, there’s tonnes of new material to consider, with a Greek chorus of writers working on Nightmare 5 something of a comic highpoint. The series also pulled in some remarkably varied talent, including Johnny Depp, Alice Cooper, Breckin Meyer, Yaphet Kotto, Rosanne Barr and Tom Arnold, Dick Cavett, Zsa Zsa Gabor and many more, so there’s rarely a dull moment, particularly when director and raconteur Ronny Yu is on camera. And there’s also remarkable footage of large scale prosthetics and hydraulic effects going wrong that makes it surprising that nobody died making these films.

On blu-ray for the first time in the UK, Never Sleep Again also does get into the more serious issues that came out of the Nightmare cycle; the morality to merchandising children’s pyjamas with a image of a deformed child–molester is discussed, and not all of the views expressed about Freddy are in tune with todays’ woke attitudes. But like them or loathe them, the Freddy films are a big part of cinema history, a classic monster who embodied the fears and anxieties of the time of his creation, and also died a post-modern death caused by his own ubiquitous- ness. Fans will relish this, but even for the non-adherent (I’ve only felt the need to see a couple of these films in the cinema), there’s plenty of juicy Elm Street gossip here to keep you awake at night…

Released on 2disc Bluray 6 th February 2023. Thanks to 101 Films for advanced access.

Special features:
Commentary with directors Andrew Kasch and Daniel Farrands, writer Thommy Hutson, and cinematographer Buz
Danger Wallick
Slashed Scenes: Extended Interviews with Cast and Crew
For the Love of the Glove
Fred Heads: The Ultimate Freddy Fans
Horror’s Hallowed Grounds: Return to Elm Street
Freddy vs. The Angry Video Game Nerd
Expanding the Elm Street Universe: Freddy in Comics and Novels
The Music of the Nightmare: Conversations with Composers and Songwriters
Elm Street’s Poster Boy: The Art of Matthew Joseph Peak
A Nightmare on Elm Street in 10 Minutes
First Look: Heather Langenkamp’s “I Am Nancy”
Teaser trailer

Never Sleep Again: The Elm Street Legacy (2010) (Blu-ray)


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  1. Interesting, but don’t see any refs to origins of Freddy K story, which we know was based on real events, per admission by Craven. I discussed briefly in blog, RE Cambodian killing field 1975-79, over 1M killed! Cam teens who escaped had terrible nightmares, PTSD, tried to stay awake, but eventually had to sleep, and died in real life. Perhaps more info in commentary? Killer mom kept Fred’s glove and his hat.
    Does it sound too witchy to say ‘what a world, what a world’ that would franchise and keep alive this story without offering a psych solution for pain of nightmare disorder, ptsd, dyssomnias, narcolepsy, molestation and murder? What’s that expression, either follow your dreams, or chase your nightmares? Freddy’s always ready to play.

    • Yup, there are several origin stories that are discussed here, but you are right, Craven does attribute the idea to a real wave of Asians dying in their sleep in California. But I was unaware of the several specific origin stories for Freddy that are offered up here, one via the Freddy’s Nightmares tv show which does look interesting, and a few other glimpses revealed in the later movies. Although Craven’s New Nightmare seems like the pick of the bunch, I’d say that the Freddy series never took the turn towards the serious that might be expected with these themes. Does the first film suggest some kind of male guilt, with the sins of the sons passed onto the fathers via Freddy? I guess they were too busy with prosthetics and campy gags to dig deep, but the reboot was frustratingly vague. Didn’t Springsteen say ‘I’m you die in your dreams, you really die in your bed?’ Unfortunately, Freddy monopolised the dream logic idea, and few other films chose to tread on his territory. It seems like a shame the heady stew of elements that get mentioned have never really been developed…

  2. Do they discuss Freddie vs Jason at all?
    I saw the 3rd movie, Dream Warriors on tv and besides not being a horror fan, it was just sooooo bad. There are times I wonder how these horror franchises survive themselves.

    • Ronny Yu directed Freddy vs Jason and he’s very funny, given that he wasn’t interested in either franchise. Rubbish film though…

  3. There’s a commentary track on a documentary that’s basically a commentary?

    I’ve been putting off going through the Elm Street catalogue but might take it on this year. I’d probably watch bits and pieces of this along the way, like I did with the Crystal Lake Memories doc. That was pretty useful, but like you say only of real interest to fans.

    Not sure what it means to “dog off” with your school chums. Isn’t dogging something indecent in the UK?

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