A Nightmare on Elm Street VHS Boxset

In my previous article, I showed you in details my Friday the 13th VHS boxset. This time, we are going to take a look at another VHS boxset which includes the first three Nightmare on Elm Street films. From the information written on the back of each VHS, it seems this boxset was released around 1998. It was edited by TF1 Vidéo and Mad Movies, a horror magazine which also released several VHS and DVD editions of various horror and cult films. This magazine is still in print though it differs from its original form.

The design is very simple. On the front, you see Freddy on a black background with Freddy written in bold green letters. The series is known as Freddy in France instead of A Nightmare on Elm Street. On the back, there are small pictures of each covers and there is a synopsis for every film included in the set. As you can see on the third picture above, the VHS are bright yellow.

 

The gallery above shows you the front and back of each VHS. I especially love the design with the original poster and the Mad Movies banner above it. As you know if you are familiar with the Nightmare on Elm Street franchise, the posters for Freddy’s Revenge and Dream Warriors have little to do with the movies themselves.

I didn’t find strange things in this boxset compared to the Friday the 13th one but this is a great retro item that I enjoy displaying in my collection.

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Review : Wes Craven’s New Nightmare (1994)

It has been 3 years since New Line Cinema released what was supposed to be the very last Nightmare on Elm Street film. In 1994, Wes Craven’s New Nightmare came along to give us a new concept and end the franchise on a better note. Wes Craven wrote and directed this last entry and took the nightmare in an entire new direction to celebrate the tenth anniversary of the original Nightmare on Elm Street.

It has been ten years since the release of A Nightmare on Elm Street. Heather Langenkamp (who portrayed Nancy) is now happily married to Chase, a special effects artist, and has a young son, Dylan. Heather is receiving creepy phone calls from a deranged fan imitating Freddy and is having bad dreams. When her husband dies under suspicious circumstances and her son starts acting out and having strange episodes, she realizes something evil is going on. She is soon contacted by New Line Cinema and finds out Wes Craven is working on the script of a new Freddy feature. But this time, Freddy seems to have entered the real world and to stop him, Heather is going to have to reprise her role as Nancy.

Wes Craven’s New Nightmare is difficult to review as part of the franchise because it is self-aware. The film acknowledges that A Nightmare on Elm Street is a franchise and the actors play themselves : Heather Langenkamp, Robert Englund and even Wes Craven are themselves in this film. This is an original concept and New Nightmare definitely paved the way for Scream which Wes Craven directed only two years later.

I thought Wes Craven did a great job at explaining why would Freddy exist in a world where he is clearly shown as a fictional character and a horror icon. Freddy is the incarnation of an ancient evil entity. Making movies about him acted as a catarthis for this evil force but once they stopped making new films in the franchise, the evil wasn’t contained anymore. The only illogical aspect of this concept is that we see the script of the film within the film so it feels weird that, for instance, Craven would kill off Heather’s husband knowing that what he writes is actually happening. While the idea is original, it raises a lot of questions and some plotholes emerge.

Freddy gets a new design here and it’s not all good in my opinion. I really didn’t like his face make-up. It looks extremely fake, like a Halloween mask you would buy at the store. I had never seen such symmetrical and well-rounded burn scars. His new glove also doesn’t match the greatness of the original one. They chose a more flesh and bone design and it doesn’t look right. However, Freddy looks awesome wearing the trench coat, I absolutely loved this wardrobe choice. Despite not liking his new look, I found Freddy really menacing and it feels great having a scary Freddy once again. They finally brought him back to his roots and dropped the stupid comical version of Freddy and we absolutely needed that.

Wes Craven’s New Nightmare being a meta film, it offers interesting views on the franchise and horror movies in general. It raises the question of the influence of horror movies on audiences and, something the fans will appreciate, it is a reflexion on what the franchise has become and how Freddy became a pop culture icon. The final act of the film brings us classic Nightmare on Elm Street with a final confrontation in the dream world.

New Nightmare is an interesting film. It does have its flaws and is an outsider in the franchise but it brings back scary Freddy and has a refreshing concept. Some of the effects are not so great and Miko Hughes (playing the young son) is really annoying but other than that, it is definitely an enjoyable watch and is much more satisfying as a last entry than Freddy’s Dead.

Review : A Nightmare on Elm Street Part 3 : Dream Warriors (1987)

A Nightmare on Elm Street Part 3, directed by Chuck Russell and released in 1987, is widely considered the best entry in the franchise. Bringing back Wes Craven to draft the script, this new installment remains true to the original film while being bigger, better and stronger.

Freddy is back haunting children’s dreams. Kristen is having a recurring nightmare and one night, while sleepwalking, she accidentally slits her wrist. Her mother sends her to a psychiatric hospital specializing in troubled teenagers. Kristen meets a group of kids who are all having the same nightmares. The teenagers soon find out they now have a new precious ally to fight off Freddy : their new dream therapist, Nancy Thompson.

Dream Warriors uses all the ingredients of the original film and improves them to provide the most entertaining entry in the franchise thus far. The best idea the writers came up with was to have Freddy face an entire group of protagonists instead of simply picking them off one by one, slasher style. What I especially enjoyed was how Freddy uses each character’s weakness to torture and murder them. This makes the kills much more sadistic and memorable.

The strength of the film resides in its characters. First, Freddy is better than ever, still spitting out one-liners (including the classic “welcome to prime time, bitch”) and being more creative than he’s ever been to dispose of the poor teenagers. We also learn more about his past, expanding the mythos of the iconic character. Our protagonists are all likable characters, each with their strengths and weaknesses. They are unfortunate children who haven’t done anything wrong to deserve what is happening to them. The adults around them (parents, doctors and medical staff), though acting with good intentions, never try to really understand them…until Nancy comes along ! Bringing back her character was a fantastic idea since it’s not a short cameo to satisfy the fans : she has a very important role in the film but never puts our protagonists in her shadow. John Saxon also comes back for a minor role.

Dream Warriors brings us out of Elm Street for the first time and offers a brand new playground for Freddy, who uses the new location (the psychiatric ward) in the best ways possible. The film brings us the best kills so far, each one being more creative than the last. The practical effects are especially great from Freddy’ chest of souls to a fantastic Ray Harryhausen stop-motion sequence.

It is rare enough for a sequel to be as good as the original but having one which almost surpasses it is a miracle….or the result of the hard work of talented people who love and respect the material they are working with. Dream Warriors is my favourite film in the franchise and I (obviously) highly recommend it !

Review : A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)

A Nightmare on Elm Street, directed by Wes Craven and released in 1984, not only brought a fresh new take on a static genre but also created one of the most famous horror icons. Whether you are a horror aficionado or not, you probably know who Freddy Krueger is and what he looks like. There isn’t much to write about A Nightmare on Elm Street that hasn’t been written before ; I am just here to confirm that the film does deserve its reputation.

Nancy and her friends are having the same nightmare every night : a strange and frightening man with a burnt face and a metal claws glove is chasing them. When her friends start dying in mysterious ways, seemingly in their sleep, she realizes Freddy Krueger might be more real than she thought. Only Nancy can stop him as nobody believes her when she warns the adults around her.

A Nightmare on Elm Street is a groundbreaking horror film. Freddy Krueger is the first villain of his kind. Until then, horror villains didn’t talk much or at all : Michael Myers, Jason Voorhees, Leatherface…But then comes along mister Freddy Krueger, the king of one-liners ! Freddy is extremely entertaining and you find yourself almost cheering for him…until remembering he’s the bad guy. He brings a lot of comedy to the film but instead of having it tone down the horrific atmosphere, it creates a unique tone and renders the killings even more sadistic. Wes Craven created one of the greatest horror villains in film history. His look is perfect and iconic : the burnt face (amazing make-up), striped sweater, fedora and of course, the infamous glove ! Freddy Krueger is a perfect character and I have nothing negative to say about him.

Now, let’s talk about the other characters. After all, we need teenagers for our Freddy to have fun ! Nancy is a great main character. She is strong and doesn’t give up easily. Unlike most slasher characters, she doesn’t make stupid decisions or acts irrationally. She tries her best to fight Freddy in a realistic manner. She’s a good opponent to Freddy although the way she ultimately defeats him is quite disappointing. The rest of the group of teenagers is also compelling, they’re not the typical annoying teens and you feel bad when they eventually get killed (but damn is this also really fun).

The film is extremely well shot and some scenes offer horrific and yet beautiful imagery, such as the bodybag dragged by an invisible force in the school corridor. The practical effects are extremely well-made, the story takes us to several great locations and there’s a perfect amount of gore. If you haven’t seen this classic yet, I can only recommend that you put it at the very top of your viewing list !

One, two, Freddy’s coming for you. Three, four, better lock your door. Five, six, grab a crucifix. Seven, eight, gonna stay up late. Nine, ten, never sleep again.