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THE NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET COLLECTION

Review by Michael Jacobson

Stars:  Heather Langenkamp, John Saxon et al
Directors:  Wes Craven et al
Audio:  Dolby Digital 5.1
Video:  Widescreen 1.85:1 16x9 Enhanced
Studio:  New Line Cinema
Features:  See Review

Release Date:  September 21, 1999 

Box Set ***1/2  

For fans of Freddy, this is the ultimate DVD collection.  All seven films from the series are included, with a comprehensive eighth disc containing all the goodies and extras you could hope to amass for this franchise.  As I have reviewed the original film and Wes Craven’s New Nightmare independently, here is a brief rundown of the films that fell in between:

NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET 2:  FREDDY’S REVENGE *1/2

A rather uneven sequel, hindsight has proven this to be the entry that fits into the series the least well.  Freddy returns by slowly possessing a young boy (Mark Patton) and forcing him to do his nefarious bidding.

NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET 3:  DREAM WARRIORS ***1/2

One of the series’ best entries, and more of a sequel to the original than number 2.  The remaining Elm Street kids gather in a mental hospital and learn to use their various dream powers together as a team to do battle with Freddy. 

NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET 4:  THE DREAM MASTER ***

Directed by action master Renny Harlin, what this film lacks in story and character strength, it more than makes up for with pure entertainment value.  Some of the best special effects of the series are here, along with some of Freddy’s best kiss-off lines.

NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET 5:  THE DREAM CHILD *

Boring and uninspired, this is easily the least of the series.  Freddy uses the dreams of an unborn child to wreak his havoc.

FREDDY’S DEAD:  THE FINAL NIGHTMARE **1/2

By combining a storyline that takes place mostly “ten years from now” with a few flashbacks, this is one of the most surreal films in the franchise—at least when it doesn’t indulge in pure silliness.  Freddy is too much of an icon by this point to start trying to explain him away.  Mostly fun, nonetheless.  The original 3-D ending is intact on this DVD. 

Video ***1/2

All discs are anamorphically enhanced, boasting fresh transfers, and none are a disappointment.  As the series progresses and the films become more current, the quality generally improves, but I dare say, there’s none in the set that would rate below 3 stars.  Even the many dark scenes in the series generally look good, with well defined images and very little to no grain. 

Audio ***1/2

All films also boast terrific 5.1 remix soundtracks.  These new mixes add extra depth to the dynamic range and progressively better use of surrounds for punch and eerie effects as the films get newer and newer.  Once again, New Line delivers the goods.

Features ****

In addition to commentary tracks on numbers 1 and 7, this set boasts an “encyclopedia” disc to accompany the films.  On it, you’ll find trailers to all films, some music videos, in-depth interview footage for all of the movies, including a full documentary for the first film, a generous abundance of DVD ROM extras, and an interactive game.  In it, by exploring a labyrinth and gathering clues, you’ll uncover more hidden features and extras than you can count, including outtakes, Freddy’s MTV appearances, and even the original ending Wes Craven had filmed for the first movie.  In other words, enough to keep you busy for days.

Summary:

Nightmare on Elm Street was the film that made New Line Cinema into a major player in the industry, and the studio has certainly given the franchise all the respect it deserves with this box set.  With terrific anamorphic transfers for all films and an absolute wealth of bonus material, this will no doubt be the set by which all others in the future will be measured by.  If you’re a fan, then this is a package that’s definitely worth the money.