Bonus Points: DVD Reviews

Freddy's Coming for You on DVD

A Nightmare on Elm Street
Nancy (Heather Langenkamp) gets ready to clobber Freddy Krueger (Robert Englund) in the original "Nightmare on Elm Street." (Zade Rosenthal - New Line Home Entertainment)

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By Jen Chaney
washingtonpost.com Staff Writer
Tuesday, September 26, 2006; 12:00 AM

"A Nightmare on Elm Street" (R; List price: $26.99)
Release Date: Sept. 26

Halloween is still several weeks away, but already the monsters are coming out on DVD.

Hoping to capitalize on the season of scares as soon as possible, New Line Home Entertainment has issued a new special edition of "A Nightmare on Elm Street," the surprise 1984 horror hit that introduced audiences to Freddy Krueger. The quick-witted and creepy burn victim who haunts teens' dreams makes his onscreen debut in this insomnia-inducing thriller, which later launched a series of largely inferior sequels. Admittedly, even the original veers into laughable territory on more than one occasion; the scene where a telephone receiver turns into Freddy's mouth is just one example. But "Elm Street" also remains significant for a number of reasons, most notably for providing then-fledgling New Line Cinema with its first bona fide success and kickstarting the career of a young actor named Johnny Depp.

Yes, that is Capt. Jack Sparrow starring here in his very first film. But anyone hoping for a Depp contribution to the bonus features on this two-disc set will be disappointed. Apparently he had better things to do than wax nostalgic about his character's bloody demise via a gaping hole in his bed. (I told you this movie gets a little silly.)

Fortunately writer-director Wes Craven, stars Heather Langenkamp and Robert Englund and other major "Elm Street" players do participate in the DVD's extras, which includes a making-of documentary, two featurettes, a trio of alternate endings, a trivia game and a new commentary track that consists of spliced-together anecdotes from members of cast and crew. The featurettes seem extraneous at best; "The House That Freddy Built: The Legacy of New Line Horror," for example, plays more like a commercial for the studio's other releases than anything else. But with the movie's remastered picture and sound, plus a set of extras that outperforms the limited material on the 1998 DVD, most Freddy fans will still be pleased to upgrade to this new "Nightmare."

Most Worthwhile Bonus Point: "Never Sleep Again: The Making of 'A Nightmare on Elm Street'," a 50-minute look at how this horror classic came together, is the most comprehensive and informative extra on the DVD. Among other things, viewers will learn how Krueger got his name (apparently Craven frequently got beaten up as a kid by a boy named Freddy) and how the cast literally stretched their limits -- cheap spandex was used for one of the film's visual effects -- in order to complete this low-budget shocker.

Best Depp Bonus Point: Although Depp does not appear on the DVD, he is mentioned a few times during the commentary track. New Line founder Robert Shaye, who notes that Charlie Sheen was considered for Depp's part but wanted too much cash, says of the then-novice actor: "I was delighted to see a good-looking guy who seemed like he was on the ball and would take the money, frankly." Adds Craven: "He had very, very high standards and he always thought he was doing terrible work."

On DVD This Week: "Curious George," "The Lake House" and more.

For more on new DVDs, visit washingtonpost.com's DVD section.


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