As far as documentaries go on movies or even complete franchises Never Sleep Again: The Elm Street Legacy sets a new standard. Running at almost four hours and covering all the 8 movies Freddy starred in as well as the TV series this documentary outshines Halloween: 25 Years Of Terror and His Name Was Jason with ease. The only “documentary” it is comparable to in terms of covering a franchise is the very good “Crystal Lake Memories”. A book on the Friday the 13th movies that features interviews with basically everybody that has ever worked on a Friday the 13th movie, like the hitchhiking girl from part 4. Never Sleep Again has even tracked down girl on bus #2 from the second movie, so there.
Never Sleep Again covers the movies in chronological order, each having their own stop-motion animation introduction which are actually pretty cool. Narrated by the star of three movies, Heather Langenkamp, the documentary mostly consist of people being interviewed as they look back on creating the films, alternated with behind the set footage that has never been seen before in most, if not all, cases. If you are a fan of the movies these talking heads are pretty interesting and amusing, and that’s mostly due to the fact that they do not shy away of pointing out the bad things that went on during filming and how disastrous the outcome sometimes was. After years people have come to terms with what they made and take the criticism with ease and acknowledging it as well. It’s fun to hear the makers talking about the unintentional gay under overtones in Elm Street 2 or the awful make-up of Freddy in part 5. Part 5 actually has a screen to screen comparison of the motor scene that was heavily cut for it to receive an R-rating by the MPAA.
But what is one of the most interesting aspects of documentaries like these is how the cast has aged. People like Robert Englund, Johnny Depp, Wes Craven and such have never been out of the spotlights and work on a steady basis so we have seen how they have grown old(er) with us, but most of the cast consisted of then unknown actors and actresses whose careers never took off. Some of them turned out to be pretty stunning (Lisa Wilcox) and aged very while others are unrecognizable (Tuesday Knight) or even scary (Lezlie Deane). Together with all the trivia that is mentioned and the behind the scenes footage this documentary is very interesting and fun to watch if you are a fan of the series. The pace is pretty good, never feeling too short or too shallow and even though I watched it over the course of three days I never had the sense it dragged. If you have 4 hours of spare time left chances are you’re watching it in one take and never feel bored by it. A feat as I know plenty of movies that bored me within 15 minutes.
Never Sleep Again: The Elm Street Legacy is the way to go on making documentaries covering movie franchises and I would love to see them go back on the Friday or Halloween series and give them even better documentaries. Just leave the Leprechaun series alone!