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This review originally appeared in issue 14 of THE CINEMA LASER.


The folks at Elite Entertainment Inc. deserve a hearty congratulations from horror fans for releasing their THX certified edition of Wes Craven's A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET ($100) on Laserdisc. The credit goes to Elite Entertainment's Vini Bancalari and Don May Jr., who produced the disc, which is a horror fan's dream. This presentation of A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET is so good, that it totally blows away the previous Laserdisc release, as well as the original theatrical prints of the film. Elite Entertainment Inc. has also issued a film only, Letterboxed edition of A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET taken from the same transfer, but minus the stereo surround soundtrack for $40.00.

A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET is now a horror film of legend, which spawned a franchise that has lasted through seven films. The original film about nightmare boogeyman Freddy Krueger has lost none of its impact (although the gore levels of later films may have superseded it), and thanks to the fantastic new transfer has become even more effective. The plot is familiar to most horror fans, but for the uninitiated, it concerns a group of teenagers who all share a common nightmare which centers around that ghastly apparition with burnt features and a knife taloned glove who goes by the name of Freddy Krueger. It seems that Freddy is bent upon killing these teens in their dreams, which has the unfortunate side effect of killing them in real life as well. A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET succeeds greatly as a horror film because director Wes Craven effectively blurs the distinction between dreams and reality, imbuing the film with a horrifying hallucinatory quality. In his later sequel to this film, WES CRAVENS NEW NIGHTMARE, Craven takes this approach to an even higher level, completely disorienting the audience, and creating an even more terrifying atmosphere. The cast of A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET includes Heather Langenkamp, John Saxon, Ronee Blakely, Amanda Wyss, Nick Corri, Johnny Depp and Robert England.

As I stated above, the Letterboxed transfer of A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET is a stunner. This low budget production only looks as good as it does on this Elite Laserdisc because Jacques Haitkin, the film's cinematographer, personally supervised this transfer, which necessitated him to re-time the color for most (if not all) of the film. The film elements used for the transfer appear nearly pristine, but I did notice one small scratch. The Letterboxing restores A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET to a proper 1.85:1 aspect ratio and the compositions appear accurate.

The digitally encoded soundtrack has been re-mixed into surround by Chase Productions for this deluxe release, from the original sound elements. The surround is very effective, without sounding fake or distorted like some re-mix jobs. The re-mix is truly an added bonus for this release. The film's original monaural soundtrack appears on one of the analog tracks. My sample of the Pioneer pressing had some speckling on the first side, which was a bit annoying.

The film is presented in CLV on sides one and two, while the supplements on sides three and four are in CAV. Supplements include over thirty minutes of deleted scenes and never before seen footage, alternate endings, a still frame archive, the original first draft script, a Wes Craven filmography and an audio commentary. The audio commentary features director Wes Craven, cinematographer Jacques Haitkin, and performers Heather Langenkamp and John Saxon. The commentary is both entertaining and informative as both technical aspects of the film are discussed in addition to the good natured jibes and anecdotes that are shared among the participants.

Elite Entertainment Inc. consistently delivers high quality releases, their edition of A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET is one that horror fans will want to add to their collections. For collectors on a budget, their film only version also gets a very high recommendation.


Laserdisc reviews are Copyright 1996 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.



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