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New Line Home Cinema presents
Wes Craven's New Nightmare (1994)

"It can be captured sometimes. By storytellers, of all things. Every so often, they imagine a story good enough to sort of catch its essence. Then, for a while, it's held prisoner in the story. But the problem happens when the story dies. And that can happen in a lot of ways. It can get too familiar to people, or somebody waters it down to make it an easier sell - When the story dies, the evil is set free."
- Wes Craven (Himself)

Review By: Dale Dobson   
Published: September 16, 2000

Stars: Heather Langenkamp, Robert Englund, Miko Hughes
Other Stars: Wes Craven, David Newsom, Tracy Mittendorf, John Saxon
Director: Wes Craven

Manufacturer: Warner Advanced Media Operations
MPAA Rating: R for (violence, some language)
Release Date: August 22, 2000
UPC: 794043502224
Genre: horror

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer
A- B+A-B+ B+

DVD Review

Wes Craven's New Nightmare revived the long-running Nightmare on Elm Street series, bringing Freddy Krueger back to life after the sixth film had supposedly laid him to rest. The film also marked the return of the series' creator Wes Craven to active duty; he pokes some fun at the franchise that made the unlicensed "Horror Sweater" a K-Mart Halloween staple, but also restores Krueger's power to terrify. Set in the "real world," the film focuses on Heather Langenkamp, the actress who played Nancy in the first and third films, playing "herself" as New Line producers Sara Risher and Robert Shaye attempt to lure her back to Elm Street with a new script by Craven. When her special-effects guru husband Chase (David Newsom) dies in a mysterious accident, Krueger turns up in her dreams and her young son (Miko Hughes) begins spouting the Tao of Freddy, she fears for her own sanity.

New Nightmare presages Craven's Scream in some ways, reflecting on the horror genre and its conventions, referring most specifically to the Nightmare films, of course, with nods to fairy tales, Poltergeist and The Exorcist. Craven's script is equally interested in the film business that kept Freddy Krueger alive, and witty enough to amuse without losing sight of its purpose as a horror film; by facing Freddy's pop-culture image and explicitly divorcing the character from it, he makes him a dark, elemental, frightening force once again. The film also has a genuine flair for human drama—the relationship between "Heather" and her son Dylan is touching and very believable, with a stronger performance from Langenkamp than most will expect, and none of Freddy's victims deserve to die.

The cast is filled with Nightmare alumni—John Saxon returns from the first film, Wes Craven himself appears to espouse an interesting Krueger-as-evil-manifested theory, and Robert Englund portrays his mild-mannered self as well as a beefier, more menacing Freddy. The film gets a little hokey towards the end, though not at all out of keeping with Nightmare tradition, and as a whole it is a fitting conclusion (for the time being) to the series that both casual and die-hard fans will enjoy. Very nice work from Craven and company, paying sincere homage to one of the few true "classic monsters" of recent decades without relegating him to irrelevance.

Rating for Style: A-
Rating for Substance: B+


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.85:1 - Widescreen1.33:1 - Full Frame
Original Aspect Ratioyesno

Image Transfer Review: New Line presents Wes Craven's New Nightmare in its original 1.85:1 widescreen theatrical aspect ratio, as well as an open-matte 1.33:1 full-frame presentation, both on one side of a dual-layered disc. The anamorphic OAR transfer is taken from a clean source print; there are a few color banding artifacts and some edge enhancement in a few scenes, but colors, detail and black level are generally solid. The full-frame transfer is of decent quality imagewise, though not recommended.

Image Transfer Grade: A-


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Englishyes
Dolby Digital

Audio Transfer Review: Wes Craven's New Nightmare features the film's original stereo track in Dolby Digital 2.0 surround, as well as a DD 5.1 mix (apparently created for this DVD release, though the film did have a DTS soundtrack in theatrical release that may have served as a basis.) The 5.1 mix is very active and enveloping, with strong LFE bass, lots of atmospheric effects and spooky stuff moving around in the back of the soundstage, though I found it difficult to find a comfortable volume level during the early scenes and some dialogue was a bit muddy in both tracks. J. Peter Robinson's evocative, well-timed score suits the film well and occupies the soundstage with authority. It's nice to have the original Stereo Surround track, but the dynamic 5.1 mix enhances the film quite a bit.

Audio Transfer Grade: B+


Disc Extras

Animated menu with music
Scene Access with 28 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English with remote access
Cast and Crew Biographies
Cast and Crew Filmographies
1 Original Trailer(s)
1 Feature/Episode commentary by Wes Craven
Packaging: Snapper
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: dual

Extra Extras:
  1. DVD-ROM Screenplay Access
  2. DVD-ROM Dream World Trivia Game
  3. DVD-ROM Weblinks
Extras Review: New Line provides quite a few on-disc supplements for New Nightmare, with extensive DVD-ROM material. The disc features English subtitles and 28 picture-menu chapter stops, as well as an alternate series of 11 "Jump to a Nightmare" stops. Extras are plentiful if not always substantial—they include:

Theatrical Trailer:

The film's trailer is presented in 1.85:1 widescreen with Dolby Digital 5.1 audio and a fine anamorphic transfer taken from a clean source print. It's a "featurette"-style trailer that ties in nicely with the film's self-referential approach.

Cast and Crew:

Biographies of 3 cast members and 9 production staff members, drawn from the original press kit written to promote the film for a nice historical touch. Accompanying Filmographies are more up-to-date, circa mid-1999 when the disc was mastered.

Director Commentary:

Writer/director Wes Craven discusses the film and his return to the series and characters he created ten years earlier. As is usually the case with horror directors, Mr. Craven comes across as a soft-spoken, pleasant gentleman, and his screen-specific running comments are good-natured and informative.

DVD-ROM Features:

I don't have a PC with a DVD-ROM drive and was unable to access these features, but they appear to be substantial:

Screenplay: Print the screenplay out or read it while watching the film

Dream World Trivia Game

Cast and Crew Weblinks: Links to up-to-date Cast & Crew info

Freddy Portal: Links to a cyber-Krueger site

Load Enhanced Experience: Installable plug-ins to enhance the DVD-ROM presentation

Extras Grade: B+


Final Comments

Wes Craven's New Nightmare breathes new life into the long-running A Nightmare on Elm Street series, with a tongue-in-cheek approach that also achieves some genuine scares. New Line's DVD continues the studio's tradition of quality, with plenty of supplements (though many require a PC with a DVD-ROM drive.) I recommend familiarizing yourself with at least a few of the earlier Nightmare on Elm Street films to maximize your viewing pleasure here, but it's a fun ride even if you know Freddy Krueger only by reputation.


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