A Nightmare on Elm Street Collection

Our countdown to Halloween continues with a look at the best and worst of Fred Krueger.

While the recent remake might have done its best to kill him off for good, Freddy Krueger remains the definitive '80s horror icon and has carved out a place as one of the legendary monsters of cinema. Admittedly, as proven by this collection of the original seven films in the series (only the subsequent crossover hit Freddy vs Jason is missing from Robert Englund's run in the franchise), Freddy's film career has been as hit and miss as they come.

But the original A Nightmare on Elm Street remains a true highpoint of '80s horror, A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors is an absolute blast and Wes Craven's New Nightmare was well ahead of the curve when it came to post-modern horror and far outclasses the later smash Scream. And even the misbegotten likes of the hilariously homoerotic Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy's Revenge, or the just-plain-awful The Dream Child and Freddy's Dead still have Robert Englund's performance and the guarantee of inventive visual effects to fall back on when everything else fails.

Picture: While none of the seven films will necessarily bowl you ever with their hi-def visual prowess, they are still far from being the stuff of nightmares. The original film gets a disc to itself, and its VC-1 1.78:1 1080p encode makes the most of the space, delivering a finely grained and pleasingly detailed image. Meanwhile, the next three BD50s in the set squeeze two films onto each - but this doesn't appear to impact the image quality in any obvious way.

The new AVC 1.78:1 1080p encodes for the six sequels definitely aren't based on old masters, being completely reframed in a couple of instances and revealing significantly more picture information in the process. Several now look much darker, resulting in loss of shadow detail in some shots, but on the whole detail is greatly improved across the entire range. Colour reproduction is particularly strong throughout and the ever-present grain looks suitably film-like.

No doubt some fans will argue about the changes in colour timing and brightness. But as far as we're concerned, taking into account the age of the films and the tiny budgets they were made on (not to mention how rough some of them have looked on VHS and DVD in the past), we're actually pretty impressed that Warner has managed to come up with a collection of encodes that stand up this well.
Picture rating: 4/5

Audio: The original A Nightmare on Elm Street features the same DTS-HD MA 7.1 remix and Dolby Digital mono soundtracks that appeared on the film's standalone Blu-ray disc. The later naturally sound rather thin and (oddly) quiet, while the former features an excellent stereo spread across the front of the soundstage. That said, the choice of 7.1 rather than 5.1 seems a little arbitrary as (outside of the extension of atmospheric effects and the film's score) there's not that much activity in the rears, and definitely nothing that needs dedicated rear and surround channels.

The other six films all feature DTS-HD MA 5.1 remixes alongside a Dolby Digital presentation of the corresponding original theatrical mix (1.0 for Freddy's Revenge and Dream Warriors, 2.0 Surround for the remaining sequels). For the most part, the lossless 5.1 remixes are much akin to the original's 7.1 track. The first two sequels have no dedicated surround effect, only serving to open up the music and certain sound effects also present in the front of the mix.

The Dream Master steps things up a bit with dedicated atmospheric effects in the rears on a number of occasions. The Dream Child sees things getting a little more adventurous, before Freddy's Dead really steps up to the plate with the booming bass of a dripping tap and thunderous rain of falling pins during Carlos' nightmare in Chapter 11. While still a bit subdued compared to more modern films, Wes Craven's New Nightmare tops them all with surround sound treats like Chapter 3's earthquake and the truck racing overhead in Chapter 24.
Audio rating: 3/5

Extras: As the disc for the original film is identical to the previous stand-alone release, it's no surprise that it features the same bonus material - two commentaries, 24 branching Focus Point featurettes, two documentaries, three alternate endings and a trivia track.

Most of the remaining extras in the set have been culled from the old Nightmare Series Encyclopaedia that appeared in the old R1 DVD boxset, which is a bonus for UK viewers as most have never been available over here before and we don't have to mess around with an interactive labyrinth to access them. Instead, the film-specific interviews, music videos and trailers are now grouped with the relevant sequel. A final bonus DVD houses the new 30min retrospective documentary Fear Himself: The Life and Crimes of Freddy Krueger, episodes two and three of the Freddy's Nightmares TV series, 22 additional interviews and a reel of Freddy-hosted MTV links from 1987 hidden away as an Easter Egg.

Apart from a few minor bits and pieces that didn't make it across from the R1 Encyclopaedia, the only obvious omissions from the set are the deleted gore scenes from the first and fifth film and the 3D finale to Freddy's Dead. And, if I'm being greedy, Warner could always have licensed the sublime feature-length Never Sleep Again retrospective documentary about the films. But any self-respecting Freddy fan will already own a copy of the latter anyway.
Extras rating: 3/5

We say: Remastered visuals, remixed sonics and numerous extras ensure so pretty sweet hi-def dreams for Freddy's legions of fans

Warner Home Video, All-region Blu-ray/R2 DVD, £40 approx, On sale now