Paul Farren loads up on nightmares with Wayne Byrne’s ‘Welcome to Elm Street: Inside the Film and Television Nightmares.

Film historian Wayne Byrne continues his eclectic writing endeavours with this entertaining and informative exploration of the Wes Craven created, Nightmare on Elm Street series; the franchise that gave us the last great movie monster of the twentieth century, Freddy Krueger and helped push New Line Cinema into the upper strata of Hollywood.  New Line Cinema is also known by the nickname ‘The House That Freddy Built’.

From its indie outsider beginnings through its sequels of varying quality, to the almost forgotten anthology television series hosted by Freddy himself (Freddy also appeared in eight of the stories), Byrne presents an insightful look at the franchise, its iconic villain and the series influence. 

As played by Robert Englund, Freddy was a tour de force performance that broke the bonds of his original dark persona as a supernatural dream invader and teen killer to becoming one of horrors most iconic, darkly humorous boogeymen, who by the time of the sixth Nightmare film, was the horror movie equivalent of Mickey Mouse, and that’s not an insult. It’s hard to imagine that Robert Englund nearly bowed out after his first appearance and only returned to the role, days into the filming of the first sequel, Nightmare on Elm Street 2 -Freddy’s Revenge.  

Drawing on intensive research and interviews with talent who were involved from the ground up, including Freddy himself, the great Robert Englund, Byrne offers an in-depth production history and analysis of the series, looking into its dark underbelly themes of suburban eighties and nineties America as begun by original creator Wes Craven and how it embraced and reflected the teenage pop culture, for better and worse. 

Byrne’s previous writings about the world of film have covered the cinema of director Tom DiCillo, superstar Burt Reynolds and cinematographer Nick McLean, a riveting candid memoir, written in collaboration with the filmmaker. Like his previous books this volume has a passion and enthusiasm that reflects the author’s love for his subject, getting under its skin and providing an entertaining and informative read. His interviews shine with an insight and revelation that can only come from an interviewer who has gelled with his subjects. All in all, Welcome to Elm Street is insightful and entertaining, a great book for fans, those of a more academic lilt, and a great primer for anyone who is thinking of visiting Elm Street for the first time.

Welcome to Elm Street: Inside the Film and Television Nightmares is available now from all book stores.


Write A Comment