A Nightmare on Elm Street I & II

Charles Bernstein and Christopher Young

" One, two, Bernstein / Young are coming for you "

Written by Thomas Glorieux - Review of the regular release

Freddy Krueger remains one of the most interesting and scary icons that the horror "dream" world has ever introduced. Scary enough for multiple films and various composers. For the first, Charles Bernstein was chosen (probably because of his previous efforts The Entity and Cujo). The trick was finding the right theme for the film. And when the 10 note theme was found and approved by director Wes Craven, things were considerably easier. Bernstein uses various notes all the time to create the dream world, the danger and the mystery behind Krueger. It's always combined with electronic sound effects that heighten the tension of the film ("Main Title", "Sleep Clinic", "Terror in the Tub", "School Horror / Stay Awake" and loads of others). It's not a very atonal score, though the creepy sound effects do their utmost best from time to time ("Dream Attack", "Main Title"). And an 80's score is nothing without the beats and the rhythms that made the era recognizable ("Laying the Traps", "Run, Nancy"). All in all, despite the synthesized effort, it remains interesting and enjoyable to hear. And it doesn't sound dated at all.

Then Christopher Young does it totally different for the second installment. Still early on in his career, before his breakthrough with Hellraiser, Young was still making a name for himself. And an episode starring Fred Krueger wasn't then a bad way to go. However, totally absent (at least on album) is the now famous main theme. Not even "Main Title" delivers it, Young goes instead for eerie, sinister and slightly creepy music that haunts the dreams more through the use of strings and flutes ("...And Leave the Driving to Us", "Furnace Flare-Up", "Kissing Freddy on the Catwalk"). It's all effective, it's all orchestral. But you miss the main theme and it's haunting effect. "Jump Rope" uses the vocal of a child briefly to whisper a couple of words of it (hardly noticeable). But overall, Young's music is too eerie, too sinister and too serious for its own right. Say what you will about the synthesized sound of the first, but the beats and the the continues use of the theme surely created a perfect dream world. Young's music is too much focusing on the sinister horror that it forgets the power of The Nightmare on Elm Street series, namely to have and use a theme that you can toy with as much as you want.

Charles Bernstein easily wins this one.

A Nightmare on Elm Street: ***
A Nightmare on Elm Street II: **1/2

Track Listing

A Nightmare on Elm Street I by Charles Bernstein
1. Prologue (0.33)
2. Main Title (3.29)
3. Laying the Traps (2.05)
4. Dream Attack (1.20)
5. Rod Hanged / Night Stalking (4.44)
6. Jail Cell (1.12)
7. Confrontation (1.38)
8. Sleep Clinic (2.25)
9. Terror in the Tub (0.55)
10. No Escape (2.15)
11. School Horror / Stay Awake (4.00)
12. Lurking (1.01)
13. Telephone Terror (1.05)
14. Fountain of Blood (1.05)
15. Evil Freddy (0.48)
16. Final Search (3.56)
17. Run, Nancy! (1.03)

A Nightmare on Elm Street II by Christopher Young
18. Main Title (2.30)
19. ...And Leave the Driving to Us (2.00)
20. Furnace Flare-Up (2.14)
21. Kissing Freddy on the Catwalk (3.18)
22. Chest-Buster (3.50)
23. Jump Rope (1.45)
24. Fire Bird (3.12)
25. Dream Heat (1.10)
26. Necroancer's Spell (2.31)
27. "Kill For Me" (2.38)
28. Sports Attack / Threatening Angela (2.35)
29. Freed of Her (1.29)
30. Snake-in-the-Class (0.56)

Total Length: 63.43
(click to rate this score)  
(total of 1 votes - average 3/5)

Released by

Varèse Sarabande VCD 47255 (regular release 1986)

Conducted by

Paul Francis Witt

Orchestrations by

Christopher Young