A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET OST / COMPOSER: CHARLES BERNSTEIN / LABEL: DEATH WALTZ RECORDING CO. / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW
In October 2017, Death Waltz Recording Co. released A Nightmare On Elm Street: Box Of Souls, an eight-LP vinyl box set repressing the first seven A Nightmare on Elm Street scores for the first time in decades – and, in the case of J. Peter Robinson's score for Wes Craven's New Nightmare, debuting the score on vinyl for the first time. Since then, fans have been clamoring for individual reissues of these landmark recordings, and it seems that, finally, their prayers have been answered.
In May 2019, at the Texas Frightmare Weekend in Dallas, Death Waltz released an exclusive solo version of Charles Bernstein's score for the original 1984 A Nightmare on Elm Street and, while it took a little while, the label finally made it available to the general public a couple of months later. Now, fans can own this iconic score for a reasonable price.
As an added bonus, the new reissue comes in a gatefold sleeve with different cover artwork by Mike Saputo, along with the cover art for the box set version on the rear. It's a gorgeous release, especially with the striped “Freddy's sweater” red and green vinyl pressing on which it comes.
At this point, it would be the ultimate solo release of Bernstein's score, but it's made even better by the fact that this release is also the first individual way to get the 12 bonus tracks previously made available in Box of Souls, as well as Varèse Sarabande's 2015 compact disc box set. Of all the cues, which are mostly a minute or less, the most notable is “Nancy Glen,” a distressing and eerie cut which uses elements of the main title and prologue, but they're all intriguing in and of themselves.
Longtime fans of the A Nightmare on Elm Street score will find much they enjoy on this release, especially as it's mastered wonderfully, sounding bigger and better than ever. For those who've yet to experience Bernstein's music outside the film itself, it should come as quite a treat to hear just how diverse this music ends up being.
The use of synthesizers, chimes, and electric guitar could've easily rooted this strictly in the '80s slasher universe forever, but Bernstein's repeated use of the music box-like melody throughout heightens the sense of dreaming oneself into another world and one can almost hear the cackling of Robert Englund's Freddy Kreuger in the background. The intensity of some pieces – “Run Nancy,” in particular – is as strong as any contemporary action score, making A Nightmare on Elm Street more than just another horror soundtrack.
The only downside is that the solo release doesn't include any of the supplemental material from Box of Souls. Even a brief quote from the director or composer to give a little context to this film, in celebration of its 35th anniversary, would've made this absolutely perfect.