Ranking the Nightmare on Elm Street Movies

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Ranking the Nightmare on Elm Street movies

You know his name and you’ve heard his story. He is the stuff nightmares are made of and, if you’re not careful, those nightmares might just be the death of you. Freddy Krueger has been a household name ever since the original Nightmare on Elm Street was released back in 1984. Since then, he has appeared in a myriad of movies, televisions shows, and more. His ‘likeness’ has been featured in video games, on toys — even in books! Freddy Krueger has transcended the horror genre and he has become a true pop culture icon. It’s the movies where Krueger first made a name for himself, however. As of now, there have been seven original movies, one crossover, and a remake. Some of these films were good. Others were not so good. Through it all, though, Freddy Krueger has remained in our collective hearts and our collective nightmares for well over 30 years.

9) A Nightmare on Elm Street (2010 Remake)

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The less said about this film, the better. This Michael Bay-produced remake was seemingly created just to cash in on the name value of Freddy Krueger. Jackie Earl Haley was cast in the iconic role, but nobody could possibly fill the Christmas sweater of the original Freddy, Robert Englund. Haley tried but to no avail. It’s not like he had much to work with anyway. The script was pointless and the filmmakers must have thought that if they just copied the majority of the original film while including minor changes such as switching a character’s name from ‘Tina’ to ‘Chris’ (as in, ‘Christina. Clever), fans would be happy. They were not. The creation of this movie literally brought Wes Craven and Robert Shaye (the series’ creators) to tears, but not, like, in a good way. That should tell you all you need to know about this ill-advised remake.

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8) Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare (1991)

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Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare was anything but. It was, however, the last installment of the original Nightmare series (not including crossovers, remakes or the meta New Nightmare). It was also the epitome of “Jokester Freddy.” Throughout the series, Krueger evolved from a terrifying child murderer into a standup comic. The Final Nightmare highlighted this version of Freddy the most. In the film, he played video games, channeled his inner-Wicked Witch and even utilized a gag from a Looney Tunes cartoon. This was a far cry from the original Dream Demon, that’s for sure. Freddy wasn’t dead forever, but he definitely needed a break. So did fans.

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7) A Nightmare on Elm Street Part 4: The Dream Master (1988)

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The ranking of this film might come as a shock to some readers because The Dream Master is usually held in high regard. The problem is, it’s really not that great of a movie, and the reason it’s so low on the list is that it undid a lot of great things about A Nightmare on Elm Street Part 3. NOES 3 was a fan favorite and for good reason. So the filmmakers behind Part 4 decided to recast 3’s heroine and then kill off the survivors from that film within the first 20 minutes. Now, as much as we try not to, we can’t help but let NOES 4 ruin just a little bit of our enjoyment of Part 3. Still, Dream Master introduced us to Alice, who turned out to be quite the heroine herself. In fact, she’s the only female to appear in two films and actually survive both of them. The same cannot be said about her brother, her boyfriend, and the majority of her friends. Oh well. At least she has the creepy kid from Full House to keep her company.

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6) A Nightmare on Elm Street Part 5: The Dream Child (1989)

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Speaking of that creepy kid from Full House, he had a prominent role in A Nightmare on Elm Street Part 5: The Dream Child. This film followed Alice (played by Lisa Wilcox), the heroine from the previous movie, as she realized Fred Krueger was finding a new way into our reality — through the dreams of her unborn baby. It was a unique twist on a tired premise and though Freddy was still “Mr. Laughy Pants,” the tone was a lot darker and more gothic than previous entries. It featured a character being literally fed to death, a surprisingly gruesome end for Alice’s baby daddy and more. It also featured “Super Freddy,” and we’ve never gotten over that, quite frankly. Dream Child was a mean-spirited movie, but it also tackled issues such as abortion, adoption and parental rights. You never knew Freddy could get political, did you?

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5) A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge (1985)

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As soon as the credits started rolling after the original Nightmare on Elm Street, producer Robert Shaye was already thinking about franchise potential. Director Wes Craven did not see the purpose of a sequel to his original creation, though. He was an artist, you see. Money was not his concern. It was the concern of Shaye, however, which is why A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge was created. Nobody was quite sure who Freddy was actually seeking revenge on, however, as none of the original stars were returning. No, this story was to focus on Jesse (played by Mark Patton), a young man who was definitely dealing with some body issue stuff — namely Freddy trying to use it to kill people. Yes, Freddy could now possess people, even though nothing in the original indicated that he actually had that power.

No matter. Freddy was Jesse’s problem now. Jesse had other problems as well. To say there was some…subtext…to Freddy’s Revenge would be like saying Freddy Mercury was a little flamboyant. Sexual proclivities of films aside, Freddy’s Revenge was still a pretty scary film. It featured the not-as-of-yet-a-comedian Freddy and, most importantly, this film showed us that if there’s something inside of us trying desperately to escape, we should let it. As long as it’s, like, sexuality or something. If you have a child-murdering Dream Demon inside of you, you gotta bury that sh*t.

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4) Freddy VS Jason (2003)

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It was the matchup that was literally decades in the making. Freddy VS Jason. The Unstoppable Force VS The Immovable Object. The Nightmare from Elm Street VS the Crystal Lake Killer. It was Freddy Krueger and Jason Voorhees meeting up for the very first time and it was…pretty okay. The hype for this movie had 20 years behind it, so expectations were set unreasonably high when Freddy VS Jason was finally released in 2003. What we got fell below these expectations, but the film itself was exactly what it needed to be: Freddy and Jason beating the hell out of each other while simultaneously murdering horny, sleep-deprived teenagers. This movie also gets a higher ranking because, as of now, it was the last film that Robert Englund portrayed the iconic role of Freddy Krueger. It was also, as of now, the final installment of the original Nightmare on Elm Street series. Honestly, we couldn’t think of a better person to have taken out Freddy for good than Jason Voorhees.

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3) Wes Craven’s New Nightmare (1994)

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At the end of 1993’s Jason Goes to Hell, the last shot of the film was Freddy Krueger’s glove coming up out of the ground to snatch Jason’s mask and drag it back down to the bowels of Hell. Fans were certain, then, that the new ‘Nightmare’ movie would feature Mr. Voorhees. It did not. In fact, Wes Craven’s New Nightmare, as it would come to be called, changed the rules of the Nightmare series itself. This film, you see, took place in the ‘real world,’ with a demonic entity stalking the creators of the original Nightmare on Elm Street. Heather Langenkamp, the heroine from the first film, plays herself in this one. The demonic entity, which has taken the form of ‘Freddy Krueger,’ is trying to escape into ‘our world’ and Langenkamp is the only one who can stop it, while also saving herself and her son.

The film, which provided the skeleton of an idea for Craven’s future film, Scream, was a meta-movie before meta was cool. Yeah, suck it Deadpool. Freddy did it first. In addition to Langenkamp, New Nightmare also brought back writer/director Wes Craven (hence the title) to finish what he started all those years ago. After years of ‘Jokester Freddy,’ WCNN brought Krueger back to the darker, more sinister version of the original. In other words, he made Freddy scary again. Wes Craven’s New Nightmare is not just one of the best Nightmare on Elm Street movies; it’s one of the best, most interesting horror movies period. Much of the reason for this was due to Craven’s script and direction. A lot of it, though, was also due to Heather Langenkamp’s performance, as she gathered the courage to play Nancy one more time.

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2) A Nightmare on Elm Street Part 3: Dream Warriors (1987)

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Coming out in 1987, A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors marked the return of Wes Craven to the franchise, after sitting out Freddy’s Revenge. Craven had another story worth telling and it involved teaming up Nancy Thompson, the heroine from the first film (played by Heather Langenkamp) with a new batch of teenagers. This group of teens, led by new heroine Kristen (played by Patricia Arquette in her first role!) are all being held in a psychiatric hospital. They seem to be suffering from mass hysteria. All of them believe that there’s someone in their dreams trying to kill them. Turns out, they’re right. Now, these kids must team up with Nancy as they try to stop Freddy once and for all. Dream Warriors is a fan favorite because of it’s sharp, creative script, inventive kills, and characters that we actually care about. Freddy was still scary, but this was the start of his wise-cracking.

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1) A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)

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It was never not going to be this film in the top spot. A Nightmare on Elm Street was a landmark film from the mind of Wes Craven, the wallet of Robert Shaye and the hearts of both. In 1984, Craven had an idea — what if, when you died in your dreams, you actually died in real life as well? More importantly, what if there was someone in our dreams who was actively trying to kill us. What if his name was Freddy and he had razors for fingers. That was the premise of A Nightmare on Elm Street and it gave birth to the phenomenon known as Freddy Krueger. In the horror movie echelon, Freddy Krueger is at the top of the list when it comes to Cinematic Boogeymen. A Nightmare on Elm Street pitted teenager Nancy Thompson (played by Heather Langenkamp) and her friends against the sinister Fred Krueger (played by Robert Englund). ANOES is, dare we say, the perfect horror movie. It has characters that we care about, some truly frightening imagery and an antagonist that audiences love to hate to love.

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Weekend: Sep. 19, 2019, Sep. 22, 2019

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