In 1984, Wes Craven’s A Nightmare on Elm Street redefined horror with it three dimensional characters and a serial killer worth rooting for and creative murders. Since then, there have been six sequels, a television series, video games, comic books, a crossover with Jason Voorhees and a reboot (sadly, no Robert Englund in sight). While the franchise itself continues to entertain with outlandish death scenes and Freddy’s snappy wit, not every entry in the venerable series is a work of art. Perhaps if Wes Craven had been involved in more than the original, Dream Warriors and New Nightmare there wouldn’t have been low points in Krueger’s blood-soaked career but because production companies don’t have a history of respecting artists, he didn’t have much say in Freddy’s future.
And because of that, we can rank these films, from best to worst, and tear apart the really terrible one. So, without further ado…
A NIGHTMARE ONE ELM STREET 5: THE DREAM CHILD
This is the best of the Nightmares as Freddy, desperate to be reborn, tries to take possession of Alice’s unborn son. With some nasty deaths (Dan’s skin-stripping motorcycle ride being just one) and Freddy’s sick sense of humor on full display, The Dream Child doesn’t disappoint. In this installment, we learn more about his mother, Amanda, the poor nun accidentally locked up with maniacs over Christmas break. Even though that fact had already been learned, having Alice relive the incident (without going into graphic detail) really drove home how horrendous a life Amanda had. This is also the first film that had no Elm Street kids – Freddy had finally killed them all.
WES CRAVEN’S NEW NIGHTMARE
Just when you thought Craven couldn’t make something creepier than a dream-stalking child killer, he makes him real and sets him after Heather Langenkamp (Nancy, A Nightmare on Elm Street) after the demon who’d been living in the Nightmare films breaks free to wreck havoc in the real world. Truly a freaky, and exciting, take on the slasher genre as the lines between reality and fantasy collapse while Heather slowly begins to unravel. Not technically a part of the series, it still serves as a worthwhile ending to Englund’s run as everybody’s favorite murdering burn victim. This installment also feature Miko Hughes (Simon, Mercury Rising) as Heather's young son and even as a child, he had talent to spare.
A NIGHTMARE ONE ELM STREET 3: DREAM WARRIORS
The third installment luckily ignores Freddy’s Revenge and brings back the first film’s heroine, Nancy, as a dream expert who tries to save the last of the Elm Street children from Freddy’s desire for revenge. While containing one of the series’ saddest moments, it’s also the start of one of the best multi-film arc in film history as the story-line continued through Dream Master and Dream Child. Sadly, Freddy’s Dead chose to go off in a different, and crappy, direction. Patricia Arquette appears as Kristen (Alison, Medium) but, for whatever reason, decided not to return in the next part. Too bad. She was the better Kristen.
A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET
The one that began it all, the original installment introduced the world to Freddy Krueger and his street full of victims. Creepy, scary and funny, Nightmare showed that slasher films could be more than blood and boobs. Before Freddy came on the scene, slasher villains were devoid of personality and, often, lines. They simply stalked their victims and never evolved. Freddy was different and since then, no other franchise has reached the bar set so high by Wes Craven. It may not be my number one favorite but that doesn't discount it's importance to not only the Nightmare series but to the entire horror genre. Wes Craven truly was a master of his craft.
A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET 4: THE DREAM MASTER
Taking place a year after Dream Warriors, the survivors are trying to rebuild their lives. Unfortunately for them, Freddy remembers them and when he makes his way back into their dreams, remedies that situation. It’s here we meet Alice, the protagonist of Dream Child, and are shown her evolution from shy, quiet daydreamer to kick ass heroine. Dream Master is the first film where Freddy is able to stalk children unrelated to the parents who burned him alive after being freed on the technicality. With this film, Freddy's playground grew far beyond it's humble beginnings.
A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET (2010)
Honestly, I like this film – though it took a while to really enjoy it – and it would’ve been rated higher but Robert Englund is the real Freddy Krueger, though Jackie Earle Haley (Rorschach, Watchmen) does an admirable job as the gloved killer. I also wasn’t too keen on the child molester past they gave him (I know it was planned for the original but it was removed so there) cause I can’t root for a baby diddler. It was good and bloody and slick and shiny, excellent qualities to have as a slasher. Unfortunately, it looks like stupid Hollywood producers have decided not to continue with the series so we probably won’t see Haley slicing and dicing more high schoolers. Just when I was starting to like him, too.
FREDDY’S DEAD: THE FINAL NIGHTMARe
I don’t know where to begin. This movie seriously sucked donkey dong. The hell were they thinking!? Pushed ten years into the future, and off of Elm Street, Freddy is desperate for new victims having run out of teenagers to kill. Jesus Christ, this one is bad. An obvious cash grab, I spits in the face of fans everywhere by ignoring the awesomness begun with Dream Warriors. Really, you couldn’t think of something better to do? Alice and her son were still there, remember? Eh, the only nightmareish part of this film is that it’s not the worst of the series.
A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET 2: FREDDY’s REVENGe
This. Is. Crap. It’s so bad, I only own it because it came with the box set. Revenge is Freddy’s Halloween III: Season of the Witch. Seriously, this film has zero redeeming qualities as it screws up the universe’s rules with abandon. How the series survived this seaming pile of crap is all thanks to Freddy creator Wes Craven – if he hadn’t returned to make the stellar Dream Warriors, Freddy would be a foot note in cinematic history. As it stands, Revenge would do well to slink off into the shadows and pretend it had never been made. Seriously, ignore this one. You'll be a lot happier.
Even at its (second) worst, Freddy’s films found ways to entertain and delight audiences with its gory death and inappropriate humor. And they found success without going the Friday the 13th route of boobs, boobs, boobs. No other slasher series has come close to giving the kinds of laugh out loud moments, spine-tingling chills and creative ways to die that A Nightmare on Elm Street films have. Even Freddy’s Dead, as bad as it is, is at least a fun bad. Freddy’s Revenge, though, should be ignored at all costs.
So what do y’all say? You agree? Think I got something – or everything- wrong? Tell me what you believe is the best, worst and in betweeners.