Today I am back to rank the entire A Nightmare on Elm Street franchise! This is a big one, so buckle up. If you want to check out my other horror movie rankings, please click here. The series revolves around a dead villain named Freddy Kreuger, who hunts and kills his victims in their dreams…or rather nightmares. However, his murders aren’t mindless. They are revenge filled and purposeful. I have to admit, I absolutely loved watching all the films. It was one of the better ones I’ve tackled on my blog. Wes Craven, you were a brilliant man! Without further ado, from best to worst, let’s sink our claws (pun intended) into this post!
1.) A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)
In first place, we undoubtedly have the original film from 1984. I think we can all agree it’s the best in the franchise. When Nancy Thompson (played by Heather Langenkamp) and her friends become the targets of a clawed killer, they must think quickly, lest they get picked off one by one. As a villain, Freddy Kreuger is quite unique. Firstly, he’s already been dead for years and secondly, he can only attack his victims when they are asleep. Luckily, there is a loophole in that one can draw Freddy out into the real world and cause damage to him too. We have some iconic, memorable scenes like Nancy in the bathtub, the body bag at school and young Johnny Depp’s bloody demise. Furthermore, the motives behind the murders are explained. When he was still alive, Freddy was a child serial killer named the Springwood Slasher. He got off on a technicality, so the parents of the remaining children on Elm Street came together and burned him to death in a boiler room. They took his infamous glove as a trophy. He swore his revenge by getting their children where they couldn’t be protected…in their nightmares. The shocking final scene let viewers know that Nancy’s demon was far from finished with her. Fun fact, there were multiple alternative endings, but I prefer the main one.
2.) A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors (1987)
In second place, we have The Dream Warriors. It takes place two years after the events of the previous film. The plot centres around a group of young adults who have been committed to a psychiatric hospital, where Nancy Thompson (whose parents helped kill Krueger) works as a sleep specialist. The teens soon learn they possess the ability to attack Freddy in the dream realm and band together to take him down. I liked the third movie for many reasons. 1.) The deaths were super creative, 2.) I’m a lucid dreamer, so I could strongly relate, 3.) It was nice to return to the world of Nancy and 4.) we were introduced to new, iconic final girl, Kristen, played by Patricia Arquette. We also got a first glimpse at Freddy’s mother, Amanda Kreuger. It is revealed that Freddy collects and stores the souls of the children he kills, thus strengthening his powers. The only way to stop him, is to bury his remains in hallowed ground. Unfortunately, that doesn’t quite do the trick, as he returns in The Dream Master. The ending was quite sad, but it paved the way for fresh heroes to emerge. My favourite scenes were the television kill and the puppet march – if you know, you know!
3.) A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge (1985)
In third place, we have the sequel: Freddy’s Revenge. It takes place five years after the events of the first film and is a cult classic. The story follows Jesse Walsh (played by Mark Patton), a teenager who begins having recurring nightmares about Freddy Krueger after moving into the former home of Nancy Thompson from the first movie. Our villain finds a way to fuse his body with our main protagonist, giving him the ability to kill his victims during waking hours. It was a fresh, fun take on what preceded it. Robert Englund has stated that it’s his least favourite Elm Street film but maybe that’s because he was only in it for a total of 13 minutes. Lastly, I do want to mention that Mark Patton was tormented by the production crew for being gay in real life. Apparently, they tried to ‘out’ him before he was ready, by giving the plot a very homoerotic subtext. Not cool! If you want more information on the controversy, please check out documentary: Scream Queen! My Nightmare on Elm Street. Jesse is now a queer icon in horror history and a popular final boy.
4.) A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master (1988)
In fourth place, we have The Dream Master. It takes place a few years after the events of the previous film. Following the death of Nancy Thompson, Krueger reappears in the dreams of Kristen, Joey, and Kincaid. After completing his revenge against the families who killed him, Freddy uses Kristen’s best friend, Alice, to gain access to new victims in order to satiate his murderous needs. She possesses the unique ability to absorb her friend’s strengths, allowing her to become a more formidable opponent in the dream realm. The special effects were significantly improved from the previous movies, and I was a huge fan of shy, quiet Alice. She was a very underrated final girl. I loved how she reflected the souls of Freddy’s victims to destroy him. As usual, the ending provided us with a cliffhanger moment, signifying that there is more to come.
5.) A Nightmare on Elm Street (Remake – 2010)
In fifth place and perhaps a very controversial choice, we have the remake of the original film from 2010. I’m not going to explain the plot because it’s the same as the 1984 movie (see above). The reason I enjoyed it so much was because it gave me early 2000’s horror vibes. It felt akin to Final Destination/The Ring and that’s always a winner to me. Undeniably, the worst part was Freddy. He was not played by Robert Englund and looked a bit silly in appearance. The best part were the teen actors. I loved Rooney Mara as Nancy, Kellan Lutz as the opening kill and Kyle Gallner, who is fast becoming one of my favourite male actors. Please note, the reboot goes in a much darker direction. Instead of just framing Kreuger as a child serial killer, he’s portrayed as a paedophile. Trigger warning for that type of content, if you’ve never seen it. Don’t dismiss the remake until you watch it. At the very least, it has a great opening scene and a strong, gloomy atmosphere.
6.) Freddy Vs. Jason (2003)
In sixth place, we have Freddy Vs. Jason, which was a lot better than I thought it would be. It is a crossover between the Nightmare on Elm Street/Friday the 13th franchises. Freddy is weakened and forgotten because the citizens of his hometown, Springwood, have defeated him by using medications that repress dreams. He awakens Jason Vorhees to stir up fear and grow his powers so that he may return and kill again. Jason turns out to not be as easily controlled as Freddy initially presumed, resulting in the two supernatural mass murderers coming into conflict. The film is chronologically set after Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare (see below) and Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday. This was the last movie in each franchise before their respective reboots. I enjoyed the merging of the two iconic slashers. If I had to give a critique, I’m not a massive fan of Jason. I would’ve picked a different opponent, but that’s a minor gripe.
7.) A Nightmare on Elm Street 5: The Dream Child (1989)
In seventh place, we have The Dream Child from the year I was born. The film follows Krueger, using a now pregnant Alice, via her baby’s dreams, to claim new victims. We learn more about Freddy’s mother, Amanda and how she was brutally raped by patients from an institution, resulting in the deformed, cursed child we know as our villain. To be honest, aside from the final fight scene, I found this installment to be quite lacklustre. I was hoping it would be more badass, considering Alice was so commanding in the previous film. It wasn’t overly memorable to me and therefore ranked lower on my list.
8.) Wes Craven’s New Nightmare (1994)
In second last place, we have Wes Craven’s New Nightmare. This was a stand-alone feature that was not central to the main storyline. It instead portrayed Freddy Krueger as a fictional movie villain, who invades the real world and haunts the cast and crew involved in the Elm Street franchise. It was written to showcase Freddy as less comical and much scarier, which Wes originally intended him to be. I loved how meta it was. We have seen this done before in horrors like Seed of Chucky and Scream 3. It was nice to see Heather Langenkamp and Robert Englund work together and witness how the series had affected their personal lives. I wasn’t overly blown away by it, but it wasn’t the worst installment. It had a full circle ending, with Heather saving her son by burning Freddy in the boiler room, much like Nancy’s parents did for her.
9.) Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare (1991)
In last place, we have Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare. It was the conclusion to the main storyline in the franchise and takes place years after the events of the previous movie. We’ve officially moved out of the 80’s and into the 90s. After killing every child and teenager in the town, Kreuger confronts the last survivor from Elm Street in his dreams but spares his life. The boy, known only as John Doe, is taken to a youth shelter by a cop, where he meets other teens and becomes a patient of a female psychiatrist, later revealed to be Freddy’s estranged daughter. I don’t think this film worked for a few reasons. 1.) The story was extremely disjointed. It introduced characters and sub-plots that ultimately went nowhere, 2.) I didn’t care about any of them and 3.) It felt like a cash-grab, as opposed to a genuine continuation of events. One highlight is that we finally learnt how Freddy continues to come back time and time again. There are three dream demons (only introduced in this film) that give Kreuger his power to resurrect. Once they are destroyed, his means of revival are no more. It ends with Freddy’s demise and assurance that this time, the nightmare is finally over.
Thank you so much for reading! How would you rank the franchise? I look forward to reading your opinions below!
Peace & Love xoxo