A Nightmare on Elm Street: Worst to Best

For no special reason, other than I wanted to do this for some time now.  I take a look back at possibly my favorite horror series, the Nightmare on Elm Street series.  We have done this  with the Friday the 13th films and Halloween series, we even combined all three series in a Worst to First of all three Franchises.  I also did a body count for the Friday the 13th films and I feel like I need to do so with the Nightmare series and Halloween.  But they would be worth doing, and I am sure a lot of fun.

In the 1980s A Nightmare On Elm Street was one of the top horror franchises and to me, extremely important.  A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge is the first horror film I have ever seen.  I was 5 years old and for some reason could not stop watching.  When my mother found out I watched Freddy’s Revenge, she actually went out to find a movie to scare me.  She rented films like, Re-Animator, Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Friday the 13th part 6: Jason Lives.  I soaked them all in and became a huge fan of horror.  Honestly, Re-Animator scared me the most out of all the horror she showed me.  Horror films actually brought me and my brother together, when he was 2 or 3 he saw Pet Semetary for the first time and it scared him, but he loved the Halloween films.  I think the original Halloween is his favorite movie.  Look at us now, we get together and have a good long conversation about horror films and remakes and things we wished would have happened with sequels.  Not to mention I created the Horror Syndicate, all thanks to Freddy Krueger and A Nightmare on Elm Street.

As for h0w the movies rank on this list.  This is not my favorite, because my favorite of the series is not the best of the series.  This is worst to best of the Nightmare film franchise.  Of course I will go ahead which movie is my favorite and it ranks at number 3 on this list.  The main series consists of 7 movies, although if I did a timeline, it would be 5.  I will count the remake and Freddy vs Jason, as I did add it in the Friday the 13th worst to first post, check it out Worst to Best.  I consider Freddy’s Dead and beyond, not a part of the actual timeline, maybe I will get to that one day.

Let’s move on to the count down, without looking, which movie is the best and which is your favorite?

9. A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET (2010)

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Words cannot describe how upset I was with this movie.  I am a fan of the Friday the 13th remake, but I hated the Halloween remake and the Texas Chainsaw Massacre remake.  Two out of Three kept me out of the theater, so I avoided this based on the trailers and my fear of it being terrible.  I waited for DVD.

The story was weak and they added an element that I wish would have only been hinted at.  I don’t know that I can ever get into this or any other Nightmare remakes.  I think CGI takes away from some of the dream sequences.  Also, ok, I will say it, there is no one who can play Freddy as well as Robert Englund.  Jackie put his own spin on the character and it did not work for me.  I did not like seeing out of the make up either.

The cast was actually pretty strong and I don’t think they were the problem.  Story and effects were the biggest problem.  Worst Nightmare movie of all.  We may yet see another remake and I am 100% sure I would like to see a sequel to Dream Child…here, read this, it is my idea of extending the original series.

Final Thought on A Nightmare on Elm Street the remake

I think, if this were a stand alone movie brought to us in 2010 with no history of the old series, it could be good.  But it is a remake and not original.  It is a poor attempt and bringing Freddy back to the main stream and it brings up this question.  Did  A Nightmare on Elm Street need a remake?

8. FREDDY’S DEAD: THE FINAL NIGHTMARE (1991)

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This was not what I expected when I first laid eyes on the film that would end the Nightmare series, or so they said.  It is hard to gauge this film as it seems to mock the other films and totally not take itself too serious.  So take it for what it is, almost a parody of the Nightmare series.  I just don’t understand why they went this route.  Dream Child may have been a low point, but it was not campy or silly.  Freddy’s Dead should have been darker and not as silly.

It is not all bad as we get to see more of Freddy’s past and what happened to Springwood after Freddy kills all the children, it is so bizarre.  But overall I was happy to see another Nightmare film after a couple years of waiting.  Truth be told, I did not mind this one at all.  Don’t get me wrong, it is not great, but it is fun.  This is the film that ruined the series and I think, the reason some people do not like Freddy as much as Jason or Michael Myers.

Final Thought on Freddy’s Dead, the Final Nightmare

As I said before, to take something away, some of Freddy’s origins are explained, but the fail for me is the dream demons.  To flash through his origins was fun, but I wouldn’t mind a full length Springwood Slasher movie.  Freddy’s Dead does no justice to the series and should be viewed as a parody of the series.

7. A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET 2: FREDDY’S REVENGE (1985)

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As I said this is the first horror film I have ever seen.  When I was able to buy movies on my own, VHS of course, this was the first I bought.  Not sure why, when the other first were available.  But regardless, I liked the movie then and as I got older and the film became dated, it became harder to watch.

The story is not as strong and the cast is weak.  The only thing, it does not fit into the rest of the franchise, but I am sure they had no idea Nancy would come back in the third film or play such a big part.  But all together it is not the worst thing, it seems like they really had no direction after Wes Craven jumped ship.  If he had stayed the series could have been so different.  I will not mention the other things wrong, just check out the documentary, Never Sleep Again, it explains it perfectly.

Final Thought of Freddy’s Revenge

The one take away from this film, it had a cool idea about Jesse becoming the vessel for Freddy.  It was already something different and we really don’t get to see this again in there series.  But, think about this, Freddy has some major powers.  He infects your dreams and he can slowly infect you and take over your body.  Possession is an interesting thing, Freddy is basically a demon, right?

6. FREDDY vs JASON (2003)

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Freddy vs Jason barely beats out Freddy’s Revenge.  We waited so long to see this match up and it fell flat.  I do remember liking it in the theater and even the first DVD viewing.  Now, reading other scripts and dreaming up different ways to do a Freddy vs Jason movie, it just does not deliver.

I have gotten two different questions about this movie.

1.Who wins?

Well, neither really wins.  Jason is Freddy’s bitch boy, but he has more kills.

2.Is this a Freddy movie or a Jason movie?

I think it is more of a Freddy movie, they both fight on each other’s turf.  But it feels more like a Freddy movie.

Freddy vs Jason was a fun movie to see.  Watching it over the years, it really is not a great addition to either series.  There are took many problems and it begins with the director, Ronny Yu.  There were bad decisions after he was brought on board.  Jason, no matter the size, should have been Kane Hodder.  That was a problem.  Jason was never a giant.  The mask was an issue, which brings me to this question.  Where does this fit in the timeline?  Is it its own sequel of part III or part 2?

I don’t know, this movie is fun and I do like it better than Jason Goes to Hell and Jason X.  I do have a lot of issues, but we may never get another Freddy vs Jason movie, so I am going to take what we can get.

Final thought on Freddy vs Jason:

Well, I would like to see another Freddy vs Jason, but not a sequel.  It would be amazing to get the fans involved in the writing process and possibly crowd fund the movie.  This would be Robert Englund’s farewell to Freddy and Kane Hodder’s dream would come true as he would play Jason for the final time.  This to me would be the end all, be all for Freddy vs Jason.

6. A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET 5 : THE DREAM CHILD (1989)

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This was not the end of the franchise, but it could have been.  The idea is not too bad, they went with Freddy possessing someone again, how about an unborn baby.  This is an interesting concept to think about, but if Freddy was “reborn”, would he still have the power to possess the dreams of others or would just use Jacob to kill people?

To be honest that is such a strange choice, it worked.  The film as a whole is not great but it was an interesting idea.  But not good enough as it brought on the end of the series as we knew it.  This is why I would have liked to see another movie that follows the story left behind with Dream Child.  Even jumping years into the future with some residual nightmares for Jacob, that resurrects Freddy somehow.

The best part of this for me what the end of the Kristin/Alice trilogy.  These were my favorites of the series and I liked the way it ended.   A better name would be the “Dream” trilogy.  All the films are called, Dream Warriors, the Dream Master and the Dream Child.  Alice is probably my favorite character in the entire series, other than Freddy.

Final Thought on the Dream Child

It has been 27 years since the release of this one and I say, lets expand and rather than reboot or remake, lets pick up 17 years later.  Bring back Lisa Wilcox and cast a 17 year old Jacob.  A Nightmare on Elm Street 6, end the series, do not remake it again.

4. WES CRAVEN’S NEW NIGHTMARE (1994)

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Talk about bizarre, this film is technically not a part of the series.  Freddy comes out of the film and begins to haunt the people who starred in the films.  It follows Heather Langenkamp in her normal life as an actress in Hollywood.  We get to see different stars and prominent figures from the series, Wes Craven, Robert Shaye, Robert Englund and John Saxon.  I was disappointed with this from the get go, but it is pretty good and totally different, Freddy in the real world.  But it explored different things I did not agree with.

Years later in watching it and getting the chance to understand how brilliant the movie really is, it falls on my top 100 usually, just because the story is so interesting and Wes Craven really pays tribute to the film he made.  This is the true ending and a good one.

Final Thought on New Nightmare

The thing that I take away from this, well the title itself.  I just recently realized it is very smart.  In the film Wes Craven’s idea of A Nightmare on Elm Street came from real life nightmares.  In this film, he was having, new nightmares.  So, yeah, smart title, Wes Craven’s New Nightmare, wow.

3. A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET 4: THE DREAM MASTER (1988)

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This is actually my favorite of all the films.  I am not sure why, but it is for sure my “go-to” Nightmare movie.  I know a lot of people have issues with parts of this film.  But after watching the doc, Never Sleep Again, there were so many problems in making the movie.  I really love what Renny Harlin did, the dream sequences were bizarre.  I remember also being very excited bout the the release of this film when I was 8 years old.  I did not get to see it until it landed in the video store, but I rented it and watched it many times in the two days I had the copy.  For some reason I really loved Alice and started my attraction to Lisa Wilcox at a young age.

The best part for me is the passing of the torch from characters that starts in Nightmare 3, from Nancy to Kristin and to Alice in this film.  Alice may be my favorite of all the characters not named Freddy Kruger.  Alice continues the trend of Freddy encountering teens with some kind of dream power.  I love that she absorbs the personality of each friend she loses and uses it against Freddy.  Think about that, he kills her friends only to make her stronger and result in his doom.

Final Thought on the Dream Master

I just think I like this film as a whole, they really hit the stride by this point, from the crappy second film to the best sequel of the series.  After this one the series begins to fade and ends shortly after.  I think it is a shame, the series was at the height of its popularity and it was wasted over the next two films.

2. A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET 3: THE DREAM WARRIORS (1987)

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Dokken has a terrific song about this film and every time I hear it, I just think about the Nightmare series.  But if you really think about it, Dream Warriors was rock n roll in a way.  Freddy became very main stream with this film, a music video on MTV and soon to follow a series, terrible series.

Dream Warriors seems to be nearly everyone’s favorite sequel and to some favorite of the series.  What is not to love about this one?  Heather Langencamp returns as an aged Nancy, who is now wise and ready to help a new generation of teens with Freddy problems.  Again, I loved the passing of the torch from Nancy to Kristin.  Also it is great to see the teens fighting back.  This may be the best of the series, of course we cannot have this one without the original.

Final Thought on Dream Warriors

It brought so much together, it adds to the origin, the myth of Freddy, we learn why he is so crazy.  There is so much I could go on about this one, it is terrific.  The cast and setting really amp everything up and really, this should have been the direct sequel to the original film, but Freddy’s Revenge is a nice bridge and a good way to get away from Nancy, only to bring her back.

1. A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET (1984)

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I do not have to tell you that A Nightmare on Elm Street changed a lot when it comes to horror.  Wes Craven came up with such a fresh take on horror, a man who stalks your nightmares.  I don’t even know her was out to make a horror movie.  I don’t know if his mind works that way.  Freddy only helped Slasher films as they took over the 1980s and the Nightmare films are considered a slasher film, when they could fit into other categories.

While I love the sequels, Wes Crave did not have anything to do with them, I am pretty sure he hated the sequels.  I feel if the sequels never happened, A Nightmare on Elm Street could have been one of the greatest horror films of all time.  I think the sequels kind of hurt the original to most people.  I have a lot of friends in horror who only recognize the original film and will not watch any of the sequels.  For me, the sequels only enhance the legend of Freddy and add to the legend A Nightmare on Elm Street.

Final Thought on A Nightmare on Elm Street

A Nightmare on Elm Street belongs in the Top 10 of all horror films.  In a Facebook horror group we did two different horror movie tournaments.  One was the best slasher movies of the 1980s and the other best horror movie per decade.  A Nightmare on Elm Street was voted the best slasher of the 1980s and the best horror film of the 1980s.

Never Sleep Again: the Elm Street Legacy

Bonus round…Never Sleep Again is the best documentary on the Nightmare series.  It covers every movie except the remake, it was released before the remake.  It is four hours long and worth every minute.  It has cast interviews, set pictures and they movie from film to film, rather than bounce around.  If you have not seen Never Sleep Again and you’re a Nightmare fan…you’re in need of seeing it, last I checked it is streaming on Netflix.  If you’re a collector, it belongs in your collection.

I am going to end my 3,000 word count post on A Nightmare on Elm Street with the video for the Dokken’s amazing song from Dream Warriors.  Also, you should check out “Love Kills” by the Vinnie Vincent Invasion, it is cool and from Dream Master.

One day I plan to do a kill count for Freddy as I did for the Friday the 13th films, it should be fun, I will also add my favorite kill from each film.  That sounds bad.

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About Ray Marek III 252 Articles
I am a lifelong horror fan. I have written for a few web sites, Kung-Fu Comrades, Nightfall Unlimited and Rage of Rayzor. Freddy's Revenge was the first Horror Film I watched, I was 5. When my mom found out I liked horror films, she began challenging me. Soon to follow were the likes of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Dawn of the Dead. Horror is in my blood, I want to share that with you...my blood...horror. I write unpublished comics. Lifelong dream is to write comics for a major comic book publisher or build my own comic book company.