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[Special Feature] What A Nightmare! Ranking The 9 ‘Elm Street’ Movies!

After last week’s Dream Warriors Script To Scream I found that I had a lot of leftover thoughts racing in my head regarding the Nightmare On Elm Street franchise in general. Was Part 3 better than Part 1? How did they fail so badly with the remake? Is scary Freddy better than funny Freddy? Why does Freddy’s Dead even exist?

Of course, some of these answers are self evident. Nevertheless, with all of these thoughts about the series cluttering my brain, I decided to embark on my own personal ranking of the films in the franchise (including Freddy Vs. Jason). So here they are, ranked in the simple order of which ones I’d prefer to watch over the others.

Hit the jump to check it out. I expect plenty of you guys to disagree, so feel free to include your own ranking in the comments!


It pretty much goes without saying that the first entry is the obvious winner. Despite some slight hiccups (Freddy visibly landing on a mattress on the staircase, Heather Langenkamp’s performance in general), it’s legitimately a landmark film. For one, it’s actually scary. And I suspect it would be even scarier if the sequels hadn’t taken such a protracted detour into one-liners and camp comedy. In effect, Freddy was spoiled for us – and I wonder if the film would be held in higher regard if the entire franchise ended here.

Putting my wishful pontificating aside, A Nightmare On Elm Street has a genius conceit and a near-perfect villain. Good performances by Amanda Wyss and Johnny Depp (along with great 70‘s-esque whitesploitation performances from Ronee Blakley and John Saxon) seal the deal. It’s a great idea, fully developed and played completely developed.


A lot of people have this as their #1 and I completely understand why. Chuck Russell made a really fun horror-fantasy film that fully realizes (at least as far as its small budget will allow) the potential of the dream world both as a setting and as an extension of its characters (many of whom are actually charismatic). But there are elements that haven’t dated well, such as the needless elaboration on Krueger’s backstory and the idea that his remains needed to be buried. Freddy was explained every bit as much as he needed to be in the first film. That plotline and the trend of one-liners that were kickstarted by Dream Warriors would forever haunt the rest of the series.

Also, many people exult this film as somehow being more imaginative than the first. As I said earlier, I think it fully realizes the concepts outlined in A Nightmare On Elm Street – but I think we’re forgetting how imaginative the construct of that film is. Part 1 truly built the world, Part 3 merely expanded it.


Freddy’s Revenge is incredibly flawed, but Jack Sholder crafted one of the more fun entries in the series. It has some outlandish elements, and it makes the mistake of pulling Freddy into the real world at the pool party – but at least it’s still trying to be scary. And the oft-discussed gay subtext (or more accurately, text) is actually a pretty good theme to go hand in hand with the idea that Mark Patton’s Jesse is scared of becoming Krueger himself.

Freddy’s Revenge is often thought of as being some kind of fiasco – but what that means to me is that it’s just one of the more interesting entries in the series. Exploding parakeets, Clu Gulager, Jesse’s bedroom dance, Bob Shaye in leather – it’s all so d*mn entertaining. And again, Freddy is still a monster here, he’s not quite in “take my wife, please” territory yet.


Here’s where we really start heading downhill. The Dream Master was actually my favorite Elm Street movie when I was growing up, but that’s probably because it was the most successful one. Renny Harlin’s film was utterly embraced my the mainstream – if Freddy ever had a pop culture “moment”, this was most certainly it – which at the time I felt kind of legitimized my fandom.

It’s too bad that a more recent revisiting of the film found it to be utterly lacking in logic, suspense or scares. A lot of it still works, it’s not like the movie is boring, it’s a fast-moving adventure film that colorfully sums up the year 1988. But anytime Freddy impersonates Jaws with his glove, pops out onto the beach and puts on his shades – you know you’ve jumped the shark.


A lot of you might be bothered that this is ranked so low on the list, but this entry is hugely overrated. Wes Craven’s New Nightmare feels antiquated – its attempts at meta commentary now feel more smug and grating than clever. It’s thematic territory that he would cover to far greater effect in Scream just a few years later.

Technically I suppose it’s a better film than The Dream Master, but what does that even mean when it’s such a boring slog? Plus, the Freddy redesign isn’t remotely scary. He’s too brightly lit and looks almost like an WWF Wrestling interpretation of the concept.


Stephen Hopkins’ Dream Child is an utterly confounding film. Why would New Line so drastically slash the budget of this when they were coming off the uber-successful Dream Master? I don’t know, but the result is a cheapo movie that feels completely neutered. I could understand a mandate to spend less if they were aiming to make something more in the vein of Part One, but as the third film in the makeshift trilogy started by Dream Warriors you need to go big or go home. This film did neither. If memory serves it also has the lowest body count of the series – even if Greta’s force-feeding kill is pretty cool. Super Freddy? Motorcycle Freddy? No thanks!


The only reason this movie is placed as high as it is is because it functions fairly well as a Friday The 13th film. The rave scene is fun, the opening kills are cool and brutal and the narrative kind of barely holds together up until act 3. But then Ronny Yu lets the whole thing devolve into a protracted wrestling match between Jason and Freddy. To be honest, who the f*ck cares?

Freddy Vs. Jason is one of those ideas we thought we all wanted, but boy were we wrong. After this and Alien Vs. Predator, hopefully we’ve learned to stop mixing our killers.


A dead, soulless remake that makes no sense and cowardly backs away from the one cool new idea it had – what if Freddy were innocent? If they’d actually gone all the way with that one I would have been a little more impressed, but by no means would it have saved the movie. NOES 2010 benefits from having the resources to render its dream worlds slightly more absorbing than prior entries, but how many points can you award a film for simply having more money to spend? Decent actors and performances are utterly wasted and, worst of all, we lost our shot at returning the franchise to the dark roots of the original. Or continuing the franchise at all. The film was a financial success but there are no plans for a sequel – which speaks volumes about how much fun everyone must have had making this one.


Dear God. I remember seeing an interview with Rachel Talalay where she bemoaned Platinum Dunes for not staying true to the original vision or consulting with the original New Line team for their remake. I’m not sure if she should be throwing stones because her Freddy’s Dead is easily the worst film in the entire franchise.

Awful makeup, horrible one-liners, the completion of Freddy’s journey towards becoming a burn-victim Jay Leno, the rogues gallery of stupid cameos, Wicked Witch Freddy, Bus Driver Freddy, Freddy pushing traps into the road like Wile E. Coyote, and the Nintendo Power Glove.

Am I missing anything? Oh yeah – horrible 3D, a stupid Alice Cooper cameo and yet even more unnecessary clouding of the Krueger backstory by making Lisa Zane’s Maggie his long lost daughter.

Your turn! How would you rank the franchise?



  • #1. Nightmare 3
    #2. Nightmare 1
    #3. Nightmare 7 (new nightmare)
    #4. Nightmare 8 (freddy vs. jason)
    #5. Nightmare 5 (dream child)
    #6. Nightmare 9 (remake)
    #7. Nightmare 4 (dream master
    #8. Nightmare 2
    #9. Nightmare 6 (freddy’s dead)

  • nickneek

    #1 3
    #2 1
    #3 freddy vs jason
    #4 new nightmare
    #5 2
    #6 6
    #7 remake
    #8 5
    #9 4

  • CBblitz32


  • iamthemob

    I think that this is pretty much spot on, but I would disagree on a couple of points (which are a matter, of course, of my taste):

    (1) I completely disagree that “New Nightmare” is “hugely overrated”. It had the lowest box office in the series (in fact, “Freddy vs. Jason” had about five times the box office of “New Nightmare”, before adjusting for inflation I believe). In a broader context, this movie is pretty severely underrated.

    I can understand your criticism of the “meta” elements that you, as many, believe were more cleanly presented later with “Scream”. However, I think that the meta commentary becomes less “smug and grating” if you put it in the context of being about the “Nightmare on Elm Street” franchise specifically, rather than movies or horror movies or stories more generally. For me, in many ways, the “evil force” unleashed after the close of the franchise really is the fandom, and all of the commentary about the “watering down” is the actual reaction we all had to the handling of both the character of Freddy and the franchise. It was a bit of wish fulfillment – many of us wish our rage could manifest in the form of massive earthquakes wreaking havoc on Hollywood.

    And on another note…it’s just great to see the progress Heather Langenkamp made as an actress even though she didn’t really work that much. In the original, I found her to be as likable as nails on a chalkboard (of course, looking back, that could have made her performance real genius as that’s how I feel about most real-life 15-year-olds). In “New Nightmare”, she came off as natural and believable…I really trusted that this was her in real life.

    (2) “Freddy’s Dead” ruined and then killed Freddy. However, putting anything but “Freddy vs. Jason” as dead last is unacceptable. 😉 Nightmare 6 might have ruined and then killed Freddy…but FvJ then resurrected him to ruin Jason even harder than “Jason Goes to Hell” did. And to top it off, instead of making him scary again, they just made Freddy kind of racist.

    And in the end, at least “Freddy’s Dead” had the dignity to end with a final, clear statement that it was over. FvJ had the audacity to leave open the possibility of a sequel. Which was, in the end, perhaps the only truly terrifying thing in the movie.

  • Sith-Zombie

    Pretty much agree with that list!
    Mine would be:

    Dream Warriors
    Dream Master
    Freddy’s Revenge
    Dream Child
    New Nightmare
    Freddy vs Jason
    Plan 9 from Out Of Space
    Batman and Robin
    Freddy’s Dead

    Sometimes I have a hard time deciding which is my favourite, I always flit between the original and Dream Warriors. Dream Warriors took the series to a knife edge, the kills were the most creative, the ‘theme dream’ was introduced to great effect, it was gory and freddy was pretty scary. The one liners were more dark humour rather than cheesy quips, although they did cross the line occasionally.

    In all honesty I rate Revenge, Child and Master about the same as there are things I like and dislike about them in equal measure.

    With Revenge I like the way the didn’t do the exact same thing as the original but with different victims like a lot of other films would have done. I find the tone of the film odd and I like trying to figure stuff out like, if/when jesse is dreaming, it kinda reminds me of videodrome. There should have been way more kills though and comes of pretty dull sometimes with bad pacing.

    Dream Master is odd because it falls on the knife Dream Warriors was balancing on, freddy is not really scary and one-liners make me cringe. It’s not really too gory either but somehow it still manages to entertain and not be a disaster.

    Dream Child is cool because of its gothic tone, I think this whole film would have worked a lot better with the freddy from 1 or 2. I think dans death is one of the best visually, but freddy’s quips ruin the scene. Super freddy pretty much does the rest of the film in….

    I love the concept behind new nightmare but the film is DULL!

    Freddy’s Dead is every bad idea from all the other films mashed up in to one giant steamroller of s**t!
    If these films were star wars characters, freddy’s dead would be jar jar binks.

  • anezka

    My ranking would be:

    1 – Original
    2 – New Nightmare
    3 – Dream Warriors
    4 – Freddy vs Jason
    5 – The Dream Master
    6 – The Dream Child
    7 – Freddy’s Dead
    8 – Freddy’s Revenge
    9 – Remake

    I absolutely hated the remake and the new face for Freddy (which looks more like Voldemort). Freddy’s Revenge is also poor for the errors in the rules. One cannot change the rules like this with no explanation at all.
    The first 3 in my list are chosen as the best of them, because they try to keep a scary Freddy, while the other go too far into the comedy. But since it went into comedy anyway, Freddy vs Jason is the most fun among the comic-Freddy films.

  • K-nut

    1st – Original
    2nd – Dream Warriors (3)
    3rd – Dream Master (4)
    4th – New Nightmare
    5th – 2010 Remake
    6th – Freddy’s Revenge (2)
    7th – Dream Child (5)
    8th – Freddy’s Dead
    9th (and a distance last) – Freddy vs. Jason

    Freddy vs. Jason was a complete disappointment, I absolutely hated it. I could easily rank 5th through 7th in any order (I don’t get all the hate for the remake, especially considering the last time I saw Freddy was in FvJ). It’s hard to rank New Nightmare, because it was so much different than the other films, but I enjoyed it. The original scared the crap out of me as a kid, and I thought Parts 3 and 4 were very good too (although 4 certainly wasn’t very scary).


    The dream master
    New nightmare
    Dream warriors
    The dream child
    Freddy vs Jason
    Freddys revenge
    Freddys dead

  • Tom

    1. The Original
    2. Dream Master
    3. Dream Warriors
    4. Freddy’s Revenge
    5. Freddy’s Dead
    6. New Nightmare
    7. Dream Child
    8. FvJ
    9. Remake (I’ve never seen it, but I don’t need to)

  • ModernMan

    I would have to say…

    1) The Original
    2) Dream Warriors
    3) Freddy’s Dead
    4) Dream Master
    5) Freddy’s Dead
    6) Dream Child
    7) New Nightmare
    8) FvJ
    9) Remake

    I think New Nightmare, FvJ, and the remake are all equally bad. I can’t understand why anyone can rank New Nightmare as high as the do. It is so corny and boring.

  • Luiz

    You know what? Before reading this i had exactly the same rank than you… in fact i kind tied the part 3 and part 1, i think its also because in the part 3 we have more bodycount and, of course, we have Patricia Arquette.

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