I like posts like this. If I had to rank the franchise it would go like this.
Dream Master/Dream Warriors
The Dream Child
The Final Nightmare
Freddy V Jason
I'l explain my rankings.
The original without a doubt is the best. The storytelling is so tight in this film, it moves at breakneck speed, it's unsettling and genuinely scary. Plus it contains two of the best kills sequences in the entire franchise. It's gruesome and surreal fantasy horror at its best.
The Dream Master. Some of you may be wondering why I place this entry so high. I was a a child, becoming a teen in the 80's and these films actually scared the crap out of me. TDM was the first time I could watch a Freddy film and enjoy it without having to close my eyes. Not scary at all but the set pieces and special effects are eye poppingly amazing. You an tell that Renny Harlin and everyone involved really thought out how to come up with the craziest stuff this franchise had ever seen. Yes, Freddy morphs into more of a comedian here but he still errs on the side of a genuine villain. I love this instalment and it is pretty much a time capsule of the late 80's VHS horror movies I grew up with.
The Dream Warrior - TDW is on par with TDM for me. TDW was the first instalment to introduce the wild, effects laden dream sequences and the ones here are a beauty. It expands the Freddy mythos by giving us just enough backstory, introduces us to The Elm St kids and brings back Nancy. Plus, Freddy is still kind of in the shadows and not that jokey, although this is where the one liners start to creep in. Both Dream movies make for a kick ass double feature.
Freddy Revenge - Gets a lot of hate, usually because of the gay stuff and that it throws the rules established by the first film straight out the window, but I find this one to be just as dark and menacing as the first film. The opening bus sequence is a ripper as is the pool party scene. Freddy still very much a frightening figure here.
New Nightmare - Just what the franchise needed. A reboot of sorts by its very creator and pretty much a dry run for Scream. It's very clever in its use of characters from the franchise playing themselves and the new look Freddy is great. "Miss me"
The Dream Child - Had a lot to live up to after the wildly successful Dream Child but falls short of the mark. If the production wasn't as rushed as it was it could have been an awesome movie. Love the gothic-ness that Steve Hopkins brings to film with the production design and I love the character of Alice. Effects are great but it's just not thought out enough to be the great film it could have been.
The Final Nightmare - Not much to rave about here. It's just way too goofy and silly, with Rachel Talalay trying to capitalize on the Twin Peaks craze at the time. It just doesn't work here and freddy deserved a way better send off.
FVJ - Loved it when it first came out but it doesn't hold up. Too much Jason, not enough Freddy and it pisses me off how Ronny Yu treats the audience like complete idiots by having to eplain what it going on every two seconds. The final showdown is bloody and decent but not enough for me to really enjoy this film.
Reboot - Hate it. Bland, bland, bland.