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Check Out All the Original ‘Nightmare on Elm Street’ Poster Paintings Without Text

They just don’t make movie art like they used to.

We can compare and contrast the big horror franchises until we’re all blue in the face, but one thing that nobody can deny is that A Nightmare on Elm Street is the clear winner in the art department. The hand-painted posters for the first five films in the series are as iconic as the imagery in the films themselves, and we have artist Matthew Joseph Peak to thank for them.

Fresh out of art school, Peak was hired to design the original A Nightmare on Elm Street poster for New Line, and after knocking it out of the park – who could ever forget the image of Nancy sleeping in her bed, with Freddy’s glove looming overhead? – he subsequently stayed on board to create the posters for the first four sequels. That art played no small part in popularizing the franchise and its outside-the-box villain, undoubtedly helping to drive home video rentals and sales – passing by those tapes at the video store was nearly impossible, as I can attest.

What’s interesting about Peak’s Elm Street posters is that it’s not until Dream Warriors that Freddy is physically depicted on them. The more popular Freddy became, the more of him you saw on the posters; in the art for the original film and its sequel, Freddy is more of a rough concept. Like the films, the poster art was wildly creative, further setting the series apart from the pack.

Peak explained his process in the documentary Never Sleep Again:

I had absolutely no direction from anyone. All of the Nightmare on Elm Street poster art was conceived from a pencil sketch idea, and then brought to a type of opaque watercolor. A lot of movie work is, ‘Oh, here’s a picture of a person. Here’s a picture of the scene.’ And I never approached artwork that way. It’s always been on a concept basis and getting to the core of what’s there. I’m pretty proud of having done the first five and helping launch it. Helping create it.

Below you’ll find Peak’s original Elm Street 1-5 paintings without any text or credits, which is really cool to see because you can truly admire the raw artwork. Peak did not design the poster for Freddy’s Dead, but he did do the art (also below) for the soundtrack. Also take note that the Dream Child art was originally a bit different; the baby was eventually replaced by a carriage.

Hand-painted movie posters. You just can’t beat ’em.









  • huntermc

    Those are really cool. When taken as a group and without the text, you can really appreciate the quality of the artwork.

  • gary41172

    I always thought Dream Warriors and Dream Master had the best art for their posters, but, that’s just my opinion 🙂

  • ragethorn

    Hands down, Dream Warriors is the best but damn, I love ’em all.

  • Geno1987

    Probably some of the best movie posters for a horror film ever made.

  • dangerzone79

    Guys, look at the part 1 poster. To the right of his glove, it looks like SnakeMan from Dreamscape! Came out the same year as ANOES. Do you guys see it?

    • Dude. I never noticed that before!!! That’s awesome!!! ^_^

    • John Squires

      Yup, that was an intentional homage – Peak mentioned it in Never Sleep Again. Pretty cool!

      • dangerzone79

        I don’t remember that from the doc. That’s very cool.

  • Aaron

    Just now noticed the monster heads by Freddys eye on The Dream Child poster.

  • aFriendlyAgenda

    70’s/early 80’s artwork is cute,
    that was an artistic moment.

    All the creativity of the hopefull 60’s,
    combined with the crash of realizing that it was all BS in the 70’s,
    and that they had failed miserably.

  • llcc1103

    Horror just aint what it used to be..

  • cduns

    Interesting that in the poster for Dream Child to the left of Freddy’s eye/face you can see what can be said to be the dream demons from Freddy’s Dead. I wonder if Rachel Talalay was inspired by Dream Child’s artwork in the design of the dream demons we see in Freddy’s Dead.

  • The Freddy’s Revenge poster has always reminded me of a R.L Stine book cover.

  • Clemo

    As a teenager in the 80’s I had the first poster pinned to the ceiling over my bed. Many nights I would lay there and imagine it was a mirror and I was Nancy laying there.

  • darklordofgorgoroth

    These are all beautiful, no doubt. but my favorite is actually this one:
    Blasphemy, I know. But I’m european 😉

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