The Definitive Ranking of Every Movie in the Nightmare on Elm Street Franchise
A Nightmare on Elm Street is in the conversation for greatest horror franchise of all time. Slashers like Jason and Michael have had their own knock-offs in a thousand B-movies, but Freddy has never been replicated. Though it took him three films to really blossom, Freddy became a movie baddie that horror fans began to actually cheer for. As one of those such horror fans, I have taken it upon myself to rank the franchise from worst to first.
A Nightmare on Elm Street (2010)
As a horror fanatic, I could not wait for this movie to hit the theaters. I had heard rumors of a reboot forever and could not fathom who could take the mantle from the great Robert Englund. When I found out the Jackie Earl Hayley would be playing the part I was sure that it was destined to be a new age for the horror franchise. Unfortunately, I could not have been more wrong. This movie was less of a reboot and more of a crappy remake/homage to the original. It barely belongs on this list at all and for that, it is number one.
A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy's Revenge
This movie is almost as non-cannon to the rest of the series as Halloween 3 is to that series. Unlike Halloween 3, this one actually stars Freddy, but they try to take the story in a weird way. They make Freddy more of a demon than anything, trying to possess a young man who is living in Nancy Thompson's house. The whole thing does not make any sense and the movie comes to a nonsensical ending. If it wasn't for the fact that the reboot stunk so bad this would definitely have been the worst in the franchise.
Freddy's Dead: The Final Nightmare
Nothing about this movie makes any sense. It starts in a somewhat dystopian future where there are no kids left in Springwood and the entire adult population has lost their marbles because of it. Then, it turns out that there is one kid left that, inexplicably, nobody noticed and he is sent on a mission by Freddy to collect more kids and bring back Freddy's adult daughter in the process. Eventually, there is a quick Freddy origin story and some cheap 3D effects before the boring and anticlimactic ending. The movie never really lands on a tone either with it being half silly and half sinister. This one should have never seen the light of day, but they had a good thing going and I bet they made a buck off of it.
Freddy Vs. Jason
As a Friday the 13th film this movie was alright, but as a Nightmare on Elm Street film it kind of stunk. Freddy definitely got second billing from the beginning and the movie doesn't end too hot for him either. I have always thought of this as more of a Friday the 13th movie featuring Freddy than an actual Freddy vehicle itself.
A Nightmare on Elm Street 5: The Dream Child
Dream Child was the last of three movies which were interconnected, and in all honesty, the premise was pretty decent. Though Krueger has been put down multiple times, he finds yet another way to come back and tortures his foe Alice in a unique way. Freddy manages to alter reality by using the dreams of Alice's unborn child. If it wasn't for some truly terrible acting and gaping plot holes this movie may have found itself higher on the list.
A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master
This movie is a bridge between the third and fifth movies and is the first time we meet Alice. Her progression through the movie from meek little girl to Kreuger arch nemesis is fascinating. As Freddy picks off her friends, Alice begins to take on their best traits in order to slay Freddy once and for all. Of course, we all know that that isn't true and while it is nice to see someone take Freddy to task this sequel to Dream Warriors was just not up to its predecessor.
A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors
This is the first film where we really got to know the Freddy that we know and love. It also took the franchise in a new direction which suited it well. Dream Warriors saw the return of Nancy Thompson, the introduction of Hypnocil, and a group of kids with special dream powers to combat Freddy's evil. Freddy dropped some classic lines in this film which won the hearts of horror and non-horror fans alike. This movie also stars some young up-and-comers like Patrica Arquette and Lawrence Fishburne when he was still Larry, which is a fun look into the past.
A Nightmare on Elm Street
The one that started it all put Freddy, Wes Craven, and Johnny Depp into the annuls of history. Some people don't realize that this was Johnny's first role and a role in which he dies one of the most iconic deaths in horror movie history. This movie made an entire generation afraid to sleep and introduced us to a movie villain that sprung into pop culture legend. Freddy was not the one-liner dropping maniac that he became, but you have to start somewhere and even if the sequels didn't exist Freddy and the movie itself, would still be in contention for horror royalty.
Wes Craven's New Nightmare
It is extremely rare that a sequel outperforms the original, but leave it to Wes Craven to make a movie so good that it outshines his original masterpiece. New Nightmare took the already terrifying Freddy Kreuger and made him even more sinister somehow. The movie stars Heather Langenkamp, Wes Craven, and Robert Englund as themselves which gives it more of a real-life feel. The basic idea behind the movie is that Freddy is a real evil entity and the movies have served as something of a cage keeping the entity from reeking havoc on us all. It ends up being up to Heather to make another movie and trap the real-world Freddy. An especially evil-looking, trench coat wearing, Kreuger and a surreal movie around a movie make this the best Nightmare on Elm Street movie to date.
Many horror fans may be surprised to know that there was a Nightmare on Elm Street TV series called Freddy's Nightmares. The series had a bit of a Tales From the Crypt feel to it, but only with Freddy as the bad guy every time. Not surprisingly the series didn't last long and it is hard to find all of the episodes, though the Chiller channel does play them every so often. As a TV series, it doesn't really fit into the list, but it is a Freddy vehicle and deserves a mention.