The Nightmare on Elm Street franchise began in 1984 & the first movie is still considered a classic 30+ years later. Looking back at it, it is impossible to envision just how entwined the series & character of Freddy Krueger would become in popular culture.
The first movie is remembered fondly, the many sequels…not so much. Ask any Nightmare on Elm Street fan which movie, other than the first, is the best & most will answer back with the third. The rest don’t exactly get much love. Are they all terrible though? Sure, Freddy became a caricature spouting one-liners to such a degree it becomes laughable but there are moments that can be enjoyed. In particular the many & varying deaths. Check out our Top 10 A Nightmare on Elm Street Deaths to see some of our favourites!
The Nightmare on Elm Street Franchise is made up of 7 original films & a remake starting in 1984 & ending in 2010.
Similar to our definitive ranking of the Friday the 13th movie series, this ranking is based around our review scores. If the same score has been given for several movies then the order will be based on personal preferences. Freddy vs Jason is not included as it is a crossover that is as much a Friday the 13th movie as it is A Nightmare on Elm Street movie.
8 – Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare (1991)
Our Score: 4/10
Freddy has left Springwood a childless place & desperate to get more kills under his belt sends the last surviving teen to bring others back with him. One person who does end up coming back to Springwood is his now grown up daughter. A daughter who has the power to kill him once & for all.
Freddy’s Dead gets a lot wrong & takes the series so far from horror it’s embarrassing at times. It constantly tries to play around with comedy elements but won’t raise the slightest chuckle as it isn’t funny. The few deaths we get are the worst of the bunch with the computer game/Nintendo power glove cringe-worthy watching.
Unsurprisingly this is the worst Nightmare movie of the bunch that deviates so far from the original idea that it’s all too easy to dismiss this as nothing more than a cash grab. Check out our full review here.
7 – A Nightmare on Elm Street: Remake (2010)
Our Score: 5/10
A Nightmare on Elm Street 2010 is not the worst remake/re-imagining that you’ll ever see (what praise!) but it will leave you frustrated by its laziness & the lack of anything fresh being brought to the series.
The good is overshadowed by the bad. It has to be noted that there are many excellently done visual effects such as the classroom scene.
Sadly far too many rehash the more memorable scenes from the original but using CGI. For example in the original Freddy appears to move in the wall above Nancy’s bed while she sleeps & it looks amazing…here it is CGI & looks awful. Check out our full review here.
6 – A Nightmare on Elm Street 5: The Dream Child (1989)
Our Score: 6/10
Set a year after the events of the last movie it is a continuation of Nightmare 4 with Alice being the main star but she doesn’t seem to have learned anything from dealing with Freddy before. Her warnings to her friends are half-arsed & she could have dropped a little more knowledge on them.
This time round Freddy uses her unborn child’s dreams to attack her & her new set of friends. The major problem is that Freddy just isn’t that smart…his one-liners are cringe-worthy & he does things that feel out of place even for him (skateboarding!?). Add that to worse make-up (easily the worst so far) & a horrible comic-book style death that just drags on & you’re not left with a whole lot.
It’s still not a bad horror film though. It lacks a lot of what made other Nightmare movies so compelling but still has an inventive death or two. Check out our review here.
5 – A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master (1988)
Our Score: 7/10
Initially using the surviving characters from part 3, it’s not long before Freddy is back once again. This time round he manages to finish them off forcing the movie to look elsewhere for a heroine. Alice steps up as the star of the movie now alongside Freddy who continues killing in inventive ways while Alice sets about collecting her dead friend’s dream abilities like they’re Pokémon cards.
Freddy getting top billing on the cast list should be a sign of just who is now the real star of these movies & no-one can hold a candle to him throughout. The wise-cracking murderer is on fine form here & the variety in deaths is just amazing. Seriously…the effects on show are better than I’ve ever seen with the cockroach scene standing out & living long in the memory…not for the squeamish though.
The acting is good, the gore is good, the effects are amazing but the story is weak. This is a better Nightmare on Elm Street movie than you might first think it is. Worth seeing if just for some of the incredible deaths scenes. Check out our review here.
4 – Wes Craven’s New Nightmare (1994)
Our Score: 7/10
So much for Freddy being dead, eh?
The 7th movie in the franchise doesn’t follow the continuity of the previous movies but isn’t a reboot either. Wes Craven’s New Nightmare has the cast & crew of the original playing themselves. Freddy Krueger is a world-wide phenomenon that both kids & adults alike love. It’s all just a movie or so it seems…
There is an entity, one that has been drawn to the character Freddy Krueger & trapped within it until the movies stopped being made. Now it is free & sees Heather Langenkamp (Nancy) as its foe because of what she did in the movies.
This Freddy Krueger is very different from what fans are used too. He is pure evil…no snappy lines, no jokes, no entertainment…he is here to kill. It is an amazing transformation & one that I fully support. It’s not just in the Krueger attitude but the look as well. Freddy has a much more modern look & his claw resembles bone & muscle. This is how Wes Craven wanted him to look & the love is clear to see.
There is a lot to praise, story-wise, even if the movie is boring at times. Tension is high & it is fascinating to be reminded of just how much influence Freddy Krueger had on children! Check out our review here.
3 – A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge (1985)
Our Score: 7/10
Wait? Who does he want revenge on? None of the original cast are in this movie!
Jesse can’t stop dreaming about Freddy Krueger & it’s beginning to affect his daily life. He is withdrawn & unhappy, not helped by his father & sadistic school coach. Turns out that Jesse is living in what was Nancy’s house & Freddy wants to be reborn…through Jesse.
He wants Jesse to be his human vessel…he wants Jesse to kill for him. You see, through Jesse’s terror he can grow stronger & eventually be re-born. It’s all a bit strange but made all the more strange when the homosexual subtext is pointed out.
By now most Nightmare on Elm Street 2 fans are aware of the many references that are littered throughout the movie. Some aren’t even that subtle such as the encounter with Coach Snider in the gay S&M leather bar. None of this matters & it actually makes a lot more scenes make a lot more sense.
It’s a good Nightmare on Elm Street movie & a good horror movie as well. It has some solid acting, some really good visual effects & decent gore. It loses its way near the end but has a nice final scene to keep the series ticking over. Check out our review here.
2 – A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors (1987)
Our Score: 8/10
The 3rd Nightmare on Elm Street movie marks the turning point of the franchise. This is where the deaths start becoming more imaginative & Freddy starts to become more comical. A direct sequel to the original, it sees Krueger attacking a group of teens who are locked up in a psychiatric hospital. No-one believes them obviously that is until a new employee turns up…Nancy. She will have to face off against Freddy one more time but this time she has help.
Each character is likeable & their interactions are believable. It’s a thrilling story mixed with genuinely great effects & gore. There are so many good ideas here & to see Freddy theme his attacks around the casts dreams & fears makes him seem so much more threatening.
The ending will surprise but leave you satisfied…in fact this could have easily wrapped up the story comfortably but a final lingering scene makes sure you know that Freddy isn’t quite dead just yet. The best Nightmare since the original. Check out our review here.
1 – A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)
Our Score: 9/10
Well it had to be, didn’t it? The original & still the best Nightmare on Elm Street movie to date.
It introduced a legion of horror movie fans to one of the most iconic characters to ever grace the screen. Freddy Kruger was in your dreams & there was nothing you could do about it. Nancy & her friends are powerless to stop him & their parents don’t believe the tales of the dream killer. That is until Nancy discovers the town knows more about Krueger then she could have ever imagined.
A horror movie that stands the test of time, still as un-settling as it was the first time you saw it. Freddy Kruger is an icon but often it’s forgotten why, this movie will remind you. Top acting, top visuals, top scares & a top start to a franchise. Check out our review here.