The 30th Anniversary of A Nightmare on Elm Street
The year was 1984 when a young writer / director named Wes Craven released A Nightmare on Elm Street to unsuspecting audiences. The supernatural slasher film took the formula perfected in John Carpenter's Halloween and added it's own unique twist - blurring the lines between dreams and reality, and making something as simple as sleeping absolutely terrifying. In the 30 years since it's release, the franchise has spawned nine feature length movies, countless pop culture parodies, and even a TV Show called Freddy's Nightmares, all celebrating the one of the most recognized villains in the history of film. So to salute one of the most popular horror franchises of all time for it's 30 year anniversary, I rank the films in order from best to worst. Here goes...
9. A Nightmare on Elm Street (2010)
Coming in last place is the 2010 reboot of Wes Craven's 1984 masterpiece, and it's not particularly difficult to pinpoint the many reasons this movie failed. Let's start with the casting: There is no doubt that Jackie Earle Haley is an incredible actor, and extremely versatile. But what becomes clear here is that Freddy Krueger was not the draw in the previous films, Robert Englund's portrayal of Freddy was. Simply put, Robert Englund is Freddy Krueger. Sorry, Jackie. Secondly, they removed all of the humor that the series had become so famous for embracing and tried to give us something darker and scarier, but in the process also took all of the fun out of the movie. And finally, the film makers biggest blunder was reminding audiences (who, presumably, came to the theater to cheer for Freddy) that the wise cracking guy that we had grown to love over the years was a child molester. Yep. I said it. We all know that this has ALWAYS been his back story, but when it's hammered into your face the way it is in the 2010 reboot, it's just a bummer.
8. Freddy's Dead: The Final Nightmare
As the popularity of the series dwindled over the fourth and fifth installments, the studio decided that as a last ditch effort, they would kill off the character in "The Final Nightmare". Though we all knew that if Friday the 13th The Final Chapter was any indication, we'd be seeing Freddy again. The screenplay is tired and fairly unimaginative, as are the kills. Instead of finding a way to close the mythology in a manner acceptable to the fans, the producers decided to hit us with wall to wall gimmicks. From the comic book-esque 'Super Freddy" complete with corny one liner, to the final act presented in 3D, this film feels haphazardly thrown together. This was actually the first film in the series I was able to see in the theater, and even at twelve years old, I knew it was lame.
7. A Nightmare on Elm Street 5: The Dream Child
6. A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master
5. Freddy Vs. Jason
4. A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy's Revenge
This is the one on the list that I'm going to catch a lot of flack for, as it seems to be among most fans least favorite in the series. So why is it so high on the list for me? Most likely nostalgia, after all it was actually the first film in the franchise that I saw when I was 9 years old, and despite the fact that it breaks almost all of the rules set out by the first film, it still scared the shit out of me.