Welcome to spooky season! October is finally here, and it is time for some horror movie marathons. Since horror lovers and those who only watch during October will be dusting off the classics, what better time to rank all of the A Nightmare on Elm Street films? This franchise is relatively vast, but we are up to the task! Here is my ranking of every NOES movie.
Warning: There will be spoilers for all of the films listed.
9. Freddy vs. Jason
Freddy sharpening one of his finger knives on a sharpening wheel
Freddy vs. Jason pairs up two of horror’s most significant icons, Freddy Kruger (Robert Englund) and Jason Voorhees (Ken Kirzinger), officially combining the two franchises. A group of teens inadvertently end up in the middle of the two villains’ feud.
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While this film is watchable in terms of cheesiness, it cannot compare to any other Nightmare on Elm Street movie. It is full of laughs and classic moments for both characters. However, the faceoff is lacking. As a massive Freddy fan, I was rooting for him to win and was quite disappointed that, essentially, no one “won.” I felt there wasn’t enough from either franchise to make this movie worth watching. It is some weird amalgamation that doesn’t work as well as I hoped.
8. A Nightmare on Elm Street (2010)
Jackie Earle Haley as Freddy Kruger writhes in the fire that killed him
A Nightmare on Elm Street (2010) is the dreaded remake. There are several key differences between this film and the original. However, most of the vital aspects remain the same. While still human, local parents accuse Freddy (Jackie Earle Haley) of nefarious acts involving local kids. The parents take matters into their own hands and burn him alive. After death, he becomes something made of pure evil and subsequently goes after those same kids, now teenagers, in their dreams.
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Accurately rating this addition to the franchise is incredibly difficult. The reason is that, if taken on its own, it is a good movie, but when compared to the original, it fails. Since this list is about comparing all of the NOES movies, this one gets a low rating. However, if you are just getting started, give it a shot. My main complaint is that the makeup department did Haley dirty. They made him look ridiculous rather than scary. Also, it does not look realistic for a burn victim.
7. The Dream Child
Freddy holds his finger knives toward the camera
The Dream Child takes place after the events of The Dream Master. Alice (Lisa Wilcox) goes on a terrifying journey where she discovers something terrible. After learning she is pregnant, Freddy wields the unborn child’s mind as a weapon against her.
While I enjoyed Dream Master, this one went in a weird direction. First, if you have any degree of tokophobia, this is not a movie you want to watch. I know horror is supposed to push boundaries, and while many viewers are unbothered by the theme, others will be uncomfortable. Another consideration is some viewers may have an issue with the manipulation of the unborn.
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Earlier this year, I had the privilege to meet and talk with Whit Hertford, who played the dream child in this film. I would be remiss not to take a moment to say it was an incredible experience. He said if he had the opportunity to play any other part in the franchise, it would be Freddy.
6. Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare
Freddy looks at a picture drawn by his daughter
Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare is unlike any other Nightmare on Elm Street film. In this story, Freddy has finally killed all of the teens left in Springwood. Now, he must branch out and find victims elsewhere. When he arrives in a new town, because “every town has an Elm Street,” he reunites with his previously unmentioned daughter Maggie (Lisa Zane).
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This one is wild. I do not know what else to say. First, we have Freddy leaving Springwood and ending up in the same area as his daughter, whom we previously did not know existed. There are a few excellent scenes, and it is absolutely worth watching if you are a fan of NOES. However, it lacks the charm of the other films.
5. Freddy’s Revenge
Freddy turns and stars at something off camera with a hand on metal
Freddy’s Revenge is the second film in the NOES franchise. It is also one of the weirder entries. For some reason, Freddy now needs a host body. A teen boy has just moved to the area with his family, and Freddy decides he is the perfect host. As the dream killer fights to take over Jessie’s (Mark Patton) body, the teen and his girlfriend must figure out what is going on and how to stop it.
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This story did not fit with the plot established in the first movie. Why would Freddy need to take over a physical body? Why wouldn’t he keep killing people through their dreams? It never made sense to me. Not to mention the weird scenes where Jessie would sprout blades that emerged from his fingertips. The acting is good. Robert Englund is as brilliant as ever, but the plot does not work.
4. The Dream Master
A little girl in a white dress draws Nancy’s house with chalk on the sidewalk
The Dream Master marks the introduction of Alice, the new final girl. It also brings back some of the dream warriors from the previous film. Together, they must find a way to defeat Freddy, and Alice may be the answer to taking him out for good. Can Alice successfully take on Freddy?
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This installment is an enjoyable film, and I have no complaints. The first time I watched it, doubts abounded about the new storyline. Especially without Heather Lankencamp reprising her role as Nancy. However, I was pleasantly surprised. I like Alice as the final girl and think her character fits into the franchise well. There are plenty of classic Freddy quips, and the overall experience is fun.
3. Wes Craven’s New Nightmare
Heather Lake camp stares at the camera
Wes Craven’s New Nightmare is incredibly unique. Instead of the fictional town of Springwood, this story takes place in the “real world.” Heather Lankencamp stars as herself, and Robert Englund appears as himself and Freddy. Heather’s son discovers the original Nightmare on Elm Street, and strange things start happening.
Heather calls up Wes Craven, who notes that Freddy is more than just a story. He made the original film as a way to trap and contain the entity. Now that the series has ended, Freddy is breaking free into the real world. The more belief he garners, the stronger he becomes. Now Heather must find a way to protect her son from the monster she thought was a made-up movie character.
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I love this addition to the franchise. It ups the fear factor with the idea of fiction turning into reality. It is also fascinating to see Heather, Robert, and Wes portray themselves onscreen. It is almost like being a fly on the wall of their lives, even though you know the story is still fiction. The idea of Freddy being an unstoppable force and the only way to contain said force is through storytelling is brilliant. It lends to the thought that the truth is often stranger than fiction and blurs the lines between reality and the fictional world. Highly recommend this one.
2. A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)
Freddy has extended arms and is in silhouette
A Nightmare on Elm Street is the story of Freddy Krueger. The parents of a small town took justice into their own hands when they felt the justice system failed to protect their kids. Together, they burned Freddy alive, but that was not the end. Freddy made a deal with evil and became more powerful after his death. Now, he stalks the teens of Elm Street, taking revenge in their dreams.
This masterpiece is one of the films that made me love horror. Honestly, I struggled for a long time with whether this one belonged in the number one spot. I chose number two, but that does not mean it is not a top-notch film. If nothing else, it gave birth to one of the most recognized villains in horror history. I am also a massive fan of Wes Craven, and I think this is one of his best works. I could gush about this movie for ages.