Happy Halloween everybody. In the spirit of the holiday I wanted to have something horror related on the site this year. To be totally honest, I’ve never really been into horror that much when I was younger, so I actually haven’t seen a lot of the classic horror films. I wanted to rectify this. For this year, I thought I would revisit the Nightmare on Elm Street movie series. I had seen most of the first Elm St movie a long time ago, but I don’t actually think I’d seen it all the way through in one sitting. And I had never seen any of the sequels. Obviously Freddy is a character that has transcended popular culture, so I know him well, but I wanted to fill this major gap in my viewing history. 

I like to do things properly and so I managed to binge watch all 9 films in the series in less than two weeks. I had always thought that most of the sequels weren’t very good and were probably  laughable in places. That’s just what I thought I had heard. But I thoroughly enjoyed watching them. The only one I thought was pretty rubbish was Part 6, Freddy’s Dead – The Final Nightmare. All the others were extremely watchable, and although nearly every one had one or two areas that weren’t great, they all had massive redeeming features. In fact, I reckon if you picked certain elements from each movie you could have one seriously kick ass Freddy film. Here’s my ‘Franken-Freddy’ recipe.

•  The rules of Part 1
•  The craziness of Part 2
•  The characters of Part 3
•  The deaths of Part 3
•  The FX of 4
•  The drama of 5
•  Some of the cast of 6 (maybe)
•  The cleverness of New Nightmare
•  The sound effect jump scares of the remake

And here I have ranked them below, with some very quick thoughts. Obviously there will be some spoilers for people who haven’t seen all these films before.

9. Freddy’s Dead – The Final Nightmare (1991)
This is Part 6 in the series. This really was the only film in the whole series that I just didn’t enjoy at all. It is rubbish in so many areas. The plot is confusing and a lot of the characters are just plain bad. The one interesting thing going for it is the very interesting cast. There are some random special guest stars including Roseanne Barr, Tom Arnold, Alice Cooper and also a cool cameo from Johnny Depp. Yaphet Kotto is a fantastic choice for the main cast too. I could watch him all day.

8. A Nightmare on Elm Street (2010)
This is the remake from 2010 and, hmmm, parts of it are pretty well done. It certainly is very watchable, and the jump scares are executed extremely well (and loudly), like any modern horror movie. It’s good, but it’s just not great. One thing I really didn’t like was how much it focussed on Freddy’s child molestation, rather than ‘just’ being a child murderer in the past movies. It adds a darker element that I found made the movie less enjoyable. And at one stage they even question whether Freddy was guilty at all. They majorly question the validity of why the parents burned Freddy, as they had no evidence that he did anything. The boy even calls him an innocent man, which almost gets you on Freddy’s side, but then they later strongly insinuate that he’s a child molester, which obviously flips you back the other way. The plot is all just a bit confusing. And I really, really didn’t like Freddy in this film. The actor, the character, the makeup etc. They could have done so, so much better there. I don’t know how you can get that character/casting so wrong. And the girl who played Nancy really didn’t have much emotion in her role. But hey, it’s got the Kurgan in the film! Always great to see Clancy Brown. The film does have quite a decent ending though.

7. Freddy vs. Jason (2003)
What a fun movie. The premise sounds ridiculous but actually when you watch it, it comes across really well. It’s quite clever actually. And there are some nice homages to both film franchises in this movie. I just found that it was all a bit confusing and the Freddy rules seemed to go out the window, as they do in most Freddy movies. Fair play to the people who came up with the idea though. For me, it worked.

6. A Nightmare on Elm Street 5: The Dream Child (1989)
It was nice to have the same actors playing Alice and Dan back, for continuity. Their friends, however, were very annoying in this film. I was totally fine with the prospect of these guys all getting killed during the film. This film is maybe one of the best shot of the whole franchise. The Freddy stuff in this one gets very confusing though. And Dan’s death kind of just ended up that he actually fell asleep at the wheel, and not necessarily due to Freddy, which just seemed a bit half-hearted. It gets very confusing about what’s a dream and what’s real life, perhaps on purpose, but I didn’t really like that. I didn’t really like Alice in Part 4 all that much but I ended up really liking her in Part 5. Oh, and THAT trouser plant stand in her bedroom! Bizarre.

5A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master (1988)
It was nice having some recurring characters from Part 3, but it was a real shame it wasn’t Patricia Arquette back in the role as Kristen. And the characters we knew from Part 3 died very early and very easily, which was a bit harsh! To be honest the plot came across as being very messy. But the visual effects were brilliant, particularly with the souls in his chest and then the arms coming out of him at the end. Best effects in the whole series. Outstanding. And hey, it has a truly awesome Karate training scene, complete with nunchucks. I’m surprised I didn’t make this film no.1 on my list just for that.

4. Wes Craven’s New Nightmare (1994)
This film is meta genius. Very clever indeed. A very cool concept, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. It could easily become my no.2 or no.3 on this list on a different day. It was great seeing Robert Englund play himself, and also see Wes Craven in front of the camera. And I loved seeing John Saxon again. I really didn’t like Nancy’s husband though, so it was good that he got killed off early! I felt a bit disappointed that Robert Englund didn’t get more to do towards the end of the movie though. It would have been interesting to have him agonising over how his character has come to terrorise people in real life and perhaps help to vanquish Freddy. I would have loved to see a Freddy versus Robert scene, where Robert gets brutally killed. I think they missed a trick there. But all in all I really loved this film.

3. A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge (1985)
Wow. That’s all I can say. I wasn’t expecting this when I watched it. It’s very, very different. The style is different. The cast is different. And the Freddy rules are a lot different. Still very cool, but just a bit confusing. There were some really good characters, and it was a lot of fun. It’s very different from all the other Elm Street movies, but it’s still highly entertaining.

2. A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors (1987)Part 3 was extremely close to being the no.1 on my list. I kept swapping it in and out of the top spot. It’s got a great premise, a great cast and is very well executed. I love the idea of having the team of warriors all helping each other. Plus Lawrence Fishbourne working in a mental hospital is a draw right there. I personally really like when you have mystery characters, like the nun, who end up being a ghost. And it was really great to see the Nancy character back. I thought that gave the film a lot of gravitas, rather than just getting a new cast every single time. Some great death sequences in this one too. I loved the puppet fall and the TV death. Great film.

1. A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)
It’s very difficult to look past the first film for the no.1 spot. Some of the others come close but I just had to go with Part 1. It introduces the Freddy rules, and is perhaps the most straightforward film in that sense. Some of the others get very flexible and confusing with the rules. One I did find strange is that the first time we see Freddy he has these ridiculous long arms. Just a strange decision to introduce him with that shot I thought. It’s shot like a classic 80s slasher film too, whereas some of the other sequels are slightly cheesy in their production. Very cool seeing a young Johnny Depp too. I really did, and still do, think it is a very strange and confusing ending though. I believe that wasn’t Wes Craven’s ending and the studio just stuck it on to make way for a sequel? Possibly a smart move I guess if it spawned eight sequels.

In a nutshell, I’ve really enjoyed binging the whole Freddy-verse. I might now dip into the comics, graphic novels, books and games to read some more Freddy. Hope I don’t start seeing him in my dreams though. 

Just as I was about to upload this blog post I heard about a news story saying that Heather Langenkamp would be up for starring in another Freddy film. Apparently there’s no talk from the studio, but I’d certainly love to see her revive the Freddy role. Obviously ‘something happened to her’ in Part 3 (spoilers), but they managed to find a clever way to bring her back for Wes Craven’s New Nightmare. Either they could do something equally clever like that, or they could just do what happened with the latest Halloween film and what will be happening with the upcoming Terminator sequel, where they just wipe some of the sequels from canon and create a non-equal sequel (I’m sure there’s a better name for them that I’ve not heard yet).

One thing’s for sure. Freddy’s always going to come back. 

[All images sourced from IMDB]