Friday, May 20, 2011

The best and the worst of the "A Nightmare on Elm Street" franchise

By: Brandon Sites of

Who doesn't love a list? I know, I love me some lists! And who doesn't like the "A Nightmare on Elm Street" franchise? Now combine the two and I think I might just be in nerd heaven! Just in case you aren't familiar with the franchise, the series dealt with a child serial killer who was burnt to death by an angry mob of parents. Years later, that same killer returned from beyond the grave to get his revenge on those parents by killing their kids in their dreams. The series introduced a modern day Donald Pleasence in the form of Robert Englund who went on to reach iconic status in the horror field along with the character he portrayed in the series - Freddy Krueger. The series originally had six films, a remake that wasn't so well received by fans, an entry in which Freddy meets up with iconic Jason Voorhees to duke it out to the death, and a play on real life vs reel life in New Nightmare. Here's my picks for the top 3 Elm Street films and the bottom 3. Get ready to be surprised!


The series was running like a well oiled machine by this point. It continued to do what had made the series successful and it did it well. Another solid, entertaining entry for the Elm Street franchise.

Probably the most talked about entry in the series had fans talking about if the main character of Jesse played by Mark Patton was gay or not. It's pretty safe to say, he was. However, this entry really kick started the fact that the Elm Street series became known for these huge horror set pieces. The opening sequence that takes place in a bus was perfectly realized and the party sequence is a classic of the genre. This entry also features some of the most hideous effects of the series - the tongue sequence, Freddy ripping open his head to reveal his brain, etc. Easily, the most underrated entry in the series.

Were you expecting something different? Yes, you read right. This is my favorite entry in the series and possibly one of my favorite horror films of the 80's. Up to this point, Freddy had been a supporting character. Without question, Freddy is the most interesting character of the series. So it only makes sense to make him the lead and center everything around him. However, the series was really hitting its stride with this one - the special effects were at their peak here, the set pieces were memorable, the humor was spot on, the soundtrack is just full of 80's awesomeness, but most importantly the film gave us a wide variety of appealing young actors. There was at least one character for people to root for that people could relate to -- the nerd, the shy one, the jock, the class clown, the tough one, etc.


Fans had been waiting a good ten years for this matchup to the death between Freddy and Jason. Was it worth the wait? No, not really. The title duel was OK at best. What this entry forgot about was what had made these two iconic horror villains & their respective franchises so popular to begin with. Gone are Jason's bloody & innovative kills, gone are the pressing teen issues that made up the Elm St. franchise, gone are the wild over the top set pieces, gone are the creative special effects & makeup. This entry just forgets to incorporate elements that made these films so endearing for horror fans. 

Yes, the premise is creative. Yes, it introduced what would become an iconic horror film villain. However, where is the creativity of the premise at in the situations that occurr within the framework of the film? It's one thing to come up with a creative premise, but that creativity needs to spill out into the film itself and how it unfolds and what happens thoughtout the film. Mostly everything that occurs in the film, is cliched and expected. Clunky dialogue, bland, uninteresting supporting characters and an ending that can simply be described as terrible certainly don't help. A missed opportunity of a film.

Outside of a sequence in which Freddy forces one of his victims to be to be the main character in a video game he's playing, this entry lacks the innovation and originality that the earlier films showed. This one just feels stale and by the numbers. And for an entry that is supposed to close out the franchise, this lacks any WOW factor or pizazz.

"They saved the best for last" ?!? Yeah right.

So that means part three, New Nightmare and the remake all fall in the middle of the line for me.


Kate said...

Great choices, but I feel a bit more friendly towards the remake- I really liked it. Which surprised me... a lot.

Mr. Gable said...

Top 3: Freddy's Dead, Part 1, and my favorite is Part 3.

Bottom 3: Freddy vs Jason, New Nightmare, and Part 2.

Part 4/5 are alright. Haven't seen the remake yet.

The Scream Queen said...

I'll have to respectfully disagree.

Top Three: Original NOES, Dream Warriors (3), Dream Master (4)

Bottoms Three: Dream Child (5), Freddy's Revenge (2), Nightmare on Elm Street remake.

I actually liked Freddy vs. Jason and Freddy's Dead is so much cheesy fun. New Nightmare is number 4 for sure. That was a tough one to take out of the top three.