Phase 2 of my recent journey to watch all Friday the 13th, A Nightmare on Elm Street, and Halloween movies is complete. I watched all 8 A Nightmare on Elm Street films (or Freddy films as some of you know them).
These films are all over the place with regard to consistency. Some of them are scary and some of them are quirky. My brief thoughts on each film are below and at the end of this post, I rank all 8 films from best to worst.
Some of these reviews do contain SPOILERS. You have been warned!
The original "A Nightmare on Elm Street" is a straight up classic. What makes this film stand out is how well it holds up over time. There are a few scenes in the movie that still terrify today and I contribute that to the incredible special effects. Many of the scenes in this film were very progressive for 1984.
I was also impressed by the two lead characters, Nancy and Glen. Nancy, who is played by the excellent Heather Langenkamp, is one of my favorite "final girls" of all time. Not only is the character well acted but she is a heroine. She fights back and devises a plan of how to take Freddy down. Glen, who is played by the great Johnny Depp, is very well acted and plays a relatable character. Both Nancy and Glen play strong roles that aren't overly stupid (which is oh-so-common in the horror genre).
I give "A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)" a 7 out of 10.
"A Nightmare on Elm Street Part 2: Freddy's Revenge" was my least favorite of all of the Freddy films. This film is so stupid, it's laughable. One of the many issues I had with this movie is that it just didn't make sense. For instance, why is it so hot all of the time when Freddy is around? I get that he has possessed Jesse, but his dream powers work in the real world against people who aren't dreaming? Many of the death scenes fall completely flat in this film and the opening dream sequence is utterly ridiculous. I give "A Nightmare on Elm Street Part 2: Freddy's Revenge (1985)" a 3 out of 10.
After the horrible part 2, "A Nightmare on Elm Street 3" comes back strong as my second favorite film in the franchise. It sticks very close to the original but adds a couple of new concepts to the Freddy character. I enjoyed how this film focused mostly on the dream world, much like the original did. The addition of connected dreams, which allowed different people to work together in the dreams, adds a welcomed new depth to the film's concept. I also really enjoyed how the film allowed the teenagers to have personality-driven dream powers to fight back against Freddy. I give "A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors (1987)" a 6 out of 10.
"A Nightmare on Elm Street 4" is when things started to get a little quirky. There are a few things I liked about this film, but for the most part, it was a cheesy, unnecessary addition to the franchise. By far my favorite nightmare in the movie is the beach scene: Seeing Freddy in a bright setting wearing sunglasses was both hilarious and awesome at the same time. Overall, though, I felt the beginning was extremely weak and things like the little people inside of Freddy were strange, and they increased the gore factor a bit too much for the Nightmare franchise. I give "A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master (1988)" a 5 out of 10.
The fifth installment in the Nightmare franchise was a big miss in my eyes. While it did have a couple of saving graces, for the most part it was another unnecessary entry into the franchise. I did enjoy how the lead in the film had an objective other than just killing Freddy in that they needed to locate the mysterious nun. My biggest issues with this movie are how dark it went and how offensive it became. The opening sequence went in a dark direction that was a little too disturbing for my taste. I also found it a bit offensive how they used an unborn fetus in such a negative light with this film. That just rubbed me the wrong way. I give "A Nightmare on Elm Street 5: The Dream Child (1989)" a 4 out of 10.
Freddy's Dead, the 6th installment of the Nightmare franchise takes things in a new direction. The way the group gets stuck in this childless town provides a level of mystery that keeps you guessing about what is real and what is a dream. Aside from the original, this might also be the best cast of characters and performances of the whole franchise. A couple of the dream sequences do get a little foolish, but I didn't think they felt out of place with the rest of the film. I give "Freddy's Dead: The Final Nightmare (1991)" a 5 out of 10.
"New Nightmare" is the infamous return of Wes Craven to the franchise. While I loved the self-referential concept of a movie inside of a movie and the actors playing themselves, I felt that it missed the mark overall. The darker and more terrifying Freddy was a welcomed change, but the Freddy makeup and glove design looked very cheap. Finally, I felt this film was 15 to 20 minutes too long and could have easily been trimmed down. I give "New Nightmare (1994)" (1994) a 5 out of 10.
The 2010 remake of "A Nightmare on Elm Street" was a film that many fans did not want to see. For most, it was hard to picture anyone else in the Freddy role other than Robert Englund. I was excited to see a new take on the film and the infamous Freddy, and it didn't disappoint.
Unlike the previous films, this remake goes for a purely dark and horrific tone. The remake introduces an entirely new, more disturbing and sadistic Freddy Krueger, played by Jackie Earle Haley. I thoroughly enjoyed the new take on Freddy and felt the makeup and the voice were all decent improvements on the character. For the most part, the cast was pretty solid. I enjoyed the characters of Kris and Quinten but I felt Rooney Mara's Nancy fell flat. I would have liked to see a stronger performance from her. The worst by far, however, was Thomas Dekker who plays Jesse. He overacted his minor role so much that it almost came across as laughable.
Overall, I was pretty happy with this remake. I thought the improvements to the Freddy character and the special effects both helped to elevate the franchise to a new level in the horror genre. While I wanted to see a bit more originality, I can understand why they played it safe and stuck so close to the original story. I give "A Nightmare on Elm Street (2010)" (2010) a 5 out of 10.