I Watched 8 “Nightmare on Elm Street Movies” in 7 Days

Just as blogging is a dead art form, DVDs (like most physical media) are a dying/dead media. Well, I am combining both by writing a blog entry about how I watched some movies on DVD! Soon I will be in a coffin because I am old and will also be dead.

It just so happens that the DVDs I have watched are part of an 8-DVD collection of films from the Nightmare on Elm Street series, which, if you didn’t know, is a series of movies that feature the delightful hijinx of a loveable trickster named Frederick Krueger who entertains children in their very dreams! If you are totally unfamiliar with the series, I strongly suggest watching it.

I will be giving each individual movie a rating and then I will present my ordered list of preferences, which, due to my position as a respected film critic, will be revered as paradigm-shifting and will establish an entirely new era of film critique and film series preference ordering. You may wonder about the 2010 remake, but I have never seen it, and there is a good chance I will never; as far as I am concerned, it has no place on this list.

Anyway, here are the movies in release order with my ratings:

A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)
A classic film!

A Nightmare on Elm Street, in addition to being a classic of horror cinema, was also the debut of Johnny Depp as an actor. This film also introduced entire concept of the main antagonist (for me, I really consider him the protagonist) Freddy Krueger and did so in an extremely smooth fashion. This film didn’t have the budget of its following entries in the series, but the (practical) effects were excellent and the acting was coherent, even if it suffered by having actors in their 30’s play high school students.

My Rating: 10/10

I find it incredibly difficult to not rate this movie a solid 10, and I mean, that is the rating I am giving it. This has every good aspect of a horror movie: building tension, creepiness, horror moments, gore, and even a little bit of nudity. Obviously there are things that I would prefer changed or done slightly differently, but this is a film I could watch multiple times (I have) and still enjoy every aspect.

Kim Myers and Mark Patton in A Nightmare on Elm Street Part 2: Freddy's Revenge (1985)
A great sequel!

A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge, is the first sequel in the series. A lot of people seem to think that no sequel can ever match the original, but I don’t always agree. The success of the first film ensured that the sequel had a larger budget (about double) and that money was well-spent on practical effects that really started to ratchet up the dream-like insanity of Freddy’s imagination and bloodlust. It is possible to enjoy this movie without having seen the first, but this movie is made better by having a little background knowledge.

My Rating: 9/10

I know I just got finished writing how a sequel can’t match the original and how I disagreed, but I mean, let me get this clear, this is a really great flick, but it just misses a little bit of the tension of the original and I really would have liked a little nudity (sorry not sorry). Although, on that topic, if you read the “parent’s guide” on IMDB, this one sounds like a hardcore homosexual porno, but I don’t really agree with that assessment. Whatever. Highly recommended and if not “as good” as the original, it is still an excellent experience.

A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors (1987)
Starting to drift from the main concept a bit…

A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors, the second sequel, and is a mixed bag for many reasons. This film, like the first sequel, also had the benefit of a larger budget and that budget was spent on effects, notably this was the first of the series to feature computer animation, although in very small sequences. The (practical) effects are truly excellent and fairly over-the-top which is welcome, but the story starts to suffer as this film really starts to expand on the “dream world” elements of the film universe, which is not what I want in a horror movie, I want people getting mangled, not weird dream interactions between children.

My rating: 8/10

I want to be clear here: most of the story involving the eponymous “Dream Warriors” is kind of a real drag; this movie relies on another excellent portrayal of Freddy and some truly imaginative sequences with effects to match. There is a lot of “cringe” in this flick, but there are a lot of good scenes as well. Overall, I really enjoyed it and I think any fan of series should also, and for the general film-watching public, it should be pretty good; give it a try.

A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master (1988)
Starting to lose it a bit.

A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master, like the previous entry this movie really starts to fall apart in the coherency department due to the further exploration of the dream world. For me; however, I really liked how everything was just kind of shoe-horned in and somewhat forced – the feeling is almost nostalgic and for me, gives the movie a feeling of mystery. The film also represents another positive step in the effects department and I feel that with a few small exceptions, the effects not only stand up to current efforts, but often surpass them. The big knock that I have for this movie is the lack of gore, this is the first entry in the series where gore really takes a backseat, every kill being almost entirely bloodless, and this, for me, for many horror/gore fans, is inexcusable.

My Rating: 7/10

Yeah, another high rating, but I mean, I am a fan of the series. I will note that the direction on this one and the lack of gore were what really harmed this one. The director and/r writer clearly had a hard-on for 1950’s America and it had a negative impact on the aesthetic… …yet, the director also had really amazing camerawork and scene composition, so, wow, hard decisions here. If this had been made by the same team as 2 or 3 but with the technological advancements and improvements in effects, this would have been a 10.

A Nightmare on Elm Street: The Dream Child (1989)
Basically a continuation of 4.

A Nightmare on Elm Street 5: The Dream Child, is for me, basically a continuation of the previous film – it has most of the same characters, deals with the same story arc, and largely features the same plot. This movie does have one of my favourite depictions of Freddy, so I can’t consider it to be total trash.

My rating: 7/10

The rating may seem strange since this is basically a copy of the previous. I deduct points for lack of originality, but add points due to increase in quality, so it evens out.

Freddy's Dead: The Final Nightmare (1991)
A new outlook.

Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare, well, I guess this sequel dropped around the time when it became unpopular to have numbers in the title for sequels. This one abandons the story arc of the last two films and settle on a new one that brings more characterization to Freddy and shows a bit of his life before he was an undead dream master. There is a lot of creativity in this one and it has a lot of film-parody elements.

My rating: 8/10

For me, this is more of a “return to form” and definitely fits a bit closer to the first sequel. I really would have liked to see a bit more gore, not to note that the film shies away from it, but simply would benefit with some more.

Wes Craven's New Nightmare (1994)
A film so meta it will gaslight you.

Wes Craven’s New Nightmare, is an evolution, not only of the entire film series, but also of writer/director Wes Craven. After being away from the series for a decade, the original creator comes back with an entirely different type of horror movie. Whereas previous incarnations were focused on strict horror, this film includes an incredible psychological aspect and blurs, even more, the border between dream/film/and reality.

My rating: 9/10

Everything here is amazing; it is difficult to choose between quality writing and excellent special effects. This film relies on having a knowledge of who and what the film series are about; but, it is easily digestible for someone who only really knows about Freddy Krueger, but hasn’t necessarily seen any of the films. This one is definitely the most “thinking man’s” horror film of the series, but has enough of the traditional stuff for the fans of the earlier films.

Robert Englund and Ken Kirzinger in Freddy vs. Jason (2003)
The crossover that existed in fan’s minds for years before it was made.

Freddy Vs. Jason is my favourite in the series (funny enough, it is my favourite in the Friday the 13th series as well). This movie, is as far as I’m concerned, one of the greatest films ever made. Even by traditional metrics of judgement, this flick has it all, character development, a triumph in spite of a hopeless situation, and all of the atmosphere and coherency you could ever want. This flick also combines CGI and practical effects in the best possible manner and all CGI elements are in the background. This is even approachable for newcomers to either series, but is especially great for fans of either/both.

My rating: 10/10

This film is golden, liquid platinum, diamonds, whatever you value, this film is that. Of course I am biased, but everyone has a bias, but anyone that does not enjoy this film is trying to not enjoy it. There is not a scene in this film that is lazily composed and everything about this entire production is overwhelmingly professional. I recommend.

That’s that! Now, that I’ve review each individual film, here is my ordered list of the 8 films, from my favourite to least favourite. Make sure you let me know how bad my list is in the comments, and don’t forget to vote in the poll below my list as well!

  1. Freddy Vs. Jason
  2. A Nightmare on Elm Street
  3. Wes Craven’s New Nightmare
  4. A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge
  5. Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare
  6. A Nightmare on Elm Street 5: The Dream Child
  7. A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master
  8. A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors

All film poster from IMDB