If it's crap ... We'll tell you
A Nightmare On Elm Street (1984)
"I'm your boyfriend now, Nancy!"
This won't take long; this is the one film in the franchise I actually own and is (no surprise) "my favorite of the series"; most of the teens (unlike normal slasher film fare) are actually somewhat developed (especially Heather Langenkamp's Nancy & a young Johnny Depp), the scares are elaborate & iconic and Freddy is genuinely terrifying. Still, this isn't perfect; some of the elaborate effects (particularly the stretched out arm Freddy) feel incredibly dated and the final "twist" ending spoils the empowering message the film had about having control over your own faculties. Still, this will always remain a classic of the horror genre. Rating: 4/5
A Nightmare On Elm Street Part 2: Freddy's Revenge
"You are all my children now."
Let's put this out in the open; why would Freddy want to kill people in the real world? His powers shouldn't work in the outside world (even though this movie suddenly shows they somehow can) and why is he possessing Jessie? Just because he moved into the old Thompson house? This whole movie was just one giant ball of confusion for me; no one had any real motives. The characters were also paper thin, with Jessie himself alternating between squealing in terror and......................... taking long pauses in true................... Shatner fashion and some of the effects (ie the exploding bird, the killer sports equipment, etc.) look terrible. Yet, some of the effects (in particular the ripping through Jessie scene) are actually terrifying as is the opening bus sequence. Rating: 1/5
A Nightmare On Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors
"This is it, Jennifer: your big break in TV. Welcome to primetime, bitch!"
Okay, imagine those pretty well developed kids from the first movie... with dream powers! If you like that idea, this is your movie and this remains one of the better entries in this series. Heather Langenkamp returns with another authentic and fearful performance, Patricia Arquette does a good job for her first job out the gate and Robert Englund is able to balance out the pun spewing Freddy with the darker version of the first film here. This film also has some of the best death scenes in the whole series, especially the one quoted above and the mirror covered hallway climax. However, there are still some missteps here and there; a few of the kids (particularly Kincaid and Tayrn) feel forced and uninteresting, the male psychiatrist is completely abandoned in the third act and the fleeting appearances of a nun become annoying and really unnecessary. Rating: 3.5/5
A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master
"I love soul food!"
Whenever someone thinks of the usual, stereotypical Nightmare on Elm Street movie, this is what they're talking about. The heaping amount of confusion that made Freddy's Revenge bad is replaced here with a heap of blandness. Remember those survivors from the third movie with cool powers? Lets slice them up in favor of normal teens! This is almost on the level of killing of Newt & Hicks in Alien 3... on an admittingly lesser degree. Remember that balanced out Freddy who managed to spout puns and be menacing at the same time in Part 3? Well, looks like director Renny "12 Rounds" Harlin decided to tip the scales toward the former version. Still, with a few witty puns and a pretty decent climax, this is at least watchable on late night TV, but you'll forget it by the time you pass out from boredom. Rating: 1/5
A Nightmare On Elm Street 5: The Dream Child
"Told you comic books was bad for ya!"
I might be in the minority here, but I kind of found this one tolerable. Don't get me wrong; its a bad movie that's filled with thin characters, lame stereotypes (bitchy mom, comic book nerd, the doubtful best friend, etc.) and some really cheesy one liners. However, the struggle of our protagonist (whom was merely a mousy Nancy clone in The Dream Master) is actually kind of interesting; her frustrations about Freddy taking control of her unborn child, the scenes involving her supportive father (whom was simply an abusive dad stereotype in The Dream Master) and the scene where she tells off the parents of her dead lover actually hold some depth and seem somewhat engaging. Plus, the art direction and emotional impact of the climax have some stain power. Also, this has one of the best dream sequences of the series; the comic book fantasy. The use of black and white seems like a precursor to the comic book style of films like Sin City... only without the extensive CG. However, when combined with the above problems and some pretty lame child related elements (the kid actor they use is pretty annoying and the evil fetus Freddy borders on Gremlins rip off territory) this is still a heavily flawed, but watchable sequel. Rating: 2/5
Freddy's Dead: The Final Nightmare
"I'll get you my pretty and your little soul too!"
I chose that poster for a very specific reason; you see that tag line right there? That has to be thee best use of false advertising in film history. This isn't a horror movie, but instead the worst possible kind of movie; an unfunny comedy. Gone is any shred of the menace and terror that Freddy once displayed and in its place is a Freddy that resorts to the worst possible one liners and a plan to kill children across the world that would put super villains to shame. In fact, even the characters in the movie can't take his threats seriously, restoring in the kids making wisecracks themselves! Just about everything in this movie made me want to wretch and vomit; the cameo from Tom Arnold & Roseanne, the cartoon video game sequence, the mood whiplash of attempted seriousness in the middle of shitty comedy, the waste of bad asses like Yaphet Kotto & Alice Cooper, the bullshit explanation of Freddy's powers being given to him by demon sperm creatures of some sort and the poorly produced 3D finale (which I'm sure sucked as much ass in 3D as it did in 2D). The only thing that made me somewhat positive was Johnny Depp's tongue in cheek cameo in an anti-drug PSA. No matter how bad some of these sequels are, they can always take solace in the fact that they're not as reprehensible as Freddy's Dead. Rating: 0.5/5
Wes Craven's New Nightmare
This one sounded like the perfect film for me; Freddy existing as a real entitiy that could only be emprisoned by making movies about him with Heather Lagenkamp & Wes Craven playing themselves?! It's like sticking Freddy in the middle of Adaptation! However, this worked better in concept than execution. While I still enjoyed this one better than most of the sequels, it seemed like it was jut out of reach of greatness. The cast is pretty solid (with Heather Lagenkamp pulling off yet other frustrated performance), Freddy is (for the most part) back to his darker roots and the concept is creative and solid with a horror twist to it. The main issue is with the actor playing Heather's possessed son Dylan; you might remember him as the creepy zombie kid from Pet Sematary, but his actions while under Freddy's power come off as less frightening and more comical due to the kid's over the top acting. Also, during an otherwise well done and designed climax, Freddy spouts off one liners that really detracted from the menace he had built up earlier on and the constant use of earthquakes became really repetitive. Overall, one of the better entries, but could have used a bit more attention. Rating: 3.5/5
Freddy vs. Jason
"My children... from the very beginning, it was the children who gave me my power."
Alien vs. Predator, Godzilla vs. King Kong, Dracula vs. Frankenstein. All of these were at one point mere fantasies that eventually exploded onto the silver screen for kids to squeal over.. even if most of them weren't that great. Here, we get the clash of the baddies from A Nightmare On Elm Street and Friday the 13th and it was somewhat satisfying... when we weren't being interrupted by dumb teenagers. These kids are like a mom that suddenly knocks on the door while their son is jerking off; they disrupt the flow of our fantasies and make us feel flaccid and angry (sorry for that image, folks). Still, when our wet dream actually gets going, it is actually satisfying. Each get their fair share of slashes and the action manages to be both ridiculous and fun at the same time. However, the presentation isn't the best due to some pretty choppy editing early on in the final fight. Still, this worth a watch... as long as the fan edit community removes the uninteresting bits involving the kids (except for the nude scenes; god bless those gratuitous nude scenes... oh don't judge!) Rating: 2.5/5
A Nightmare On Elm Street (2010)
"You smell different..."
So, after facing off against his box office rival, Robert Englund took off the make up for the last time and passed on the reigns to Jackie Earle Haley for yet another Platinum Dunes remake. Was it worth it? Not really. My biggest issue with this movie had to do with the teens; sure, they weren't developed very well like other kids in the previous films, but at least those kids managed to be goofy stereotypes we could laugh at; here, they're just bland uncharacteristic drones lining up to be slaughtered. Hell, the closest thing we get to a shred of development is that this movie's Nancy (played by Rooney Mara, whom I believe has the charisma & soul of a robot) paints weird pictures... how interesting. But fuck those kids; what we really want is Freddy as played by Jackie Earle Haley. Surely this guy can combine his creepy pedophillic moments from his Oscar nominated role in Little Children with his role as the disturbed unsympathetic vigilante Rorschach in Watchmen, right? Well he does manage to do this... when he's not participating in numerous jump scares! How do you waste such a great actor playing a memorable character? To be fair, he does get his chance to shine in the film's last thirty minutes when the pedohillic motives enter the frame, but its too little too late. This, along with the film's production design and cinematography, make it at least worth a rent, but its still sadly underwhelming. Rating: 1.5/5
So there you have it; the entire Freddy franchise as I see it. Overall, there are a few flicks in this series worth watching, but just as many that should be put away in a drawer. I grew so tired of kids singing that stupid poem, Freddy emphasising everything with "bitch" and that mid to late 80s soundtrack of forgettable songs. Still, Freddy deserves his place in horror history; he's such an ingenious concept that still scares children to this day. Robert Englund breathed life into this character and (usually) managed to keep a hint of dark menace under those repetitive puns. Final verdict:
9. Freddy's Dead: Full of Bullshit
8. Dream Master
7. Freddy's Revenge
6. Nightmare on Elm Street (2010)
5. Dream Child
4. Freddy vs. Jason
3. Wes Craven's New Nightmare
2. Dream Warriors
1. Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)
It's over; it's finally over. I survived this long and made it out to write this blog. Now I can sleep... right?