(Photo by New Line Cinema/courtesy Everett Collection)

All A Nightmare on Elm Street Movies Ranked

Silent creepers, maniacal mumblers, and mute supernatural freaks: Your typical ’80s slasher fiend had problems verbalizing their issues with the world. Probably why as horny teens were out partying, they were studying the blade. Not Freddy Krueger though, who gave crackly voice to the slasher as a talky dream stalker by turns literate, wisecracking, and menacing. Of course, it took a few sequels to get the character to find a sense of humor. In the original 1984 A Nightmare on Elm Street, he was just plain genuinely terrifying, as writer/director Wes Craven sought to inject operatic weight into the slasher formula, distorting fantasy and reality to harass the viewer into questioning their own sanity.

After the original’s box office success, Freddy’s Revenge was fast-tracked for release the following year to the moans of critics, who had designated the first movie Certified Fresh. But Robert Englund as Freddy was clearly having a blast, enough to get him back for the best direct sequel, 1987’s Dream Warriors. A year after that, action director Renny Harlin came in for The Dream Master to put an exciting spin on things. Englund remained a steady, creepy joy through these, and that’s the benefit of having a jabbering weirdo as your villain: It’s a character that can evolve and adapt. Jason and Michael can’t.

Of course, having a star performer can only get you so far when the material starts really failing, like nails-in-the-coffin efforts The Dream Child and Freddy’s Dead. Krueger as a character had become too outsized by this point (he additionally had a TV career on the decent Freddy’s Nightmares), and was effectively serving now as an anti-hero. Three years Dead, Craven would return to direct 1994’s meta New Nightmare, set literally in our world where the Elm Street movies are just that: Movies…until the killings start happening for real. Critics dug the twist, but the stench of past Nightmare sequels kept audiences away, and horror in general had a tough go at in the ’90s. Craven himself would turn the genre’s fortunes around with Scream, using the same post-modern technique.

Eleven years after New Nightmare, the death-match horror fans had been clamoring for hit theaters: Freddy vs. Jason. Director Ronny Yu gives the movie a bouncing, comic book movie sensibility, with some carefully crafted action sequences, surrounded by a ridiculous mystery plot. Was it a fitting swan song for Englund as Freddy? Well, you’re just going to have to take what you can get, because the franchise has slumbered since, except for a 2010 remake, starring Jackie Earle Haley hot off of Watchmen. It may be eternal sleep for Freddy Krueger, but perchance we’ll meet again in our dreams as we go through all A Nightmare on Elm Street movies, ranked by Tomatometer!

#9
Adjusted Score: 20.346%
Critics Consensus: Visually faithful but lacking the depth and subversive twists that made the original so memorable, the Nightmare on Elm Street remake lives up to its title in the worst possible way.
Synopsis: Columbus late-night legend Fritz The Nite Owl will host a 30th anniversary screening of A Nightmare On Elm Street, complete... [More]
Directed By: Samuel Bayer

#8
Adjusted Score: 21.605%
Critics Consensus: Reducing the once-terrifying Dream Reaper into a goofy caricature, this joyless climax will leave audiences hoping Freddy stays dead.
Synopsis: Adolescent therapist Maggie leads her patients on a trip to Springwood, hometown of her newest patient -- and vicious dream-killer... [More]
Directed By: Rachel Talalay

#7
Adjusted Score: 30.815%
Critics Consensus: A Nightmare on Elm Street feels exhausted by this cheesy fifth entry, bogged down by a convoluted mythology while showing none of the chilling technique that kicked off the franchise.
Synopsis: In the fifth installment in the Nightmare on Elm Street series, Alice (Lisa Wilcox) begins the film with the notion... [More]
Directed By: Stephen Hopkins

#6

Freddy vs. Jason (2003)
41%

#6
Adjusted Score: 45.446%
Critics Consensus: Fans of the two horror franchises will enjoy this showdown. But for everyone else, it's the same old slice and dice.
Synopsis: Rumored and anticipated for years, the two biggest icons of the slasher genre finally meet in Freddy Vs. Jason, the... [More]
Directed By: Ronny Yu

#5
Adjusted Score: 42.525%
Critics Consensus: An intriguing subtext of repressed sexuality gives Freddy's Revenge some texture, but the Nightmare loses its edge in a sequel that lacks convincing performances or memorable scares.
Synopsis: Gruesome horror tale in which Freddy, the razor-fingered killer who lives in dreamers' nightmares, returns to wreak havoc. In this... [More]
Directed By: Jack Sholder

#4
Adjusted Score: 53.539%
Critics Consensus: A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master marks a relative high point in this franchise's bumpy creative journey, although the original remains far superior.
Synopsis: This fourth trip down Freddy Lane was the most successful at the box-office, but although it has some impressive visuals,... [More]
Directed By: Renny Harlin

#3
Adjusted Score: 73.278%
Critics Consensus: A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors offers an imaginative and surprisingly satisfying rebound for a franchise already starting to succumb to sequelitis.
Synopsis: The best of the Elm Street sequels, this creepy, surreal fantasy features terrific effects, a fine young cast, and an... [More]
Directed By: Chuck Russell

#2
Adjusted Score: 80.974%
Critics Consensus: Wes Craven's New Nightmare adds an unexpectedly satisfying - not to mention intelligent - meta layer to a horror franchise that had long since lost its way.
Synopsis: Freddy Krueger is back from the grave in another thriller from famed horror director Wes Craven. This film differs from... [More]
Directed By: Wes Craven

#1
Adjusted Score: 97.991%
Critics Consensus: Wes Craven's intelligent premise, combined with the horrifying visual appearance of Freddy Krueger, still causes nightmares to this day.
Synopsis: A group of teenagers are terrorized by "Freddy Krueger", an evil being from another world who gets to his victims... [More]
Directed By: Wes Craven

Tag Cloud

Adult Swim comic books E3 stoner Turner GLAAD Chilling Adventures of Sabrina hispanic christmas movies A&E Elton John Nickelodeon jurassic park Quiz Western Bravo dramedy Christmas The Arrangement TV One animated dceu TNT finale Broadway The Walt Disney Company Dark Horse Comics criterion ghosts werewolf Exclusive Video football Masterpiece nature casting green book Shudder dark Marvel Studios Netflix unscripted Pirates historical drama crime drama godzilla LGBT Holiday Disney Channel Fox Searchlight space AMC Kids & Family ABC Signature Marvel Television Showtime laika festivals breaking bad VICE First Look Pride Month Funimation strong female leads HBO Go zero dark thirty spy thriller BBC One jamie lee curtis PlayStation The Purge rotten movies we love science fiction spider-man comics Infographic comic Photos MTV richard e. Grant obituary Family renewed TV shows adaptation fresh Rocketman Tomatazos Shondaland sequels SXSW Mindy Kaling Election concert batman Sundance TV E! 2019 foreign versus die hard FOX ID miniseries chucky Starz Toys Pixar Extras FX zombie period drama true crime emmy awards series Television Academy discovery all-time TCA Winter 2020 President NBC IFC Films Spike MSNBC Turner Classic Movies spinoff Tumblr best police drama screen actors guild spanish latino Food Network Black Mirror witnail mutant PBS Captain marvel social media TruTV TBS Star Wars Lifetime dogs Freeform Action Superheroe CBS Reality Competition Travel Channel teaser Anna Paquin Amazon Epix New York Comic Con cooking 78th Annual Golden Globe Awards superhero The CW Spectrum Originals PaleyFest south america news scorecard TCA 2017 HBO Britbox BBC America natural history Interview Polls and Games Horror Legendary The Walking Dead Mystery RT History anime revenge DirecTV Sneak Peek Film Festival American Society of Cinematographers FX on Hulu TCA Awards prank VOD Premiere Dates serial killer YouTube Red Awards Lionsgate Film TCM asian-american halloween tv Mudbound Emmy Nominations twilight LGBTQ cars adventure parents book worst movies superman trailers tv talk Trivia Tarantino women toy story The Witch Paramount Plus Animation WGN VH1 remakes CNN RT21 Mary poppins BET IFC 21st Century Fox OWN kong Musical Disney+ Disney Plus 99% Lucasfilm ESPN Peacock cancelled TV shows romantic comedy Sci-Fi video on demand Marvel spain Superheroes Hear Us Out Holidays political drama Song of Ice and Fire child's play Martial Arts politics Chernobyl indiana jones Disney streaming service 007 anthology Acorn TV boxing Character Guide Endgame Sundance Now Stephen King Warner Bros. Box Office Sony Pictures DGA San Diego Comic-Con medical drama kids TIFF worst 2017 pirates of the caribbean 72 Emmy Awards Cannes Watching Series popular deadpool singing competition boxoffice award winner WarnerMedia Heroines travel Drama satire Pop cops stop motion Video Games thriller transformers USA Network SDCC stand-up comedy YA Ovation black Apple TV Plus Classic Film Star Trek docudrama Podcast ITV harry potter what to watch sitcom Tubi Amazon Studios movie reboot romance Music Apple TV+ Fox News halloween Comic Book 45 Schedule zombies Hallmark Christmas movies Mary Poppins Returns El Rey hollywood National Geographic cancelled TV series screenings french Creative Arts Emmys razzies cinemax dragons indie critics Musicals spanish language toronto 2021 ABC Family Academy Awards Comedy biography comiccon Pop TV Year in Review Columbia Pictures Red Carpet A24 Amazon Prime TV Land APB ViacomCBS television binge rotten nbcuniversal robots FXX SundanceTV Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt Logo hist free movies Brie Larson universal monsters History mission: impossible Calendar james bond TV Vudu disaster italian vampires crossover Women's History Month composers GoT talk show Arrowverse 4/20 2018 directors CBS All Access Hallmark Rock documentary Pet Sematary Rom-Com canceled archives USA classics Alien 20th Century Fox Reality ABC Television Critics Association rom-coms sequel films BBC YouTube Premium GIFs aliens Crackle joker mockumentary Apple Best and Worst game show Mary Tyler Moore Certified Fresh Rocky blockbuster Walt Disney Pictures supernatural monster movies name the review Sundance OneApp slashers independent Countdown TCA Lifetime Christmas movies technology Oscars facebook Winter TV king kong dc CMT HBO Max Opinion scary movies comedies 71st Emmy Awards Hulu Winners DC Comics Set visit docuseries venice Nat Geo movies children's TV Trophy Talk blockbusters Summer theme song ratings cats australia cartoon TLC Marathons Cosplay golden globe awards BAFTA DC streaming service war Paramount cults reviews Esquire festival Netflix Christmas movies video franchise Nominations Comedy Central cancelled television streaming Biopics based on movie Crunchyroll 24 frames Spring TV Universal justice league 2016 sports elevated horror NYCC Comics on TV rt archives See It Skip It Disney Emmys blaxploitation 2015 hidden camera doctor who BET Awards a nightmare on elm street quibi documentaries psycho nfl Awards Tour Disney Plus TV renewals First Reviews Paramount Network Teen Fantasy Valentine's Day Binge Guide YouTube Syfy The Academy Super Bowl Cartoon Network Writers Guild of America Baby Yoda MCU sag awards Country psychological thriller golden globes Amazon Prime Video diversity game of thrones crime thriller 2020 Black History Month telelvision cancelled Avengers canceled TV shows fast and furious CW Seed crime Discovery Channel Trailer DC Universe kaiju X-Men japanese Ghostbusters Thanksgiving Ellie Kemper Grammys Fall TV