When Wes Craven made the first A Nightmare on Elm Street in 1984, he had no intention of turning it into a franchise. It was a struggle to just get the first movie made, and New Line Cinema had no idea how big of a hit they were about to have on their hands. Thankfully for all parties involved, A Nightmare on Elm Street was a hit both at the box office and with horror buffs.
Over the years, a total of seven sequels have been released, as well as a remake in 2010 with Jackie Earle Haley starring as Freddy Krueger. The films in the Nightmare franchise have seen varying levels of success, which can be clearly seen by their Rotten Tomatoes scores. Here is a ranking of each of the Nightmare On Elm Street releases based on their Rotten Tomatoes scores.
9 A Nightmare On Elm Street (1984) - 94%
Unsurprisingly, the original A Nightmare on Elm Street is the best-rated movie in the series. The original film was written and directed by Wes Craven and starred Robert England as Freddy Krueger and Heather Langenkamp as Nancy Thompson, along with Johnny Depp and Amanda Wyss. The film was about a child molester who was murdered but comes back for revenge through the dreams of teenagers.
A Nightmare on Elm Street had an incredibly unique plot and helped put New Line Cinema on the map. As the Rotten Tomatoes score reflects, most people agree that the original is the best of the series, especially since this film featured a scary Fred Krueger instead of the comedic figure he would eventually turn into.
8 Wes Craven’s New Nightmare - 78%
Despite Wes Craven not wanting his film to have sequels, New Line Cinema made it happen without him. He returned to the franchise in 1994 for the seventh installment of the series called Wes Craven’s New Nightmare. Like the original, this sequel also had an ingenious plot, with the actors in the film playing themselves and recognizing that A Nightmare on Elm Street was just a film.
Eventually, Heather Langenkamp is hunted down by Freddy and must fight a real-life Freddy Krueger to protect her son Dylan. While the film doesn’t surpass the original, it brings Freddy back to his darker roots and puts a fresh spin on a series that was quickly going downhill.
7 A Nightmare On Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors - 74%
While A Nightmare on Elm Street and Wes Craven’s New Nightmare are often considered the best two films in the series, A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors is often a fan favorite. Wes Craven had originally returned for the sequel to write a script, but his script ended up being too dark so New Line Cinema went in another direction with Frank Darabont and Chuck Russell.
Dream Warriors is a notable addition to the series since Heather Langenkamp returns as Nancy and because of the creative deaths of the characters. Each of the Dream Warriors have special powers when they go into the dream world, and together they are able to defeat Freddy… until Part 4.
6 A Nightmare On Elm Street 4: The Dream Master - 55%
New Line Cinema wasted no time when it came to making a new Nightmare on Elm Street movie. A Nightmare On Elm Street 4: The Dream Master was released in August 1988 and sees Freddy return to take revenge on the Dream Warriors. Tuesday Knight replaces Patricia Arquette as Kristen, but the real star of the film is Lisa Wilcox who plays Alice Johnson.
The series started to go downhill at this point, with Freddy starting to become more of a comedic character despite his humor being incredibly dark. This is also the sequel where Freddy is supposedly resurrected by a dog peeing on his grave, so that really says something about the quality of the film.
5 Freddy Vs. Jason - 41%
Freddy Krueger, Jason Voorhees, and Michael Myers are two of the most well-known horror characters in the slasher genre. The script for Freddy vs. Jason went through several re-writes, but, after waiting patiently for years, fans finally got to see Freddy square off against Jason.
Freddy vs. Jason may not be an Oscar-worthy film, but it was certainly a fun slasher flick with plenty of fan service. There isn’t a definitive winner at the end of the film, but that’s part of the fun of Freddy vs. Jason. Freddy fans will think Freddy won, while Jason fans will think Jason won.
4 A Nightmare On Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge - 41%
After the success of Wes Craven’s masterpiece, New Line wanted to create a franchise out of Freddy, with or without Craven. Released just a year after the original, A Nightmare On Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge sees Freddy possess a teenage boy in order to make the boy kill for him.
The writer behind Part 2 purposefully wrote homoerotic subtext into the film, which is extremely obvious in the film. Freddy’s Revenge also has a lot of plot holes, with Freddy somehow coming into the real world at one point to slash up teenagers at a pool party.
3 A Nightmare On Elm Street 5: The Dream Child - 32%
A Nightmare On Elm Street 5: The Dream Child picks up after the events of Part 4. Part 5 tells more of the backstory of Amanda Krueger, showing the birth of Freddy and the horror that soon follows.
The film has some graphic death scenes, with Freddy stuffing food into a girl’s mouth until she suffocates and basically turning Alice’s boyfriend into a cyborg with a motorcycle. The film apparently had a rushed production and a smaller budget than previous sequels, which could be part of the reason why it failed to connect with fans.
2 Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare - 20%
Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare was marketed as being the final installment of the series with the promise of actually killing off Freddy Krueger. The film was directed by Rachel Talalay, who produced previous sequels, but she missed the mark with Part 6.
This film tries to cram in more comedy than all of the previous films combined, which completely takes the horror away from Freddy. This film introduces Freddy’s daughter named Maggie and also explains how Freddy got his powers when he was burned alive. The film got largely negative reviews with fans and critics, and it’s not hard to see why.
1 A Nightmare On Elm Street (2010) - 15%
After sixteen years of Freddy being away from the big screen, the character returned in 2010 for Samuel Bayer’s A Nightmare on Elm Street remake. The film replaced Robert England with Jackie Earle Haley, whose talent wasn’t enough to save the film.
The remake was criticized for being too similar to the film from 1984 and not having enough original ideas. Many people also didn’t want to see anybody else in the role of Freddy except for Robert Englund. The film never got a sequel despite the end of the film opening the door for one, but there have been talks for years that A Nightmare on Elm Street reboot is again in the works.