Tuesday, August 4, 2015

A Ranking on Elm Street

I recently had the good fortune of joining the team over at 'How is this movie?', where the site's founder Dan Buckler dedicated an episode of his podcast to the 'Nightmare on Elm Street' series. It was only an hour long but quality-wise, I put right it up there with the documentary feature, 'Never Sleep Again' from 2010. Today I want to offer my two cents, so I've decided to rank the controversial franchise to my personal preference. However just the original seven films, I won't be venturing into the land of cross-overs and remakes. This may not be the most interesting order, but hopefully some of my opinions will make it stand out. 

One, two, Freddy's coming for you...

1. A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)
One of the few horror films in cinema history that you don't actually have to see to be frightened of. The idea alone is absolutely terrifying, which is exactly what kept me away as a child for so many years. The introduction of Freddy Krueger to film audiences went far beyond simply watching a bogeyman terrorising a bunch of kids, it was what he symbolised. Freddy represents abuse and neglect, particularly that suffered by children. He is also the embodiment of resentment held towards the younger generation. He's an intruder; an ugly stain on society that's forever present in our psyche. Look closer, 'A Nightmare on Elm Street' is no ordinary slasher movie.

2. A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors (1987)
This is the sequel that got it right. The screenplay by Chuck Russell and Frank Darabont is dark, creative and most importantly true the original story. Not to mention the cast of diverse characters who are without a doubt one of the main reasons why the film was so successful. In addition, Freddy himself is terrifically enhanced with a touch of dark humour and improvised dialogue, impressively on Robert Englund's part. My one gripe with 'Dream Warriors; is Heather Langenkamp, who's acting I've never been a fan of. Now while it was great to see her reprise the role of Nancy, her performance however was terrible. That aside, this was once a film I could watch on repeat.  

Three, four, Better lock your door...

3. A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy's Revenge (1985)
Not only an underrated sequel but unconventional in regards to the casting of a male in a role that is usually reserved for women. Despite the film being an obvious rush-job there's some interesting things going on; such as a sexual subtext to the script, portraying Freddy as being symbolic of subconscious fears and sexual repression. This first sequel in the series has some genuinely scary moments, it's fun to analyse and it definitely warrants repeat viewings.

4. Wes Craven's New Nightmare (1994)
You have to give this one points for originality, I mean it's a pretty cool idea. The fictional world of horror seeping it's way into our every day reality; it's scary. Now I wouldn't really call myself a fan of 'New Nightmare', although I have watched it a number of times. I like really the commentary on the reflection of horror films on society and we're given a much darker version of Freddy. Also I should add that Heather Langenkamp does give a better performance this time round. However it is a little boring and the countless clips and references to the original just make me want to go back and watch it, which I find very distracting. It's an ambitious film none the less and one that well worth watching at least once.  
Five, six, grab a crucifix...

5. A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master (1988)
By this point Freddy was practically a cash register, all New Line Cinema had to do was ring the bell. However this was sadly when the wheels fell off in my opinion. Style over substance to had taken over and Freddy had made the transition from killer to clown. You know a sequel is off to a horrid start when the remaining 'Dream Warriors' quickly meet their demise. The new characters are mixture of bland and annoying. The acting is bad and while their are some cool special effects the plot is wafer thin. Overall it's watchable, but that's it.   

6. A Nightmare on Elm Street 5: The Dream Child (1989)
There's not a lot I have to say about this one. I like the Gothic visual style and as always, Robert Englund as Freddy gives it his all despite the less than poor material. Overall it's a very disposable sequel with a ludicrous concept, consisting mostly of random sequences of mindless special effects wizardry. Unless you're a completist, I wouldn't bother with this one at all. 

Seven, eight, Gonna stay up late...

7. Freddy's Dead: The Final Nightmare (1991)
What can I say, it's absolute rubbish on every level imaginable. It's so far removed from the original film and the earlier sequels that it's barely recognisable. You could easily be forgiven for mistaking 'Freddy's Dead' for a 'Looney Tunes' short. I'm not exaggerating, there's one scene in particular where Freddy is basically Wile E. Coyote. If you're watching the film with a group of friends there's some obvious enjoyment to be had, but on your own, just forget it. I remember the tagline in the theatrical trailer being "We saved the best for last." No you didn't. 
Nine, ten, Never sleep again....

You can follow me on Twitter @DrHasslein
'like' my Facebook page cinematic randomness where you can see all my cinematic exploits.

No comments:

Post a Comment