I've seen the greatest horror movies of my generation destroyed by remakes. (My apologies to Allen Ginsberg). I am an '80s movie fan forced to watch my favorite villains blandly remade in order to entice a new generation. They did it to Michael, they did it to Jason, and now poor Freddy is next up on the block.
There are young horror viewers out there who may be intrigued by the remake and want to rent some of the earlier installments. I present to you the Nightmare On Elm Street Guide.
Nightmare On Elm Street (1984) Teenager Nancy finds herself the target of a supernatural menace who can kill people in their dreams.
The Good: The film belongs to Heather Langenkemp who plays Nancy. Unlike a lot of final girls in horror films, she is smart, creative, and can definitely hold her own. This film is dark and does not contain too many of the one liners that would eventually turn Freddy into a less scary version of Carrot Top. Freddy will never be scarier than he is in this film. You simply cannot watch the remake without seeing this one as the remake borrows heavily from the first film.
The Bad: There are some scenes such as Nancy encountering the corpse of her best friend, that are simply there for gross out value. These scenes stop the film cold and it takes a while to get back into it.
Notable Stars: This is film marks the movie debut of Johnny Depp who plays Nancy's boyfriend Glen. John Saxon lends his awesome presence to the film as Nancy's father.
A Nightmare on Elm Street Part 2: Freddy's Revenge (1985): Five years after the events of the first movie, teenager Jesse moves into the neighborhood. Freddy's back and he has big plans for Jesse.
The Good: The poster looks pretty cool, meh, I have nothing.
The Bad: The majority of this film is bad. It has the lowest death count of the series. Two major character deaths and a quick massacre of some unnamed extras. There is a scene with an exploding parakeet and this awkward dance scene.
What really hinders the film is the homoerotic subtext that runs throughout the film. Jesse has more chemistry with his best friend Grady than his supposed love interest. He wanders into an S&M bar where he encounters his sadistic coach who takes him back to the gym. I always suspected that the character of Jesse was intended to be gay but the studio wouldn't allow it.
Notable Stars: Soap Star Christie Clark plays Jesse's younger sister. Jo Ann Willette from Just The Ten Of Us shows up briefly. Jo Ann would co-star with other Nightmare alumni such as Heather Langenkemp and Brooke Theiss.
A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors (1987): The last remaining Elm street children have been placed in a mental hospital due to dream psychosis. Nancy returns to the series intent on beating Freddy once and for all.
The Good: Heather Langenkemp returns to the series as Nancy. This film should have been the direct sequel to the first as opposed to the piece of crap they did air. The film has some creative death scenes and some great one liners. At this point Freddy is scary/funny but not as cartoonish as he eventually becomes.
The Bad: I know that nudity is traditional in these films, but not a requirement. There is one topless scene that doesn't fit in with the pace of the films and stops the movie cold.
Notable Stars: A then unknown Lawrence Fishburne stars as an orderly. Along with Langenkemp, John Saxon reprises his role from the original film. Patricia Arquette stars as Kristen, the main heroine of the film. There is a hysterical cameo by Dick Cavett and Zsa Zsa Gabor
A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master (1988): Kristen is out of the mental hospital and is trying to get over Freddy. But how do you get over something when it hasn't yet ended?
The Good: I am going to say it, Nightmare On Elm Street 4 is my favorite of the franchise. I'll give all you horror enthusiasts time to gather together the torch bearing mob. The film has some entertaining and fun characters. The death scenes are creative and there is a kick ass soundtrack featuring Blondie, Divinyls, Dramarama, and Sinead O'Connor. This films also introduces Alice who is my second favorite final girl of the series.
The Bad: There are a couple of unnecessarily cheesy scenes such as a dog pissing Freddy to life and a naked girl trapped in a water bed. If you have a bug phobia do not watch this movie. Just don't.
Notable Stars: Tuesday Knight takes over for Patricia Arquette as Kristen. Brooke Theiss stars as bug phobic bad girl. General Hospital star Cheryl Richardson appears in a blink and you will miss it role.
A Nightmare on Elm Street 5: The Dream Child (1989): Freddy is back to his old tricks. He has a new way of killing the Elm Street children, by using the dreams of Alice's unborn child.
The Good: Well Lisa Wilcox reprises her role as Alice, I always loved her
The Bad: I wanted to like this film, I really did. It's a direct sequel to my favorite movie and I love the heroine. I wanted to like this movie but couldn't. It's boring with unlikable characters, the deaths are less creative and more revolting. Freddy has officially become a cartoon cracking more one liners than actually killing.
Notable Stars: Lisa Wilcox reprises her role as Alice. Kelly Minter (who was awesome whatever happened to her?) also stars.
Freddy's Dead: The Final Nightmare (1991): Ten years have passed and all the Elm Street children are dead. Except for one boy who Freddy plans on using to escape Elm Street and enter the real world.
The Good: I got to see this in the theater and the 3D section was all kinds of awesome.
The Bad: The 3D section only lasted 20 minutes and the rest of the film is sub par. It suffers from an uneven script, way too cartoonish death scenes and way to many celebrity cameos. The montage of all his movies during the credits were more interesting. By the way the tag line: They Saved The Best For Last is a lie. And lies make baby Jesus cry.
Notable Stars: Lisa Zane, Yaphet Cotto, and Breckin Meyer star. Alice Cooper, Johnny Depp, and Roseanne and Tom Arnold show up for cameos.
Wes Craven's New Nightmare (1994): Welcome to the real world, where Freddy is just a movie and Heather Langenkemp is just an actress. But when the line between fiction and reality blur, Heather fights to save her son.
The Good: This was a great movie, a wonderful homage to the original. It's great to see some of the behind the scenes members of the Nightmare franchise get their moment in the sun. There are so many cameos by former Nightmare alumni that it's almost like Where's Waldo? Heather Langenkemp is phenomenal.
The Bad: Not enough Freddy but I guess that was the point of the movie.
Notable Stars: John Saxon plays himself and briefly reprises his fictional role. Wes Craven and Robert Englind play themselves in the movie. Miko Hughes stars as her son. Tracy Middendorf plays the role of a babysitter who reenacts one of Freddy's iconic death scenes.
Freddy vs. Jason (2003): Everything that could be said about this monstrosity can be found in my Friday The 13th Movie Guide.
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