Ranking: Freddy Krueger’s Nightmares From Worst to Best

A four-clawed dissection of the 30 deaths within A Nightmare on Elm Street

Artwork by Cap Blackard
Artwork by Cap Blackard
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This feature was published in November 2014 to commemorate the 30th anniversary of the 1984 original.

Wes Craven’s landmark horror film, Nightmare on Elm Street changed the horror genre forever. To commemorate the innovative slasher, Consequence of Sound decided to do something gleefully grim in the spirit of the film’s clawed maniac and sleep depriver Freddy Krueger: rank his kills.

Rest assured — or maybe don’t? — he would have wanted it this way. Full disclosure, it’s going to get pretty violent, gross, and, naturally, a little nightmarish. Consider taking a nap before reading this, because we ask: Are you ready for Freddy?

Blake Goble (BG): In 2007, I got the chance to interview Bob Shaye, the founder of New Line Cinema. He was releasing The Last Mimzy, a pet project of his while still heading New Line in what would be the studio’s last days before merging with Warner Bros. Shaye sounded a little tense because the studio was hit hard by The Golden Compass’s failure the previous year. He was promoting everything New Line was releasing, and I was happy to hear him out. He was anxious but pretty giving too.

I tactlessly asked him about New Line’s growth as a studio, calling it the “House that Freddy Built,” a nickname sported by a bunch of participants in Nightmare on Elm Street DVD docs and features. Shaye zoomed right past that comment for the straight story about his studio. Pity, as I’d been sporting the Freddy DVDs for years (still keeping them on a bottom bookshelf) and I thought I could sneak in some commentary about my favorite horror franchise.

bob shaye freddy Ranking: Freddy Kruegers Nightmares From Worst to Best

It’s funny, but his ignorance of the character, and my placement of the box set, is fueled by small amounts of shame and mortification. Shaye got to play like a major studio head for over 20 years because of Nightmare’s successes. And while I love Freddy, I am admittedly a little shy to boast because horror movies are easy to slight.

But come to think of it, there are next to no horror flicks like the Nightmare series. They tailor imaginative suspense and gore by way of elaborate dreamscapes. Freddy Krueger is easily the most charismatic serial killer to come out of ’80s horror. The movies have a fascinating trajectory with conceptually inventive beginnings that evolved to vaudeville set pieces. Still, above all, Nightmare on Elm Street is a no-joke, hair-raising masterpiece about the danger of what should be our safest place: in bed, asleep.

I’m ecstatic to be talking Fred. Shaye ought to be, too.

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Halloweenies: A Freddy Krueger Podcast

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Michael Roffman (MR): Consider me a third then. This series has always been my favorite. For one, it worked off the most original premise out of any horror franchise; the villain’s transformative mythos warranted its many sequels; and the multiple writers and directors somehow kept it all rather cohesive. That latter element is what separatesNightmare from its peers, specifically Friday the 13th (which still has no concept of time), Halloween (which never had a grasp on its story), and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (which was never going to trump the original.) Yet with Nightmare, the films arguably grew better with age.

I’ve seen Wes Craven’s original several times in theaters — mostly at raucous midnight screenings — and what’s always interesting to see is how the film can still connect with newer generations. Sure, there’s laughter, especially at Heather Langenkamp’s spotty acting and Ronee Blakley’s incorrigible role as Marge Thompson, but there are genuine thrills that undoubtedly haunt younger souls. Much credit goes to Robert Englund for his spirited performance, but it also boils down to the inventive storyline and the fabulous SFX that broke new ground and still hold up in our exhausting era of gluttonous CGI.

Now, the series had its ugly low points (The Final Nightmare, for example), but they pale in comparison to the garbage that plagued its peers, and that’s why I’ll always recommend this series to any prospective horror fan. It’s terrifying at times, but mostly entertaining, the signature horror franchise that essentially works front to back. So much so that pretty much everyone, irregardless of their generation, condemned 2010’s admirable-yet-unnecessary reboot starring Jackie Earle Healey.

Side note: Doesn’t it still bug you how much Craig Wasson looks like Bill Maher?

 Ranking: Freddy Kruegers Nightmares From Worst to Best

Randall Colburn (RC): Oddly enough, what’s easy to criticize about the Nightmare on Elm Street series–its uneven, sometimes baffling, tone–in some ways contributes to its escalating sense of dread. When you have a killer cracking jokes, it’s easy for the viewer to assume they’re in a safe space. Not so with Freddy Krueger; some of his punniest punchlines accompany some of the most brutal kills (Roach Motel, anyone?). I hated this as a kid. Why? Because I felt tricked. I felt unstable. I constantly felt the rug was going to be pulled from under my feet.

As an adult, these are the feelings I crave. And, though many of them are great, that sense of instability is missing from horror franchises like Friday the 13th, Saw, and Paranormal Activity, which tend to drape the viewer under such a veil of darkness that there’s barely room to breathe. Intentional laughs are rare in those films, making the experience more edge-of-your-seat than rollercoaster. Both can be great, but there’s something to be said for how even the worst Nightmare on Elm Street films can feel like carnival rides.

One of the only modern films that I feel embraces this tonal fuckery is 2007’s Trick r’ Treat, which deftly oscillates between moments and broad comedy and brutal violence. Where else do you see Freddy’s unique methods of slaughter influencing culture?

A Nightmare On Elm Street - claw

Justin Gerber (JG): Randall, I think any “clever kill” found in a horror movie over the past 30 years owes credit to Elm Street. Before Freddy we had Jason and Michael, but the dispatching of victims in Friday and Halloween were more about the blood and gore (especially Friday) than the imagination put in. Although I deplore the Saw series, the tricks that Tobin Bell’s character pulls on people to trap them, maim them, and make them “feel” is a cut above chopping someone’s head off with a machete, and abides by the “Freddy Way”. Brainscan and Ghost in the Machine (the latter directed by Final Nightmare’s Rachel Talalay) also owe thanks, not just for the inspiration, but to Bob Shaye for not suing them.

Now, I’ve seen the Friday films just as many times as the Elm Street films, but the executions are more about hiking up a good body count than bringing you into the world of a ghost. The Elm Street franchise features a cackling villain, (mostly) great special effects, and overall a pretty good through line, but at the end of the day these tales of Freddy are simply really good ghost stories.

As much of a name-dropper as Englund can be in interviews, being replaced for the Elm Street reboot was taken as such an offense because he is the franchise. Kane Hodder had been Jason for four movies before he was kicked to the curb pre-Freddy vs. Jason, but the franchise thrived way before he appeared on screen. The original Halloween series had six different Shapes, and the original Texas Chainsaw franchise had a different Leatherface each time. People turned on the new Freddy because as our ol’ pal Duncan MacLeod once said, “There can be only one.”

Mike, Bill Maher was in House II: The Second Story, so him being in Dream Warriors wouldn’t have been too far-fetched.

house2billmaher Ranking: Freddy Kruegers Nightmares From Worst to Best

BG: Englund and Krueger are one, indeed. That meaty, burnt, wet cigar of a visage and the foul words that emerged from its mouth are what made Krueger a brand in the genre. All those known name slashers were just angry, weird loners with little to say, but Freddy (and now seemingly Englund) just won’t shut up. It’s his best quality, and somehow pretty unique for the genre.

In the first run of DVD’s, in the special features, there’s stuff about the production of Nightmare 4 where Englund talks about how in 1988, the franchise was backed with MTV promotions and a near-Hollywood budget. One day on set Englund thought it would be funny to stick only the Krueger claw out of his trailer door for a gathering crowd of onlookers, and according to him everyone just went bananas. Now that’s power and popularity for a mass murderer.

Hey guys, says here on IMDB Wasson hasn’t made a movie since 2006! What if he just is Bill Maher now?

JG: NEW RULES – Hollywood executives must hire Craig Wasson for more work. He is earnest.

MR: So, what happens now with Freddy Krueger? Is he actually dead? The remake in 2010 was a financial disappointment — star Rooney Mara would rather quit acting than return as Nancy — and Englund himself has now sworn off the role, even touring various conventions this past summer with the rock ‘n’ roll declaration that this was indeed The Final Time. So, is this franchise officially cooked? Was that wink at the end of Freddy vs. Jason a wave goodbye?

It would be appropriate. While special effects have certainly evolved, and today’s online generation provides quite a playground for Krueger, the idea of bringing back the franchise feels so stale and uninteresting. There isn’t a story to tell outside of more collaborations with Jason Voorhies or Ash Williams, and just typing that now made my eyes roll.

a nightmare on elm street shadows Ranking: Freddy Kruegers Nightmares From Worst to Best

Still, we know how Hollywood works, and odds are there will be another one down the line, but I don’t think it will be very successful, even if they did manage to wrangle Englund for another go-around. The Krueger name has already been bruised by the horror comedy tag, making it very difficult to reclaim the scares and terror of its 1984 original.

That’s what I love about this list. We start with the laughs and work our way toward a time when we couldn’t go to bed after watching a Nightmare film. It’s doubtful any of us will wake up screaming tonight — well, at least from Freddy — but we’ll appreciate the franchise for what it accomplished for a genre that gets more and more confusing by the year.

Shall we?
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30. “Freddy’s Truly Dead”

Freddy Krueger

freddy funeral 2 Ranking: Freddy Kruegers Nightmares From Worst to Best

Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare

BG: This is the absolute worst, most meaningless, absolutely embarrassing death in the Nightmare franchise. The Hollywood Forever Cemetery is creepy, not just because it’s a terribly named place for the dead, but it’s probably a place where to morbidly curious like to hang and take pictures of where Rudolph Valentino and Mel Blanc and Jonnhy Ramone can’t rest in peace. As a promotional tie in with part 6, New Line “buried” Freddy there. There was a funeral. For a fictional character. People read things. Take a look here at the cast of Freddy’s Dead, looking mortified, in a trivial P.R. stunt. Good night, sweet son of a hundred maniacs.

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29. “Freddy’s High Score”

Spencer

Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare

BG: “Kids like video games these days. Do something with that.” – the hypothetical demand that former New Line CEO Bob Shaye made during production on Freddy’s Dead that resulted in the most empty-headed, awful scene in the Nightmare that left audiences (especially this listicle’s four authors) speechless.

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28. “Do You Think I’m Your Daddy?”

John Doe

Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare

JG: This death scene is so boring, I feel like I’m wasting even more time just writing about it. Mystery kid is convinced he’s being left alive because he’s Freddy’s son. Long story mercifully short, he ends up falling from a slashed parachute and lands on a bed of nails, thanks to Freddy. We literally see Fred pushing said bed into the middle of the street, looking into the fucking camera, and exhaling. Thank God the movie’s almost over at this point. As was the series.

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27. “How Sweet, Fresh Meat”

Kristen Parker

Nightmare on Elm Street IV: The Dream Master

MR: It was already bad enough that Patricia Arquette was replaced by the incorrigible Tuesday Knight. (Arquette was pregnant at the time, and New Line couldn’t wait to deliver what would become the highest grossing slasher film of the ’80s.) But to send off the franchise’s strongest character since Nancy Thompson with a schlocky, tongue-in-cheek death was just insulting to its fanbase. Krueger looks as if he’s already primed to host MTV’s Spring Break here and his claw-finned Jaws homage reaches for laughs when the scene should be nothing less than terrifying given the character’s demise. Also, Tuesday Knight.

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26. “Sayonara Son”

Rick Johnson

Nightmare on Elm Street IV: The Dream Master

RC: Rick Johnson’s nightmare actually starts pretty great, with a group of cheerleaders bursting through the stall door as he shits. Is there anything more nightmarish for a guy? Things go south fast, though, when Rick finds himself transported, via elevator, to some sunlit Japanese dojo. Here, he practices kung-fu an invisible Freddy and…Jesus Christ, I know there were scheduling issues but c’mon, Renny, this is the best you could come up with?
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25. “The Wizard of Loneliness”

Will Stanton

A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors

BG: “Sorry kid! I don’t believe in fairy tales!” And chest stab. After all those cheap 1987 neon green light effects and heroic fantasy grand-standing, wheelchair-bound Will Stanton is kaput. Finit. That’s just mean, Freddy. This was lame to some, and cruelly, abruptly funny to others (me).
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24. “End as We Started”

Kerry

noes2 ending Ranking: Freddy Kruegers Nightmares From Worst to Best

A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge

RC: A stupid death for a stupid ending to an otherwise solid sequel.

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23. “Hang Man”

Rod Lane

rod death Ranking: Freddy Kruegers Nightmares From Worst to Best

A Nightmare on Elm Street

MR: Freddy had unfortunate-boyfriend-turned-murder-suspect Rod Lane all to himself in a jail cell and the best he could come up with was a noose? While such simplicity is part of the original’s charm, it also leaves plenty of room for improvement, which is why this exact scene in the 2010 remake turned out to be far more damning and effective. The praise stops there, though.

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22. “Freddy and the Argonauts”

Donald Thompson

nightmare 3 saxon Ranking: Freddy Kruegers Nightmares From Worst to Best

A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors

JG: Stop-motion Skele-Freddy fighting John Saxon and Craig Wasson (who is definitely not Bill Maher) in a junkyard is a pretty great idea. It’s a tribute to the old Ray Harryhausen films of yesteryear- movies Sam Raimi paid tribute to with Army of Darkness. The problem here is that Nancy’s Dad deserved a better way to go out than getting tossed onto a fin of a car pretty early on in the battle. Come on! At least Maher — I mean Wasson — lives.
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21. “What a Rush”

Taryn White

A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors

RC: “In my dreams, I’m beautiful…and bad!” Unfortunately, Taryn White, 80s punk extraordinaire, you just weren’t bad enough. It starts cheesily enough, with a knife fight straight out of West Side Story. But when Freddy turns his claws into syringes and Taryn’s track marks start suckling, it’s unsettling. This is one of Freddy’s cruelest kills, as it taps into both his victim’s fear and central weakness. Even when he cracks a catchphrase –“Let’s get high”–it sounds threatening and, weirdly, almost melancholy. Addiction ain’t no joke.
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20. “Super Freddy”

Mark Gray

A Nightmare on Elm Street 5: The Dream Child

JG: Opting to paint the set in black-and-white as oppose to filming in black-and-white adds a nice bit of surrealness to the sequence, which finds Mark turned into a comic-book character of himself before being slashed to pieces (of paper) by Freddy. That’s a good effect, but unfortunately we’re saddled with skateboardin’ Freddy and the “Super Freddy” of the title before we get there. FYI: Super Freddy was played by Michael Bailey Smith, who starred in the terrific remake of Craven’s The Hills Have Eyes.
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19. “I’ve Crossed Over, Sweetheart”/”Die!”

Dr. Nancy Thompson

A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors

MR: How do you lure in the courageous and unstoppable Nancy Thompson? Her father is a good start. That’s how Freddy finally nabbed the elusive heroine towards the end of Nightmare 3, and oh is it cruel. Not only does Nancy discover her father’s “crossed over,” but the appearance feels like a legitimate opportunity for the estranged pair to unite. Unfortunately for her, it’s all a facade, and the alleged reunion shatters quickly into an iconic death. Dick move, Krueger.

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18. “I’m Going to Split You in Two”

Marge Thompson

Nightmare1margedeath1

A Nightmare on Elm Street

RC: Craven never wanted the cliffhanger ending of the first film, which was added by New Line to set up a possible sequel. In it, we see Nancy’s mom dragged by Freddy through the tiny window of the front door. It’s quick, predictable, and, thanks to her stiff mannequin legs, a little silly. That’s why I’ll point to Marge’s “death” earlier in the film, when a flaming Krueger slaughters her atop a bed. I’ve always found the way her body sinks into the sheets–now some mysterious, smoking portal–to be incredibly unsettling, in part due to its hazy ephemerality. Thanks to the tacked-on ending, how Marge truly died will forever remain a mystery since, in Dream Warriors, Nancy simply states her mother died in her sleep.
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17. “How’s This For A Wet Dream?”

Joey Crusel

A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master

MR: The only thing missing out of this hard rock death is David Lee Roth. After surviving all of Dream Warriors, Joey finally gets got by indulging on his one weakness: busty women. Fucking Christ, kiddo, don’t you know things are a little off if a hot naked babe’s waving from within your water bed? You gotta credit Freddy for this one; he knows his victims. Still, many tattooed tears were shed over this loss — myself included.

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16. “Brother’s Keeper”

Mark Davis

Freddy vs. Jason

JG: Though he’s involved with a few deaths in Freddy vs. Jason, the gloved man himself is only responsible for one, but it’s one of the most memorable. Freddy has Mark’s brother, who committed suicide, rise out of a bathtub to taunt him. Once the unpleasantries have passed, Freddy sets Mark on fire before slashing his face. Freddy Krueger. What an asshole.
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15. “I’m Jesse Now”

Party Guests

A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge

BG: This is Freddy Kruger at his most merciless and craziest. There are no pithy catchphrases, or elaborate visual effects – this is a slaughter, plain and simple, and Freddy was the devil to a ton of poor, unfortunate kids just trying to have an ‘80s make-out pool party. Say what you will about the corny dating of the scene, when Freddy shouts, “You’re all my children, now,” you get the creeps.
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14. “You Shouldn’t Have Buried Me, I’m Not Dead”

Roland Kincaid

A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master

BG: Look, ignore the fact that Freddy takes out a beloved character from a prior installment. Never mind the incredible, rusty set design and junkyard world effects. Forget that Freddy is back yet again and in top Hollywood star form. This scene sticks because it begins with the resurrection of Freddy Krueger with flaming dog piss. Luis Bunuel, eat your heart out.
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13. “Need for Speed”

Daniel “Dan” Jordan

A Nightmare on Elm Street 5: The Dream Child

RC: For better or worse, excess was a key component to deaths in the latter Nightmare films. Why kill somebody once when you could kill them five times? That’s exactly what happens to poor Dan Jordan in Dream Child, who witnesses Freddy chug acid and rip his own arm off before a motorcycle, for whatever reason, literally turns him into something you’d see in Clive Barker’s Nightbreed. You’re already laughing by the time Freddy’s mechanized mug starts spouting catchphrases from the dash.
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12. “You Wanna Suck Face?”

Sheila Kopecky

A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master

JG: Freddy kills people, and it’s not nice (profound, yes?). However, it’s the times when he uses one’s phobia or handicap against them when the deaths become nasty. Take Sheila, who suffers from asthma. After falling asleep in class and getting attacked by a robot hand (still trying to figure out that one, Renny), Freddy casually walks up to the student, utters the question above, and sucks away her life. Literally. Sticks his mouth on hers, inhales, and causes her to have an asthma attack. Her dream body is left as shriveled as a mummy, but her classmates are none the wiser. Except Alice. And Freddy wasn’t done, as you’ll read about soon enough.
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11. “Daddy’s Dead Now”

Chase Porter

chase porter Ranking: Freddy Kruegers Nightmares From Worst to Best

Wes Craven’s New Nightmare

MR: Anyone who’s ever driven long distance late at night knows how easy it is to get sleepy behind the wheel. There’s a few yawns, the seat becomes really comfy, and your eye lids feel like they’re carrying little weights. That’s why the first legitimate death in Wes Craven’s New Nightmare is so affecting; it could actually happen. Couple that fear with a merciless “IRL” Freddy Krueger and the whole scenario becomes downright bloody. Given that Chase Porter was simply racing home to see his family, it’s also classically tragic, too.

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10. “Carlos, Lend Me Your Ear”

Carlos

Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare

RC: This is the only death in the Nightmare series that I still can’t watch. Wait, let me amend that. I can watch Carlos die; it’s actually sorta clever when Freddy amplifies the kid’s hearing aid enough to make his head explode. It’s the moment before that gets me, the moment when an old woman (ugh…I’m even having trouble typing this) jams a goddamned q-tip deep in his ear and comes out with a thick wad of gore. Trust me when I say that, in the realm of torture, punctured eardrums are on par, if not worse, than the plucking of fingernails. God, now my ears hurt. ”
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09. “Hit the Showers”

Coach Schneider

A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge

RC: Homosexual subtext aside, there’s a lot to love about the slaughter of douchy Coach Schneider. For one, fuck jocks. For two, a few deep slashes from Freddy’s glove are a helluva lot more terrifying than some of the crazy shit he cooked up in later sequels. Sure, Coach Schneider’s naked ass makes this scene surface-level funny, but deep down, he’s experiencing a true nightmare: humiliation on his home turf, by a kid he bullies no less.

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08. “Bon Appetit”

Greta Gibson

A Nightmare on Elm Street 5: The Dream Child

MR: As the Nightmare series aged on, Freddy’s kills became more and more humiliating. By Dream Child, he was a pro at being sick, gross, and unfair; case in point, Greta Gibson. Early on, the startling beauty lets in on her body issues, something you never ever do when Freddy’s listening. Naturally, he preyed upon those fears by force-feeding her grotesque food at the head of table, where she’s fallen asleep during her mother’s dinner party. Treating her like a baby in a high chair, Freddy stuffs her face until she’s swaying back and forth with a bulbous head. It’s a terrifying visual — especially for anyone who’s ever experienced body dysmorphia out there — and further proof that even the clever kills could chill the most cynical bones.

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07. “Welcome to the Prime Time, Bitch!”

Jennifer Caulfield

A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors

JG: As a child, I thought the actress portraying Jennifer Caulfield was Tina Yothers. It wasn’t (that honor goes to Penelope Sudrow). Regardless of whose head it is that goes through that TV, this is the moment the series twisted in a humorous direction. The puppet-murder earlier in the film is still taken seriously, but as soon as young Jennifer falls asleep and witnesses Dick Cavett transform into Freddy before killing Zsa Zsa Gabor, we learn anything goes. The special effect of Freddy’s head emerging out of the TV is special indeed, and that goddamn quote (improvised by Englund) is one of the series’ most famous.

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06. “Ever Play Skin the Cat”

Julie

Wes Craven’s New Nightmare

BG: This is particularly upsetting because of the element of child endangerment involved. It’s not enough to spiritually re-create Tina’s death from the 1984 original with a rotating room murder, but presenting this murder to a sensitive young child? There’s sheer terror in little Miko Hughes’ eyes. Teeters on exploitative.
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05. “I’m Your Boyfriend Now”

Glen Lantz

A Nightmare on Elm Street

MR: One of the most iconic visuals out of the Nightmare franchise is when Glen’s sucked into his own bed and spit out as a surge of blood. It’s an imaginative metaphor for Freddy’s full capabilities and power: fall asleep and you’re dead meat. But what’s really terrifying is trying to imagine what exactly the coroner’s found upstairs. After all, his mother does witness Freddy’s homage to Old Faithful, which begs the question: Was there anything left? A body bag later suggests they found something, but who knows, maybe it was only blood and bones and gunk. It’s a perplexing and unsettling thought. Poor Depp.

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04. “The March of the Bloody Puppet”

Phillip Anderson

A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors

RC: This is the first Nightmare kill I ever saw and, for many, many years, it was also the last. This shit ruined me as a kid. After taking the form of a puppet in an unnerving stop motion sequence (very Charles Band), Freddy rips out Philip’s veins and uses them to guide the boy to the top of a belltower. Here, Freddy, taking the form of some giant Lovecraftian god, cuts the “strings” and sends Phillip falling to his death. It touches on so many deep fears–marionnettes, heights, guts, slit wrists–and refuses, for nearly three agonizing minutes, to turn away from the gaping holes in Phillip’s limbs, the thick, glistening webs of veins, and that perfect blend of terror and disbelief on actor Bradley Gregg’s face. Positively nasty.
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03. “Sweet Dreams, Pal”

Ron Grady

A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge

JG: This scene works on so many different levels. First off, the score. Christopher Young’s orchestral-driven pieces feature no music from the original (the only in the series to do so), and drives the terror in a completely direction. Second, the incredible effect of Freddy emerging from Jessie’s body. We see the arm of Freddy’s sweater breaking through Jessie’s skin; his head slowly poking his way out his chest; and finally, simply walking the fuck out of the teenager. Grady’s parents are just outside the room, unable to help their son as he screams before Freddy’s knives slam through both him and his bedroom door. Just to rub it in, Freddy taunts Jessie in the mirror for what seems like hours before the scene ends, truly putting the bastard in “bastard son of a hundred maniacs.”
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02. “No Pain No Gain”

Debbie Stevens

A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master

MR: If this death weren’t so fantastical, it would easily be the franchise’s No. 1 kill, because what happens to Debbie Stevens is so unforgiving it’s difficult to even think about without saying, “God, that’s so fucked up.” Simply put, he turns her into a cockroach. More specifically, he assumes the role of David Cronenberg, slowly punishing the helpless girl by ripping her arms off and chasing her into a roach motel, where she trips on a gooey floor that tears off her human upper body in lieu of a cockroach torso and head. As if that weren’t enough, she’s absolutely aware of her hideous transformation amidst his demeaning taunting, all prior to the conclusive crush. “You can check in, but you can’t check out.” No shit.

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01. “This is God”

Tina Grey

A Nightmare on Elm Street

BG: Tina Grey’s death has the distinction of being the very first and most brutal kill in the Nightmare franchise. Imagine it’s 1984, you walk into a theater with a general understanding of the film, completely unprepared for the torment Tina’s about to suffer. The young woman falls asleep, after having reconciliatory sex, and is immediately woken by a man with extending arms, sliceable fingers, the ability to melt his face, and jump out of trees. It’s all impossible, and baffling, and upsetting. The hopless girl is viciously slain, while her boyfriend watches before she’s unceremoniously dumped in a bed of her own blood. Thirty years later, this is still shocking, blood-curdling, breathtaking, and innovative.

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