In anticipation of Platinum Dunes new remake of A Nightmare On Elm Street (in theaters today), myself and fellow FEARnet scribe Lawrence Raffel braced ourselves and spent an entire day enduring all of Freddy Krueger’s cinematic exploits. In a day and age where you can have marathon sessions of seasons of your favorite television shows, we figured this would be a piece of cake, especially considering the fond memories we have of the Nightmare series spanning back to the formative years of our youth.
The original intent of this piece was to break down the set pieces of each film and pick out the 10 best “kill” sequences. And while it was fun to revisit and see how the series veered in radical and different directions over the years (sometimes unsuccessfully), it was not a simple task picking out the best “kills”. In fact, you’d be surprised how many times Freddy often just stabs someone in the chest. So, we’ve opted instead to break this down into our favorite A Nightmare On Elm Street moments. After all, some of the most innovative and elaborate scenes from the entire franchise didn’t even involve deaths. So with that in mind, let’s have a look at what were the most memorable moments from the legendary series!
Note: Since New Nightmare is a “meta-movie” and Freddy Vs Jason only features technically one Freddy kill, we’re sticking to the first 6 movies.
Dan the motorcycle demon from A Nightmare On Elm Street 5: The Dream Child
The fifth entry in the Nightmare series is an odd little movie. Focusing primarily on the concept of Freddy using the dreams of an unborn child to once again reclaim souls, the fourth sequel offers the lowest body count of the entire series clocking in at only 3, a tie with Freddy’s Dead (unless you count Freddy’s demise at the end of that movie as a “kill”). And while this film isn’t often referenced by fans as a favorite, it does feature the “motorcycle demon” sequence in which Dan (Danny Hassel) falls asleep at the wheel of his truck, hops onto a motorcycle, and slowly becomes fused with the vehicle to transform into a bitchin’ looking demon rider. Despite this particular “death” sequence sporting not one, not two, but five one-liners from Freddy, it’s still visually one of the coolest things we’ve seen in the series. Hopefully, we will one day get to see the uncut, unrated version of this death scene, which only appeared on an early VHS release of The Dream Child and has yet to surface via the DVD format (But you can see it now below!)
Carlos’s death from Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare
Once Freddy makes his first appearance in Freddy’s Dead riding on a broom stick in witch garb and spouting the one liner “I’ll get you my pretty, and your little soul too!”, it’s obvious that the series has now reached self-parody making this entry the Scary Movie of the franchise. Regardless, there’s one death sequence I can’t help but find deliciously funny and hilariously mean-spirited. Freddy at one point tortures Carlos (Ricky Dean Logan), the poor deaf kid who wears a hearing aid, first by stealing his hearing device and then by opening up his ear drum & making him extremely sensitive to any and all sound. Sure, Freddy’s a child killer and a villain, but man, here he’s just being a dick. First he drops a handful of pins and then scratches a black board to torment this poor kid, and this is after he screams from behind him flailing his hands about like a maniac to a kid who can’t hear him. Now that’s just mean!
Jesse’s transformation scene from A Nightmare On Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge
Freddy’s Revenge is an intriguing entry in the Nightmare series primarily because it’s the one sequel that doesn’t play by the rules established in the original and features Freddy frequently breaking the barrier between the dream world and the real world. While this particular sequel does have its fans, it’s somewhat the black sheep of the franchise, just because it’s so radically different. However, it does feature one of the coolest scenes of the entire series. Jesse (Mark Patton) seeks solace by hiding out in his best friend Grady’s room (Robert Rusler), but Freddy’s will overcomes the teen and Krueger painfully emerges from his body, forcing himself inside out. One of the highlights of the sequence is when Jesse’s fingertips sprout out Freddy’s trademark razor sharp blades proving that while Jesse may have the body, Freddy’s definitely got the brains!
Debbie gets turned into a giant cockroach in A Nightmare On Elm Street 4: The
Director Renny Harlin’s entry into the Nightmare series proved to be the franchise’s biggest financial hit, and while it visually featured some of the most innovative ideas and settings for Freddy & his victims, the plot just wasn’t there. (Most likely due to the impending writer’s strike which threatened to halt the production.) The thing that made Freddy so universally appealing was that he relished in finding the one thing you feared and turned it against you. Whenever those kinds of sequences played out, they often worked beautifully and stood out as the most memorable parts of the series. Case in point – work-out buff Debbi (Brooke Theiss, who ironically co-starred in the TV series Just The Ten Of Us with Heather Langenkamp) and her fear of cockroaches. In this scene, Freddy snaps Debbie’s arms during her hardcore bench press session, and forces roach arms to sprout from her wounds. Slowly she transforms into a giant cockroach and gets squished by Freddy in a Roach Motel box.
Freddy’s chest of souls fights back! From A Nightmare On Elm Street 4: The Dream
While the ending of Nightmare 4 doesn’t make a lick of sense, Alice (Lisa Wilcox) manages to make Freddy stare himself in the mirror which somehow gives the souls of his victims the strength to fight back and emerge from his chest, literally tearing Freddy limb from limb. Multiple kudos to the FX team for pulling off this gag with a combination of various moving appliances, coupled with shots of actors stretching against the latex of a giant Freddy chest prop. Fun trivia tid-bit – one of the souls visibly attempting to burst through Freddy’s chest is none other than scream queen Linnea Quigley.
Johnny Depp becomes a geyser of blood in A Nightmare On Elm Street
Sometimes, what’s left to the imagination is far scarier than actually seeing the evil deed done. In the original A Nightmare On Elm Street, Nancy’s boyfriend Glen (Johnny Depp in his debut role) gets sucked into his bed never to resurface. Instead, an unholy geyser of blood rains up onto the ceiling. Does anyone know what the hell actually happened to Glen? It doesn’t matter. The visual of the upside down blood coupled with the line about the coroner still puking in the bathroom from this gory crime scene is enough to let my imagination run ramped.
“Welcome to prime time, Bitch!” From A Nightmare On Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors
Arguably the most quoted line of Freddy Krueger dialogue stems from this death sequence. In it, Jennifer Callfield is doing everything in her power to fight off the urge to fall sleep from putting out cigarettes butts on her hand to watching late night TV. An aspiring actress, Freddy takes advantage of her “dreams” (pun intended) and welcomes her to prime time by bashing her into the hospital’s rec room television set. The best bit of this scene is the fact that they got both Dick Cavatt and Zsa Zsa Gabor to cameo as themselves before Krueger takes over the show and hogs the spotlight.
Tina’s bloody death on the ceiling from A Nightmare On Elm Street
What made the “kills” in the original A Nightmare On Elm Street work so well is the odd, surreal nature to them all. They capture that weird, dreary nightmare feeling, which makes them scary. One of the most famous and memorable of the entire series has to be Tina’s (Amanda Wyss) demise. In a time before Freddy was spitting out one-liners, his first line of dialogue was simply “This is God” before he proceeded to chase a terrified Tina through the alleyways leading back to her house. Still asleep, an invisible Freddy drags her to the ceiling of her room and repeatedly slices her with his finger blades as her boyfriend Rod looks on helplessly. Since this is the first kill (and one of the most effective) of the entire franchise, we’ve got to chalk this one up as one of the best. It set the bar pretty darned high for all future installments.
Worm Freddy attacks Kristin Parker from A Nightmare On Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors
Dream Warriors has some of the greatest set pieces of the entire series, most of which take place in the now corroding house of Nancy Thompson from the first film. So it’s quite a surprise when Freddy bursts through the floor boards as a giant worm-like creature and attempts to devour helpless Kristin Parker (cute as a button Patricia Arquette). The highlight of the scene is when Kristin pulls Nancy into her dream and both Freddy and his former nemesis finally come face to face again.
Phillip gets turned into a human puppet from A Nightmare On Elm Street 3: Dream
And finally, probably our favorite A Nightmare On Elm Street moment/kill is from none other than Dream Warriors. No sequence from the entire series capitalizes so perfectly on the fear of its victim than Phillip’s (Bradley Gregg) death in Nightmare 3. A very talented puppet maker, Freddy slices open the boy’s arms and legs only to yank out his veins and use him as a human marionette, guiding him off a ledge and to his immanent demise. One of the most creative, scariest, goriest and shocking sequences from any of the sequels, this one is often cited as a favorite amongst die-hard Nightmare fans.
Those are our favorites, what are some of yours?