Here is my ranking (from least favourite to most favourite) of the films within the A Nightmare on Elm Street franchise (including Freddy vs Jason), with a short explanation accompanying each:
(Quick side note: I found this extremely difficult beyond my top 3)
#9 – Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare
#8 – A Nightmare on Elm Street 5: The Dream Child
Too dark for some but ultimately felt like they were clasping at straws plotwise.
#7 – A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge
I like the homoerotic undertones but ultimately it isn’t a great follow up to the original – did they revisit the transformation/possession power? Maybe there’s a reason for that…
#6 – Freddy vs Jason
It’s a total hack-a-thon. What were you expecting? What do you want? It may not be the ultimate showdown, but at least they tried to make the cross-over logical.
Bonus points for Kelly Rowland!
#5 – A Nightmare on Elm Street (2010)
It may be a near beat for beat remake, but in focusing on the darker side of Freddy and explicitly showing us that he was a child molester (I believe it was cut from the original) it distanced itself from the comedy of the latter entries in the franchise and firmly placed it back into horror.
(I’m dead against another remake/reboot, especially in light of Craven’s death)
#4 – A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master
Freddy may be verging on becoming a parody of himself, with comedy and one-liners becoming more prominent, but it’s plot doesn’t stray from the ‘rules’ of the franchise – it’s in much the same vein as it’s predecessor.
#3 – A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors
By glossing over the second film and brining back Nancy to ‘pass the baton’, it’s the sequel the original deserves. It doesn’t tread the same ground, the protagonists are rootable for and the setting intensifies the nightmare – Freddy is witty, not a laughing stock.
#2 – Wes Craven’s New Nightmare
In a way, it feels like a stepping stone towards Scream. It strips the franchise back to it’s roots in a self-referential way. It pokes fun at the ridiculousness of the sequels and presents a much darker Freddy, one which is more terrifying to watch and grounded in reality.
#1 – A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)
Sometimes you just can’t top the original. It encapsulates 80’s horror and perfectly taps into primal fears we all have. Freddy is fresh and the perfect boogeyman. He terrorises his victims, he toys with them and their fears – he is the stuff of nightmares. The tone and the atmosphere resonate to this day and are what the sequels lack.