Nightmare On Elm Street Rated Best To Worst

Nightmare on Elm Street Rated Best to Worst: 2023 Ranking

If you've ever watched Nightmare on Elm Street, then you're no stranger to the spine-chilling world of Freddy Krueger.

We've spent countless nights haunted by the dream demon himself, and we're here to give you the lowdown on which Nightmare movies are the best and which are, well, not so great.

So, why should you listen to us? Well, we've watched all the Elm Street movies and taken notes. We love slasher franchises and are here to share our thoughts on the Elm Street series.

Join us in the Nightmare on Elm Street Movies Rated Best To Worst – straight from our own nightmares.

Nightmare On Elm Street Movies (Ranked From Best To Worst)

1. A Nightmare on Elm Street

A Nightmare on Elm Street 1984

Release Date: November 16, 1984

Overall Enjoyment Rating: ★★★★★

Synopsis: "A Nightmare on Elm Street" introduced us to the iconic Freddy Krueger character and the cursed Elm Street. Teens face horrifying nightmares; if Freddy kills them in the dream, they die in real life.

Why We Like It:

"A Nightmare on Elm Street" is not just a horror movie; it's the first and arguably the best film. Wes Craven redefined horror by diving into the realm of dreams, and Robert Englund as Freddy Krueger's casting could not have been more perfect.

The original Nightmare movie transformed the slasher genre, leaving an indelible mark on cinema. It also earned a spot in the National Film Registry. [1]

Fun fact: Johnny Depp had his film debut here! He played Glen, Nancy's boyfriend.


  • Robert Englund as Freddy
  • Geyser of blood body horror scene
  • John Saxon as Lieutenant Don
  • Nancy's staircase struggle


  • Limited special effects

2. Wes Craven's New Nightmare

Release Date: October 14, 1994

Overall Enjoyment Rating: ★★★★☆

Synopsis: "Wes Craven's New Nightmare" takes a unique twist: the director himself steps into the story. When nightmares return, Heather Langenkamp is called upon to reprise her role as Nancy Thompson.

Why We Like It:

"Wes Craven's New Nightmare" is an inventive departure - it's more of a meta-narrative than a typical Elm Street movie. The plot takes us on a cerebral journey where fiction blends with reality. Freddy is also darker, scarier, and different from his usual self.


  • Meta storytelling brilliance
  • Clever, unpredictable plot


  • Less traditional story

3. A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors

A Nightmare on Elm Street 3 Dream Warriors

Release Date: February 27, 1987

Overall Enjoyment Rating: ★★★★★

Synopsis: In "Dream Warriors," Freddy Krueger haunts a new group of Elm Street children in their dreams - but this time, they discover the power of lucid dreaming to fight back. [2]

Why We Like It:

This is the perfect example of how some horror sequels can enhance a franchise. In this installment, teens discover how lucid dreaming can help them defeat Freddy. The return of Nancy and the introduction of Kristen (Patricia Arquette) add depth to the story.

Wes Craven returns to co-write the script with Chuck Russell as director, which was a great choice as this movie boasts some of the franchise's most imaginative kills.


  • Memorable kills
  • Strong cast of characters


  • Cheesy special effects

4. A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master

Release Date: August 19, 1988

Overall Enjoyment Rating: ★★★★☆

Synopsis: "A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master" introduces Alice, played by Lisa Wilcox, who goes from timid girl to empowered woman as she faces Freddy Krueger in her nightmares.

Why We Like It:

"The Dream Master" is a direct sequel to the previous film and introduces Alice, one of the best characters in the series. Kristen is also here, but she was replaced with Tuesday Knight because Arquette was pregnant then.

This summer blockbuster amplifies the humor, and despite Freddy's evolution into a more comedic character, this movie fits comfortably in the Elm Street canon.


  • Funny Freddy
  • Iconic bug transformation


  • Messy mythology

5. Freddy vs. Jason

Freddy vs. Jason

Release Date: August 15, 2003

Overall Enjoyment Rating: ★★★★☆

Synopsis: "Freddy vs. Jason" combines two horror franchises: Freddy Krueger and Jason Voorhees. Freddy needs Jason's help to regain his power by spreading fear, but they fight one another instead.

Why We Like It:

The concept of pitting Freddy against Jason Voorhees seems absurd on paper, but director Ronny Yu embraces the craziness and makes it work. Their showdown is also one of the most memorable scenes in the entire franchise. [3]


  • Freddy vs. Jason over-the-top battle
  • Absurdly entertaining


  • Unremarkable supporting characters

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6. A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy's Revenge

Release Date: November 1, 1985

Overall Enjoyment Rating: ★★★☆☆

Synopsis: "A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy's Revenge" follows Jesse Walsh, played by Mark Patton, who becomes plagued by Freddy Krueger. Unlike other Elm Street films, Freddy isn't killing teens in their sleep but is slowly possessing Jesse.

Why We Like It:

From a production standpoint, the direction, design, and effects are top-notch for the times. The cast also delivers convincing performances, particularly Jesse's father and girlfriend.

What's most interesting about this film, aside from Freddy changing his modus operandi, is the homoerotic subtext, which made waves culturally in the queer horror genre. [4]


  • Cultural significance in queer horror
  • Great cast performances


  • Strays from franchise mythology

7. A Nightmare on Elm Street 5: The Dream Child

A Nightmare on Elm Street 5 The Dream Child

Release Date: August 11, 1989

Overall Enjoyment Rating: ★★☆☆☆

Synopsis: "A Nightmare on Elm Street 5: The Dream Child" continues the saga with Alice and Dan (played by Danny Hassel), survivors from the previous film. Alice is pregnant and discovers Freddy Krueger is using her unborn child's dreams to return.

Why We Like It:

"Dream Child" is centered around Freddy's conception - as you know, Freddy's mother was raped by numerous men, which led to his villain arc. It also features Alice, who faces new horrors because she discovers Freddy is using her unborn child's dreams to return.

What we like about this film is how director Stephen Hopkins made Alice's character a strong and resourceful final girl.


  • Heather Langenkamp and her acting chops
  • Greta (Erika Anderson) forced to eat her organs
  • Impressive visual effects


  • Complex plot

8. Freddy's Dead: The Final Nightmare 

Release Date: September 13, 1991

Overall Enjoyment Rating: ★★☆☆☆

Synopsis: "Freddy's Dead: The Final Nightmare" takes Freddy Krueger to new levels of absurdity as he faces off against his long-lost daughter, Maggie, played by Lisa Zane, in a battle to end his reign of terror.

Why We Like It:

While "Freddy's Dead: The Final Nightmare" is commonly ranked at the bottom of the franchise, we find that it's absurdly funny it's almost good. This marks Freddy's transformation from a terrifying villain from the previous films to something akin to a cartoon character.


  • Absurd and ridiculous fun
  • Freddy's Wicked Witch of the West drag


  • Unnecessary celebrity cameos from Roseanne and Tom Arnold

9. A Nightmare on Elm Street (2010 Remake)

A Nightmare on Elm Street 2010

Release Date: April 30, 2010

Overall Enjoyment Rating: ★☆☆☆☆

Synopsis: The 2010 remake revisits the iconic story of Freddy Krueger.

Why We Like It:

The 2010 "A Nightmare on Elm Street" remake attempts to revive the classic horror franchise but falls short. While it boasts a talented cast led by Rooney Mara, Kyle Gallner, Katie Cassidy, and Jackie Earle Haley as Freddy Krueger, their efforts can't save this grim adaptation.

The film's greatest misstep is its decision to portray Freddy as a child molester. The nightmare sequences also lack the imagination and enjoyment the original had.


  • Great cast performances
  • Jackie Earle Haley's as Freddy


  • Child molestation subplot

Note: The overall enjoyment rating was determined using the following criteria: story and plot complexity, character development, horror and scares, visual and practical effects, and cinematic and directorial quality.

How We Ranked Them

Story & Plot Complexity

This aspect refers to the depth and intricacy of the movie's storyline. We liked "Dream Warriors" the most because it stuck to the rules of the series but also added a cool new idea about lucid dreaming.

Character Development

Character development can enhance the audience's emotional connection to the story. It allows viewers to understand the characters and how they grow during the story. "Dream Warriors" had the best characters in Nancy and Kristen.

Horror & Scares

This aspect is crucial for horror movies. The first "A Nightmare on Elm Street" pioneered dream-based horror, so it got high marks here.

Visual & Practical Effects

We looked at how well the movies used special effects to make cool kills and scary dream sequences. Well-executed effects contribute to a pleasant viewing experience, while poorly done effects can be distracting.

Cinematic & Directorial Quality

This refers to the overall craftsmanship and artistry of the movie. The most memorable here has to be "Wes Craven's New Nightmare," because it was like a movie about a movie.


Which Elm Street is the scariest?

It depends. Many horror fans find the first film to be the scariest because of Freddy's haunting presence, while some may argue that "Dream Warriors" is the scariest due to its intense dream sequences.

How many Nightmare On Elm Street movies are there?

There are nine films in the Nightmare on Elm Street franchise. These include the original film from 1984, its sequels, Freddy vs. Jason, and a remake in 2010.

How bad is Nightmare on Elm Street?

The quality of Nightmare on Elm Street movies varies. Some movies like the original and "Dream Warriors" are highly regarded, while "Freddy's Dead" and the 2010 remake received primarily negative reviews.

Should a 14-year-old watch Nightmare on Elm Street?

No, a 14-year-old should not watch Nightmare on Elm Street. The movie is rated R-18 by the MPAA due to some extremely violent and scary scenes.

Final Verdict

In our Elm Street movie ranked from best to worst list, we've revisited each film and measured them against our personal criteria.

Our favorite film in the franchise is the original "A Nightmare on Elm Street" from 1984 because it set the stage and remains an iconic horror film to this day. "New Nightmare" is a close second because we liked its meta-universe concept.

While our personal ranking might not match everyone else's, we hope it helps you navigate the Nightmare franchise.

If you're a true fan, check out our top picks for the best Elm Street merchandise here. 



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