Is A Nightmare on Elm Street the Greatest Horror Franchise Ever?


A Nightmare on Elm Street (via Fangoria)

One, two, Freddy’s coming for you. Three, four, better lock your door. Five, six, grab your crucifix. Seven, eight, gunna stay up late. Nine, ten, never sleep again.

Has there ever been such a creepy and haunting nursery rhyme played at the start of a horror film that sets the tone for everything that follows? Within the first four minutes of the late, great Wes Craven’s most famous film franchise, viewers had already been introduced to the terrifying Freddy Krueger and learned that the disfigured caretaker attacks vulnerable school children in their sleep. The film inspired a whole new generation of horror flicks, and also kick-started one of the longest running and greatest horror franchises of all time.

Although prior to A Nightmare on Elm Street Craven had created films such as The Last House on the Left and The Hills Have Eyes which went on to become cult classics, it was the 1984 film that would define his directorial career. Craven proved that he had a knack for shaking up the traditional slasher film, after audiences had become accustomed to the common trends in offerings like Halloween and Friday the 13th. Kim Newman, a critic for Monthly Film Bulletin, referred to the film as a “superior example of an over-worked genre.” Having the antagonist operate in the victim’s dreams was one revelation, as were the razorblades on Krueger’s hands rather than the traditional knife or axe.

The film laid the foundations for Craven to later prove that he was able to turn the genre on its head once more, with Scream in 1996. The modern-day slasher was unique in the way that its protagonists were able to analyse what was going on in reference to traditional horror films, and then work out how to overcome the bad guy. It also incorporated plenty of humour, something that was lacking from other slasher movies up to that point.

A Nightmare on Elm Street was commercially successful and pulled in over $25 million, which was a hefty sum at the time. This sparked a number of sequels, crossovers, and remakes through the years, but the director of the third instalment admits that the sequel could have killed the franchise. Chuck Russell said in an interview with Bloody Disgusting, that the follow up to the 1984 flick was such a misfire that the studio needed some persuasion that the series would still be a viable project. But looking back now, it’s a good job that the A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors director managed to convince New Line Cinema that they were sitting on a cash cow.

And how right Russell turned out to be. There went on to be six Nightmare films in total along with the 2010 remake of the original, and a crossover with Friday the 13th entitled Freddy Vs. Jason. The 2003 film featuring the infamous serial killers raked in over $82 million at the box office, and helped pave the way for the franchise to branch out into other media.

There have been numerous Nightmare on Elm Street games, including a platform adventure for the Nintendo Entertainment System in 1990 and a board game that was released in 1989. Now there is also a Nightmare on Elm Street online slot game that can be played at some new bingo sites including BingoRoo where there is a 400% deposit bonus. Although the game may scare you senseless, there is the potential to win money as the reels spin in the faces of Freddy’s victims. Freddy’s serial killer mate/rival Jason Vorhees has appeared in the most recent game. Friday the 13th: The Game was released last month, and is a survival horror in which players can either play as the masked madman or try to avoid gruesome deaths as the teens at Crystal Lake.

Hopefully Jason’s game will lead developers to also create an up-to-date Nightmare title for the latest consoles. With plenty of classic films earning modern day reboots, sequels, and prequels, such as Star Wars and Aliens, it would be great to see a revamped version of the franchise that pays homage to Craven’s original in a better way than the mediocre 2010 offering. Krueger is doubtlessly one of the most iconic horror film baddies of all time, and his legacy deserves to live on for many more years yet.