Slasher movies live or die based on their death scenes. No pun intended. When Wes Craven made A Nightmare on Elm Street, he created one of the genre’s most enduring classics. And he gifted horror with Freddy Krueger, an iconic boogeyman. With its ‘dreamworld’ premise, Craven also opened up a world of possibilities for the slasher subgenre and death scenes. Across six sequels and a remake, Freddy Krueger has amassed one of horror’s most impressive killing résumés. Below are 10 of Freddy’s best kills in the Elm Street franchise.
10 – We’ve Got Six More Minutes to Play (A Nightmare on Elm Street Remake)
Picking out exactly what went wrong with the Elm Street remake is difficult. Probably, lots of things. Suffice to say, it’s not particularly good. Nevertheless, Jackie Earle Hayley plays a nasty, scary Freddy Krueger. In addition to featuring one of the remake’s few effective jumps, Jesse Braun’s death spotlights Freddy Krueger’s reversal from quip-making jokester to sadistic killer. It’s creepy enough when Freddy asks Jesse, ‘Why are you screaming … I haven’t even cut you yet!’ But the coup de grâce comes as Jesse is hanging upside down, disemboweled. As Jesse dies, Freddy casually informs him that the brain continues to process information seven minutes after the heart stops beating – and he still has six minutes left.
9 – Nice Hearing From You, Carlos (Freddy’s Dead)
Freddy’s Dead is awful. Period. If there’s any scene that makes this DOA sequel worth watching, it’s poor Carlos’ death. Thought the scene is mostly played for laughs, there’s an underlying cruelty to it. Stuff poking eyes or ears tends to make people feel squeamish. Watching Freddy stick a giant cotton swab into the hearing impaired Carlos’ ear is definitely squeamish. And the absence of sound while Freddy waves and screams behind a deaf Carlos is one of the few welcome cases of humour in this sequel. The parasite hearing aid and screeching chalkboard actually qualify as clever. Too bad you have to sit through 90 minutes of bad for this one gem.
8 – Tina Has a Sleepover (A Nightmare on Elm Street)
It’s Freddy’s first on-screen kill in the franchise. And you never see him. No one-liners. No elaborate special effects. When you see it for the first time, Tina’s death is both brutal and shocking. Seeing the parallel cuts just appear may be the best way to introduce Elm Street’s boogeyman. There’s a reason Wes Craven was a master of horror. As budgets increased for the sequels, Freddy’s kills became increasingly elaborate. But one of the series’ most effective deaths was accomplished with just clever filmmaking.
7 – Dan Has a Need for Speed (A Nightmare on Elm Street: The Dream Child)
The Dream Child, Elm Street’s fifth entry, is the first genuinely bad sequel. And no, A Nightmare on Elm Street Part 2: Freddy’s Revenge, isn’t bad. Though it’s actually kind of boring, Dan’s death scene is gruesomely imaginative and funny. The one-liners are bad in a ‘so bad, it’s good way’. Don’t dream and drive. Freddy ripping his own arm off to use as a seatbelt is priceless. And the motorcycle ‘coming alive’ and fusing itself to Dan almost borders on something akin to body horror.
6 – Just a Puppet on a String (A Nightmare on Elm Street Part 3 The Dream Warriors)
Arguably, The Dreams Warriors is the franchise’s best sequel. It balances the more elaborate deaths and punny Freddy Krueger with Craven’s original tone. Despite some dated special effects, Phillip’s death scene is among the series’ best. One of Phillip’s marionettes turning into Freddy … Freddy cutting along Phillip’s arms and legs and using his tendons as strings – it’s this kind of dark, inventive horror that made the series so good.
5 – Let’s Get High (A Nightmare on Elm Street Part 3: The Dream Warriors)
Similar to her other Dream Warriors, ‘Badass’ Taryn gets an early upper-hand on Freddy. Too bad it’s Freddy’s world. Just when it looks like Taryn might best Krueger, he exploits the recovering addicts Achille’s Heel. Not quite as elaborate as some of the sequel’s other deaths, Freddy’s fingers turning from blades to needles is still cruel and clever. As a bonus, Taryn’s death gives us one of the franchise’s best one-liners – ‘“Let’s get high’.
4 – How’s This For a Wet Dream? (A Nightmare on Elm Street Part 4: The Dream Master)
Generally, there’s nothing worse than when a sequel kills a surviving character thereby negating the prior movie’s ending. At least director Renny Harlin gives Dream Warriors’ Joey a good send-off. The Dream Master, the fourth movie in the series, marks the point at which Freddy stopped being scary. While the sequel puts Freddy Krueger in the spotlight and dials up the one-liners, it also carries on the creativity seen in The Dream Warriors. Joey was always a bit of a pervert, so a naked pin-up appearing inside his waterbed just made sense. The one-liner here actually works. And Joey’s mom finding him dead inside the sealed waterbed is the icing on the cake.
3 – No Pain, No Gain (A Nightmare on Elm Street Part 4: The Dream Master)
The Dream Master foreshadowed the bug-phobic Debbie’s death in rather heavy-handed fashion. Not that it matters. Her death scene, though not scary, works in just about every other way. Watching Debbie’s elbows break before snapping open is this sequel’s closest approximation of real horror. Debbie sprouting insect arms before falling into a gluey floor in what’s now a giant bug trap is just inspired horror movie-making.
2 – I’m Your Boyfriend Now, Nancy (A Nightmare on Elm Street)
Simple, but brutal. Like a lot of A-list stars, Johnny Depp had to die in a horror movie before moving on to bigger things. At least Depp can say he has one of the goriest deaths in a classic horror movie. Poor Glen getting sucked into his bed, stereo and all, and then spit out in a geyser of blood is absolutely disgusting. And the best part of this scene – Glen’s blood dripping through the ceiling below.
1 – Welcome to Primetime, Bitch – A Nightmare on Elm Street 3
Arguably, there’s no better death scene in the Elm Street franchise that better balances Craven’s original tone with the franchise’s emerging humour. When The Dream Warriors hit theatres, Freddy Krueger was still scary. The television-addicted Jennifer’s death packs a couple of decent jumps. Zsa Zsa Gabor literally getting cut off came out of nowhere. Then Freddy becoming the television … Whether it’s the effects or the scare itself, the scene works perfectly. And it delivers what’s probably Freddy’s best one-liners – Welcome to primetime, bitch.