Making a horror franchise last may seem like a simple thing thanks to the success of the Insidious and Purge franchises, but making one that lasts, and remains relevant for over 30 years, is a true feat. One of the few franchises to reach this accomplishment and still remain popular with today's audiences is the Nightmare on Elm Street series.
The combination of a terrifying lead villain and the paranoia-inducing feeling that one can die in their dreams made this franchise a long-lasting gem, which lasted for seven films, one crossover movie and a remake in 2010, along with the announcement last year that another remake is in the works. With the Halloween season well underway, let's take a look back at every trailer from the franchise and rank them from worst to best.
9. A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors
- Director: Chuck Russell
- Release Year: 1987
Ironically the third highest critically received movie in the franchise, earning a 74% approval rating from critics on Rotten Tomatoes, the trailer for this film is truly an uninteresting and bland one, making it the worst trailer on this list. Trying to give an eerie atmosphere and leave the story a mystery, as well as just promising everyone's favorite clawed slasher's return, just added up to a truly boring trailer that didn't peak enough interest in the franchise's third outing.
8. Freddy's Dead: The Final Nightmare
- Director: Rachel Talalay
- Release Year: 1991
Easily one of the least enjoyed films from both critics and audiences, the trailer definitely indicated the film's quality right off. The "final" Nightmare film promised to kill off Freddy and send the franchise off with a bang. While this trailer does show that the film would be the most outlandish in terms of visuals and action, with visual effects that are bad even for the time, and a story equally as ridiculous, this trailer is one of the most underwhelming of the franchise.
7. A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy's Revenge
- Director: Jack Sholder
- Release Year: 1985
The first sequel to the Elm Street franchise has sparked much criticism and debate due to its homoerotic subtext. The trailer, however, not only leaves out that subtext, it also leaves out any truly scary or tense moments to generate interest in the movie. The trailer tries to show the film's possession angle, but without truly focusing on the plotline and without any creepy atmosphere or signs of good acting, this trailer is easily one of the weaker in the franchise.
6. A Nightmare on Elm Street 5: The Dream Child
- Director: Stephen Hopkins
- Release Year: 1989
This trailer feels ridiculous in its plot presentation, and the attempt at making Freddy a very humorous character, but what it succeeds in doing is making the fifth Nightmare outing look like a visually arresting entry. Freddy trying to have a child is very outlandish and convoluted, but thanks to the trailer's numerous trick shots and bizarre visual effects, this film actually looks tolerable. (Even if star Robert Englund has stated it's one of his three least favorite films in the franchise.)
5. A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master
- Director: Renny Harlin
- Release Year: 1988
Landing as the fourth best reviewed film in the franchise and the fifth best trailer on this list, The Dream Master's trailer works well in drawing audiences in to watch the film. Though the trailer again offers very little in the way of plot explanation, that doesn't prove to be too much of a problem, as the trailer definitely offered some creepy moments, solid visual effects and stylish direction.
Are you still gearing up for the Halloween season? Check out these articles:
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- With An 'Unrelenting' Jason on Board, 'Friday the 13th' Reboot Aims To Be The Best One Yet
4. Wes Craven's New Nightmare
- Director: Wes Craven
- Release Year: 1994
When a film has numerous sequels and can have the original writer/director return for a "reboot," chances are things are going to go right, and New Nightmare is a perfect example of this trend. After five sequels in the franchise he did not want to happen, Craven made his complete return to the Nightmare series in 1994 with New Nightmare. (He'd previously helped write Dream Warriors.) It was a healthy reinvigoration for the franchise, earning very positive reviews from critics and being mildly successful at the box office. The trailer helps show how much potential there is in the film, combining its meta humor and and plotline with some fast-paced thrills, a new Freddy design and stylish special effects, making this one of the best trailers in the franchise.
3. Freddy vs. Jason
- Director: Ronny Yu
- Release Year: 2003
When the announcement came out in 2003 that New Line Cinema would finally honor fans' crossover wishes for the two legendary horror franchises, audiences went crazy with excitement. After sitting in developmental hell for nearly 15 years, New Line released the action-horror film, and it turned out to be a huge success, and this trailer points to reasons why. It's fast-paced, stylish, action-packed, creepy and promises an all-out battle, making it an awesome trailer.
2. A Nightmare on Elm Street -- 2010 Reboot
- Director: Samuel Bayer
- Release Year: 2010
Reboots and remakes are never easy to expose audiences to, especially with something as beloved as a horror franchise. Even if the Nightmare reboot didn't strike all the right chords with audiences -- or hardly any with critics -- the trailer didn't show signs it would be a failure, aside from the fact it was a reboot. The 2010 trailer illustrated the film would be an eerie, darkly atmospheric horror film with some truly creepy imagery, stylish special effects and a great Freddy replacement in the form of Jackie Earle Haley.
1. A Nightmare on Elm Street -- 1984 Original
- Director: Wes Craven
- Release Year: 1984
The original film is not only the best one in the franchise, but also has the best trailer of the franchise, even after over 30 years since its release. The original's dark themes and terrifying visual effects are perfectly depicted in the trailer, and offers a good look at the original horrifying story and villain, as well as the debilitating psychoses the teen victims experience in their fight against Freddy.