A Nightmare On Elm Street (ANOES for short) is a series of horror films that were exceptionally popular in the 1980s. The series takes its name from the first film, A Nightmare On Elm Street, which was released in 1984 and was written and directed by Wes Craven. The central character of the films is supernatural serial killer Freddy Krueger, played by Robert Englund. Krueger is able to attack and kill people through their dreams and does so with considerable violence and gore.
This debut film featured actress Heather Langenkamp as a teen named Nancy who lives on the titular Elm Street, located in the fictional city of Springwood, Ohio. It is revealed that, in the past, a serial killer (Krueger when he was still alive) was burned to death by the parents of his child victims. He comes back through the dreams of Springwood's youth, and is able to kill them there from beyond the grave. Eventually, Nancy finds the strength to confront Krueger in the dream realm and successfully asserts that he can never hurt her because it's "only a dream".
The original film was directed by Wes Craven and remains among his most famous features. A Nightmare on Elm Street was followed by five sequels culminating in Freddy's Dead: The Final Nightmare (1991). Craven was largely not involved in these sequels, but did receive a producer credit for Part 3. In 1994, Wes Craven returned to the series with Wes Craven's New Nightmare, in which Krueger appeared in (a fictionalized version of) the real world, plaguing Craven and the actors who had appeared in the original film.
As the series progressed, the films got gorier as new, creative ways were found to slaughter teenagers. The series managed to feature many up-and-coming young performers before their rise to fame (notably Johnny Depp and Patricia Arquette).
Almost every director involved with the sequels has gone on to direct higher profile films, as opposed to the fates of other slasher film directors, including veterans of the Friday the 13th series. The most successful among them was Renny Harlin, who would go on to direct the enormously successful Die Hard 2: Die Harder and the Sylvester Stallone vehicle Cliffhanger. Chuck Russell, the director of Part 3 directed 1994's The Mask starring Jim Carrey and 1996's Eraser with Arnold Schwarzenegger in the lead.
Eventually, a declining interest in gory teen slasher films towards the end of the 1980s led to the series' fade in popularity. Though the films still make profit when released, they have never matched the success they found in the first four.
Over the years Freddy has become a cult figure with his burnt face, red and green striped sweater, brown hat, and the metallic glove with sharp knife blades attached to the fingers. In the original film Krueger was a nearly silent, remorseless killing machine. As the series progressed, Krueger became a progressively more wisecracking, black-humoured character - frequently making a short witticism as he dispatches each victim. Part 6, Freddy's Dead: The Final Nightmare, represents the zenith of this trend. Horror critics and fans, claiming it to be a lazy way to reach potentially wider audiences and appeal to the lowest common denominator, have often criticized the sequels for this reason. Part 5 and 6 are the most common targets of this disapproval.
A constant feature throughout the series of eight films has been the nursery rhyme, which Krueger's victims hear in their dreams shortly before being confronted by him. Sung by a group of young children (usually young girls) in the films and set to the rhythm of One, Two, Buckle My Shoe, it runs
One, two, Freddy's coming for you
Three, four, better lock your door
Five, six, grab a crucifix
Seven, eight, better stay up late
Nine, ten, never sleep again!
There was also a TV series Freddy's Nightmares that featured Freddy introducing scary stories involving the nightmares of the citizens of Springwood, in the style of Alfred Hitchcock Presents. The show managed to produce 44 episodes over the course of two seasons, before being canceled.
In 2003, the Krueger character was pitched against Jason Voorhees from the popular Friday the 13th film series in Freddy vs. Jason. The film opened on August 15 and was immediately the most financially successful film in either series. It cost $25 million to make and grossed $47 million in its opening weekend. Englund suggested in an interview that a further sequel may be planned. Further, a script entitled A Nightmare On Elm Street: The First Kills, describing Krueger's 'real-life' years set before the time of the first film, is currently under review by New Line Cinema.
The original film, written and directed by Wes Craven and titled A Nightmare on Elm Street, was released in 1984. The story focuses on Freddy Krueger attacking and her friends in their dreams, successfully killing all but Nancy, in fictional Springwood, . Krueger’s back-story is revealed by Nancy’s mother, Marge, who explains he was a child murderer. The parents of Springwood killed Krueger after he was acquitted on a technicality. Nancy defeats Freddy by pulling him from the dream world and stripping him of his powers when she stops being afraid of him. Freddy returns to attack the new family living in Nancy Thompson's house, the Walshs, in 1985's A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy's Revenge. Freddy possesses the body of Jesse Walsh, using him to kill. Jesse is saved by his girlfriend Lisa, who helps Jesse break free from Krueger's spirit.
Wes Craven returned to write A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors, released in 1987. In the second sequel, Freddy is systematically killing the last of the Elm Street children. The few remaining children have been placed in Westin Hills Mental Institution, for allegedly attempting suicide. Nancy Thompson arrives at Westin Hills as a new intern, and realizes the children are being killed by Freddy. With the help of Dr. Neil Gordon, Nancy helps, Joey, Taryn, Kincaid, and Will find their dream powers, so they can kill Freddy once and for all. Neil, unknowingly until the end, meets the spirit of Freddy’s mother, who instructs him to bury Freddy’s remains in hallowed ground in order to stop him for good. Neil completes his task, but not before Freddy kills Nancy. The story of Kristen Parker would continue with 1988's A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master. This time, Kristen unwittingly releases Freddy, who immediately kills Kincaid and Joey. Before Freddy can kill Kristen, she transfers her dream powers to Alice, a friend from school. Alice begins inadvertently providing victims for Freddy when she begins pulling people into her dreams while she sleeps. Alice, who begins taking on traits of the friends who were murdered, confronts Freddy. She uses the power of the Dream Master to release all the souls Freddy has taken; they subsequently rip themselves from Freddy’s body, killing him in the process. Picking up shortly after the events of The Dream Master, A Nightmare on Elm Street 5: The Dream Child involves Freddy using Alice’s unborn child, Jacob (Whitby Hertford), to resurrect himself and find new victims. The spirit of Amanda Krueger returns, revealing that Freddy was conceived when she, a nun working in a mental asylum, was accidentally locked in a room with "100 maniacs" and raped "hundreds of times". Amanda Krueger convinces Jacob to use the powers he was given by Freddy against him, which gives her the chance to subdue Freddy long enough for Alice and Jacob to escape the dream world.
1991's Freddy's Dead: The Final Nightmare followed the exploits of an amnesiac teenager from Springwood, who was sent out to find Freddy's daughter Maggie, whom he needs to leave Springwood. Freddy's goal is to create new "Elm Streets", and begin a new killing spree after having killed all of the children in Springwood. Maggie, utilizing new dream techniques, uncovers Krueger’s past, which include: being taunted by schoolmates for being the "son of 100 maniacs", being cruel to animals, beaten by his stepfather, the murder of his own wife when she discovers he has been killing children, and the moment when the arrive in his boiler room to make him the offer of eternal life. Eventually, Maggie pulls Freddy out of the dream world, and uses a to blow him up.
Wes Craven returned to the Nightmare series a third time with New Nightmare in 1994. This film focuses on a fictional "reality", where Craven, Langenkamp, and Englund all play themselves, and where the character of Freddy Krueger is really an evil entity that has been trapped in the realm of fiction by all the movies that have been made. Since the movies have stopped, the entity, which likes being Freddy Krueger, is trying to escape into the real world. The only person in its way is Heather Langenkamp, whom the entity sees as "Nancy" — the first person who defeated him. Craven explains to Langenkamp the only way to keep the entity contained is for her to "play Nancy one last time". Langenkamp pursues "Krueger", who has kidnapped her son, into the dream world as "Nancy". There, she and her son trap Krueger in a furnace until he is finally destroyed. In 2003, New Line pitted Friday the 13th's against Freddy Krueger. The film, Freddy vs. Jason, explains that Freddy Krueger has grown weak as people in Springwood, his home, have suppressed their fear of him. Freddy, who is impersonating, the mother of Jason Voorhees, sends Jason to Springwood to cause panic and fear. Jason accomplishes this, but refuses to stop killing. A battle ensues in both the dream world and Crystal Lake between the two villains. The winner is left ambiguous, as Jason surfaces from the lake holding Freddy's severed head, which winks and laughs.
|1. A Nightmare on Elm Street||Wes Craven||Robert Shaye||$25.2m|
|2. Freddy's Revenge||Jack Sholder||David Chaskin||$30.0m|
|3. Dream Warriors||Chuck Russell||Wes Craven, Bruce Wagner, Frank Darabont, Chuck Russell||$44.8m|
|4. The Dream Master||Renny Harlin||Jim Wheat||& Robert Shaye||$49.4m|
|5. The Dream Child||Stephen Hopkins||Leslie Bohem||Robert Shaye & Rupert Harvey||$22.2m|
|6. Freddy's Dead||Rachel Talalay||Michael De Luca||& Aron Warner||$34.9m|
|7. New Nightmare||Wes Craven||Marianne Maddalena||$18.4m|
|8. Freddy vs. Jason||Ronny Yu||Damian Shannon & Mark Swift||Sean S. Cunningham||$115m|
|9. A Nightmare on Elm Street||Samuel Bayer||Wesley Strick, Eric Heisserer||Michael Bay, Andrew Form, Brad Fuller||$116m|