One, two, Freddy’s coming for you—this time in the form of Jackie Earle Haley in the remake of Wes Craven’s A Nightmare on Elm Street
, now in theaters. The role of one of cinema’s most recognizable bogeymen fits Haley like a razor-fingered glove, but original Freddy Robert Englund
is still the man of our dreams. Englund appeared in eight films from 1984 to 2003 as the dream stalker in the dirty red-and-green sweater—here are five fab Freddys to check out.
A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984): Nothing, including the remake currently in theaters, can touch Craven’s first Nightmare in terms of originality and scares. In this first chapter, Freddy was actually scary as a group of teens begin to realize that if he kills them in their dreams, they’ll never wake up. Heather Langenkamp is perfectly cast as the girl next door with the guts to face her fears and battle Freddy, while Johnny Depp appears in his first role as her doomed boyfriend. The movie has been available in several DVD incarnations for years and just came out on Blu-ray recently.
A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors: After a curious sequel with a male protagonist dealing with homosexual panic and the fedora-wearing demon inside him, Wes Craven returned as a writer to get the series back on track. Dream Warriors features the return of Nancy (Langenkamp) as a psychologist who tries to help the remaining Elm Street children at a mental hospital before Freddy gets them all. Patricia Arquette stars as one of the patients who can pull people into her dreams, and this movie finally got the budget to make those dreams look impressively surreal. Stick around for the end credits to hear the butt-rockin’ theme song by Dokken.
A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master: Director Renny Harlin stepped in for this sequel that proved to be one of the most popular in the series. It took four movies for Freddy to claw his way through the remaining Elm Street children, and now he’s using one’s power to pull people into her dreams so he can get to more teenagers. Lisa Wilcox stars as Alice—a girl who absorbs her dead friends’ powers and uses them to fight Krueger. Harlin had the budget for some of the coolest dream sequences in the series, which he accented with some awesome alternative music by artists like the Divinyls, Sinead O’Connor, Go West and Blondie.
Wes Craven’s New Nightmare: By the time Freddy was laid to rest in 1991’s Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare, he had become a joke-cracking burned clown. Wes Craven returned to the series to change all that with this ingenious sequel that has Langenkamp and Englund playing themselves and making a new Elm Street flick while Freddy tries to crossover from films into the real world. This was Craven’s farewell to the series he created, and he dreamt up a way that fans could see Langenkamp play original heroine Nancy one last time.
Freddy vs. Jason: This fan-boy dream matchup between Freddy and Friday the 13th’s Jason Voorhees made a killing at the box office in 2003 and, for a new generation, was their first look at Kruger on the big screen. The mythologies of the two seminal slasher series were intertwined here, and Englund seems to be having a blast in his last performance as the monster that made him famous. The film ends with a knowing wink from Freddy that there is more to come—the Nightmare is starting all over again in theaters right now.