Fearsome Fates: The Best Kills of the 'Elm Street' Franchise
One, two... Freddy's coming for you.
How can you escape death when all it does is wait for you to fall asleep? This question of human vulnerability led the late filmmaker Wes Craven on a journey which culminated in one of cinema’s most deleterious and recognizable horror film icons: Freddy Krueger. The man in the Christmas sweater and dirty brown hat is every bit as important to the horror genre as Darth Vader is to science fiction.
What ultimately separated the Elm Street ventures from other macabre movie franchises like Friday the 13th and Halloween was the creativity with which Krueger disposed of his victims, and the fantasy-based elements of the kids’ extravagant nightmares. The gimmick of dying in the dream world equating to death in reality spelled doom for those trying to outrun Krueger’s wrath.
After nine feature films and a calamitous television series which is best left buried in the past, the Elm Street series was more hit than miss.
With that in mind, here are the Fearsome Fates: The Best Kills of the Elm Street Franchise.
10. Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare (Carlos)
“Nice hearing from you, Carlos”
Only Wes Craven’s New Nightmare (1994) was a worse film in the Elm Street saga than Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare (1991). However, the lackluster sixth installment of the franchise gives fans one very memorable, bone-chilling death sequence. Carlos (Ricky Dean Logan) is attacked by Freddy, and the youth has his ears cleansed courtesy of a monstrous Q-tip! Carlos is deaf, and he loses his hearing aid in the scuffle with Krueger.
Carlos manages to retrieve it only to have the hearing aid mutate and meld with his skull and ear!O
Everything Carlos hears is suddenly amplified thanks to Freddy’s torturous hearing aid. Krueger then pulls out a chalkboard, and Freddy scrapes his sharp claws across it to create an unbearably loud symphony of screeching which results in Carlos’ head exploding!
Freddy blows the kid’s mind, literally.
9. A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors (Taryn)
“Let’s get high”
Director Chuck Russell and writer Frank Darabont’s much-needed assistance on the Elm Street series marked the beginnings of much more creative carnage, in terms of Freddy’s surreal means of disposing of his victims. While trying to join Kristen (Patricia Arquette) in the dream world, young Taryn (Jennifer Rubin) is separated from her fellow Dream Warriors. With her punk-rock hairdo and steely knives, the former junkie comes face to face with Freddy, and she is forced to do battle with Krueger on her own.
Just as Taryn thinks she has gained the upper hand, Freddy turns the tables on her. Krueger reveals all of his fingers have been replaced with drug-filled syringes! Taryn gasps when she finds tiny little mouths have replaced the drug scars on her arms, and the mouths open and close as they clamor for a fix! Freddy then injects all of the needles into her arms, and he pumps her full of the fatal cocktail! Taryn screams as Freddy smirks, and then he whispers:
“What a rush.”
8. A Nightmare on Elm Street (Glen)
“I’m your boyfriend now, Nancy”
Johnny Depp made his acting debut in the original Nightmare (1984), but his character of Glen didn’t fair too well. Skeptical of the existence of child killer Fred Krueger, Glen comes to the same grisly fate as the other children of Elm Street even though his stalwart girlfriend Nancy (Heather Langenkamp) implores him not to fall asleep. Despite her warnings, Glen welcomes his nightly slumber.
And while Glen sleeps...
Freddy’s glove emerges from the youth’s mattress, latches onto Glen and pulls him into the bed! Blood erupts from the hole like a volcano and then cascades like a violent waterfall! In uncut footage from the scene, the bed even spits Glen back up with his body slathered in blood.
Wes Craven felt the scene was scarier and more effective without knowing what Glen’s corpse looked like, and the filmmaker was right to leave it up to the viewers' imaginations. It certainly makes one of the following scenes, which occurs between Lt. Thompson (John Saxon) and his officer, even more eerie as they discuss the crime scene’s gruesome atmosphere.
7. A Nightmare on Elm Street 5: The Dream Child (Greta)
“Bon appetit, bitch”
Greta (Erika Anderson) is an aspiring model who watches her weight, and when Greta’s mom throws a dinner party the teenager has absolutely no appetite because her friend Dan Jordan (Danny Hassel) has been killed in an accident. Thus, Greta falls asleep at the dinner table, and Freddy takes full advantage. Krueger sports a chef’s hat and proceeds to force feed Greta while she sits captive in a monstrous-looking high chair.
Greta tries to spit out the pulsating food, but Freddy continues to shove it down her throat. With each passing bite, Greta’s jowls grow more grotesque. Engorged, Greta falls into Freddy’s arms, and she eventually chokes to death. This could easily have been No. 1 on our list if the scene had not been butchered by censors.
The horrifying truth of Greta's death is revealed in Stephen Hopkins’ director’s cut:
Freddy is feeding Greta's to herself!
Greta’s stomach has been cut open, and Freddy is scooping up her insides and forcing them down the teen’s throat! It’s a chilling and nauseating death sequence in what is sadly one of the weaker installments of the franchise.
6. A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master (Debbie)
“You can check in, but you can’t check out”
What happens when you team the winsome actress Brooke Theiss with special effects artist “Screaming Mad” George, aka Joji Tani? You get one of the most bizarre death sequences in Nightmare history. Poor Debbie (Theiss), a fitness guru, is really only afraid of one little thing: cockroaches. Naturally, Freddy turns Debbie’s worst fear against her.
While working out, doing bench presses, Deb dozes off. She seems to still be in her home gym when Freddy suddenly appears. In a test of strength, Freddy grabs the bar, loaded with the weight Deb is trying to bench press, and he slowly forces it down toward her. Deb loses the fight, and her elbows bend to far and crack open under the immense pressure!
Debbie's arms fall off, and they are replaced by the legs of a cockroach!
Deb slowly continues her bizarre metamorphosis until she becomes an oversized bug, and the teen then finds herself trapped inside a roach motel! Helpless, Debbie dies when Freddy smashes the roach motel in his hand. Deb’s bug-like guts and the innards of the roach motel spew out as Krueger cackles in triumph!
5. A Nightmare on Elm Street 5: The Dream Child (Dan)
“Better not dream and drive”
In the tradition of surviving Elm Street children making it to the sequel, Dan Jordan (Danny Hassel) returns briefly in Nightmare 5. After the events of The Dream Master, Alice (Lisa Wilcox) and her boyfriend Dan are expecting a little bundle of joy, but before they can celebrate the baby’s birth the couple must endure the wrath of Freddy Krueger.
Surprisingly, Alice begins dreaming while she is awake. While working a shift at the Crave Inn, Alice comes face to face with both Freddy and his mother, Amanda Kruger (Beatrice Boepple).
Frightened, Alice calls Dan and begs him to join her immediately. Dan ditches his friends at a high school swim party, jumps in his truck and races to his love. However, Dan falls asleep on route and is confronted by Freddy. The two engage in a high speed race down a busy highway, and Krueger drives the truck like a bat out of hell. Freddy then violently shifts gears, and Dan is thrown out of the pick-up through the windshield!
Frantic to get to Alice, Dan absconds with a motorcycle he finds parked out in front of the school gym, but the teen is still asleep and at the mercy of Freddy’s demonic cycle. The bike begins to merge with Dan, and the two transform into a weird cyborg/motorcycle concoction.
Sadly, the nightmare and reality ends when Dan crashes just yards shy of reaching Alice. Like so many other horror film sequences, this one was mercilessly chopped by the ratings board.
4. A Nightmare on Elm Street (Tina)
“Tina, watch this”
Filmmaker Wes Craven’s original Nightmare remains the seminal work which spewed into a cavalcade of money-making sequels, merchandise and a brief series on television. And while the first Elm Street venture is much darker than many of the other films in the series, its first death scene did not lack creativity.
Tina (Amanda Wyss) is having bad dreams. After a particularly scary nightmare, Tina doesn't want to be alone while her mother is out of town. So, she invites her best friend Nancy (Heather Langenkamp) and her beau Glen (Johnny Depp) to spend the night.
Tina’s boyfriend Rod (Nick Corri, aka Jsu Garcia) shows up unannounced and takes her mind off those pesky dreams with a sexual romp. However, the hours following take a dark and ominous turn when the lovers fall asleep.
Freddy returns to Tina’s nightmare, but this time he does away with her. The sequence is one of pure fantasy and horrific brutality. Tina’s stomach is sliced opened, and blood flows! Tina continues screaming for Rod’s help, and she is helplessly dragged up the walls and across the ceiling of her mother’s bedroom!
Rod is forced to watch as his girlfriend is gutted like a fish and tossed around the room. Sadly, what is transpiring in Tina’s nightmare is happening in reality, too. Tina is slain, Rod is arrested and it is left up to Nancy to figure out how to stop Freddy before there’s no one left to sleep.
3. A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master (Joey)
“How’s this for a wet dream?”
After defeating Freddy in Dream Warriors, the three remaining Elm Street children quickly succumb to Krueger’s revenge in the first act of The Dream Master. After Kincaid (Ken Sagoes) puts up a valiant, but ultimately useless effort, Freddy moves onto Joey (Rodney Eastman). Joey’s weakness has always been women, and while he watches MTV from his waterbed... Joey dozes off.
Joey then seems to wake up as his bed begins to violently thrash about. Joey pulls back his comforter to see the sexy and quite naked Hope Marie Carlton inside the mattress of his waterbed! Enamored, Joey watches, and Hope swims away into the unseen depths of the waterbed. Suddenly, Freddy comes exploding through the clear mattress!
He grabs Joey and cackles. The pair wrestle, but the best Joey can do is scream for fellow dream warrior Kristen (Tuesday Knight), and she can't help him. Freddy slices and dices, and Joey vanishes while the water in his bed turns blood red. It’s one of the most creative deaths in the series, and it comes with a great zinger:
"How's this for a wet dream?"
2. A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors (Jennifer)
“Welcome to prime time, bitch!”
Mental patient Jennifer (Penelope Sudrow) cons the orderly Max (Laurence Fishburne) into letting her watch a little T.V. after hours. Jennifer dreams of going to Hollywood and becoming an actress, but this time her nightmare man awaits when she nods off in front of the television.
The television screen becomes snowy static, so Jennifer changes the channels. Without any success, she gets up and hits the T.V. to try and fix the screen. Suddenly, a pair of mechanized Freddy arms bursts free from the sides of the hanging television set, and they snatch up the frightened girl.
Krueger’s head then emerges from the top of T.V. He smiles and barks at her:
“This is it, Jennifer: your big break in T.V.”
After Jennifer screams, Mr. K utters one of his most famous lines:
“Welcome to prime time, bitch,” and then Freddy slams Jennifer's head into the television screen!
Max returns to find Jennifer’s corpse hanging head-first from the T.V.
1. A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors (Phillip)
“He was wide awake, all the way down”
Phillip (Bradley Gregg) is another of the tortured teens incarcerated during Nightmare 3. Sadly, audiences do not have the chance to discover Phillip’s dream power because he is almost immediately snuffed out by the guy in the dirty red and green sweater.
Phillip does exhibit an artistic talent for carving puppets, not to mention a proclivity for sleepwalking, and Freddy exploits both. In Phillip’s nightmare, Freddy comes to life in the vessel of one of his unfinished puppets.
Phillip watches in horror as Kruger grows to his natural life-size form. Freddy then slashes open Phillip’s arms and legs, pulls out his bloody veins and transforms the boy into one grotesquely deformed puppet.
Krueger directs Phillip, as a puppet master would guide his marionette, and sends the teen hurling off the top of the mental hospital after he cuts his puppet's strings! The other kids watch as their friend plummets to his death, and the method suggests not murder but suicide.
Which deaths were your favorites? Were there any that didn’t make our list you’d like to have seen included? Sound off in the comments.