After a horror franchise runs for so long it gets hard to keep the kills fresh and exciting, which is understandable since there are only so many times a maniac with a machete or inbred cannibal with a chainsaw can kill horny teenagers.
Horror is adaptable though, and none more than A Nightmare On Elm Street. Freddy’s kept his kills fresh for over forty years now, with the dream demon (dreamon? Demer?) wreaking his havoc no matter where or when. Against teen girls, writers, and zombies with mommy issues, these are his best kills.
Pool Party Massacre (Freddy’s Revenge)
Not many appreciate Nightmare on Elm Street 2 for what it is, which is one of the first mainstream queer horrors to bring themes of coming out and self-realization to the genre. This isn’t just one of the better entries in Freddy’s adventures, but one of the better examples of how those of us in the LGBT+ community feel about embracing ourselves when raised to believe that we’re the true monsters.
That said, this is also one of the rare times in the series’ history that Freddy gets to go on a straight-up massacre in the real world, letting loose at a pool party full of popular kids by slashing throats, boiling the water, and straight up disemboweling a dude before lighting the damn pool on fire to finish it all off. The kicker? The survivors of the pool party gathered defensively behind floats and chairs while Freddy says “Fine, guess I’m the problem” in dramatic fashion and exits through a door of flames. Cinema excellence.
Bed: Part One (Original)
The first film did its best to drive home the notion that nowhere is safe, even in bed tucked in. The way it did it was of course by setting as many kills in bed or sleep-related areas as possible, and this one featuring the character Tina was just the tip of the iceberg. Naturally, after the typical horror movie ritual of knocking boots, Freddy comes to take his toll by dragging Tina’s body all over the bedroom while ripping her open at every chance.
It’s incredibly over the top and at the time no doubt one of the most shocking scenes ever put to film. It established Freddy as a brutal killer with no mercy that could strike anywhere, anytime, no matter who might be around to watch it happen.
Master of Puppets (Dream Warriors)
Dream Warriors was where we started to see the quippy, joking Freddy that’s become so prevalent throughout the mainstream these days. This Freddy plays with his victims, finding new ways to bring them as much pain as possible in the most embarrassing ways before cruelly killing them. This kill was a whole new level in Freddy’s sadism, featuring the dream demon pulling the tendons and veins out of a sleepwalker’s body and using them to puppet the poor kid around like a marionette.
Even worse is, he just snips the strings when the performance is over, which just so happens to be at the top of a bell tower. As Freddy uses his razor-sharp fingers to slice the tendons holding him up, the victim falls to his unfortunate death on the ground below.
He Lives! (The Dream Master)
Freddy and Jason both have some of the more ridiculous revivals in horror history, but Freddy might just win the entire thing with this one in Elm Street’s fourth installment. After being put to rest in the previous film by Nancy and her Dream Warriors, Freddy returns in fabulous form while also taking the first kill of the movie, dream warrior Kincaid.
The revival is what really takes the spotlight for this kill, as Freddy is brought back by a dog quite literally pissing fire on his grave where they had previously buried him. I want access to the cocaine they were passing around in the eighties to get these kinds of ideas.
Julie (Craven’s New Nightmare)
Being a babysitter in a horror movie is usually a one-way trip to death town, and this is of course no exception. While Craven took everything but the kitchen sink for the meta approach to New Nightmare, it was this brief but frightening homage to the original movie that stole the show as audiences got to actively see Freddy dragging Julie around the hospital room. Blood dripping down the X-Ray charts was an especially nice touch as Robert Englund seemed to take particular joy in acting out the famous kill this time.
Bobby (Freddy Vs. Jason)
Freddy vs. Jason was nowhere near what it could have been, but it did give us one of both the most minimalist kills Freddy’s ever pulled off as well as one of the most psychologically traumatizing with the fallout on the film’s characters.
Bobby was an earlier victim of Freddy, technically dying before the film’s events. When Freddy comes back to taunt the Elm Street residents again though, he brings back the specter of Bobby to taunt them while also revealing that his death was Freddy’s fault and not actually a suicide as ruled by the police.
Seeing Bobby waving around open wrists in a bathtub was not something I was prepared for in this schlockfest.
Papercuts (The Dream Child)
To be completely honest, The Dream Child is one of my least favorite Nightmare movies. That said it did come with a pretty fun kill and some decent visuals as a product of the inflated special effects budget that was given in turn for not-so-great writing. Mark, the comic-obsessed illustrator and sort of kind of love interest to protagonist Alice ends up turned into a paper doll and snipped to pieces in his dream, leading to the same fate but even more gruesome in reality.
The real story here though is that this was almost directed by Stephen King just a year after he became cocaine by writing and directing Maximum Overdrive. This man doesn’t remember making Maximum Overdrive or Cujo during this time and it shows.
Props (New Nightmare)
New Nightmare took every opportunity to lean into the meta-filmmaking aspect of things, especially when it came to reinventing the signature glove. Craven delighted in taking a new approach to the carnage, having his more true-to-life Freddy invade the world through the glove itself for his first two kills of the movie.
Seeing the prop razor glove go wild on its own and start slicing the prop guys apart was awesome, especially with how the film continually blurred what was real and what was a dream more than Inception ever could hope to.
Bed 2: Blood Geyser! (Original)
The first movie got two spots, both bed themed. While the first one is of course iconic for the brutality of what Freddy could do, this one would showcase the dream-like surrealness of the killer’s abilities. One moment you’re there, hanging out in your bed, the next moment you’re sucked down into the void of the mattress and all that marks your presence is a massive eruption of blood from the sheets. Who doesn’t love a good, old-fashioned blood volcano?
X Marks the Spot (Freddy’s Revenge)
There are layers to this kill, with not only the weirdest sequence of events to get the characters where they need to be, but some of the most surreal transitions between scenes that really drive home the dreamlike state Freddy makes his victims fall into. The sleepwalking feeling is only compounded by the brutal shower killing of the main character Jesse’s coach, who’s making him run laps after hours at the school after finding him outside of school. Dream logic, right?
But then it gets to the good part. Freddy ties the coach up in the shower and slashes him through, marking an X on his back. The clincher? The camera pans out from the now-dead coach, showing Jesse wearing Freddy’s glove and screaming in terror.