This year marks the 35th anniversary of A Nightmare on Elm Street – writer/director Wes Craven’s iconic horror slasher. The movie not only introduced the world to Freddy Krueger, it also kick-started an ever expanding franchise, incorporating movies, comics, games, a TV show, and a wealth of merchandise.

In this post, I explore the best way to navigate the movie series, taking into account the original run of films starring Robert Englund, as well the reboot and the shared universe that exists between A Nightmare on Elm Street and Friday the 13th. If you’re new to these movies, and you’re a little lost, hopefully this will point you in the right direction.

Let’s go!

The original order

Image: ©New Line Cinema

The first run of movies began in 1984 with A Nightmare on Elm Street. This series comprised seven films and ran for a decade.

Movies one to six mostly follow an ongoing narrative. The seventh film – Wes Craven’s A New Nightmare – plays with the concept of reality, and places a post modern twist on the series.

The viewing order for the original run of films is: 

  • A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)
  • A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge (1985)
  • A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors (1987)
  • A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master (1988)
  • A Nightmare on Elm Street 5: The Dream Child (1989)
  • Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare (1991)
  • Wes Craven’s New Nightmare (1994)

All seven entries star Robert Englund and while this run isn’t quite the end of his time in the role of Freddy Krueger (more on that in a moment), these films do effectively tell his story from start to finish.

Should you want to check out the original seven movies in the Nightmare collection, Warner Bros. has released the Nightmare on Elm Street 1-7 Blu-ray boxset. The set includes all the films, as well as a heap of extras, including documentaries and a couple of episodes of the TV show (see below).

I own a copy of this Blu-ray boxset. It is Region Free, but it is important to note that in the UK the Blu-rays are Region Free but the bonus content is on a Region 2 DVD – so getting the right boxset for your location is important.

The boxset is usually competitively priced. You can check prices on Amazon UK or Amazon US.

Freddy TV show

In addition to the film series, Robert Englund also played Krueger in a two-season television show called Freddy’s Nightmares. The series aired the same year The Dream Master was released.

Freddy’s Nightmares is an anthology show, so Krueger is not the main focus of each episode. As such, the series can be viewed as a companion piece to the movies or simply ignored altogether.

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The shared universe order

Image: ©New Line Cinema

In addition to the seven entries in the original Nightmare series, Robert Englund reprised the role of Krueger for a Nightmare/Friday the 13th crossover movie: Freddy vs. Jason. The movie pitted Freddy Krueger against Jason Voorhees in a showdown of the horror icons. 

The film was the first time the two killers appeared on screen together, but not the first time it was suggested they existed in a shared universe. This was previously hinted at in the 1993 movie, Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday.

So, how did a crossover come about?

The answer lies in the Friday the 13th movie series.

Throughout the 1980s, Paramount Pictures released a run of Friday the 13th movies, that were a commercial (if not critical) success. However, following the financial failure of the eighth film, the studio sold the rights to New Line Cinema – the studio that owned A Nightmare on Elm Street

With the rights to both Nightmare and Friday at New Line, it seemed pretty obvious to the studio to combine the two properties, beginning with a tease in Jason Goes to Hell. However, that tease didn’t pay off until the arrival Freddy vs. Jason, ten years later!

From the moment that initial tease was dropped – and certainly from the time Freddy vs. Jason arrived – the Nightmare and Friday movies became part of a shared universe. So, if you want to watch all the movies that make up that universe, you need to view the films in the following order:

  • Friday the 13th (1980)
  • Friday the 13th Part 2 (1981)
  • Friday the 13th Part 3 (1982)
  • Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter (1984)
  • A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)
  • Friday the 13th: A New Beginning (1985)
  • A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge (1985)
  • Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives (1986)
  • A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors (1987)
  • Friday the 13th Part VII: The New Blood (1988)
  • A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master (1988)
  • Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan (1989)
  • A Nightmare on Elm Street 5: The Dream Child (1989)
  • Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare (1991)
  • Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday (1993)
  • Freddy vs. Jason (2003)
  • Jason X (2002)

This order largely follows production order, alternating between the two horror franchises as new entries pop up, however there are a couple of exceptions.

I’ve placed Jason X as the final entry in this viewing order, as chronologically it is set at the end of the timeline (even though it was released before Freddy vs. Jason). I’ve also removed Wes Craven’s New Nightmare from the list, as it doesn’t fit comfortably into the idea of a shared universe.

Going beyond

In 1987 a Friday the 13th television aired, but I’ve not included it in the above list as it has nothing to do with the original movie series and certainly nothing to do with Freddy Krueger. The same can be said of the 2009 remake of Friday the 13th, which shares no connection to the Nightmare series whatsoever

However, if you do want to go beyond the movies listed above, I highly recommend you also watch two documentaries: 

  • Never Sleep Again: The Elm Street Legacy (2010)
  • Crystal Lake Memories: The Complete History of Friday the 13th (2013)

Amazon UK is currently selling a double-feature Blu-ray of Never Sleep Again and Crystal Lake Memories. The Blu-ray is listed as Region A, so would require a multi-region player if viewing outside of the US.

If you want to check out these documentaries then I can tell you they offer exhaustive insights into the films, including interviews with the majority of the key players. Never Sleep Again clocks in at around four hours, while Crystal Lake Memories runs to six hours.

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The remake order 

Image: ©New Line Cinema/Warner Bros. Pictures

In 2010, New Line Cinema & Warner Bros. Pictures decided to reboot the Nightmare franchise with a remake of the original movie. For the first time in the series’ history, Robert Englund did not play the role of Freddy Krueger, and instead Jackie Earle Haley took over the part.

The viewing order is as follows:

  • A Nightmare on Elm Street (2010)

As the reboot of A Nightmare on Elm Street was not a financial or critical success, it became a solo affair.

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Production order without Friday the 13th

Image: ©New Line Cinema

OK, so I’ve listed three different viewing orders; now it is time to wrap things up with the production order viewing list. I’ve split this into two distinct categories – one order with the Friday the 13th films and one without.

Without:

  • A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)
  • A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge (1985)
  • A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors (1987)
  • A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master (1988)
  • A Nightmare on Elm Street 5: The Dream Child (1989)
  • Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare (1991)
  • Wes Craven’s New Nightmare (1994)
  • Freddy vs. Jason (2003)
  • A Nightmare on Elm Street (2010)

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Production order with Friday the 13th 

Image: ©New Line Cinema

Here are the Nightmare and Friday films in combined production order:

  • Friday the 13th (1980)
  • Friday the 13th Part 2 (1981)
  • Friday the 13th Part 3 (1982)
  • Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter (1984)
  • A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)
  • Friday the 13th: A New Beginning (1985)
  • A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge (1985)
  • Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives (1986)
  • A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors (1987)
  • Friday the 13th Part VII: The New Blood (1988)
  • A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master (1988)
  • Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan (1989)
  • A Nightmare on Elm Street 5: The Dream Child (1989)
  • Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare (1991)
  • Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday (1993)
  • Wes Craven’s New Nightmare (1994)
  • Jason X (2002)
  • Freddy vs. Jason (2003)
  • A Nightmare on Elm Street (2010)

Once again, I’ve not included the Friday the 13th remake as it has nothing to do with the Nightmare series.

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If you still can’t get enough of A Nightmare on Elm Street, author Thommy Hutson has published a book called, Never Sleep Again. The 250-page book is available from Amazon UK and Amazon US and is billed as the definitive story of the making of A Nightmare on Elm Street.

And now you know.

So, are you a newbie to the Nightmare movies or are you a life-long fan? If you’re a ‘lifer’, what is your favourite entry in the series? What is your least favourite?

More importantly, why do you think the Freddy Krueger movies have remained so popular after all these years? Is it to do with the puns, the glove, the Freddy Krueger song (you know the one), or something else?

Thoughts, musings and general discussions in the comments section below, please.

Thanks for reading. Sleep well.

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