Thursday, February 10, 2011

Today We Rank Every Single Death In Nightmare On Elm Street History

Mr. Freddy Krueger. Is there any more recognizable face (or voice, or weapon of choice) in all of slasherdom? He was one of the innovators of modern horror in that he had no good or misunderstood side. He was a killer his whole life (and death) and yet it looked like he was having all the fun in the world. The NOES series also introduced the dreamscape with it's limitless possibilities for creative killings. Some of them don't hit as hard as the others, but getting to the top of this list are some of the best murder sequences in modern horror. Let's get started...

*Pop Culture Warrior notes - There are massive spoilers in here, obviously. For Freddy vs. Jason, I only included kills by Freddy so this list didn't include a bunch of Jason kills as well. Also, I am not including nor acknowledging the terrible remake that was made recently, nor the also pretty terrible Freddy's Nightmares television series because I've only seen a few episodes.*


Honorable Mention: 30+ Kids Killed At Pool Party



In the little-liked second installment of the series, the movie reaches it's climax (for some reason) at a pool party thrown by the protagonist's popular love interest Lisa. In a move that was never repeated, not even close, Freddy crashes the party and just runs around killing a bunch of kids for a solid 10 minutes in an assortment of ways. I can't assume that all of these kids lived on Elm Street, so why the beef, Freddy?


30. Tie: Chuck Wilson and Terry Feinstein

(I couldn't find these two losers so here is Freddy swallowing Miko Hughes' head)

Chuck and Terry were Chase Porter's (Nancy's "real life" husband) assistants for the visual effects department on the new Freddy movie. In Nancy's, or Chase's, or Chuck's, or Terry's dream (I'm not sure how that works, do they share the dream?) they are working on the movie and the animatronic Freddy hand takes on a mind of it's own. It kills Chuck and Terry as Chase is saved just in time by a convenient L.A. earthquake. They get this spot for being totally useless, a trait that they share with...


29. Kerry 


Kerry was Lisa's friend in NOES 2, though I would never have known her name if it wasn't for the wonders of IMDB. She is in a couple of scenes where she talks with Lisa about how dumb Jesse, the main protagonist, is (and she's totally right). Her death is the requisite shock scare at the end of the movie after Freddy is inexplicably resurrected again.


28. Kristen Parker 


Kristen's death, even though she was a pretty prominent character in NOES lore, is put this low for two reasons: 1) They replaced the totally cute Patricia Arquette with some no-acting chick that got the role because she did a song on the soundtrack and 2) the way she dies is totally stupid. So Kristen is tricked by Freddy (somehow) into bringing her friend Alice into her dream, since that is her dream power and all. She gets all pissed at Freddy for this, tries to attack him, and then jumps into a fire pool. I'm not joking. Burn, Tuesday, Burn.


27.  Coach Schneider 


These next couple are kind of odd, starting with friendly high school gym teacher Coach Schneider. After eye-fucking every teen boy in the school he likes to finish his day off at the neighborhood S&M joint in full leather gear. Jesse arrives there one night (I know) and the coach is more than happy to teach him some much-needed discipline. He takes Jesse back to the school to do some laps. Little does coach know that Jesse has Freddy waiting in the wings for the assist! Coach S gets stripped, whipped, and finally (finally) stabbed after a long, sweaty night.


26. Joey Crusel


I'm pretty sure Freddy had a crush on Joey. Freddy doesn't do that turn-into-a-hot-chick-and-then-seduce-them trick to just anybody. Yet he did it to Joey twice. First as the hottie nurse in NOES 3 after which he kidnapped Joey for the duration of the movie (and probably made out with him some more), and then again in NOES 4 in the much more subtle guise of a supermodel trapped in a water bed. I mean really, how do you fall for that? Seriously? Freddy has pulled some pretty thick schemes over the years but that might take the cake. Joey's death loses a few spots for the not-filmed scene of the first officers on the scene trying to figure out how that death is logistically possible.


25. Lt. Donald Thompson


This one is a victim of the special effects of the time. Let me put it this way, I can stretch my imagination to accept just about any low budget special effects that are presented in the dream world. A perfect example is Freddy's outstretched arms in the original, which is an iconic image in itself but also a pretty shoddy effect. That's why the Harryhausen-esque Freddy skeleton attacking Thompson and Dr. Neil in the junkyard didn't work for me. It did when I was younger because I could accept just about anything, but now it just looks bad, and not only that, it looked bad in the real world.


24. Chase Porter


Chase is on his way home to Nancy and their son. Since their son is a fucking nutcase, he decides to take off right away and thus has to drive home...dun dun dun...in the middle of the night. Perfect Freddy killin' time. Chase falls asleep, big surprise, and gets his balls, dick, and what I can only assume was his small and large intestines torn to shreds. Chase's death loses a few spots because he sings "Losing My Religion" by R.E.M to try and stay awake while driving.



23. John Doe 


I liked the cartoon atmosphere that Freddy's Dead presented, because really, that was the evolution of Freddy. He started off as a relatively silent killer and by the 5th movie had lunchboxes with quotes on them. Every death had a quip at the end of it. I feel like Freddy got the best of both worlds with the overly comical Freddy's Dead followed by the back-to-it's-rootsiness feel of New Nightmare. John Doe dies after falling from an airplane, popping his chute, and then having a full conversation with Freddy as Kreuger cuts his cords. He then lands on a big spike thing (??) that Freddy wheels underneath him. This whole scene felt unnecessary and complicated. It could have been handled a lot better and more emotionally with the way they built up Doe's character. Like, Tracy and Doc survive but he doesn't?


22. Ron Grady


Grady was Jesse's school tormentor that somehow turned into his best friend in a few days. Seriously, the more I write about NOES 2 the more I realize what a mess it is. Anyways, Jesse invites himself over so Grady can "protect" him while he sleeps in his bed.  Since I've avoided it for so long already and if it's not totally obvious already, NOES 2 has some major gay undertones (or maybe they are overtones, read Coach Schneider's entry again). There is a popular alternate theme that has been talked about online about how in this movie Freddy represents Jesse's "evil gay side" trying to escape. Anyways, Grady falls asleep as any good NOES protagonist's friend is wont to do when relied on, and gets gloved(-loved) to his bedroom door by the terrifying Freddy/Jesse combo, or as I like to call him, Fresse.


21. Greta Gibson


Greta was well on her way to supermodel stardom when she crossed paths with Freddy. At a certain point, right around when he launched Jennifer Caulfield into a TV head first, Freddy started to get all ironic with his victims. He would torture them in much crueler ways, usually by whatever their problems were in real life. Greta had to starve herself to be thin enough to be a supermodel so how does Freddy kill her? Feeds her to death, of course. This scene unwinds in a very creepy way, especially Greta's evil stepmother who looks somehow even more evil when she is in the dream world. It's filmed in a very uncomfortable way and the effects are hilariously gross and over the top. By the end Greta looks like Dizzy Gillespie.


20. Roland Kincaid


Hey look, a black guy! I kid, I kid, but seriously, Elm Street (along with most of Springfield) seems a little "old-fashioned" if you know what I mean. Sure, Kincaid survives NOES 3 in epic fashion along with Kristen and Joey, and he gets superhero powers to boot. But then they go and ruin all of it by killing him first in the next movie. Either way, for all of the glory work that Kincaid did the previous movie, he pretty much gets overshadowed by his dog in this one. Yeah, Kincaid pushes a car onto Freddy, but can he pee fire? And can said fire pee resurrect a dream demon with the prestige of a Fred Krueger? Yeah, didn't think so. Now that I think about it, Kincaid's dog might be the most underrated character of the series. Kincaid's death loses a few spots because of that ridiculous dance he does directly after the aforementioned car push and his comically high voice.


19. Marge Thompson


God, this one was tough. Marge dies twice in the original NOES. She gets attacked by a burnt Freddy and then her funny charred skeleton does a little salute and goes into bedworld or whatever. It's all a little shaky, including Nancy's ultimate confrontation with Freddy where she just kind of, uh, avoids him and he disappears. Anyways, that happens and then tah dah! Nancy's life is all peachy keen and her mom is looking nice and bronzed again. But uh oh, Glen's loaned convertible is owned by Freddy of all people! Or Freddy is the car! But he's also in the house! He grabs Marge through the tiny window of the front door and she turns into a blow-up doll and it's film history. I'm so jealous of the people that saw that the first time in theaters. It happens so fast that if you blink you'll miss it, and even if you catch it you can't believe it looks as bad as it does. That scene scared me as a kid, but now expecting the moment you can always catch the edit. It's one of those classic flubs though, and one, quite frankly, that they probably couldn't have pulled off any other way. It is totally classic. The entire thing is hindered by her original death scene and the ending in general though, explaining her death's relatively low ranking. Oh, and the fact that Marge totally sucks.


18. Rod Lane


There is absolutely nothing wrong with Rod's death. It is the second in the entire series and is very tense. It only suffers from the lack of creativity and gore. It also doesn't have the added luxury of showing the in-dream death scene. Rod is more like a witness getting snuffed out by Freddy. To be honest, they didn't have the Freddy formula down pat quite yet (and they didn't really perfect it in the sequel either). They didn't realize that going inside the dream world is all the fun, because that is where Freddy has all the power. We didn't get any sort of feeling of what Rod was going through, or if he was even dreaming at all.


17. Taryn White


Taryn is one of the prestigious Dream Warriors. Her dream power was that she was a badass or something, and she uses switchblades. Ok, before we get into the dream power thing too much, I have to say this. Why didn't anyone ever dream wish for the ability to kill Freddy? Or get a gun that kills Freddy? Seems doable if someone else can instantaneously grow a mohawk and get a leather makeover. But I digress. I still have to question Taryn's decision to go with switchblades though. Granted, switchblades look pretty cool, but you're going against Freddy here. It's substance over style in this case. Go with twin machetes or something, twin chainsaws even (hey, you could start them with a wish in the dream world, no pulling on silly cords!). Who am I kidding, Taryn was toast either way. But damn, Freddy! Extra cruel with the squirming track marks and what not.


16. Mark Davis


I'm about to tell you something very depressing as a Freddy Krueger fan. Mark is the only character killed by Freddy in the movie Freddy vs. Jason. I couldn't believe it either, but it's true. Everyone else is either killed by Jason or killed some other way. Freddy stalks that chick with the rack for what seems like an hour, but right before he finishes her off she is killed by Jason. He spends a palpable amount of time as a giant worm and entering a stoner guy's mouth (yet another Freddy crush?). This still doesn't count as a Freddy kill though because stoner dude is ultimately killed by Jason even though Freddy moves the plot along. He is so screwed, murder-wise, in that movie. Anyways, the one death that he does get in the film is poor, poor Mark. You always feel much worse for Freddy's victims than Jason's because Jason will just cut you in half or something. Freddy turns the screws on you. He tortures Mark in a plethora of ways before finally finishing him off in a fire, but not before carving all over him while he's (somehow) conscious.


15. Spencer


This is a love-it-or-hate-it choice and as you can see for me...it's right in the middle. I certainly don't hate Spencer's death scene. How can I hate any scene that starts with a person getting sucked into a broken television to "Inna Godda Davida"? I can't is the answer. Spencer ends up in a video game where he has to fight his father to show that he's a man or something. This was probably right around the time when Nick Arcade was happening so I was also totally into the person-put-into-a-videogame thing, especially if they died at the end which never really happened on Nick Arcade. Spencer gets beaten (literally!) in the game by Freddy and falls down a pit to his death. I'm pretty sure nobody really missed him. Spencer's death loses a few spots because of the complete lack of gore.


14. Dan Jordan


Dan Jordan owns a pretty prestigious claim in that he survived a previous encounter with Freddy. Sure, he ended up in the emergency room while Alice did all the work, but surviving is surviving. Dan and Alice end NOES 4 on a happy note and they begin NOES 5 on that same happy note. But gosh darn it, wouldn't you know it, Freddy comes back again. Dan, like Kincaid in the movie before him, is the first one to go. He dies like Chase Porter, asleep at the wheel. What a dumb way to die. I mean, if Freddy can induce sleep on his victims somehow then it isn't their fault, but there is no reason to fall asleep while driving. Freddy doesn't even need to do any work with these chumps. Dan gets this ranking because his death is so over the top and awesome. First he crashes his truck because Freddy is on the radio. He survives that and then steals a motorcycle and keeps going. Ok, first of all, if you know Freddy is back and you are dreaming, why continue to try and get to Alice? You're going to get really far in dream miles, but in actual real life miles you have some catching up to do. Dan was never really the sharpest tool in the shed though. While on his newly acquired motorcyle, parts of it begin to merge with him. His whole body is eventually covered in metal, wires, bones, and blood and he's tearing down the highway like a motorcycle man. Then he wakes up and crashes his truck. Hey, I didn't say it ended that well, but motorcyle man is totally awesome.


13. Sheila Kopecky


Poor Sheila. Freddy must have just seen something in Sheila that he didn't like. She seemed pretty harmless, though maybe her bug zapper invention was one step closer to Freddy's extinction and he had to get rid of her fast. She also had asthma, which sucked extra bad because not only did she have it as an affliction, but Freddy also conveniently used it as an excuse for how she died instead of getting her faced sucked to oblivion.


12. Rick Johnson


I remember watching NOES 4 originally and thinking Rick was really cool. Like, man, I wish he was my big brother because he takes care of Alice and she's a total nutjob. As a 10 year old, Rick as my older brother would have been a dream come true. We'd learn karate together and shit. Watching it now, he's not that bad but he's certainly not as cool as I remember him being (though I could say the same thing about anyone from the 80's and how I perceived them as a child). Rick's death starts in a bathroom and maybe that's the reason I lost a little more respect for him as a big brother candidate. Who falls asleep, at school, on the toilet? Besides that, Rick's death is prolonged and he actually puts up a pretty decent fight once it gets one on one, considering he's fighting Freddy while he's invisible and all. That's pretty rough.


11. Julie


Let's get something straight, Freddy has killed a lot of people. Some of them were pretty crappy people, and some of them were pretty nice. I would never go so far as saying that anyone on this list deserved to die, but some came pretty close. On the other hand, some people were totally nice yet still tortured, maimed, and killed by Freddy. On the totally other hand, because it is a different reality, you have the people that were killed in New Nightmare. New Nightmare, in making itself self-aware, put Freddy into reality. It acknowledged all of the previous deaths as just what they are: movie deaths. New Nightmare was Freddy coming into the new world where his brutality would become reality. The only other real deaths in New Nightmare, which have already all been listed, didn't even show Freddy doing the actual killing. Not with Julie though. Man I felt bad for Julie. She takes this babysitting job and this whole family is dealing with some supernatural shit. Everyone in this whole movie seems to be asking for it the whole time EXCEPT for Julie and yet she's one of the only people to die in it. And it's absolutely brutal. Obvious callbacks to Tina from the Original NOES and the only death in New Nightmare, in supposed "reality", that I actually cared about.


10. Will Stanton


Self-proclaimed King of the Elves, Will was a handicapped boy in Westin Hills along with the rest of his Dream Warrior and non-Dream Warror cohorts. Will was harmless enough, and when everyone was making their Dream Warrior proclamations and wishes he saw the perfect opportunity to christen himself King of the Elves and grant himself all of the powers that come along with it. Those are...shooting lightning bolts from your hands, getting a cape, and having extra long fingers. When Will gets confronted by Freddy, there is a glimmer of hope as his lightning hands seem to have some kind of harmful effect on Freddy. But Will makes two mistakes, the first being that he didn't make his lightning hands Freddy-kill approved and secondly, he runs directly up to Freddy. Freddy casually brushes off his lightning and finishes him off with a classic Freddy line, "Sorry kid, I don't believe in fairy tales!" STAB.



9. Carlos



This one is just brutal. I think this death is really Freddy at his most utterly cruel. Check out this series of events: Carlos wakes up and is transported back to his old neighborhood slums where he is confronted by his mother and a 10-inch serrated Q-Tip (this is where I should mention that Carlos has had hearing problems his whole life); his mom shoves it super deep into his ear and then pulls out something that looks pretty important to inner ear functionality; Carlos is deaf again but then a seemingly nice Freddy offers him his hearing aid back; the hearing aid is actually a fleshy spider thing that attaches itself to Carlos and gives him super hearing instead; Freddy begins to drop pins from several stories above and Carlos frantically tries to catch them; Freddy brings out a magically enlarging chalkboard and scrapes it with his glove until Carlos' head explodes. Totally brutal. Out of all the death scenes in this entire series, this might be the one I have the most trouble watching over again.


8. Mark Gray



Mark sure did love his comic books, didn't he? I guess we could call Mark an honorary Dream Warrior since he pretty much just lifted that dream power thing wholesale. His power is that he is some kind of Punisher-esque tough comic book guy. Again someone can choose any power they want to and, yet again, nobody chooses the kill-Freddy-gun option. Freddy would have lasted five minutes with me, but then again I've had a chance to study up on him and learn all of the trappings of the ludicrously brilliant dream wish concept. Anyways, Mark fights Freddy in one of the most stylized of NOES deaths. I really like how everything is black and white like a comic book, and Freddy even includes a few "BOP!"s and "PANG!"s and "TAINT!"s along the way. Mark realizes too late that his dream bullets aren't up to snuff, right in time for Freddy to transform into SUPER FREDDY. Mark subsequently gets torn to shreds.


7. Nancy Thompson



Nancy's death wasn't incredibly clever or creatively done, but just the fact that this series had the balls to kill off it's original heroine makes it important. I know I certainly wasn't expecting Nancy to die at the end of NOES 3. Nobody ever really seems safe in these movies but if there was one person that you always expected to one up Freddy by the end it was Nancy, since she did that for the entire first movie and most of the 3rd, and became a horror queen in the process. When he killed her off you knew that this series could go in any direction and that Freddy had no boundaries. It's Nancy's own dumbass fault though. Don't you know you shouldn't run up and hug anyone, even your dad, while Freddy is still lurking?


6. Jennifer Caulfield



I feel like this was the turning point for Freddy. In the first two movies you could see the prankster killer in Freddy bubbling to the surface, but this is where he turned the charm on full force. Jennifer was an aspiring (yeah, right) actress who has a smoking problem. She's turned that little negative into a positive by using the lit cigarettes to stay awake to avoid Freddy. During a late night TV watch-a-thon she notices herself dozing off. This is that classic NOES transition into dreamland. That little bob of the head means you're fucked. Freddy shows up on the Dick Cavett show and kills Zsa Zsa Gabor, and then it goes to static. Jennifer, rightfully so, is a little weirded out by the new alternative programming and attempts to fix it by hitting it on the side. Big mistake, since that TV is actually Freddy! He grabs Jennifer, lifts her slowly up to eye level (while sporting hilarious TV antenna from the sides of his head), and delivers one of the most famous lines in NOES history: "Welcome to prime time, bitch!". You made it, Jennifer! Your big break on TV!


5. Debbie Stevens



Seriously, how demented and awesome is this death? Freddy apparently takes a mental note of Debbie's uneasiness with roaches and decides to kick it up a notch, Emeril-style. I think they wanted to make a dumb joke about how Debbie works out and is a super tough chick but a little bug scares her. Yeah, I get it. It's pretty dumb, even for a horror movie, but the fact that they called back to that one little moment of her hating bugs to lead to this ridiculously over-the-top death makes it pretty amazing in hindsight. So Debbie is weight-lifting one fateful night and Freddy decides to make it a team thing. Freddy isn't a very good spotter though and does the opposite of what he's supposed to do. Debbie's elbows snap open and you think she's just gonna have some wickedly broken arms but then something starts to come out of the wide-open breaks in her skin: roach legs. Yep, Debbie turns into a roach, and it isn't exactly a slow process. Freddy ends this one by magically shrinking her and then squashing her in a roach motel. This was some excellent sleight of hand. Freddy would have made a fine magician if the whole serial killer/dream demon thing didn't work out.


4. Tina Gray



Ah Tina, probably the reason we have this list in the first place. Tina was the first victim of Freddy Krueger, and her death is one of the most iconic of all-time. They do a pretty subtle thing in the original NOES in that Tina, not Nancy, seems like the protagonist of the film. We start the movie in Tina's dream and only meet Nancy at school the next day. Tina obviously doesn't stay the focus too long since she gets butchered pretty soon afterward, but to make a sort of fake protagonist as a bait and switch was pretty original. The image of her death (along with the next entry) is iconic and the means for which they produced it was equally impressive. Putting in a shifting room so the actress can writhe across the ceiling and walls still looks magnificent to this day, and even more impressive considering the practical effects used at the time.


3. Glen Lantz



Even in this, his first role, you could tell Johnny Depp had the charisma to be a star. His character, Glen, was a total doofus. He botches the one job he gets the entire movie and never seems to comprehend the amount of danger that he and his friends are in. And yet, despite these negative attributes, you can't help but like his character because Johnny Depp just has that much charm. Even when Glen, despite the past week his girlfriend has gone steadily more insane and not slept, gets warned not to fall asleep or he could die...he falls asleep and then dies. His death, along with Tina's, are probably the images that stick with everybody who has watched the original, let alone the entire series. Glen being dragged into his bed along with his TV and the subsequent upwards waterfall of blood (of which there is about 50 gallons of, way more than it appeared Glen had) is such a striking scene that I would say that it is the climax of the movie, even with the Nancy/Freddy showdown still waiting in the wings.


2. Phillip



This is my favorite single death scene of the entire series. I love everything about it (except for how Phillip walks through a door, that still bothers me) and the fact that someone was sick enough to think of it makes me really happy (in a horror movie fan way). Phillip was another of the Westin Hills mental patients, but he got killed off before reaching Dream Warrior status. I'm fine with this, as Phillip's dream power was probably just as lame as everyone else's: "I have the power of dream puppetry!" or some crap. Nope, Phillip is the first to get killed in NOES 3 and it is only after his death that the kids (and the adults finally) realize they have a huge problem on their hands. Freddy turned Phillip into his personal marionette using his veins as the strings. Watching Phillip walk so rigidly, bleeding out of every limb, pained etched onto his face, it is just a very creatively disturbing scene. Watching Joey try to get help but really just getting an audience for Phillip's death is also twisting the knife a little bit too. Phillip had no chance.


1. Freddy Krueger



So I agree, this is sort of a cop-out, but let me explain myself a little bit. I am certainly not referring to his death at the end of Freddy's Dead, because I could think of a thousand better ways for Freddy to ultimately die than to blow him up with a stick of dynamite. No, I'm referring more to Freddy's multiple deaths and resurrections, and basically saying that without them there is no NOES series. Phillip, Glen, or Tina's death scene may be a more iconic single scene, but Freddy has ended every movie taking a dirt nap, it's about time he gets some credit for it. Freddy has been burned to death, unimagined, holy-watered and buried in hallowed ground, torn apart by his chest souls, reverse-birthed, stabbed repeatedly, blown up, and torn apart again. The only other people that I know of with a resume like that are Vigo the Carpathian and Rasputin. Freddy takes the top prize because without him, there wouldn't even be a list. Thanks Mr. Krueger!

1 comment: