Previous and subsequent films by NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET directors

These days when a horror movie turns into a franchise the original director often stays on as a producer, or the writers stick around for a while. Leigh Whannell kept writing SAW sequels, Darren Lynn Bousman directed four of them, there's some continuity there. In the heyday of the slashers, though, it was a producer's medium. Wes Craven was clearly the visionary behind A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET, but he was quickly pushed aside as New Line Cinema treated Freddy movies as a product to keep churning out. Gotta have the new model in stores in time for the holidays.

The results may not be artistically pure, but they're always interesting, in part because they treated it as a scouting…

  • The Hills Have Eyes Part II

    The Hills Have Eyes Part II

    The original HILLS HAVE EYES is a classic, but the sequel was an obligation. We all enjoy the dog flashback and everything, but this shows the passionless for-hire spot Craven was in shortly before his greatest creation.

  • A Nightmare on Elm Street

    A Nightmare on Elm Street

    Of course, Craven had no way of knowing this would become a smash hit, cultural phenomenon and main-thing-he-was-known-for. At the time it was just a very clever, very well made supernatural spin on the slasher movies of the era.

  • Chiller

    Chiller

    The first ELM STREET sequel came out slightly less than one year after the original. You can't ask Wes Craven to just cough up a great sequel idea that fast. Not liking the script New Line came up with, and wary of another HILLS HAVE EYES II situation, he turned it down. I respect his artistic integrity, but instead he ended up doing this TV movie and then the silly DEADLY FRIEND before finally hitting his stride again with THE SERPENT AND THE RAINBOW in 1988.

  • Alone in the Dark

    Alone in the Dark

    Most people seem to like Jack Sholder's directorial debut more than I do, but it was clearly a promising start for the guy who had done the re-edit and title design for New Line's dub of THE STREET FIGHTER starring Sonny Chiba. It was also one of the first few New Line productions, so it makes sense that they chose him for the Freddy sequel. He was their guy.

  • A Nightmare on Elm Street Part 2: Freddy's Revenge

    A Nightmare on Elm Street Part 2: Freddy's Revenge

    So much has been said about this one (the documentary SCREAM, QUEEN! is as good as you've heard) and I think Sholder brought his own spin to it as director, but I think much of its strangeness also has to do with the fact that nobody knew what a Freddy sequel was supposed to be. They didn't even leave themselves time to think about it, either. They just went on instinct and this is what they got.

  • The Hidden

    The Hidden

    I was way behind on this one, finally saw it this year, and it's a true classic, combining sci-fi horror with a heavy duty FRENCH CONNECTION type cop movie.

  • Dreamscape

    Dreamscape

    DREAM WARRIORS was the directorial debut of Chuck Russell, but he had been co-writer of this other dream-related adventure.

  • A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors

    A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors

    Russell and co-writer Frank Darabont deserve credit as the ones who figured out what a Freddy sequel *is* supposed to be. They introduced the element of the characters being able to be in the same dream, the comic booky gimmick of them finding their unique dream powers, and the (later turned ridiculous) idea of Freddy giving them deaths based on their specific interests or hang ups. DREAM WARRIORS pushed the envelope on fanciful latex and animated FX (the Freddy snake, the Freddy TV, the marionette); not only would this continue in subsequent sequels, but Russell would do the '90s/digital era equivalent of this with THE MASK.

  • The Blob

    The Blob

    Speaking of pushing the envelope on FX... Russell cashed in his DREAM WARRIORS success for the high profile gig of doing the '80s remake of a '50s drive-in classic. Underappreciated in its time, but I think many have caught on by now that this movie is great.

  • Prison

    Prison

    It makes so much sense that they would see this movie and think "Oh, this guy could do a Freddy." It's pretty good and has a similar dead-murderer-getting-his-supernatural-revenge vibe. Check it out for early Viggo Mortensen.

  • A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master
  • Die Hard 2

    Die Hard 2

    I think it's fair to say Renny Harlin got the biggest career boost of anybody from directing an ELM STREET sequel. Whatever you think of this movie (a classic, even if it's stupid) this was a huge A-list type gig. I remember articles about him being the "sequel master" for doing these two back-to-back.

  • Dangerous Game

    Dangerous Game

    Weirdly, Stephen Hopkin's pre-Freddy movie kind of mixes slasher movies with a DIE HARD type premise. A killer stalks young people trapped in a closed department store.

  • A Nightmare on Elm Street: The Dream Child

    A Nightmare on Elm Street: The Dream Child

    I think I was at the right age to be un-discerning when this came out. I'm too attached to it to see it in the negative light so many do. I've always liked that they moved beyond high school to deal with adult issues (though it seemed much more adult when I was not yet an adult). I think mostly I just like the character of Alice. Hopkins pretty much follows Harlin following Russell. They're all a little different from each other, but Russell was the true innovator.

  • Predator 2

    Predator 2

    Like Harlin, Hopkins followed his Freddy with a big time studio action sequel. This one is a little more natural of a progression, as it includes monsters. I think this is a whacked out classic with a uniquely '80s feverishness, even if it didn't technically come out in the '80s.

  • Book of Love

    Book of Love

    Like Jack Sholder, but moreso, Rachel Talalay climbed her way up through the ranks of New Line Cinema before getting her shot at directing a Freddy sequel. She worked on the first four ELM STREETS, first as assistant production manger of part 1. Eventually she became a producer on John Waters' HAIRSPRAY and CRY-BABY, and right before FREDDY'S DEAD she produced this passion project of New Line head Bob Shaye.

  • Freddy's Dead: The Final Nightmare

    Freddy's Dead: The Final Nightmare

    There's plently wrong with FREDDY'S DEAD, but I've always liked how much Talalay tried to mix things up. With touches like the weirdos in town (including Roseanne Barr and Tom Arnold) driven crazy by all the children being murdered it makes sense that she'd been working with John Waters. And I like how cartoonish it gets, like when the guy is in the video game dream and in real life his sleeping body is bouncing around like Mario. Talalay didn't play it very safe, and I respect that.

  • Ghost in the Machine

    Ghost in the Machine

    This is a silly movie and great fun. It's about a killer who goes through electric wires and controls machines, but it's very ELM-STREET-sequel-esque in how much the story is designed to string together cool FX-sequence deaths.

  • The People Under the Stairs

    The People Under the Stairs

    The year that the ELM STREET series was finally ready to wrap it up, wayward creator Wes Craven was off doing other interesting things with horror. He has several movies more effective than PEOPLE, I think, but you gotta respect him for making a fun and strange story about race, class and gentrification. (And for giving Ving Rhames an early role.)

  • New Nightmare

    New Nightmare

    I love this movie. Craven found an ingenious way to revive Freddy without being cheap or repetitive. It's in the spirit of his first film, with great references to it, but it's something entirely different. It comments on the series and on the nature of storytelling. And it brings back the great Heather Langenkamp in one of her best roles (herself).

  • Vampire in Brooklyn

    Vampire in Brooklyn

    The big problem with this movie is that Eddie Murphy wanted to mix things up by doing a horror movie with Wes Craven and Wes Craven wanted to mix things up by doing a comedy with Eddie Murphy. They're just not on the same page. But Murphy is good trying to be serious and there are also some funny parts. Also Angela Bassett is the hero. Not worthless, but not good. Fortunately, Craven further developed the meta-themes of NEW NIGHTMARE when he was recruited to direct SCREAM.

  • The 51st State

    The 51st State

    The career of Ronny Yu is a long and fascinating one that I'll be writing about in depth soon. For most of it he was in Hong Kong making ghost comedies and beautiful martial arts fantasies like THE BRIDE WITH WHITE HAIR and THE PHANTOM LOVER. Then he came to Hollywood for the weird-ass children's kung fu fantasy WARRIORS OF VIRTUE. His work with groundbreaking animatronic lip-sync technology there helped get him the gig of BRIDE OF CHUCKY. And that made him a logical choice for FREDDY VS. JASON. THE 51ST STATE a.k.a. FORMULA 51 was just a little hiccup in between. You win some, you lose some.

  • Freddy vs. Jason

    Freddy vs. Jason

    I'm a fan of this. I don't know that anything less stupid could be done with this concept, so I have fun with it. Yu was an odd yet perfect choice. He gives it a great look, and why the hell not turn it into a super-powered slugfest? What else would it be, a "who can murder the most kids" competition? That doesn't sound more fun.

  • Fearless

    Fearless

    FREDDY VS. JASON was a huge success. I know that didn't have much to do with Yu, but I bet he could've cashed in and done another big Hollywood movie. I like that instead he chose to return to Hong Kong martial arts cinema. This is a good one.