12. A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge (1985)
If anyone is curious as to which is Robert Englund’s least favorite Freddy movie, here it is.
Rushed into production, Freddy’s Revenge breaks the established rules right out the gate. With only one dream sequence, the film focuses on Freddy trying to come into the real world through the body of a teenage boy. Seeing Freddy in the real world, slashing down teenagers at a party like his rival, is a betrayal and is the moment where the film is effectively killed.
It is also tediously done and is the least visually interesting of all the Elm Street films – at times it feels more workman-like than some of the Friday films. The acting is poor, and the writing is so-so at best. Englund is clearly uncomfortable with Freddy this time around – acting as more of a typical film monster than the character audiences loved to hate in the original. It is far too dull to keep anybody’s interest.
The only factor worth noting about it is how homoerotic it is. The characters (all of them, but our lead in particular) feel like closeted gay men. Freddy himself keeps telling this teenage boy how he needs him and wants him to be his, even using his finger-knifes in very suggestive ways. There are too many scenes to point to that are more than a little suggestive. This was confirmed to be deliberate from the film’s writer – although the cast and crew were apparently unaware of this. It certainly adds another dimension to it and makes the film worth at least one watch. Just bear in mind it is isn’t very good – at all.
The Best Kill: It’s a poor turn out for Freddy this time, but his transformation and killing of Jesse’s friend is stand out. The kill itself is just Freddy stabbing the boy, with his claws coming out the other side of the door. But the transformation build up to it, of Jesse turning into Freddy, is something that David Cronenberg would be proud of.
11. Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday (1993)
New Line Cinema’s first go at a Jason film – and boy did they muck it up. Jason Goes to Hell is one of the weirdest installments to a horror franchise. The idea was to change the formula, which was evidently not working anymore with Part VIII being such a disappointment. A wise idea on paper. The issue is that it was their only wise idea.
Jason is now a body-hopping slug monster, who possesses people to carry on doing his dirty work. While this starts out fine – with a nice subversion, where a nude woman leads Jasion to the FBI, who blow him up – it quickly flies off the rails. There are other Vorhees family members, an enchanted sword and body-horror gore that feels more in line with Hellraiser than Friday the 13th. Director Adam Marcus, who was very young at the time of making this film, was inexperienced and helped make this a mess of a film.
But it is admittedly fun. It is the most violent out of all the films on this list. The gore effects and kills are gross yet fun to watch. There are even some good guilty pleasure laughs thanks to just how messy this film is. Jason, when you see him, looks cool (if weirdly monstrous) and our protagonist is at least fun to follow. It is a horrible, horrible Friday the 13th film. As a film in general, while still bad, it is at least weird enough to be an interesting watch.
The Best Kill: While many would go for the deputy melting away after Jason switches bodies, I have to go for the couple in the tent. The typical happens inside the tent (if a little more explicit than expected), when Jason – or his possessed body anyway – sticks a pike through the tent and the woman. He drags the pike and her body is split in two. Jason then moves on to get the man, pinned underneath his dead girlfriend. Gross and horrible, but it was impressive.
10. Friday the 13th (1980)
The cult classic that started it all. While many a horror fan would mark this down as one of the greatest slasher films of all time, I cannot. This film is unfortunately overrated and incredibly dull. With little to no plot and bodies to be slaughtered instead of characters, there is nothing to latch onto here. And originality is not a point in its favor, as director Sean S. Cunningham has freely admitted to this being a blatant rip-off of John Carpenter’s Halloween.
Tom Savini was the man they had doing the effects, and it shows. If there is one thing to love about this film, it is the gore. It is realistic and technically impressive, while also being just fake enough to be fun. It is a line Savini has always walked perfectly. It is well shot, featuring some great mood music and the acting of Betsy Palmer (who hated the script) as Pamala Vorhees – this film’s killer, not Jason – is a joy to watch.
That is unfortunately it. It does not fail as much as many of the later ones did. But there were sequels that improved on everything this installment had to offer. Even Part V had some better moments of suspense. It would be one of the most boring films ever made if not for the gruesome deaths.
The timing was right for it to become a hit, and with eleven films following, it certainly did something right. There are those who like the deliberate pace and dread – for me, it simply doesn’t work.
The Best Kill: Before he was famous, Kevin Bacon was stabbed through the throat with an arrow. The stunt actually went wrong on set, with more blood than intended spilling out of it. But it did make cinematic history and proves that, as much as critics complained and as low brow as it was, Cunningham’s focus on bloody gore was what would make his film a roaring success.
9. Freddy Vs Jason (2003)
Now effectively in mediocre territory, we come to what could have been a horror fan’s dream. After years in development hell, our characters are finally released from actual Hell to rain down chaos. The result was something over-the-top, silly and putting all its focus on the two villains. But that is what we came to expect from these films. It was also clunky, dull and had characters who didn’t even have a single bit of characterization. Which is also what we had come to expect from these films.
The actual plot of getting them together is a good one – Freddy is using Jason as a tool to rekindle his legend and give him strength again. All going well for the dream-demon, until Jason’s lust for blood proves to be incontrollable.
There is a lot to hate. It is very boring and is basic, even by slasher standards. The music is cringe worthy and the effects are appalling. Freddy’s jokingly theatrical nature is too at odds with Jason’s blunt and to-the-point nature. Making for a tonally inconsistent film. The lack of character development only adding to the issues.
But, the final twenty minutes, where we finally get what the title promises is delivered. And then some! There are three fights: one in the dreamworld, then at Camp Crystal Lake and finally at the docks. The fights are fun, brutal and flooded with blood and gore. It makes up for a lot of the previous hour or so of the runtime. The ending shot is perfect, and a fitting end to Robert Englund’s turn as one of horror’s greatest villains.
The Best Kill: Honestly, it is Freddy and Jason’s deaths. These two tear each other apart, with excellent stunt work and brutal savagery. There is even irony in there, with Freddy using Jason’s machete and Jason using the finger-knifes. If this had truly been the last we saw of them, it would have been perfectly fitting.