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Ten Deep 10.24.13: Top Ten Nightmare on Elm Street Deaths
Posted by Mike Gorman on 10.24.2013

"Top Ten Elm Street Deaths"

Halloween season is here and scary movies have taken over pretty much every channel on basic cable. Several times over the past week I have flipped the channels to find my favorite of the horror film series dominating the wee hours of the night. I'm referring to the bad dream inducing A Nightmare on Elm Street films. Freddy Krueger and the Street children have long topped my list of scary flicks I can watch and re-watch without getting bored. One of the reasons is the creative ways they produced over the years for death to visit the films denizens. In the Elm Street films a simple axe or hatchet will not do. Instead the gory scenarios start with Freddy's five knifed glove and the sky is literally the limit.

In this week's Ten Deep I take you through my Top Ten Kills from the Elm Street series. Some will be expected and others might just surprise you, including one that is not a dreaming teen.

10. Glen in A Nightmare on Elm Street

In the original A Nightmare on Elm Street we get to see Johnny Depp in one of his earliest roles, as Glen, boyfriend of the film's hero Nancy. Glen's kill is most memorable because it was accompanied by a torrent of blood that I think can only be compared to the bloody elevator doors in The Shining. As Glen drifts to sleep, despite Nancy's warning, watching the naked beauty pageant Freddy's arm juts out of his bed and pulls him into his mattress. Seconds later a geyser of blood erupts from the bed covering the ceiling and eventually the room. The intensity and gore of the kill set it apart from some of the series other more tame moments.

9. Taryn in A Nightmare on Elm Street III: Dream Warriors

While the heroes of this film series fought back in the first two films, it wasn't until A Nightmare on Elm Street III: Dream Warriors that the children of Elm Street learned that they could use their own dreams to fight back. Sadly, their dream powers often did not turn out to be enough to save them from Freddy as was the case with recovering addict Taryn. In her dreams Taryn finds strength and her inner bad ass but it is no defense against Freddy and his syringe fingers. When Freddy asks her if she wants to get high, the hungry track marks on her respond. The effect is cool but the kill stands out because it showcases what Freddy can do best, exploit his victims greatest weaknesses and fears. .

8. Greta in A Nightmare on Elm Street V: The Dream Child

In A Nightmare on Elm Street V: The Dream Child takes disordered eating to a new level with the supermodel Greta. When Greta gets pulled into Freddy's dream world she finds herself seated at the dinner table with her controlling mother and their industry cronies. When Greta refuses to eat due to having just learned one of her friend's died, Freddy steps in to teach her proper etiquette. He then proceeds to force feed her herself. In the clip below you can see just how gruesome the moment got in the uncut version of the scene. Greta's death also brings Alice into the picture with a pretty cool scene set in Alice's kitchen where all the food in the fridge rots before her eyes. Killing a supermodel with food might have been a bit too on the nose to scream totally creative but the way the scene plays out makes up for the cliché.

7. Mark in A Nightmare on Elm Street V: The Dream Child

Number seven follows up number eight with another kill from the fifth installment in the Elm Street series. While Greta's death might not have stretched the filmmaker's creative muscles, Mark's certainly did. In this scene the comic book geek is sucked into one of his own books where he faces a black and white Super Freddy and takes on the identity of a character he created. The style of the scene is intense because there is no visual effect used to make things black and white, they built a gray set and gray costumes for Freddy. Mark is one of the only fully colored items in the scene aside from some blood. Mark does sadly face his demise in the end but for a moment the world of comic book superheroes and horror icons merged on screen.

6. Coach Schneider in A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy's Revenge

It's often difficult to get even the most die hard Elm Street fans to list things they actually like about the second film in the series. I won't try to debate the pros and cons of the entire film here but instead I will just highlight one of the kills from A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy's Revenge that is memorable. The film's hero spends a lot time wondering in a dream like state as Freddy works to take him over. On one of his walk-a-bouts, Jesse somehow ends up in an S&M bar and runs into his sadistic gym coach. When the coach takes Jesse back to the school intending to do what we never quite learn (but is the subject of many an essay on the internet!) a steamy shower leads to Freddy's return and the coach getting strung up naked by jump ropes and torn to shreds. The scene is dark, overtly sexual, and a far cry from the humorous kills to come in later films.

5. Debbie in A Nightmare on Elm Street IV: The Dream Master

Debbie's death in A Nightmare on Elm Street IV: The Dream Master contains many of the classic parts that make up a solid Freddy kill including witty one liners, exploitation of fears, and surrealistic scenery changes. What makes Debbie's final moments stand out is that they are also some of the entire film series most cringe worthy. Most of us get a bit squeamish around big bugs so seeing someone turn into one was not just Debbie's nightmare brought to life but one of the audience's as well. Poor Debbie watches in terror as her skin falls away leaving a roach's exoskeleton in its place. This death also features some of Freddy's cheesiest puns of the series as well which might have taken away from the moment in any other film but not here.

4. Joey in A Nightmare on Elm Street IV: The Dream Master

The third Elm Street movie is one of my favorite horror films of all time and also is one of the very first I watched as a kid. Prior to seeing it I had been way too much of a "scaredy cat" when it came to these types of films. So it made sense when A Nightmare on Elm Street IV: The Dream Master was released that I would be excited and then disappointed as the film begins with the killing off of the last film's survivors. While I was not happy to see Kincaid, Joey or Kristen go, I can admit that Joey's death was one of the series' best. Not because of the effects or creativity of the scene but because it remained true to the character. Joey was established as a "horn-dog" in Dream Warriors allowing himself to be distracted in dreams by a topless nurse. This weakness of his returns when the pin-up girl from his wall shows up inside of his water bed distracting him enough for Freddy to make his movie. Joey dies quickly but most likely with the remnants of a smile on his face.

3. Freddy Krueger in A Nightmare on Elm Street IV: The Dream Master

And now we come to the reason that I could not call this list the "Top Ten Freddy Krueger Kills." When I examined all of the deaths in the Elm Street series the final battle between Alice and Freddy in the fourth film stood out in my mind as one of the most intense and well matched. Of all the characters to face off against Freddy, Alice was the one who came the closest to being his true equal. Throughout the film we learn that as Freddy steals the souls of her friends, Alice is gifted with their powers. Power that she uses to battle Freddy one last time at the film's climax. Alice ends up turning an old nursery rhyme against Freddy making him face the reflection of his own evil. I loved the way this built upon the dream demon and dream master mythology the film was establishing. The effects that follow as Freddy is ripped apart by the escaping souls he had devoured was one of the series' most ambitious efforts. Freddy doesn't disappear in a flash of light this time, and while we all knew he would eventually return, this death seemed pretty permanent at the moment.

2. Jennifer in A Nightmare on Elm Street III: Dream Warriors

I have already professed my love for A Nightmare on Elm Street III: Dream Warriors throughout this column and honestly it was hard to not highlight more of that film's awesome kills on this list. I chose Jennifer's as next to last kill on the countdown because it is not only one of my favorite death sequences in the series but it is possibly the most memorable when it comes to our pop culture memories of Freddy & his exploits. The wannabee Hollywood starlet struggles to stay away in the TV room burning her arm with cigarette butts while she watches Dick Cavett interview Zsa Zsa Gabor. Things go south when Cavett morphs into Freddy and takes out Gabor. We can tell things will not go well for Jennifer and you can't help but yell at her as she approaches the now static filled TV. When the killing blow is delivered by the Freddy-set he delivers what is probably one of his most well known one liners. "Welcome to Prime-time, Bitch!: indeed.

And lastly…

1. Tina in A Nightmare on Elm Street

While I am a fan of the more comedic, creative Freddy that developed over the series progression I must admit that it is some of his earlier work that truly defines his status as uber-baddy in my estimation. In the first film we did not really know what to expect from this man who can kill you while you sleep, until Tina's death. In this scene we got to see how Krueger can walk through your nightmares with ease and bring carnage that translates into the waking world. As he eviscerates Tina and her body dances across the ceiling in a bloody ballet, we know for certain that Freddy Krueger is not a dream to be toyed with. They say your first is always your most memorable and in this instance, it turned out to be true. The homage to this scene in Wes Craven's New Nightmare speaks to the power of this one kill. Tina was gone but not forgotten... especially since she kept showing back up in a body bag!

What is your favorite of the death scenes in the Elm Street films? I'd love to hear your picks.

As I leave you this week I'm going to share a video I came across while researching film clips. It is a Q&A session from a con starring some of the more memorable heroines from the films. It is definitely worth a watch for fans of these films.

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