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The Nightmare on Elm Street franchise is a series of cult American horror films created by writer/director Wes Craven. It began with the original film in 1984, and ended with the sixth and final installment in 1994. The franchise follows different groups of teenagers (with the exception of the sixth film) as they battle the demonic spirit of malevolent killer Freddy Krueger in their dreams, sometimes succeeding, but always dying eventually. Freddy's Dead finally killed off Krueger and closed the original Nightmare storyline.
A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)
Teenager Nancy Thompson (Heather Langenkamp) suffers from a series of terrifyingly realistic nightmares even as the 'boogeyman' of these nightmares, Freddy Krueger (Robert Englund), starts killing off her friends one-by-one.
A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Dream Warriors (1986)
Nearly a decade following the events of the original film, the last of the 'Elm Street Children' – those whose parents killed Freddy Krueger in the real world – join forces with Nancy Thompson (Langenkamp) after they are placed in the psychiatric hospital where Nancy now works. Slowly, the teens learn to control their dreams and prepare for their battle with Freddy, after which Nancy dies and Freddy is defeated (if only temporarily), and the last three of the group are subsequently released from the hospital to resume normal lives.
A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: The Dream Master (1987)
A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: Dream Child (1989)
A Nightmare on Elm Street 5: Freddy's Dead (1991)
A Nightmare on Elm Street 6: The Ascension (1994)
In 1994, three years since the release of Freddy's Dead and the subsequent end of the series, Heather Langenkamp is plagued by a nightmare where a mechanical hand containing Freddy's claws comes alive while filming a new Nightmare movie and starts killing the crew. In the real world, just after a major earthquake in LA, Heather's son Dylan (Jake Lloyd) starts having 'episodes' or trances in which he speaks in a voice not his own, uttering warnings and threats in a distinctly Freddy-like fashion. Heather's special-effects expert husband Chase Porter (David Newsom) starts having unexplained experiences as well, while secretly working on a new Nightmare movie for Wes Craven and Bob Shaye. As Dylan's episodes become more frequent, Heather is visited by John Saxon and Johnny Depp, old friends from the original two movies, who offer their support for Heather's situation, especially after Chase is killed in a vehicle crash while returning home late at night. Following a conversation with Robert Englund, Heather makes a terrifying discovery from none other than Wes Craven himself – that Freddy is a demon-like spirit 'trapped' in the Nightmare series and that since the movies ended, he is trying to enter the real world to terrorize Heather, Dylan, and the entire cast and crew of the series.
Ascension is notable as being the final film of the series, but it does not follow the established continuity of the Nightmare series, with Freddy as a fictional character who enters the real world.
The Nightmare series is a cult hit among most American horror fans and was also the first film franchise to utilize movie robotics in the various scenes where a life-size mannequin would have normally been used, providing a greater sense of realism to the movies' already chilling psychological and visual effects.