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The Scariest Dream Sequences In The 'Nightmare On Elm Street' Films

Updated February 26, 2021 1.1k votes 165 voters 8.1k views14 items

List RulesVote up the Freddy nightmares that keep you up at night.

In the fall of 1984, Wes Craven gifted us with A Nightmare on Elm Street. Idyllic, all-American neighborhoods and run-of-the-mill teenagers are harshly contrasted by Freddy Krueger, a supernatural entity with the power to enter your dreams.

Freddy was a neighborhood monster who preyed on children. After evading a jail sentence, Freddy was burned up by the parents of Elm Street. Freed of his mortal body and given the ability to enter the minds of unsuspecting sleepers, Freddy targets the offspring of those who sealed his fate by manipulating their dreams. As he slays the sleeping teens in their dreams, they perish in real life. 

After eight movies, there have been a lot of terrifying dreams. Here are a few that have kept fans up at night. 

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  • 1

    Freddy Turns Phillip Anderson Into A Marionette

    Photo: Nightmare On Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors / New Line Cinema

    Film: A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors (1987)

    A terrifying, sad, sadistic study in body horror - this scene has it all. 

    Phillip Anderson is a patient at Westin Hills Asylum and the child of participants in the original Elm Street revolt against Freddy. As a patient, he is known as a sleepwalker and makes marionettes as a hobby. One night, a Freddy marionette comes to life while Phillip is sleeping. He slices into Phillip's body and pulls out his tendons, using them to control Phillip's movements. In Dream World, Phillip is completely aware of each excruciating second, but to onlookers in the real world, it seems like he's just sleepwalking.

    Before anyone can act, Freddy walks Phillip to a grand tower and hurls him off the side of it. 

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  • 2

    Tina Gray's Body Bag Gets Dragged In Front Of Nancy Thompson

    Photo: A Nightmare on Elm Street / New Line Cinema

    Film: A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)

    Perhaps one of the most iconic scenes in the franchise is Nancy Thompson's nightmare at school. She's lured out of the classroom by a blood-soaked Tina Gray. Out in the hallway, Nancy sees a body bag dragged by an invisible force, leaving behind a dark trail of blood.

    This scene is unsettling and eerie. Whereas other dream sequences can be gross or over the top, this one is slow and understated by creating the notion of a high school student watching the bloody corpse of her friend being dragged through the halls. 

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  • 3

    Nancy Thompson Meets Freddy In The Bath 

    Photo: A Nightmare On Elm Street / New Line Cinema

    Film: A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)

    Nancy Thompson is the original Elm Street kid we meet in the first installment in the series. As friends and classmates are perishing around her, Nancy also begins seeing Freddy in her dreams. Exhausted from keeping herself awake in order to stay alive, she falls asleep in a bubble bath.

    This is one of the most jarring shots of the series. Alone and vulnerable, Freddy's claws protrude from the water as Nancy sleeps. The audience is played with by a bit in the interaction between Nancy and her mother, but before we know it, Nancy is pulled underwater. Nancy seems to be in a vast, deep ocean with the only hope for escape being a small hole leading back to her bathtub. We hear her cries underwater, her gasps for air in the bathroom, and we're reminded this is just a teenage girl.

    Luckily for Nancy, she narrowly escapes... this time. 

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  • 4

    Freddy Sticks Syringes Into Taryn White 

    Photo: A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors / New Line Cinema

    Film: A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors (1987)

    Taryn White is a Westin Hills Asylum patient and Elm Street kid in the third installment of the Elm Street series. A teenager with a former habit, Taryn finds herself at Westin after having a series of nightmares about Freddy Krueger. When she dreams, Taryn takes the form of her alter ego, an '80s punk.

    Her real-world self is more bland, but in her dreams, Taryn sports a mohawk, a studded leather outfit, and a gnarly attitude.

    Taryn squares off with Freddy in a dream, showing off some impressive knife skills and exchanging a few slashes. Eventually, Freddy gets the upper hand when his fingers turn into syringes. Calling out Taryn's former habit in a visually impressive (and grotesque) scene, the track scars in Taryn's forearm open up, almost crying out like hungry baby birds. Freddy obliges, filling each of them with a needle, causing Taryn to perish due to excessive substances.

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