A Nightmare on Elm Street 5: The Dream Child (1989)
You can almost hear the pitch forming: "Hey guys! I read that fetuses actually dream in the womb! Quick! Let's make another Freddy movie!" This is basically the last two movies again, with renewed emphasis on Freddy's "bastard son of 100 maniacs" conception and a save-the-baby ticking clock. You know you've made a bad movie when Demonic Toys does the same plot better three years later.
Freddy's Dead: The Final Nightmare (1991)
With the franchise on the wane, New Line Cinema plotted to send Freddy out with a bang - at one point even ordering up a script from then-rising cult horror icon Peter Jackson - but internal complications and a distinct lack of give-a-damn got us a whimper instead. Dead is generally considered the worst of the franchise after #2. Videogamers may recall this as the one where Freddy kills a guy with an NES: "Hey! You forgot the POWER GLOVE!"
Another crew of would-be Dream Warriors are on the hunt for Freddy's previously unknown child, who is presumed to be the last son of Springwood left alive now that Freddy has successfully wiped out all the children but is - for some reason - prevented from operating anywhere else. New plot elements concerning Freddy's own violent childhood and the revelation that he gets his special powers from a group of ancient Dream Demons are brought in to make him even more overpowered, but ultimately all it takes is a pipe bomb to put him down for good ... kinda.
Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday (1993)
Betcha thought I'd forget this one, huh? 80s slasher fans had been joking-about-but-secretly-hoping-for a "Freddy vs. Jason" and when New Line acquired the rights from Paramount to make Mr. Vorhees' ninth film they set about making it happen. Fans who got all the way through one of the all-time worst Jason movies (and that's saying something!) were treated to a pretty epic tease: Freddy's signature glove bursts out of the earth and drags Jason's mask down to hell, signaling that the crossover was imminent, but thanks to the lukewarm boxoffice of this film, it wasn't.
Wes Craven's New Nightmare (1994)
Believe it or not, this was Wes Craven's original pitch for the third movie. Set in the real world on the set of a new Nightmare movie, the films' actors (including returning star Heather Langenkamp) discover that Craven had used the power of storytelling to trap an ancient demon in his Freddy movies, but now the demon - who now likes being Freddy - is breaking into the real world.
Well, I've heard of worse ideas for spin-offs. You can't say it's not an original angle ... sadly, you can't say it's good either. Everyone is making an effort, and it's the closest to genuinely scary Freddy had been in years - but it's all too little too late. The ship, clearly, had sailed. The proposed "regular continuity" battle with Jason even stalled, with both franchises going dormant for almost a decade.
Freddy vs. Jason (2003)
In 2002, the release of Jason X - aka Jason Goes to Space - kicked 80s slashers back into the public consciousness, and probably got this production finally out of development hell.
Presumably ignoring the "every kid is dead" business from Freddy's Dead, the parents of Springwood have managed to neuter Freddy's power by institutionalizing everyone with bad dreams and putting the entire population on Hypnocil - the dream-blocking drug from Dream Warriors, remember? So Freddy takes possession of Jason Vorhees to do his killing for him - which works out about as well as every other attempt to control Jason tried so far.
It's a profoundly silly movie, with Freddy talking to the camera and a promised battle royale that plays out in operatic Hong Kong mega-style - courtesy of director Ronny Yu - over the entire second half of the film. But it's pretty damn close to perfect at being what it is, with great kills and some visual fun at the expense of Freddy and Jason's water/fire abused/abuser dichotomy. This was the end of the line for the original continuity of both characters, who'd be resurrected in remakes from Platinum Dunes a few years later.
Bob Chipman is a film critic and independent filmmaker. If you've heard of him before, you have officially been spending way too much time on the internet.