Ranking the Syfy Throwback Thrillers

Monday, June 6, 2016 - 07:00

You ready for some old-school horror? Syfy will be airing no less than 21 Throwback Thrillers from June 10-12, consisting of almost every entry in the Nightmare on Elm Street, Friday the 13th and Child's Play series. Let's rank 'em!

NOTE: We will not be airing the original Friday the 13th (1980), Freddy's Dead: The Final Nightmare (1991), Wes Craven's New Nightmare (1994), Seed of Chucky (2004) and Curse of Chucky (2013), so they are not included in this list.

WARNING: Graphic Content!

21. A Nightmare on Elm Street (2010)

Jackie Earle Haley is great as Freddy Krueger, except his character doesn't seem anything like the Freddy Krueger we know and … well, love, for lack of a better term (actually, strike that; we'll own it). Rooney Mara, pre-The Social Network and The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, gives it her all as the new Nancy, but going way too dark (Freddy is a child rapist who's murdering the now-grown kids he molested) makes for a strangely unpleasant and icky experience. Still, there are some essential lessons to be relearned here, like Don’t Ever Fall Asleep During a Lecture About Pericles ...

20. Jason X (2001)

Jason in Outer Space. Probably sounded awesome when it was first pitched in the conference room, though there's a lot to be desired in the execution (ha!). The premise has a frozen Jason being un-frozen on a spaceship and wrecking havoc (and, eventually, being upgraded to Uber-Jason; see above) on a crew that includes a hot robot (see below clip); unfortunately, there's not as much fun to be had as there should've been, though you do get an amusing out-of-nowhere cameo by David Cronenberg.

19. A Nightmare on Elm Street 5: The Dream Child (1989)

Arguably the most perplexing of the Nightmare movies, The Dream Child explores the sordid (and rather unnecessarily convoluted) backstory of Freddy's conception whilst he tries to possess the unborn child of Alice, the final girl from Nightmare 4: The Dream Master. It doesn't make a lick of sense (and, with a Nightmare movie, that's saying something), but the main problem is the uneven tone as it shifts about from super-dark to super-ridiculous (like, dear lord, is the below clip really a thing?) … sometimes seemingly in the same frame.

18. Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan (1989)

This would've been great if Jason had spent most of the movie actually in New York City. As such, the first two acts of Friday 8 take place on board a boat en route to the Big Apple, and if you're thinking that premise certainly has promise, no, it's all a bit sluggish and unimaginative. Jason gets a few good moments when he's finally on dry land (such as his confrontation with four, uh, boombox thugs), but by then it feels like too little, too late.

17. A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy's Revenge (1985)

Definitely one of the disappointing direct sequels to an outstanding original, Nightmare 2 pretty much drops everything that was cool and imaginative about its predecessor and replaces it with a baffling premise in which Freddy is trying to possess poor Jesse (Mark Patton) and use him to carry out his murderous machinations. Watchable, sure, but kinda dumb ... like, what the heck is exactly happening in the scene below?

16. Child's Play 3 (1991)

The premise of Charles Lee Ray, still trapped in a Chucky doll, tracking down a now-grown Andy Barclay to military school is a promising one, but unfortunately this rushed sequel (it was released less than ten months after Child's Play 2) has little of the wit, novelty and scares of its predecessors … though, admittedly, Brad Dourif (the voice of Chucky) is once again obviously having a total blast, and yeah, that can't help but be at least a little infectious.

15. Friday the 13th (2009)

Under the direction of Marcus Nispel, who also helmed the 2003 remake of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Friday '09 deserves points for its impressive production design and pretty-grungy cinematography. Beyond that, it sports what's perhaps the worst — and least imaginative — script of all the Friday films, and perhaps the most unlikable characters, who all behave like spoiled ten-year-olds (if ten-year-olds, you know, had a lot of sex, drank a lot of beer and smoked a lot of pot) ... except for poor, sweet Jenna (see below). For the most part, you'll definitely be rooting for Jason in this one, and you should, as he's ably portrayed as an athletic, merciless hunter by Derek Mears.

14. Friday the 13th Part VII: The New Blood (1988)

Friday 7 deserves respect for being the first appearance of arguably the best Jason actor of all time: Kane Hodder, who would go on to reprise the role in Friday 8, Jason Goes to Hell and Jason X. Unfortunately, his debut film has a lukewarm premise, in which Jason is inadvertently resurrected by a pretty young telepath (see below) who later becomes one of his most formidable foes. These Psychic Wars are pretty lame.

13. Friday the 13th: A New Beginning (1985)

Arguably the most divisive of the Friday films, Friday 5 dares to be a Friday film without Jason or even the Crystal Lake setting, instead having the denizens of a Pennsylvania halfway house being terrorized by a copycat killer. The film has as many defenders as detractors, and we're somewhere in the middle, admiring the surrealist look and tone and revisionist chutzpah whilst also acknowledging that it's not as compelling as it could've been. Of course, there's nothing more compelling than the death of poor Violet, who went out robot-dancing and next to a Flock of Seagulls poster.

12. Friday the 13th Part 2 (1981)

And here we were introduced to the passion of Jason Voorhees after his mama did the dirty (and bloody) work in the original Friday the 13th. Jason is at his most primal here as a cloth sack covers his face (he wouldn't don his iconic mask until Friday 3), taking center stage as he rampages through the hapless happy campers (and deals with major mother issues; see clip below). Friday 2 may not be as visually innovative as some of the later sequels, but it's got energy and tension to spare.

11. Friday the 13th Part III (1982)

A fun, goofy, gory ride even without the 3D, Friday 3 marks Jason's first appearance in his trademark hockey mask, taking his place as a bona fide horror icon. Director Steve Miner incorporates some playful camera work as he indulges the 3D for all its worth, bringing the Friday series to a whole new level of viscera … and, if you're lucky enough to see it with a crowd, audience participation.

10. Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday (1993)

Another divisive entry in the series, Friday 9 conjures a whole new level of mythology for Jason, allowing him to possess bodies after his is blown away by a SWAT team laying in wait at the now-abandoned Camp Crystal Lake. There's also some nonsense about how only a Voorhees can kill him and only through a Voorhees can he be reborn, which brings up his long-lost sister (Erin Gray) and her daughter and baby grandson. Some fans were incensed by this aggressive re-imagining, but at this point in the series, we're like, hey, what the hell? And speaking of hell, it's Freddy Krueger himself (or at least his glove) who claims Jason's mask in the very last shot (see clip below), setting up Freddy vs. Jason, which wouldn't come for another ten years.

9. Child's Play 2 (1990)

Chucky went on a real rampage in this second installment in the Child's Play series, making short (heh) work of everyone who stands in his way as he tracks down Andy Barclay (Alex Vincent), who's now in the care of a foster home 'cause his mama went cuckoo after the events of the first movie. With the tone a bit goofier and the kills even more over-the-top, Child's Play 2 makes for a mighty audience pleaser, with a particularly satisfying (and gruesome) climax set in a Good Guys doll factory.

8. A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master (1988)

The pretty solid tightrope act between scary Freddy and quippy Freddy, Nightmare 4 (directed by future Die Hard 2 and Deep Blue Sea director Renny Harlin) is big, loud and a whole lot of fun. Some of the series' most memorable kills, dream sequences and set pieces are here, including Soul Pizza, poor weightlifter Debbie transforming into a cockroach ("No pain, no gain!"; see clip below) and a karate training sequence set to Dramarama's "Anything, Anything." Delightful.

7. Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives (1986)

After audiences responded poorly to the no-Jason A New Beginning, Jason came back with a vengeance in the sixth installment of the series, mixing pitch-black humor with possibly the most grotesque collection of kills in the entire franchise. Big, brash and bold, Jason Lives is one of the most memorable Jason adventures ... and contains one of the most memorable sex scenes of the entire series (at least, we think this is supposed to be a sex scene ...).

6. Freddy vs. Jason (2003)

Chinese action director Ronny Yu was called upon to bring Freddy and Jason to the ring in this long-awaited mashup that actually manages to come up with an imaginative (if not exactly plausible) justification for its premise, with Freddy resurrecting Jason to wreck havoc so the children of Elm Street will fear him again (or something). When Jason ends up just massacring the souls Freddy plans to torment, tensions run high, leading to the two masters of horror battling in both the real world and Freddy's dreamy home turf. A total blast.

5. Bride of Chucky (1998)

Before he took on Freddy vs. Jason, Ronny Yu called the shots on this revisionist installment in the Child's Play series, going full-on horror comedy as Tiffany (Jennifer Tilly, perhaps never better), the former ladyfriend of Charles Lee Ray, brings Chucky back to life with a little black magic … and ends up in the body of a doll herself. Rekindled romance is in the air as Chucky and Tiffany hit the road, terrorizing poor Katherine Heigl, indulging in the most gonzo kills the series has ever seen, referencing Martha Stewart and, of course, engaging in doll-on-doll sex (yup). So good.

4. Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter (1984)

What other franchise can say that its fourth installment is its best? Friday 4 is also one of the strangest Fridays, as Tommy Jarvis (Corey Feldman, see above), perhaps Jason's most essential nemesis, engages in psychological warfare with the hockey-masked killer, which makes for perhaps the most disturbing climax of any Friday film (see below clip). You also get Crispin Glover, which is awesome, and a keen sense of dark comedy to go with the kills. Nurse Morgan (Lisa Freeman) sums it up best: "I'll tell you where I'm going: I'm going crazy!"

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

The only thing wrong with Nightmare 3 is simply that it's not quite as good as Nightmare 1. As far as Nightmare sequels go, Dream Warriors was as good as it got, and it's oh so good. You've got Kristen (Patricia Arquette), one of the best Freddy foes of all time, as well as the return of Nancy (Heather Langenkamp) and a theme song performed by Dokken (music video of which provided for you below); the supporting cast is great, too, with aspiring actress Jennifer (Penelope Sudrow), suicidal D&D enthusiast Will (Ira Heiden) and recovering drug addict Taryn (Jennifer Rubin) all tailor-made for Freddy to torment. "What a rush!"

2. Child's Play (1988)

After the success of Fright Night (1985), director Tom Holland reunited with star Chris Sarandon for this extremely effective little chiller in which notorious serial killer Charles Lee Ray (Brad Dourif), after being wounded by Detective Mike Norris (Sarandon), uses his voodoo magic to transfer his soul into the body of a Good Guy doll. Wouldn't you know it, little Andy (Alex Vincent) has a birthday coming up, and, well ... you know the rest. After Chucky's nudge-nudge-wink-wink shenanigans in Bride of Chucky (1998), the original Child's Play is probably darker, scarier and, yes, more clever than you remember -- now's the time to revisit your friend till the end.

1. A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)

Hail to the King. Right? Of course right.