A Nightmare On Elm Street Vs Saw – The Greatest Horror Franchise Ever [Round 5]

Welcome to the Tournament of Terrors, a /Film bracket where we argue about the greatest horror franchise of all time, and you, the readers, get to decide the winners. The rules are simple: two iconic horror movie series enter the ring, each represented by a /Film writer ready to champion them. And you — yes, you, the person reading this right now — will vote on which one gets to move forward.

You can find all the details, including a schedule for all the showdowns, right here. And here is the complete bracket, so you know where things stand.

Last time, we watched "Evil Dead" and the "Universal Monsters" throw down. Today, we have a similar Old Guard versus New Guard battle to the death. In one corner, it's a bonafide horror titan: "A Nightmare on Elm Street" and the literal man of your nightmares, the one and only Freddy Krueger. Does he really need an introduction? His seven movies (and one remake) tend to speak for themselves. His competition is the much newer, but exceptionally scrappy Jigsaw, whose "Saw" series has spanned nine grotesque and massively successful adventures in testing the will (and stomaches) of audiences all over the world. It's a match made in hell, and we love it for these two.

Which one wins? That's up to you. First, the arguments. And then, you vote!

A Nightmare on Elm Street

Horror history is loaded with killers who are pretty much interchangeable. You might get a different mask, a different weapon, or a different hunting ground, but you could swap one for another in most cases without anyone really noticing. That is decidedly not true of "A Nightmare on Elm Street." Freddy Krueger has loads more personality in his clawed little finger than most slashers combined — humor, malice, perversity, charm ... he'll hunt you in your dreams and it gives him joy. That's terrifying! He's also truly iconic: everyone knows the glove, the fedora, that sweater. He has personality and a demented style. Add a continually spectacular performance by Robert Englund and Freddy is easily one of the greatest slasher antagonists ever conceived. 

Let's talk the films themselves. The dream logic of the series makes it so much better and more interesting than the blunt industrial wasteland of the "Saw" films. Freddy takes full advantage of the infinite possibilities of dream logic to become an evil god while you sleep (and you have to sleep sometime). While judgey sad boi John Kramer uses death traps instead of blades, it's still just a rehash of Dr. Phibes and so many Bond villains but with a dollar store "Se7en" aesthetic. Meanwhile Freddy kills you with a TV body, turns you to a blood fountain, or puts you on a school bus to hell. Long story short, Krueger pulls off kills John Kramer wishes he could steal: a better killer, better kills, scarier backstory, and a more interesting series from horror legend Wes Craven. No contest. (Jeff Ewing)


The thing about the "Saw" franchise is its brutality, right? That's what we love about it, why we keep coming back to it after nearly 20 years. The sick traps, the utter depravity — there's something we really enjoy about rooting for the underdog to get out of a hopeless situation. Yeah, all the same could be said for "A Nightmare on Elm Street." But! In my opinion, "Nightmare" doesn't quite go hard enough, and honestly, its fantasy elements allow us to suspend our disbelief and keep ourselves an arm's length distance from the terror. Yeah, there's blood and guts — but it's nothing like the bleak and brutal horror of Cary Elwes chopping off his own foot in the first film. While a man with knives for hands following you in your dreams is pretty frickin' chilling, it's nothing quite like the real-life threat of psychopathy at the hands of an intelligent human being. Freddy isn't real — but Jigsaw could be, and that prospect is eons more horrifying than Mr. K. 

Yes, Freddy's crimes are rooted in a sick and twisted reality, but what becomes of him is simply impossible in the real world. The messed-up motives of Jigsaw are prime serial killer fodder, and honestly, not much weirder or more macabre than some of the most intricate or depraved killer's plans. Jigsaw is right on par. Considering real-life terrors are always more haunting because they, you know, could happen to you, it's clear to me that "Nightmare" just doesn't have a piece in this (jigsaw) puzzle. Sorry, Fred. (Lex Briscuso)

And Now It's Time to Vote

So there you have it. The arguments have been made. The defenses have been mounted. The attacks have concluded. The ball is now in your court, folks. Using the Twitter poll below (which will close 12 hours after publication of this article), vote for which movie franchise you want to see advance. Will it be "A Nightmare on Elm Street" or "Saw"? Whoever wins will return for the quarterfinals next week, facing off against the winner of the "Texas Chainsaw Massacre" and "Hellraiser" showdown.