Do you feel it my grave diggers and tombstones? Halloween is only 10 days away! That means there’s only one more Friday left in October. I hope you’ve got your decorations up, and candy ready (not that you HAVE to share it), but most importantly, I hope you’re embracing the atmosphere of horror movies that this time of year welcomes.
As part of Geekade’s continued celebration for 31 Days of Halloween, I present to you my third entry in a series of four A Nightmare on Elm Street movie reviews.
A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors (1987)
Director: Chuck Russell
Starring: Heather Langenkamp, Robert Englund, and Craig Wasson
Unlike Nightmare 2, I recalled this movie more favorably and was aware that it has a strong following in its own right. While I have seen this movie more than once, and remembered it fairly well, it had been several years since I'd last seen it, so I decided to watch it again for this review.
Heather Langenkamp is back as Nancy, and she brought her father back for the ride! This movie takes place six years after the first, and if you’re keeping track, that’s one year after Nightmare 2: Freddy’s Revenge. Patricia Arquette stars as Kristen Parker (her first movie, much like Johnny Depp getting his start in the original film) who opens the film with the most convincing scene of someone trying to stay awake ever caught on film. She eats coffee grounds and washes it down with a diet coke!
After she’s forced to sleep by her seemingly uncaring mother, Kristen is attacked in a nightmare by Freddy Kruger, who makes it look as though she attempted suicide. From there she’s sent to a psych ward, with a department that specializes in night terrors, and dream psychoses. There, we’re introduced to several other teens with nightmares of Freddy attacking them, and the new intern therapist, Nancy. She’s used her experiences from the first movie to help others with nightmares, while on an experimental drug that suppresses brain activity during sleep.
Nancy reveals that these patients are all the children of people that burned Freddy alive, and this is the reason he’s targeted them. They spend time in group therapy sessions. There’s Jennifer Caulfield who burns herself with cigarettes to stay awake. When (if) she is ever released, she plans on moving to LA to become a TV star. Next is Philip, the de facto leader of the group, who spends his time creating puppets, and is prone to sleep walking. Ronald Kincaid, who becomes aggressive whenever the faculty try to sedate him, and often lock him in solitary. Taryn White, who has a history of abusing drugs, but is currently on the mend, despite attempts to lure her back for sexual advances by a twisted orderly. She dreams of being a punk, badass, beauty. Finally there's Will Stanton. He’s paralyzed from the waist down after attempting suicide caused by his fear of the nightmares with Freddy. He fantasies about being a wizard from Dungeons and Dragons.
Nancy learns that Kimberly is able to pull others into her dreams, and decides that using the abilities of all of the patients in a single dream would be enough to over throw and finally defeat Freddy. That’s when the fun really begins. Possibly most importantly, Freddy has his sense of humor back in full force. In Freddy’s Revenge, he had a few one liners, but he was much tamer than the first go around. However, for Nightmare 3, the writers and director really gave Robert Englund the chance to shine. Not only is the humor back, this movie has the most imaginative kill scenes from the entire series, aided by incredible practical effects that mostly hold up to today’s standards.
If you haven’t seen the movie yet, I don’t want to spoil these scenes for you, but I need to talk about my favorite which isn’t even a death. Meet Joey Crusel, once a bright-eyed student and part of his school’s debate team, but upon experiencing the nightmares and being attacked by Freddy, he’s too scared to speak or sleep again. After he thinks he’s woken up from the combined dream of Kristen, he’s lured to his room by an attractive nurse. After seducing him (it doesn’t take much) they begin to kiss. Suddenly her tongue becomes grotesquely long and she uses it to tie his arm to the bed post. Then another tongue ties his other arm, and likewise for his legs. Then the mattress beneath him is swallowed away through some portal, presumably to hell, who knows? And the nurse is revealed to obviously be Freddy Kruger. He holds Joey hostage, who in the waking world is in a coma, to lure Nancy, Kristen and the other survivors into his realm.
While this is all going on, the doctor of the facility has been visited by a nun who says to purge this evil, they need to lay Kruger’s body to rest in holy ground. She also tells Freddy’s origin of being the bastard son of a hundred maniacs when his mother was accidentally locked in an asylum over a long weekend and she was continually beaten and raped. It is later revealed, the nun is in fact Freddy’s deceased mother speaking to the doctor in hopes of finally stopping her son.
The climax of the movie sees Nancy and the surviving patients free Joey and fight Freddy in the dreamscape, while in the waking world, the doctor and Nancy’s father track down Freddy’s bones to bury them with holy water and a cross stolen from a church.
Freddy is finally dead! However, since you know I’ll be reviewing the 4th entry of this franchise next week, that clearly doesn’t stick.
There’s a reason Dream Warriors is often considered the finest horror sequel ever produced. Freddy’s one liners are at their peak, while the death scenes are not only the best of the series, but among the best in the entire genre. Honestly, the quality of the special effects alone are enough to warrant such a rating.
Plus, they didn’t kill off the black guy!
Although the timeline of the movie seems a little off when compared to the rest of the franchise, and the fact that I think a lot of the hurdles in this movie would have been solved if the patients would have just properly explained their dreams to their parents who would have had to remember burning a man alive and realize maybe their kids aren’t crazy, thus not sending them away to a psych ward. None-the-less, the characters and story told in an hour and half worked so well, I wish the movie was at least twenty minutes longer, but that’s just me being greedy.
For more from the author, check out AzarRising