A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors
The Westin Hills Psychiatric Hospital has found itself in an odd situation. Over the course of a year it’s added about half a dozen teens to it’s patient list, all of whom seem to suffer from insomnia, due to a chronic, debilitating fear of falling asleep. Dr. Neil Gordon is perplexed by these sudden cases and struggling to make sense of the phenomena. But he’s given a bit of hope one day when one of the hospital’s new interns is able to easily calm one of the agitated teens with a bizarre nursery rhyme. The intern’s name is Nancy Thompson and she’s come to help the kids get over their fear of a demon she’d long thought dead. But of course, it turns out that Freddy is still very much alive and mucking about in people’s dreams, and he manages to kill off several teens before Nancy realizes her error. She’s still determined to help the kids, but their greatest weapon against this surreal slaughterer may be newcomer Kristen, who seems to have an ability to pull other people who are sleeping into her own dreams. Now if any of them want to make it out alive, the surviving kids of Elm Street must all band together to try to kill the notorious dream killer once and for all.
I think most people really consider Dream Warriors to be the proper sequel to the first. Of course, Freddy is back, in proper form this time, kicking ass, taking names and haunting people’s dreams, and not instead trying to slip into the lanky bodies of sexually confused adolescent boys. And while new director Chuck Russell is not Wes Craven, he does seem to have successfully recaptured the confusion between the dream and the real world, an effect that was greatly muddled in the second outing. Thankfully Craven also returned to help write the script, so the third installment is much more coherent and utilizes scare tactics similar to those seen in the first film, giving the series a bit of a ‘return to form’. So no more confusing escapades where Freddy jumps into the real world and causes a bunch of confusing chaos at a pool party. As a bonus, we also get a little background information on Freddy’s origins, to help us better understand how the murdering sleazebag turned into the murdering sleazebag. Oh, and there are some claymation skeletons, because those are always fun.
Dream Warriors, ups the ante this time around as far as the nightmares are concerned. Thanks to a budget that was about four times as big as the original, everything is far more elaborate and impressive than the previous installments. There’s a different array of effects, a lot more blood and even some stop-motion towards the end. It’s obvious they focused, got creative and used their funds wisely. But while the film starts off with some truly excellent and disturbing dream sequences, including a scene where a boy dreams that his arteries and veins have been removed and he’s forced like a puppet to walk to the top of the hospital, before the cords are cut and he’s thrown off the edge to his death….
By the time you get to the end, most of the most impressive moments have sadly sort of petered out ….
Overall though, the film is a vast improvement over the last movie, both in scope and in story. The best thing they could have done was bring Craven back, because he really helped flesh the story and characters out, even if only in subtle ways. I really think that one of the most jarring additions was the inclusion of a little girl on a tricycle at the beginning of the film. With one line, “This is where he takes us”, you’re reminded of why Kruger was hunted down by a group of furious parents and ultimately burnt to a crispy critter. True, you might end up laughing at some of the creative kills later on, but it’s a jarring reminder that this is a guy who was known for stealing little kids and slicing them up in dark basements. If they hadn’t later decided to turn Freddy into Mr. One-Liner, the whole Nightmare franchise could have gone in a decidedly darker and more disturbing direction.
Also, as a side note, while looking for a picture of the film’s poster, I noticed that one of the things the movie seems to really suffer from the most is horrible poster design. Even the many overseas posters disappointed me this time around. How tragic.
Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors is available on a variety of streaming services.
Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors is also available on DVD and Bluray.