A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors
a nightmare on elm street 3: dream warriors | a nightmare on elm street | sequel | freddy krueger | chuck russell | wes craven | bruce wagner | frank darabont | heather langenkamp | robert englund | craig wasson | fantasy | united states | patricia arquette
Film: A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors
Director: Chuck Russell
Writer: Wes Craven, Bruce Wagner, Frank Darabont and Chuck Russell
Starring: Heather Langenkamp, Robert Englund and Craig Wasson
This sequel was one that I had originally watched growing up on one of the movie channels. The original terrified me and this one helped me handle the series at a younger age as it brought comedy to it. This one didn’t go too far, while seeing being more horror, but I’ll get more into that later.
Synopsis: a psychiatrist familiar with knife-wielding dream demon Freddy Krueger (Robert Englund) helps teens at a mental hospital battle the killer who is invading their dreams.
We start off with a young woman building a papier-mâché house. She is Kristen Parker (Patricia Arquette). Kristen is doing everything that she can to stay awake and this draws the attention of her mother. She scolds her for still being up and gets her into bed. We hear that she has a guest and we get the idea that Kristen could be acting out. After falling asleep, she goes to the house she was making which is Freddy’s. In the nightmare she flees from him and wakes up. She goes to her bathroom to find out she is still asleep. Her mother comes in after hearing the screaming to what looks like a suicide attempt.
The film then shifts to a mental hospital where there are a group of teens that are seeing the same figure in their dreams. The doctors in charge are Neil Gordon (Craig Wasson) and Elizabeth Simms (Priscilla Pointer). Helping them is an orderly Max (Laurence Fishburne). These teens are all from different walks of life, but dealing with the same entity. The staff thinks it’s a group psychosis. Nancy Thompson (Heather Langenkamp) is a grad student who thinks otherwise. She wants help them find their inner strength to defeat Freddy once and for all.
I will lead off here stating that this is my favorite film in the series behind the original. Part of that is Freddy isn’t as scary in the first two, but this one is the balancing of horror and comedy. He becomes the icon that today we all know thanks to this movie. The setting also helps to build that fear. They are stuck together in a mental hospital where they can’t get out. Dr. Simms makes it worse by not only locking their doors but sedating them, making them helpless against Freddy by not being able to stay awake or if they fall asleep, wake up.
There are a group of diverse characters which I also like. The film states that they are the last of the Elm Street kids, which I can take or leave there. This only comes up when they are referring to Nancy’s father Lt. Thompson (John Saxon) and when Nancy is telling the kids in group. This actually makes sense with later mythology though that Freddy can only spread through fear. A gripe that people have with a lot of horror films is when the killer is toying with them. Being kept alive by fear, Freddy would have to do this. Now all of these teens were seeing him before coming in, but if they live in the same area it would fit. It is curious they don’t know each other though. I guess that this city is big enough where it is possible.
Pacing for the film also helps this out as well. Kristen is attacked in the first fifteen minutes. From there we move to the hospital and every night someone else is attacked. The terror builds and we get layers of it. The teens are terrified to fall asleep for fear of what will come with their dreams. The doctors are worried that the children not sleeping are causing them to go crazy and kill themselves. Nancy knows that Freddy is back since Kristen pulled her into a dream with him. There is quite a climatic conclusion to all of this that I thought was pretty solid as well. I love the way that Freddy is defeated in this one. It would have been a perfect end to the series, even though by introducing Sister Mary Helena and Amanda Kruger, it gave the start to build even more mythology.
This also included a new angle of the Dream Warriors. When we sleep, we often have abilities that we don’t have in the real world. Kristen becomes quite important here as she can bring other people into her dreams, which they believe will give them an advantage against Freddy. Not all the powers given are great, but it does make them distinct.
I’d say that the acting in this is good. Langenkamp gets a lot of grief and I’ll admit that she isn’t great. I think a strong part of this is that I don’t think she is the star. She is more of the wise person who gives knowledge to the heroes. She is better in this film though than the original, I will say that. The two stars of this film are Wasson and Arquette. Wasson is great because he doesn’t believe, but he sees how passionate everyone else is. The more that happens, the more he realizes the truth. Arquette does disappear as the film progresses, but her power is important. Englund was great in this film. He wasn’t as scary as previous installments, but he really embodies the character. The rest of the dream warriors are interesting in their own way and add their touch to the film. I want to shout out a young Fishburne and Pointer. The latter was great as the woman who is out to help these teens but doesn’t realize what is happening. She can’t look past logical explanations. That does ground things while also building suspense.
The effects here are great. They were done practical and some of what was done doesn’t look easy. The attacks on people are great. At times it looks quite real. I personally am a firm believer that what makes this scarier is that all the deaths should look like suicides. As the film progresses, it does get away from that, but the longer they keep that going, the better. Some of these deaths have me cringing, even after all these viewings. There are a lot of people who hate the stop motion of the skeleton at the end. I personally don’t mind it. It isn’t as good as films from even before this, but I have a soft spot. I do have to point out that I love puppet Freddy, Taryn (Jennifer Rubin) and Phillip’s (Bradley Gregg) deaths as some of my favorite effects.
Score for the film is also interesting. The rhyme about Freddy is used quite a bit. It is always nice to incorporate that. The rest of the score didn’t necessarily stand out. It does fit the scenes for what they needed though, I will give it that. I love the theme song to this film though, it is so 80’s hair metal which is great. I believe the group, Dokken, also does another song or two that are in the movie itself which is a nice touch.
In conclusion, this film is great. It isn’t perfect. It does have some flaws to it, but I think they are minor. I love the concept of these teens who are trying to stay awake to survive are trapped in a mental hospital. The deaths looking like suicides makes the doctors think that it is just them descending into madness. Freddy becomes the icon he is today, which is good even though we lose some of the terror. The acting is good and the pacing is as well. The effects for me were great. Score for the film doesn’t stand out, but the use of the Freddy rhyme is great as is the theme song. Overall I’d say this is a good film. I recommend this whether you are a fan of the franchise or not.
My Rating: 9 out of 10