Alex E’s review published on Letterboxd:
Alex E's A Nightmare on Elm Street Marathon #3
A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors (1987)
"Welcome to prime time, bitch!" - Freddy Krueger
While I did have fun with Nightmare 2, I think many Elm Street fans including myself agree that 1987's A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors is the true successor to the 1984 original film, and is one of the very best in the franchise thanks to some of the original cast and crew returning for the third instalment.
Picking up where the original Nightmare left off, Nancy (Heather Langenkamp) has grown up and become a psychiatrist specializing in dream therapy. She meets a group of children at a local hospital facing Freddy Krueger (Robert Englund), the same demon she once encountered in her sleep.
One of them is Kristen (Patricia Arquette), who has the power to draw other people into her dreams. Working with Dr. Neil Gordon (Craig Wasson) who is assigned to the case, Nancy helps the kids realize their special abilities within the nightmare world. When Freddy captures Kristen, Nancy leads a rescue attempt into Krueger's domain, in hopes of putting his spirit to rest once and for all.
Nightmare 3 does what every good sequel should do and introduce compelling new characters that you care bout, whilst also having some of the original faces here as well. Heather Langenkamp is fantastic once again as Nancy, and is nice to see her character has developed and is looking to end Freddy once and for all. Joining her is Kristen, who makes for a good protagonist thanks to Patrica Arquette's performance and you really start to grow attached to her.
I really do like the new characters, and their dream powers thanks to the good writing and performances on display. My three favourites are Kristen, who has the dream power to do flips as well as sharing a connection to Nancy. Roland Kincaid (Ken Sagoes), who has the dream power of superhuman strength and has some great lines, and last but not least Will Stanton (Ira Heiden), who is your classic nerd who is into D&D and has the dream power of becoming a wizard.
Dr. Craig Gordon works with Nancy to help defeat Freddy since Craig starts to believe Nancy. He then later works with Nancy's dad Donald (John Saxon) to try and end Freddy once and for all, seeing as Craig is told the secret to defeating Freddy by Sister Mary Helena (Nan Martin), who is seen near the hospital .
This is one of Robert Englund's most memorable performances as Freddy Krueger, he gets so many good lines and kills but my favourite has to be the TV kill he does. This is one of Freddy's most iconic performances thanks to Englund's line delivery, and the all the funny moments. He still has that menacing presence thanks to Englund, and the fact he kills some characters here that you become attached to.
The special effects work done here is fantastic, sure a few things look dated but all the effects used on Freddy look great and provide for some scary imagery. I do love how they use the effects here, and makes me miss the 80s since most of the effects used here are practical. It just goes to show that Peter Chesney and his crew knew what they were doing.
Angelo Badalamenti provides a nice synth layered score that just screams of the 1980s and I love it. He also pays homage to the original music used in the 1984 film, I wouldn't say it's one of my favourite 80s scores but it's still a solid one thanks to some of the Horror-esque music pieces. Oh yeah 'Dream Warriors' performed by Dokken, what a song. Meanwhile Roy H. Wagner provides a nicely photographed film in the cinematography department with his use of dark blue, orange and red colours giving Nightmare 3 it's own unique look.
What makes Nightmare 3 work is the story by Chuck Russell, Wes Craven, Bruce Wagner and Frank Darabont. These four worked well together here and provide a really nice unique concept, while the film may not be as scary as the first it allows the franchise to step into a new direction by allowing the heroes to face Freddy head on the final battle. The best scene is when the remaining Elm Street children step inside their dreams together, and face Freddy which leads to some creative set designs as well as keeping Nancy's old house in the dream sequence. These 4 really did make this movie into one of the best Nightmare films, and changed the formula up a bit, and gave the franchise more of a backstory while still keeping more or less of the same tone.
Overall 1987's A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors is one of the best instalments in the series. At times it competes with the original film, but I do prefer the more grounded original. That being said Chuck Russell's direction makes this movie very fun and entertaining thanks to the dream sequences being more creative, and keeps you engaged in the story thanks to a brisk pace. While I sort of agree that they could have ended the series here, I think there is still more to explore.