A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors

A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors ★★★½

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10 of 31 films
3 of 6 films featuring work from...Screaming Mad George (make-up artist)

Spoilers included

New Line Cinema had doubled the budget for the 2nd NOES after the 1st one gained a big following on cable tv and vhs rentals and were expecting a massive hit to rival Halloween and Friday the 13th movies. They got a film that merely equalled its predecessor’s box office and earned the scorn of many fans and critics. If there was going to be a 3rd movie they would simply have to give the fans what they wanted- more Freddy, as performed by Robert Englund. The other big supernatural serial killers were played by various actors, covered by masks (Jason Voorhees isn't even in the 1st Friday) and neither talks. Freddy can talk. He likes to talk. You can see his eyes when he's talking to you. New Line and producer Robert Shaye got the message: Freddy Krueger is the star. And Wes Craven is the creator, so he's brought back as well as a producer and writer/story editor. Heather Langenkamp and John Saxon are back reprising their roles. Message to the fans: give us another chance.

Teenager Kristen (Patricia Arquette) is having vivid nightmares to the point where she is harming herself with razors in her sleep. She is sent kicking and screaming to the local psych-ward where she meets more kids with sleep deprivation- they are all dreaming of a burn-scarred man in a dirty hat with razors for fingers who is trying to kill them. Dr. Neil Gordon (Craig Wasson) is sympathetic and brings in some help, an intern with experience in dream disorders: Nancy Thompson. She can complete the rest of the eerie nursery rhyme they all hear in their nightmares and wins their trust. She recognizes Kristen has a power to bring people in and out of her dreams and conceives a plot: hypnotize the group- because there's strength in numbers- hunt and kill Freddy Krueger in dream land. Two patients have already been killed by Krueger but their deaths look like suicides to outsiders, including hospital administration. They must not allow themselves to be given sleep-inducing medication by well-meaning staff and left to individually fend for themselves against the killer.

While Nancy leads the group in dream land, Dr. Neil, who has been told by a strange nun that Krueger was result of a young woman's violent gang rape by the criminally insane (“the bastard son of a hundred maniacs”), was dispatched by a lynch mob to the flames, and who's remains must be laid to rest in consecrated ground for the nightmares and the killings of these children of Elm Street to end. He takes one of the lynch mob- Nancy's down-trodden father ex-police captain Don Thompson (Saxon) to find, bless with holy water, and bury Fred Krueger's remains. Freddy Krueger in dream land, assaulted on these two fronts, succumbs and is seemingly vanquished. Or is he???

A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors heightens Freddy's powers of shape-shifting AND devastating bon mots. He turns into a seductive nurse to isolate and imprison the mute Joey, after removing several of his tongues to tie him to a bed (“What's the matter Joey, tonque-tied?) mocks poor Jennifer's ambition to become an actor by picking her up and slamming her head into a tv set (“Welcome to prime-time, bitch!”). But not before inserting himself into the Dick Cavett show, slashing Zsa Zsa Gabor with is razor glove

Dick Cavett: Can I ask you a question?
Zsa Zsa Gabor: Why certainly.
[Dick Cavett turns into Freddy Krueger]
Freddy Krueger: WHO GIVES A FUCK WHAT YOU THINK?!!? [slash]

He kills poor ex-junkie Taryn by turning his fingers into hypo needles filled with smack and stabbing her with them (“Let's get high....what a rush!”). He kills poor wheelchair bound Will

Freddy Krueger: Will, you look tired. Have a seat.
Will Stanton: No thanks. I'm fine just the way I am.
Freddy Krueger: For now, maybe... but when you wake up... It's back... in the saddle... again.

He tries to rattle Kristen by invoking her single-status mother, who has a guest she doesn't want to keep waiting

Freddy Krueger: I said, "Where's the fucking bourbon?"
[decapitates mom]
Freddy Krueger: You should listen to your mother.
Elaine Parker's decapitated head: God damn it, Kristen, you ruin everything! Every time I bring a man home you spoil it!!

NOES3 ramps up the carnage but makes sure each kill is accompanied by a Krueger parting shot. It's very mean-spirited but also very funny. Englund was beginning to find his own celebrity from the Freddy role around the release of this movie with publicity appearances on horror specials and places like MTV. He was a darling of readers of both Fangoria and Circus magazines.

Arquette is probably the best of the teen actors in the series, she simply is in a different class of acting than her peers including Langenkamp. She's not playing Kristen as a typical victim in a slasher but more like a troubled teen in an dark indie drama. Her performance raises the emotional stakes: it's a movie about a monster that lives in her dreams but we believe SHE believes Freddy is real and that she is in mortal danger. Most of the main cast are acting at a high level for an 80s slasher flick aimed at older teens, no one feels too caricatured or 2-dimensional. Laurence Fishburne in an early role comes across as an empathetic orderly who takes his job seriously and competently. Ken Sagoes as Kincaid is great as the kid who puts up the tough front to hide the scared boy inside. Craig Wasson doesn't really have a lot of range and here he is his usual milquetoast role. But he conveys his concern for the kids extraordinarily well.

The budget was put to good use realizing Freddy's shape-shifting powers. If he was indeed “stronger than ever before” we needed to see it and not have shadow and sound effects suggest it. It may have pushed the envelope a little too far in the junkyard consecrated ground scene: Dr. Neil and Don Thompson fighting a Ray Harryhausen skeleton straight out of Jason and the Argonauts has not aged well (never mind it breaks the NOES rules: neither was sleeping yet were attacked by a manifest in real world Krueger) . The props and make-up departments did an amazing job for the most part realizing the crazy powers dream boy attained- oozing chest of dead children victims' faces, the giant face-snake, clay models, the crazy funhouse sets the gang has to get through. Certainly at least keeps pace with blood-soaked rotating bedrooms and dangling school buses.

There's more shock-n-awe than surreal nightmare logic than is desired for the more hardcore horror fan. But what NOES3 loses in atmosphere it gains in pure schlocky entertainment. This is a great one to watch with a group or to see on the big screen. Like the kettle corn you buy at the concessions mixes the salty and sweet, this flick mixes laughter and screams to an audience's delight.

PS: Keep Rokken with Dokken

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