A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors

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

In my dreams I'm beautiful. And bad!"

It's taken a long time for me to revisit what I had always previously seen as the strong point in the 'Elm Street' franchise. The big question - does it hold up? Well, yes and no. It still very much retains it's standing as the series highpoint, but that's not saying much. Looking back, it has a pretty cheap feel to the proceedings, but then that was the tone of so much of the 80s horror output. It just about maintains it's feelings of genuine unease - "One, Two Freddie's coming for you...." is still creepy as hell.
There's some big positives - the cast for starters. It's great to see Heather Langenkamp return to her signature role as Nancy, along with an always welcome appearance from her onscreen Dad John Saxon. Drawing on her character's last experiences, Nancy now feels like a worthy opponent for Kruger this time around, as do the Dream Warriors of the title. Their camaraderie and Avengers style line up is infectiously good. An unbelievably youthful Patricia Arquette gets a good (debut) role as one of many troubled, very sleep deprived teenagers, and has a knack for pulling friends into her dreams/nightmares...Lawrence Fishburne pops up as a careworker and Robert Englund delivers the goods yet again in his iconic role. There's still an air of menace to Englund's Freddie Kruger before sequels got progressively dafter and he became more 'cuddly' in terms of a pop culture icon. The make-up still impresses, and looks significantly less rubbery than it became in later outings.
From it's unsettling opening quote from Edgar Allan Poe, to it's closing goosebump inducing shot, it proved to be a worthy re-watch, but it was a downhill afterwards until part 7's New Nightmare redressed the balance.
The HD picture quality is surprisingly good, but never looks too polished, which is probably for the best given the film's low budget 80's origins. It would have been nice to keep this as trilogy capper, but that was never going to happen. New Line pushed forward with sequels (films four and five) and what became known as the 'Dream Trilogy'...

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