A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors

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

31 DAYS OF HORROR 2022 - Film 16

"Sleep. Those little slices of death. How I loathe them." - Edgar Allan Poe

I originally reviewed the Nightmare on Elm Street series back in 2019 when I first discovered Letterboxd. Those old reviews are pretty cringey so I'm deleting those and including them here at the end of these new reviews during my 2022 re-visit to the franchise.

It's been years since the first film and Nancy is all grown up and works as a psychologist at the Westin Hills Psychiatric Hospital. Freddy is back and a teenaged girl named Kristen is his latest target. After invading her dreams and causing her to almost commit suicide, she is sent to Westin Hills where she meets more kids having the same problem with a common foe. With Nancy's help they hope to destroy Freddy Krueger once and for all and escape with their lives.

Wes Craven is back on the writing team with the legendary Frank Darabont and Heather Langenkamp also returns to headlining the cast and it shows in a big way. I've seen all of the films in the Nightmare on Elm Street series many times but it's the first time re-visiting them since I've really gotten into watching film as a hobby, and noticed a detail that I'd never noticed before. I always thought that the comedic one-liner spitting Freddy was a product of those who came after Wes Craven but I was totally wrong. This is the first film where Freddy's iconic persona emerges, and Craven was one of the writers onboard. Another crazy ass detail is the fact that the amazing Angelo Badalamenti, mainly tied to David Lynch's work is the composer. WOW! It's funny how you can watch a film ten times and not discover things like this unless you are really looking for them.

A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors is a better sequel to the original film than A Nightmare on Elm Street Part 2: Freddy’s Revenge was, but both films are great in their own ways. It dives a bit into the past of Freddy Krueger and reveals his history as "the bastard son of 100 maniacs." It certainly has it's share of flaws though, notably in the pacing department and the change in lore that allows Freddy to voluntarily leave the dream world and manifest in reality. If he can do that, why doesn't he just kill his victims in real life? Why does he restrain himself to dreams? It makes no sense, and it circumvents the whole dream realm aspect that Freddy is known for, but I'll ride with it.

Although the plot is good and the buildup is solid enough, the first two acts are stretched a bit too long and the result is what feels like a rushed third act that's high on kills but low on meaningful conclusions for a cast of characters that is more likable that any in the series until this point. Speaking of likable characters, who doesn't love Kincaid, the "strong man" played by Ken Sagoes? He's an actor who doesn't shy away from conventions or documentaries and loves to talk to fans about his role in the franchise. A class act in a good role that is unfortunately treated horribly in the next film.

A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors is also home to some of the most creative kills in this series thus far, and the practical FX just get better with each entry. There's a little bit of cringe CGI too, but it's the kind that is charming when considering the era. Overall this film is a mixed bag of ups and downs but I still think it's a better sequel than the one before it. The entries that follow this film go further off the rails, so the original trilogy is always great to come back to. I'm sure this won't be the last time.

----- Original Review from August 4th, 2019 -----

This is a proper sequel to the original NOES. I'm not saying part 2 was bad but it did too much of it's own thing. Part 3 brings back Nancy and shes older and wiser. She meets this new wave of kids dealing with Freddy and teaches them to find their inner strength to fight him. The soundtrack and story are classic 80's NOES fun. This film is also the very beginning of the more talkative Freddy that defines the series moving forward. The comedy hasn't begun yet but the seeds are planted. A great NOES movie.

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