A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors

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

This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.

This review may contain spoilers.

A Nightmare on Elm Street 3 is another installment in the Nightmare on Elm Street Trilogy, and it goes back to a style and tone closer to the original film (likely due to Wes Craven coming back as a screenwriter). This one gives Freddy more of a backstory and brings Heather Langenkamp's Nancy Thompson back into the story.

About a decade after the events of the first film (and a several years after the events of the second), in a mental hospital, a group of teens are suffering nightmares and other psychoses (The supposedly suicidal Kristen Parker, the easily angered Kincaid, the mute Joey Crusel, the ex-junkie Taryn White, somnambulist Phillip and aspiring TV star/self-harmer Jennifer). Kristen knows she was attacked by Freddy but her parents and the hospital staff don't believe her.

Nancy joins the Hospital Staff as a therapist and becomes very interested in the group of teens and their nightmares, as she also fought Kruger. Helping Nancy is Dr. Neil Gordon, who's skeptical of Nancy ideas at first but soon becomes persuaded to help her. She tries helping the teens by giving them Hypnosil, a drug that allows people to sleep without dreaming, but the other staff stop her. At the hospital is a miniature model of Nancy's old house. BTW: we find out what happened at the end of the 1st film; Nancy escaped but her mother and friends were killed by Kruger.

Kristen brings Nancy into her dream and they escape Freddy. The over the next 2 days, Freddy throws Phillip off a building and kills Jennifer by popping out of the TV. Nancy figures out that the group are the last group of children whose parents killed Freddy all those years ago.

Performing group hypnosis, Nancy, Neil and the teens enter a shared dream-state and discover their dream abilities (making them into the titular "Dream Warriors"). Joey wanders off and is attacked by Freddy, and the others are nearly crushed to death. Waking up, Joey has been left comatose and Nancy & Neil are relieved over duty as the other staff take over.

Entering the nearby abandoned Westin Hills facility, Neil finds out Freddy is the son of a young woman who was raped by hundreds of the mental patients in this maximum security wing. She was locked up in their by accident and when they found her she was extremely traumatized. A mysterious Nun, Mary Helena, tells Hills this and says that Freddy is "the bastard son of a hundred maniacs" referencing ancient beliefs of telegony, that a child can be conceived by one mother and multiple fathers. Mary tells Neil that Freddy can be defeated once and for all if his bones are buried. Neil teams up with Nancy's dad, the police officer Donald Thompson, to find and give the bones a proper funeral.

Kirsten is going to be sedated, so Nancy sneaks back and places the other teens under group hypnosis once more. Kristen is fine and the group split up to help Joey. However, Freddy's trapped each of them in unique personal nightmares. Kristen ends up back in her house from the beginning of the room, but then Freddy decapitates her mother and the decapitated head scold her. Kristen escapes and runs away.

Meanwhile, Taryn is dueling against Freddy with flick knives. Freddy is nearly defeated but manages to trick Taryn and overdoses her with heroin injections. He injects her with both hands and walks away. Will can not only walk in his dreams, he can use the wizard powers he has in his tabletop RPG. Unfortunately, he is unable to defeat Freddy and is killed.

Kristen finds Nancy and Kincaid, and then the trio look for Joey. They find Joey in a twisted, nightmarish version of the Boiler Room where Freddy was killed. They fight back against Freddy, but he's become stronger from absorbing all the souls of the people he's killed. But then, Freddy suddenly disappears...

Meanwhile, back in the real world, Neil and Donald have found Freddy's bones and are ready to bury them with holy water and a crucifix (don't worry, Neil gave the priest his driver's license so he knows he'll give them back!). Unfortunately, Freddy's skeleton returns to life and fights the hapless duo, killing Donald and knocking out Neil. Freddy returns to the dream and terrifies the remaining teens, but Joey uses him dream power of a "sonic scream" to drive Freddy away.

Then the ghost of Donald appears in the dream, letting his daughter Nancy know he's crossed over. In a brilliant twist though, this actually Freddy in disguise, and he attacks Nancy (who will shortly succumb to her wounds). This is a very gutsy and well-done move, killing the final girl of the first film and our main heroine, even if it does mean we have no recurring protagonist for the rest of the series (although Heather returned as herself in the meta-fictional self-parody "New Nightmare").

Neil wakes up and fights the skeletal Freddy, burying him. He splashes holy water on Freddy, and continues to do so as he says the traditional funeral prayer "Ashes to ashes, dust to dust, I lay this spirit to rest". He finishes him off by placing a crucifix on his head, transporting Freddy's spirit to the afterlife. The Teens and Nancy awake but Nancy dies from her wounds.

At Nancy's Funeral, Neil sees Mary Helena again, and finds out she was a ghost looking at her gravestone. He also finds out that she was Freddy's mother, as her original name was Amanda Kruger. He goes to sleep, but he doesn't notice the miniature Elm Street house lighting up.

A Nightmare on Elm Street 3 is another fine installment in an iconic horror franchise. Robert Englund is as great as ever as Freddy, and the dark comedy and wisecracks are increased in this one. Nancy is a wonderful heroine once again, bolstered by a strong cast of other characters including Neil and Mary. This one could have been a finale for the series (the light coming on in the Elm Street house being equally likely to be Donald and/or Nancy as Freddy), but the franchise continued on for another 4 films (I'll only be doing New Nightmare as part of History of Horror Movies 2018, but I may review the other films some other time).

The Special effects for Freddy, especially some of his alternate forms like the snake, the puppet and the skeleton are all great. There's some great stop motion with the latter two, and the fight with the skeleton reminds me of Jason and the Argonauts (Freddy vs Jason (from Jason and the Argonauts)! That's a cool idea!). The chest effects with the screaming victims of Freddy is gruesomely great.

This is another good one for fans of the original film. Whilst you can skip Part 2 if you want, I'd still recommend it anyway even if it doesn't have a major impact on the later movies.

Watch this if you like: A Nightmare on Elm Street, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Halloween, Friday the 13th, Inception, Alien, The Last House on the Left (1972), The Hills Have Eyes (1977), Stranger in Our House (1978), Deadly Blessing (1981), Swamp Thing (1982), Invitation to Hell (1984),Wes Craven's New Nightmare (1994), Vampire in Brooklyn (1995), Scream (1996) Scream 2 (1997), Scream 3, Scream 4, The POTC series, Dreamscape, The Rescuers (1977), The Rescuers Down Under (1990), Apocalypse Now (1979), The Outsiders (1983), Rumble Fish (1983), Jason and the Argonauts

Reviewed by Carlos

This review is part of the History of Horror Movies 2018 List marathon

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