A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors

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

DREAM WARRIORS is still in the absolute top tier of a bunch of scare cinema sub-genres, though I think the most important in regards to its place in horror history is as one of the first "high school ensemble" joints that has a legitimate emphasis on giving the characters actual dimension before they're offed. It comes with the territory in a Freddy movie, as the surreal nature of the kills is reliant in many ways on the threads established for each character before their demises. Whereas most slashers that came before gave us paper-thin kill fodder at best, this NIGHTMARE builds a team with dynamics equally indebted to X-MEN as HALLOWEEN. It definitely didn't hurt to have the Darabont/Russell tandem over the typewriter who would come to give the world more than a few certifiable hits in the years to come.

As far as the tone and writing go, the 90s popcorn slasher boom feels presaged hugely by this movie. SCREAM, CHERRY FALLS, THE FACULTY, et al. feel much more in-tune with DREAM WARRIORS than almost anything that came before. The most impressive thing about Wes Craven's career in general is that he seemed to have his finger on the pulses-to-come before anyone else did, and he had his hand in so many movies that have stylistic, conceptual, formal, and narrative echoes that ring loudly today and likely will beyond.

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