A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors

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

Horroctober 2021

Unlike Freddy’s Dead (see my previous review), Dream Warriors has been a firm favourite since the first time I ever saw it in the late 90s on Bravo TV here in the UK. I had a great time with it, the movie that returned the franchise to imaginative special effects led story-telling.

The group of kids, the Dream Warriors themselves, are relatable and all have very unique personal situations, all of which are fairly well drawn and on top of this the characters are really well cast. Most notable is Patricia Arquette as Kristen, who was on the cusp of stardom, so much so that she wouldn’t reprise her role in the next movie. However, they all have a strong narrative arc that elicits empathy. We care about these kids, which was a rare thing for 1980s slashers. Sure, it’s cheesy at times but it builds up so much goodwill that it doesn't matter. It’s a film with a lot of heart.

Dream Warriors is the peak of Freddy as a genuinely scary entity whilst simultaneously being the wise-cracking commodity. "Welcome to Prime Time, Bitch" being one such example. Perhaps the most famous from this movie. After Dream Warriors he became a bit too much of a jokester and gradually less and less scary but there is ample menace in this one. It makes Dream Warriors the most fun the A Nightmare on Elm Street franchise has ever been.

****SPOILER ALERT FOR A PARTICULAR DEATH SCENE****
There are some of the most inventive Freddy kills in this film too. The Puppet scene being my favourite. One of the characters makes marionettes as a hobby. This is established early on. Well in one dream sequence, a marionette transforms into Freddy who then grows to full size and proceeds to slice four puppet strings into the character, Phillip’s, limbs. Freddy proceeds to, seemingly invisibly, walk a gory Phillip to his death. It’s a grim yet imaginative scene and perhaps my favourite from the series. Although that might be a tie with Tina's brutal death from the original. Also the scene in this movie where Freddy’s head appears out of the top of a television set is another highlight. The aforementioned 'Prime Time' quip.

The decision to bring back Heather Langenkamp and John Saxon was an inspired one. It gave us that inextricable link to the original movie whilst embracing the new characters. To some this is the true sequel to Elm Street. I like Freddy’s Revenge in spite of its flaws, but it's true that Dream Warriors shares more DNA with the first film. It’s a film of great imagination and the Dream Warriors were perhaps the greatest band of kids ever to battle Freddy. A perennial favourite.

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