A Nightmare On Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors
After the misfire that was Freddy’s Revenge it was clear that if Nightmare was going to become an enduring franchise that something needed to change. It appeared that New Line felt this way as well as they brought back Wes Craven in a writing and producing role.
The film begins with Kristen (Arquette) trying to stay awake and then falling into a nightmare which results in her having slit her wrist. She is then moved to the Westin Hills Psychiatric Hospital where there is a group of teens having the same issues. They are all having nightmares and do their best to avoid sleep, leaving their doctors puzzled. That is, until a new doctors new presence coincides with Kristen’s arrival. Nancy (Langenkamp) has spent the years since her first battle with Freddy making headway in the understanding of nightmare patterns. And she immediately recognizes that Krueger has targeted this specific group of teens. We later discover that these are the last of the Elm Street kids, but they are not without a weapon to battle back against Freddy. They are all endowed with a dream power, ranging from incredible strength in the dream realm to the ability to pull others into their dream. With these abilities Freddy may finally meet his match.
Dream Warriors is commonly argued by Nightmare fans as the best of the series, and it is truly hard to argue that point. This was the first film in the series to set the ground rules for Freddy and his powers, as well as truly establish the fantastical dream realm which would power the rest of the series. For the first time in the series we get to see how powerful Freddy is in the dream realm, illustrated by no better scene than the Freddy worm.
Another standout portion of the film is its attempt to make many of the teenagers in the film likeable. While not successful with everyone, there is a reason that a character like Kincaid is well remembered and liked by horror fans two decades later. Each character has their own unique personality traits, while also having a common issue amongst them. This is certainly worth mentioning given how many times slasher movies can’t get this right. In fact, out of the plethora of 80s teen based slashers, the only movies that immediately spring to mind as having such a likeable victim base are The Burning (1981) and Friday The 13th: The Final Chapter(1984).
It is also nice to see the continued presence of both Nancy and her father, Lt. Thompson (Saxon). While this would be the end of the line for their characters, it seems to bring a sense of closure to the original film. And since Freddy’s demise was clearly meant to be more permanent than it would end up being, it becomes clear that Craven was intending to end the series with this entry. Unfortunately for him, the wild success of this imaginative entry breathed new life into the series, taking Freddy onwards and upwards.
It should also be mentioned that this entry, while still keeping Freddy dark (though not as dark as the original, or his reimagining in New Nightmare), gave much more headway to the sarcastic joker Freddy would become in subsequent entries. Many simply attribute this to the iconic death scene of Jennifer, where Freddy comes out of the TV and welcomes her to her big break in television.
Overall, Dream Warriors is undoubtedly one of, if not the, strongest entry in the series, depending on where you sit. It is definitely one of my favorites in the series, but I actually have a soft spot for the next entry and its heroine. Although one thing that the next entry does lack, is a cheesy as all hell theme song by 80’s stalwarts Dokken, which I’ve included at the bottom of this entry for your viewing pleasure.
Best Kill: Phillip as a marionette
Body Count: 7
Stay tuned for the inevitable review of the last great entry in the series until Craven came back again to reinvent the franchise, The Dream Master.