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New Line Cinema wisely brought back the original Nightmare on Elm Street director Wes Craven to co-write and executive produce this installment.  They also brought Nancy (Heather Langenkamp) back as well as her dad (John Saxon), so it really was a homecoming.  Despite their presence, Part 3 is still not quite in the same league as the original film, but it’s definitely a lot of fun.

 

This time Nancy is a counselor helping suicidal teens in a nuthouse.  They all dream of Freddy Krueger (Robert Englund) who murders them in their sleep and makes it look like they committed suicide.  Kristen (Patricia Arquette) is Freddy’s main target.  She has a gift for pulling other people into her dreams and Nancy uses her power to rally together all the kids to fight Freddy.

 

This is the one where Freddy stopped being “scary” and started being “cool”.  You can say a lot of complimentary things about Dream Warriors, but scary is not one of them.  The tip-off that you probably shouldn’t take any of this seriously is during the opening credits when you see the title that says:  “Special Appearance by Zsa Zsa Gabor”.

 

I think Dream Warriors is the movie where Freddy jumped the shark and became more of a comedian.  Every kill is punctuated with a one-liner that’s related to how the kid gets murdered.  I know Part 2 had more problems than a math book but at least they tried to keep Freddy in the shadows a bit.  Here he’s front and center cracking wise.  

 

This isn’t really a criticism though because I really like Dream Warriors a lot.  Freddy has some really cool kills in this flick.  I think the best part is when he cuts a guy’s veins out of his hands and feet and walks him like a marionette to his death.  Then there’s the unnerving scene where Freddy kills a druggie chick.  His hands become needles and he gives her an overdose right in her pulsating track marks.  (“What a rush!”)  And let’s not forget about the immortal scene when Freddy shoves a chick’s face into a TV.  (“Welcome to prime time bitch!”)

 

The big quibble I have with this entry is that it breaks Horror Movie Sequel Rule Number 2 and gives Freddy a stupid back story.  The kids’ doctor (Craig Wasson) talks to a ghost nun that is revealed to be Freddy’s mother who tells him that her son was conceived when she was gang raped by a bunch of lunatics.  Try not to laugh when she calls him “The Bastard Son of 100 Maniacs.”

 

Then of course there’s the lame subplot about Wasson having to bury Freddy’s bones on hallowed ground.  Freddy doesn’t like that too much so his skeleton comes to life and tries to kill him.  (It looks like a refugee from a Sinbad movie.)  This is intensely stupid because Wasson isn’t dreaming when the skeleton starts attacking him, so how in the fuck is this even possible?  The capper comes when Wasson uses holy water to kill Freddy.  I didn’t know that Dracula Rules were in effect.

 

And the less said about role-playing paraplegic kid who becomes The Wizard Master the better.

 

Englund delivers another terrific performance as Freddy.  They gave him some really bad dialogue (“Feeling tongue tied?”) but he overcomes that by chewing the scenery like a pro.  Occasionally he’s allowed to do some gross stuff to remind you that he’s not just a comedian but he’s also one sick fuck.  Like the part when Nancy shoves a pole through him.  What’s he do?  He takes it out of his stomach then licks it.  (Sorta like when Bruce Lee would lick the blood after he had been cut.)  What’s weird is that sometimes he speaks in a synthesized voice and sometimes he just sounds like Robert Englund.  I don’t know if that was a goof on the filmmakers’ part or what.  All I know is that it’s kinda distracting.

 

The other performers are solid enough.  Arquette makes for a likable heroine and she’s a good screamer to boot.  Langenkamp is pretty good, although Craven and his writers (which include Shawshank Redemption director Frank Darabont) never really give her a whole lot to do.  Same goes for John Saxon too. 

 

A Nightmare on Elm Street 3:  Dream Warriors is generally regarded as the best sequel in the series.  Although I think that title goes to Freddy vs. Jason, it’s still pretty high up there.  Re-reading this review, it seems like I bitched a lot about the film’s various shortcomings.  In the long run, they don’t add up to all that much and shouldn’t ruin your enjoyment of the film.

 

Oh, and if you don’t raise a fist and bang your head to the Dream Warriors theme song by Dokken, Freddy will find you in your dreams and kill you.

 

<Tomorrow’s Horror Franchise Movie:  A Nightmare on Elm Street 4:  The Dream Master>

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