Tuesday, May 12

A Classic in Retro: A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors (1987)


Directed by Chuck Russell
96 Minutes / 1987 Media Home Entertainment VHS / Cropped from 1.85:1 to full screen

Today just felt like a Freddy day...

My relationship with the Nightmare series is much like the Halloween series. I respect and love the landmark debuts but my interest quickly trails off with their respective sequels. Though that's not to say I genuinely don't like "the rest." It's just rather sad seeing the potential of Freddy and Myers exploited for revenue. Of course, the same goes for any instantly recognizable genre franchise. Okay, maybe that doesn't ring true, we have thirteen Witchcraft films I doubt most horrorhounds have seen...unless you're a sadomasochist...

Getting down to it, Wes Craven made the best of an unwanted situation. After Part 2's lunatic "kill for me!" derailment with fans and critics, despite not wanting any sequels to begin with, Craven seemed to understand he was the only one who could right the ship...until the next sequel. The institutional setting seems logical, producing a more meaty tension between the reason of medical science the group's illogical and deadly mass dreaming than the first feature's law enforcement angle. One can also see it as a crutch, allowing Craven to concentrate on other aspects, but also working as a way to sidestep a rehash of his classic's suburban locale. The institution's history with Krueger leads to some backstory plaster that wraps well around the group's last stand against Freddy. The return of the big-haired Langenkamp almost feels inconsequential to everything else the film has going.

The closure in the group being the last of the Elm Street children, Nancy's fate, and that of her father seems placed into the story more for Craven than the viewer. This is considered by many as the best Nightmare sequel and for good reason. Craven crafted a compelling story that works with fans and more contemporary viewers. Oddly, the director/writer might have screwed himself over by making Dream Warriors suit both audiences. Everyone knew a fourth sequel was inevitable after the first weekend's box office returns.

Dream Warriors represents continued steps towards Freddy becoming the grand court jester of modern Horror, which is certainly better than the party crashing slayer of all things subtly homoerotic in Freddy's Revenge. Craven tones the gloved one down, or maybe it's just a return to form for Krueger after Part 2 saw him delivering a heap of one-liners. Freddy does some of that here, but it's much more delicious, "Welcome to primetime, bitch!"

The dream sequences are all memorable, from the television head insertion, the mirrored hallway, and the hypodermic hands. The last being strangely bold feeling for the era with the shot of Freddy feeling a heady rush from his injections into Taryn's wiggling meth scars. What about the iconic and infamous slimy "dickhead" Freddy that attempts to swallow Kristen whole. Will's, excuse me, the Wizard Master's death is uneventful, presumably sliced away by the MPAA or maybe for the benefit of the audience not seeing the death of such an innocent character. The Harryhausen skeleton at the climax is goofy as can be, but in a sequel this good who's going to complain about a little fun.

I agree with the majority, Dream Warriors is the best sequel and might be the only one you should actually own along with the 1984 classic. Sorry, I can't defend Craven's later franchise return with New Nightmare.

This VHS has seen better days with many instances of tracking issues. The picture isn't great either, seeming to shift in quality from shot-to-shot. Though trailers for Part 1 and Part 2 along with the hokey "within-the-movie" music video for Dokken's Dream Warriors is included after the end credits.

Film: 8/10
VHS Picture: 4/10
VHS Sound: 5/10

5 comments:

Johnny said...

My favorite of all the Elm Streets. Kruegahh!!! Ya little burnt face pussahhh!!

Jeff said...

Good classic to review! Every time I think of this movie, I think of Dokken and the Dream Warriors video.

Rev. Fred Phantom said...

My favorite of the series, but I really need to see it again. It's probably been over 15 years since I last saw it. Good to know one of my childhood favorites still stands up.

Starmummy said...

Just as good (or possibly better) than the original. I love part 2 also. The rest I could live without.

Tower Farm said...

Like everyone else, I like this one the best. I love the Drem Warriors video, too.

JM

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