I have a shocking confession to make. I like A Nightmare on Elm Street 3 Dream Warriors more than the original movie. I know, what’s wrong with me? It’s just a really good sequel and I honestly like the characters in this better than the ones in the original.
I love that the movie is a return to canon with Freddy striking in the dream world. Plus, the movie has a list of names that made me ridiculously excited. Patricia Arquette! In her first movie role! The return of Heather Langenkamp and John Saxon! Lawrence Fishburne as Larry Fishburne! Zsa Zsa Gabor and Dick Cavett! With Angelo Badalamenti, of Twin Peaks fame, making music with Dokken! Wes Craven working on the screenplay with Frank Darabont! This is a lot of exclamation points but I’m very excited!
The movie opens up with a quote from Edgar Allan Poe.
Then we meet our Final Girl, Kristen Parker (Patricia Arquette.)
She’s been having really bad nightmares with creepy little kids but her mom is a typical, checked-out Elm Street parent. I sometimes wonder, who’s more dangerous on Elm Street? Freddy Krueger or these shitty parents? Freddy attacks Kristen, leaving her wrist bleeding, so she’s checked into a mental hospital for what’s perceived as a suicide attempt. A lot of teens in town have been trying to commit suicide. Kristen meets a rag-tag bunch of teen mental patients, all with sleep problems, who will try to fight Freddy. There’s Philip (Bradley Gregg), a puppet-maker, Taryn (Jennifer Rubin), a former junkie, Kincaid (Ken Sagoes), a bad-ass with an attitude problem, Jennifer (Penelope Sudrow), an aspiring actress, Will (Ira Stanton), a boy confined to a wheel-chair due to his suicide attempt, and Joey (Rodney Eastman), a boy who doesn’t speak. Plus, “Larry” Fishburne is Max, an orderly.
They’re all dreaming of Freddy Krueger and are all terrified to sleep. Dr. Gordon (Craig Wasson) and Dr. Simms (Priscilla Pointer) think the kids are dealing with regular psychiatric issues until Nancy (Heather Langenkamp!) arrives as a dream specialist. It’s six years after the events in the first movie and I guess she’s gotten over the crazies the second movie said she had.
Nancy believes the teens are really dealing with Freddy Krueger when she recognizes the rhyme that Kristen says she dreamed. Now it becomes a race against time to fight back in the dream world as Freddy picks off the teens, and she also has to fight the recalcitrant administration who thinks the kids are “just” crazy. Gradually, Dr. Gordon comes to believe in Nancy, especially after meeting a mysterious nun that tells the origin of Freddy Kreuger.
Yes, this movie gives Freddy some back-story but it isn’t necessarily the kind that will humanize him or make you sympathetic to the monster. Freddy’s mother was raped by violently psychotic inmates when she was accidentally locked in with them over the Christmas holiday, she conceived “the bastard son of a hundred maniacs.” Ouch. Furthermore, Freddy won’t stop, apparently, until the monster’s bones are laid to rest. Nancy takes Dr. Gordon to meet her father, the only person who can lead them to where Freddy’s buried. Nancy then joins the teens to fight Freddy in their dreams.
I like this movie because I didn’t find the second one to be very creepy but this one takes the creepy factor past the original. I especially love Philip’s death scene, when Freddy plays him like a puppet by his tendons. This freaked me out so much when I was young. I also had an awesome friend in high school that remembered this scene and we’d discuss it over and over again.
I’m glad Freddy returned to the dream world because there’s just something so creepy about this pervert being able to assault you in your dreams. I like the idea that the teens can fight back, though. Kincaid is super strong, Will can walk and is a wizard master, Kristen can do gymnastics (Literally, the only movie where I approve of tumbling), and Taryn is “beautiful and bad.”
The effects are kind of cheesy but I can overlook that just because I like the characters so much. There’s so much stop-motion! But the sets are atmospheric and creepy and there’s a return to the knives on metal sounds that is so creepy. Plus, the ending is sad, with Nancy and her dad dying, but also ambiguous about whether Freddy has truly been laid to rest. I do like the themes this series deals with, like the corrupting influence of vengeance. These parents think their kids are safe since they killed Freddy and are now pretty negligent.
You just really have to love a movie where Freddy Kreuger interrupts an interview between Zsa Zsa Gabor and Dick Cavett. See, Freddy can be funny and also super creepy.
It even has John Saxon descending from B-movie heaven.
This is one of the few instances where I also really love a tie-in movie song and music video. Yes, it’s Dokken with “Dream Warriors.” Anyone else notice that Taryn’s wearing a Dokken shirt when we first meet her?