Film Review: A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors
In 1987, Chuck Russell released A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors, the third film in the Nightmare on Elm Street series. starring Heather Langenkamp, Craig Wasson, Patricia Arquette, Robert Englund, Ken Sagoes, Rodney Eastman, Jennifer Rubin, Bradley Gregg, Ira Heiden, Laurence Fishburne, Penelope Sudrow, John Saxon, Priscilla Pointer, Clayton Landey, Brooke Bundy, Nan Martin, Dick Cavett, Zsa Zsa Gabor, and Sacey Alden, the film grossed $44.7 million at the box office. Nominated for the Saturn Award for Best Horror Film, Best Supporting Actor, and Best Make-Up and the Fantasporto International Fantasy Film Award, the film won the Fantasporto Critics Award – Special Mention.
Freddy Krueger is continuing his reign of terror and has been plaguing the dreams of several teenagers who have been placed in a psychiatric hospital, where Nancy Thompson has recently joined on as staff. Eventually, she realizes the teens are battling Krueger and plans to help them realize what powers they have in their dreams to defeat Krueger once and for all.
A far better film than the one it followed, A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors is almost as good as the initial entry into the series. Here, instead of following four friends as they deal with an unknown killer haunting their dreams, the film centers on a bunch of teenagers who have been placed in a mental health facility due to them sharing dreams involving said killer. They’re afraid to fall asleep because they don’t want to deal with Krueger and none of the doctors and nurses know how to deal with it until Nancy comes along and reveals that she knows with exactly what and whom the characters are dealing. What transpires is not only her bringing one of the other doctors around to believing the teens, but said doctor finding out that he has to put Krueger’s remains to rest properly and embarking on an interesting subplot to do so that winds up tying into the main story quite well.
Krueger really comes into his own and actually develops as the series’ main villain in this film, going from a one dimensional killer out for revenge to becoming an even sicker and more twisted psycho with a demented sense of humor. The humor really comes out when he’s killing with one of the more notable quips he gives is when killing Jennifer by smashing her head into a television and, knowing that she wanted to be famous, welcomes her to prime time. Further, Kruger also takes out his victims in ways that are unique to their personalities and personal fears, such as how he did it with Jennifer who wanted fame. This can also be seen with Taryn, a recovering heroin addict, when he threatens her with syringes full of the drug and making her scars turn into orifices that suck and clamor for a fix. He kills her with said syringes too The film also ramped up the horror of what he does to people after killing them showing that not only does he collect their souls and torture them forever, but that doing so actually gives him strength.
However, the teens Krueger is hunting are great in this film as well, since they do what they can to manipulate the nightmares he gives them by turning his power against him and utilizing dream logic and dream powers. While it doesn’t amount to much and at best just helps delay the inevitable, the characters bringing the fight to Krueger within the dreams is still fascinating. These powers are unique to the teenagers, with Kincaid getting super strength, Taryn turning into a punk with dual switchblades and the knowhow to properly wield them, Will turning into a functional wizard, Joey having a sort of sonic scream and Kristen with her ability to draw people into her own dreams. Yet, as stated, none of them actually take Krueger out and instead just allow the doctor enough time to find his bones and perform last rites. This doesn’t detract from the overall quality of the film nor does it damper the cinematic experience as it can be interpreted that while the teens are able to manipulate their nightmares, it just shows that they are still in Krueger’s domain.