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Slasher Review- A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: The Dream Warriors

Written by Josh Brewer, March 31, 2017, at 3:15 p.m. Tweet to: @theJWBrewer


Title: A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors

Director: Chuck Russell
Writer: Wes Craven, Bruce Wagner, Frank Darabont, Chuck Russell
Release Date: February 27th, 1987
Cast: Patricia Arquette, Heather Langenkamp, Craig Wasson, Ken Sagoes, Rodney Eastman, Jennifer Rubin, Laurence Fishburne, John Saxon, Robert Englund

Cliff’s Notes

While Freddy haunts the dreams of a mental ward, a grown Nancy does everything she can to help the teenage population survive.

Lecture

That’s better! After a major misstep, the Nightmare franchise gets back on track with Dream Warriors. Craven’s partial return to the series leads to the best of the traditional sequels and provides a new, more main stream, version of Krueger.

This puppy has everything you’d like from a horror flick. We’re treated to an army of fun, engrossing teens and effects are top notch. And, while the kill scenes slide a touch towards mean instead of scary – something I really don’t dig about the later sequels- everything has such an aggressive level of commitment thrown at it that I can’t help but smile. We also get the return of both Nancy and Lt. Thompson. Time hasn’t been kind to this father/daughter pair, and their scenes together speak volumes about Freddy’s effect on the real world.

And that’s what lifts this sequel above the rest of the slasher fare. Here, Krueger is just as vicious as ever, but Englund’s portrayal make him more than just a monster. He’s a literal sickness, infecting the teens of Elm Street. He even manages to use their doctors against them in a vicious commentary about the service medicine provides to the ill. Sure, Dream Warriors is a slasher, but Craven and crew have grand ambitions and are here to deliver.

Acting

Arquette makes the most out of her first film role and really anchors the flick. Great job! It’s fun to see Langenkamp and Saxon back in action, though this is Langenkamp’s weakest entry into the series. It doesn’t help that she’s 23 playing a therapist in one of the fastest turnarounds to date. but her work could be clearer. The rest of the teens here are strong, but I really dug Wasson. It’s rare to see an adult character used so well in a slasher, and certainly rare to see one played with such skill. Oh, and Freddy begins his transformation into a punning master of ceremonies. Sure, I miss the scary guy, but this dude is fun and Englund makes the role a blast!

Directing

Russell does his best Craven impersonation, though he doesn’t manage to be as successful. The use of surrealism carries the later parts of the film, though I have to wonder if Craven would have been a better choice: he’s got a much better hold on tension in and out of the dream sequences. That being said, Dream Warriors stands head and shoulders above the previous entry, so this is a step in the right direction.

Script

Dream Warriors serves as a solid sequel while taking the franchise in a new direction. While I feel that the later entries don’t do it as well, this entry manages to combine horror, fantasy, and the slasher set up to great effect. This puppy does everything that ANOES 2 tried to do and failed. Sure, some of the characters are a touch weak, that happens with a cast of this size, bu the plot and focus more than make up for it.

Effects

Explosions of awesome! Sure, the fantasy element have taken over, but oh my god the effects rock! Stop motion animation, crazy puppets, wicked visuals, and all kinds of crazy set-ups make Dream Warriors the high point in terms of visual effect output!

Highlights

Freddy Marionette? Freddy Snake? Crazy Mohawk? Take your pick!

Lowlights

This isn’t the first time this happens, but I’m getting really tired of one dimensional doctors who are too stupid and make life difficult for your heroes because it serves the story, not because they have any actual motivations to do so. Can’t happen again, right?

Final Thoughts  

The best of the pure Elm Street sequels by far, Dream Warriors gives you everything you want in a horror franchise. Rock star!

Grade: B+

 

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