Horror
A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors
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Dir: Chuck Russell
Star: Robert Englund, Heather Langenkamp, Patricia Arquette, Craig Wasson
Cert / Year: 18 - R / 1987
Format: DVD R1
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Cursed by recurring nightmares 17 year old Kristen Parker (Patricia Arquette) finally succumbs to her need for sleep which leads to an alleged attempted suicide. Referred from the local hospital to a psychiatric hospital Kristen is thrust into a group therapy of similarly troubled teenagers. Overseen by psychiatrist Dr. Gordon (Craig Wasson) and new "specialist" Nancy Thompson (Heather Langenkamp) the group discover that they all in fact dream of the same mutilated murderer. Eventually Nancy informs the group of the identity of their would be killer and some of her history with him, but as she is now taking prescribed experimental dream suppressing drugs she is out of his reach.....or is she. After the mysterious deaths of several of the kids the group discover that are each gifted with a unique ability or "power" whilst they are asleep so maybe if they team up they can finally beat the evil of Freddy Kreuger. Struggling to accept the current chain of events which is befalling his young charges, Dr. Gordon makes a startling discovery which may also help to lay the evil to rest....... or is this far too easy?

The third and easily one of the better of the Elm Street sequels due to the writing prowess of Wes Craven and the impressive directorial debut of Chuck Russell who wrote Dreamscape before his transition to the directors chair. Wes Craven thankfully ignored the abysmal A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy's Revenge in writing this story and it is essentially a sequel to the first film (Thankfully!!).

Another intelligently written story by Wes Craven which picks up 6 years after Nancy's departure from Elm Street as she returns to Springwood as a psychological "specialist" in pattern nightmares. Due to an uncanny ability of one of the "night terrorized" teenagers she is there to help Nancy is drawn into a nightmare where she comes face to face with her former sparring partner and arch nemesis Freddy Kreuger whom she defeated at the end of A Nightmare on Elm Street who is just as surprised to see her as she is to see him. This situation and history is part of the dual plot and enables a lot of ground to be covered that was missed in the first film as we are given a further insight into the true history and origin of Freddy. Significantly the film gives Freddy much more scope to indulge his wicked and cruel sense of humour as he playfully disposes of his victims. This facet to his personality was hardly touched upon in A Nightmare on Elm Street but in this film it allows the character him to flex his muscles as it were and develop much more providing an overrall more menacing character. Freddy shamelessly relises the brief glimpse of hope that he offers his victims on what they believe is their own terms right before he brutally snatches it back before he kills them in order to satisfy his ego. Most of all of course Freddy is determined to kill Nancy as she is the only Elm Street brat to actually beat him since then she has eluded him whilst he grows stronger from "the souls of the children". Just as it was in A Nightmare on Elm Street the whole Nancy versus Freddy relationship is a unique aspect to the film which has several subtle levels and takes the film out of the shadows of a typical horror flick.

As with the first film Dream Warriors manages to combine some of the more traditional horror film elements and carries a more gothic feel to the proceedings this time around with some not too dissatisfying direction from Chuck Russell who later went on to direct The Mask. There are one or two moments in the film that are very reminiscent of Dreamscape which I can only attribute to the influence of Russell who wrote that film, as they tend to look a little out of place in this film. On the whole the film retains a degree of surrealism and is quite stylish but lacks any of the real weight or horrific capacity that was evident in A Nightmare on Elm Street as some of the suspense is sacrificed to make room for a bigger special effects budget.

As ever a stunning and evocative performance by Robert Englund as Freddy Kreuger but this time around he is given more room to play with his character. Freddy Kreuger's sense of humour can only be described as dark, biting and witty whilst being quite imaginatively cruel. The stark visage of Freddy's new persona is more terrifying than before even if he does have a more humourous side, but it permits the dream killer to grow significantly as a character. Freddy Kreuger once again has his make up redesigned by Kevin Yagher for an even more graphic and chilling appearance.

A reasonable cast provide some good performances and the return of Heather Langenkamp to reprise her role as Nancy is a welcome treat and maintains some good continuity with the first film. John Saxon also returns as Nancy's father, providing a brief and uncomfortable performance. I must point out that although Patricia Arquette is a good actress and generally quite watchable she appears a little too mature for the role of the 17 year old Kristen Parker. Newcomer Rodney Eastman begins his ongoing hormonal torment at the hands of the ever shape changing Freddy Kreuger (and what marvellous shapes he changes into:) as Joey is captured and used a live bait for the "Dream Warriors" of the title. Which brings me to the idea of "dream powers" which is hardly an original concept but it could have been far better exploited than it's almost tacked on appearance in this film. An early on-screen performance by Laurence Fishburne as Max the hospital orderly. Who could have forseen his meteroic rise to the role of Morpheus in The Matrix from this early and almost "hammy" performance.

Lacking the all important dark and moody atmosphere which is successfully evident in A Nightmare on Elm Street Dream Warriors attempts to make up for the general lack of suspense by substituting a little dark humour. I will admit that some of the humour works rather well and does lead to some deaths which are more likely to raise a smile as opposed to making you shiver. Generally the film is quite a slick and occasionally gritty horror movie but it is a sequel and what the series needed was for Wes Craven to get back behind the lens as a director in addition to writing the story. In places it feels as if Russell has attempted to try to emulate some of the original films style and atmosphere but his evident naivety lets him down and they don't work as well as they could have. The larger budget obviously was spent on some pretty impressive special effects which look excellent but tend to detract from some of the original and more brutal and visceral elements attributed to A Nightmare on Elm Street. I think the film quite successfully exploits some elemental sexual or pubescent horror and the "marionette murder" is pretty impressive if a little Grand Guignol in it's imagery. As sequels go this film isn't bad at all and being honest it is one of the best but it certainly isn't a classic and were it not for the established characters and mythos I doubt that it would have been half as entertaining.

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Rating: 3.5 out of 5

DVD
Picture 1.85:1 Great digitally remastered transfer
Audio Dolby Digital 5.1 & Original Mono soundtrack Excellent Dolby mix.
Cast & Crew Biographies.
"Jump to a Nightmare" scene selection.
Cool interactive menu
Verdict As this disc is part of The Nightmare on Elm Street "Platinum Series" boxed set the disc is different to the standard release and the minimal extra's on this disc are reflected by a seperate disc within the collection which contains the bulk of the extras for this and the other films. This is however a very good presentation of the movie.

Reviewed by Logan Back Top Home