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

A Nightmare on Elm Street III: Dream Warriors is, unsurprisingly, the third movie in the Freddy franchise. This one is the follow up to the 1985 second instrallment. It brought both Heather Langenkamp and Wes Craven back into the fold from the original and laid the groundwork for the rest of the series. Check out the trailer below, and then continue on down for Jack’s thoughts on the thing.

Reviewed by: Jack

 
 

Plot Synopsis

Kristin Parker, played by Patricia Arquette, is a troubled young woman who starts having nightmares about being hunted by Freddy on Elm Street. When Freddy’s dream attack manifests itself in the real world as Kristin having cut her wrists, she is admitted into a mental hospital at which Nancy Thompson (Langenkamp) is conveniently an intern or a PhD candidate or something.

When Nancy gains Kristin’s trust by reciting Freddy’s weird nursery rhyme, the two, with the help of a very conspicuous young Larry Fishburne, round up the hospital’s other troubled youngsters who are also being tormented by the Krug-man. Who would have figured?

 
Fan theory alert: do we ever see Larry and Freddy in the same room? Think about it.

Fan theory alert: do we ever see Larry and Freddy in the same room? Think about it.

 

Freddy starts killing of the dream-teens one by one. This is a slasher after all. The remaining kids undergo group hypnosis to try and fight Freddy together and learn that, for whatever reason, they all have a unique dream power. Well . . . some of them to. While a few of them get parkour flippy abilities, super strength, or a scream on par with Black Bolt’s, one of the girls gets an outfit out of an an early era Clash song and two switchblades. That’s it. Seriously, that’s the “power” she gets.

 Despite their dream powers and switchblades, Freddy makes easy work of the warriors and rips through them one by one until only a few are left. Even though the titular Dream Warriors fucking suck at warrioring, the day is inexplicably saved when Nancy’s dad throws holy water on Freddy’s remains in a junkyard that he finds thanks to a nun. I know, but trust me, it doesn’t make sense in context either. Queue a hint that Freddy isn’t dead forever and fade to black.


 What the Movie Does Right

Practical. Fucking. Effects. This movie is largely irrelevant any time Freddy isn’t going absolutely apeshit on the Dream Warriors, but when he is, it’s god damned brutal and terrific. The kills vary wildly, and run the gamut from Freddy turning a kid into a marionette with his tendons:

 
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 To turning into a TV and smashing a girl’s head:

 
 

While there are a couple of lackluster deaths, they are few and far between compared to the awesome and creative scenarios that Freddy creates as king of Dream World. Which brings me to Freddy. He’s exactly as acerbic and sarcastic as we’ve come to expect, and tossing out awesome one-liners before brutalizing fools. This honestly might be peak Freddy, personality-wise.


 What the Movie Does Wrong

 I feel like most of the writing of this movie must have been devoted to figuring out the creative kills, because the rest of the plot leaves a lot to be desired. It takes the cool and original premise from the first movie and fucks it right up. Instead of building interestingly on the concept, the movie chooses to cram a bunch kids of the people who killed Freddy into the same location and give them dream powers . . . for some reason.

Because why not take literally any chance you can to get this shit into a movie?

Because why not take literally any chance you can to get this shit into a movie?

 And then, instead of the dream powers actually doing anything, the movie ends when a non-dream-warrior character throws holy water he stole from a church on Freddy’s bones which are buried in a boneyard. Fucking what?! Why?! And oh yeah, did I mention that Freddy possesses his real-world skeleton to fight that guy Jason and the Argonauts-style? Because that happens too. Since when can Freddy possess things in the real world? And if he could always possess his skeleton, why wouldn’t he just go fucking move it a little bit so that alcoholic ex-cops can’t just find it and throw holy water on it?

Pay no attention to the lazy screenwriter behind the curtain!

Pay no attention to the lazy screenwriter behind the curtain!


RATINGS (1-10)

Story: 4 - I mentioned it above. I think some of the writing is clever, in that Freddy’s dialog is awesome and the kills are interesting and original, but the overall story is not good. It’s mostly lazy, but where it tries to innovate it just ends up being baffling.

World-Building / Immersion: 5 - This is one of those movies where, when the awesome shit is happening on screen, you’re all the way engrossed and nothing could pull you away. But by that same token, in between those scenes, you’d rather be doing almost anything else than focusing intently on the movie. That averages out to a right down the middle score.

 Scare-Factor: 6 - The concept of being helpless, even though you have powers, while attacked in your dreams is pretty freaky. That’s even more true when it manifests itself in the real world as a suicide attempt because no one will pick up on what’s happening. Add to that some squirmy scenes like the tendons marionette, and you’ve got a freaky little film here. It loses points for Freddy being defeated by holy water.

 Effects (or Judicious Lack Thereof): 8 - I don’t have too much more to add here. The effects are awesome. There’s one scene where kids are moving in between mirrors which have some regrettable post effects, but for the most part it’s all practical and all awesome.

 Overall: 7 - This movie is a good return to form for the franchise. I think this should be the example of what Freddy’s character should be. While the story isn’t stellar, it doesn’t need to be because you’re just here for the one-liners and the kills, which hold right the fuck up. Don’t let this be your blindspot.