Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors, A (1987)
Release Date: February 27th, 1987 MPAA Rating: R
Director: Chuck Russell Actors: Heather Langenkamp, Craig Wasson, Patricia Arquette, Robert Englund, Ken Sagoes, Rodney Eastman, Jennifer Rubin, Bradley Gregg, Ira Heiden, Laurence Fishburne, Penelope Sudrow, John Saxon, Brooke Bundy
his third Freddy Krueger episode beings with a quote by Edgar Allan Poe – which already makes it infinitely better than the previous entry. In addition, the cinematography isn’t as bright and cheery, the music is far more baleful, and the severity – just with a young, gloomy Patricia Arquette forcing herself to stay awake with soda and spoonfuls of ground coffee – is much more convincing. And when she transitions into the dream world, the look is utterly chilling.
After accidentally slashing her wrist while fighting off Freddy Krueger (Robert Englund) in a dream, young Kristen (Patricia Arquette) is sent to a psychiatric hospital in Springwood. But when the staff attempt to sedate her, she lashes out at Dr Gordon (Craig Wasson) with a scalpel – until intern Nancy Thompson (Heather Langenkamp) calms her down. Kristen is soon introduced to an entire ward of patients who have all attempted suicide, due to some sort of group delusion/psychosis or patterned nightmares, all involving the very same, mutilated boogeyman, wielding a glove outfitted with metal blades on the fingers. Insomnia, narcolepsy, sleepwalking, the manipulation of dreams, toying with experimental psychoactive drugs, and violently dying in one’s sleep are all on the menu.
In “A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors,” It certainly helps to have real actors and a sharper screenplay. In a grandly welcome twist, the plot attempts to build up the backstory for the iconic child murderer (even if it’s extravagant) instead of merely throwing bodies in front of his razors; the heroine from the first film returns (even if she’s one of the weaker links); the supporting players are believable in their plights (Larry Fishburne turns up in a small role); and the setting has changed from a house on Elm Street to a chasmal asylum with a distinct “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” vibe. Plus, for the most part, the waking dreams have become genuinely frightening, replacing the former, continual levity and goofiness with brutality and a sincere approach to the material – even if Krueger spouts a few too many one-liners during his carnage.
The special effects are also sensational, utilizing stop-motion animation, enormous puppets/animatronics, grotesque prosthetics, grisly corpses, pyrotechnics, and loads of makeup and fake blood. The set designs and props are significantly more impressive than before, while even the gore is symbolic of imagery previously witnessed (such as when Phillip, who constructs paper dolls, is turned into a human marionette), or with the tongue motif originated in the first film. Here, there’s also a religious factor, allowing for the incredibly unnerving nun, Sister Mary Helena (Nan Martin), to provide a solution to the serial dream slayer. Unfortunately, as the collection of patients – or dream warriors – band together to combat their shared nemesis, the ideas start to stray away from their horrifying roots to become rather ridiculous. The wilder, adventurous, almost action-packed ending can’t live up to the morbid start, digressing into something unfitting, unfaithful, and downright obnoxious.
– Mike Massie