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

A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors (1987)
  • Time: 96 min
  • Genre: Horror | Thriller
  • Director: Chuck Russell
  • Cast: Robert Englund, Craig Wasson, Patricia Arquette, Heather Langenkamp


Picking up where the original Nightmare left off, Nancy has grown up and become a psychiatrist specializing in dream therapy. She meets a group of children at a local hospital facing Freddy Krueger, the same demon she once encountered in her sleep. One of them is Kristen, who has the power to draw other people into her dreams. Working with a male doctor assigned to the case, Nancy helps the kids realize their special abilities within the nightmare world. When Freddy captures one of her charges, she leads a rescue attempt into Krueger’s domain, in hopes of putting his spirit to rest once and for all.

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  • It’s a rare case when a sequel makes a comeback in a franchise that begins going downhill in quality. Unfortunately with the law of diminishing returns it’s not easy for that to happen. When audiences start figuring out that the connections between stories are not being regarded and nothing new is being added to create a cohesive part by part saga, they begin to ignore and not support the cause. Once that happens, it becomes very difficult for the name to come back with something that’ll make everyone forget the bad taste that was put in peoples’ mouths. Yet for horror franchises, it’s much harder for this issue to occur since many just went to view the picture for the kills. But this is a unique case where the third entry (which usually is the worst in a trilogy) ended up being better than the second.

    However, the only big problem this installment has is where it lies in the timeline. The title suggest that it takes place after A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge (1985) yet throughout the running time, nothing is mentioned about the events of this film’s first predecessor (which also happened to acknowledge the original). Plus the original had a false ending so how did Nancy escape Krueger at the end of A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)? This makes it confusing because many Krueger fans believe that Part 2 shouldn’t exist, but it was made, so with this productions four writers, something could’ve been quickly added in to reference the last film. Besides this though, the rest of the writing works aggressively at making sure its audience will enjoy and care more about this set of characters than the last movie. When a bunch of kids start suffering from dangerous dreams at a mental ward headed by Neil Gordon (Craig Wasson), Nancy Thompson (Heather Langenkamp) returns to help the struggling fatigued youths fight back against Freddy Krueger using the powers of their dreams.

    The reason behind Krueger attacking these kids is that they are all that remain of the Elm Street kids of the parents that killed Freddy. This time, the motivation for Freddy is clear. Why not for Part 2? We’ll never know. Making his directing debut and partially writing for this entry is the underrated Chuck Russell. Co-writing with Russell is the return of Wes Craven, Bruce Wagner and future 3 time oscar nominated Frank Darabont. For this alone, it only feels right that the story has more substance this time around. Having John Saxon and Heather Langenkamp reprise their roles was a major plus and the new set of youth or dream warriors as they call themselves, are certainly more charismatic than the last bunch from Part 2. The dream warriors consist of Roland (Ken Sagoes) the tough guy, Joey (Rodney Eastman) the mute, Taryn (Jennifer Rubin) the punk, Phillip (Bradley Gregg) the geek, Kristen (Patricia Arquette) the believer and a couple others all of which have a distinct personalities. Heck even Laurence Fishburne has role in this movie!

    Veteran actress Nan Martin plays a specific role that is pretty creepy for the story. Again Langenkamp and Saxon provide just the right amount of nostalgia for the fans so that they have plenty to fall back on from the original film. Even Craig Wasson’s character is quite useful through the story. Of course we can’t forget Robert Englund as Freddy Krueger himself. Like every time before, Englund looks like he’s having a blast and any line that he says is darkly funny in its own right. The writing also includes more interesting scenes whether it be the dream sequences or back story information to Freddy Krueger. It additionally doesn’t follow the normal horror tropes either which is commendable. The dream sequences whether it be the kills or the act of fighting back go hand-in-hand with the special/practical effects and cinematography shot by Roy H. Wagner. This makes the dream scenes and kills much more creative, diverse and gruesome than the prior entry.

    Lastly, the only other element besides continuity that doesn’t sit well with this sequel is the musical score composed by Angelo Badalamenti. Future horror composer Christopher Young composed the musical score from Part 2 and sadly it was a let down. This was due to Young omitting the original A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984) theme composed by Charles Bernstein. For this score, Badalamenti reprises the creepy main theme that composer Bernstein created. except it feels rather shoehorned in a couple times than it is effectively put into the right places. Along with that are horror cues that sound even more synth keyboard emphasized that Bernstein’s score. It might be more accurate to say that it resembled that of Richard and Charles Band production quality; it really sounds cheap. This is baffling considering everything else with this entry had such better quality, the music should have received a boost as well, but it didn’t.

    The continuity is vague in its timeline placement and the musical score sounds cheaper than usual even with the return of the memorable creepy theme. However, with better dream sequences, kills, a cast of new dreamers, the return of original characters and a story with more clear motivations, this sequel gets very close to the original.

    Points Earned –> 7:10

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