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

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

Directed by: Chuck Russell

Premise: A group of teenagers locked inside of a mental hospital are stalked by Freddy Krueger (Robert Englund). When the teens come under the mentorship of Nancy (Heather Langenkamp), the survivor of the original film, they use the power of their imaginations to combat Freddy.

What Works: Of the sequels to A Nightmare on Elm Street, Dream Warriors comes out on top as the best successor to the original film. The third entry brings Freddy Krueger out of the shadows and gives him more dialogue, but it is also able to give Krueger the wisecracks and one-liners and keep him a threatening and dangerous figure, something later Nightmare films lacked. Dream Warriors also has the strongest cast of characters of the Nightmare series. The teens are well drawn and multidimensional and the film also gives the adults something to do, partnering them with the teens against a common enemy. Dream Warriors escalates the scale of the picture and embraces the fantasy elements of the series implicit in the previous entries. By doing this, the film is able to open up to greater possibilities and it has some extremely imaginative sequences. Dream Warriors marked the return of Nightmare on Elm Street creator Wes Craven to the series as a co-writer and producer, and his presence can be witnessed in the correction of the mistakes of Freddy’s Revenge. Also apparent are the contributions of co-writer Frank Darabont, who went on to write and direct films like The Mist and The Shawshank Redemption, and director Chuck Russell who went on to direct The Mask and produce Collateral.

What Doesn’t: Dream Warriors shifts the tone of the Nightmare series and its look departs from the grittier style of the two previous films. While that works for the overall design of the film, it also loses some of the atmosphere of the original and the scares are lessened.

DVD extras: DVD-ROM features.

Bottom Line: Dream Warriors is the best sequel of the Nightmare on Elm Street series. Although it is less subversive than the previous entries and is more of a mainstream entertainment, it remains a very strong film that captures the best elements of the series.

Episode: #261 (October 25, 2009)