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Tuesday, March 28, 2017


     A young teenage girl is haunted by terrible dreams of Freddy Krueger, which leads her to a psychiatric ward chock full of troubled kids- all of whom are being haunted by the evil madman...

       A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET 3: DREAM WARRIORS is almost universally known as one of the best and most-loved of the ELM STREET films- yet I've honestly never been a huge fan of this one, or any that followed, for that matter. I hadn't watched DREAM WARRIORS in ages and was recently in a mood for itso I dug out my copy the other day and gave it a whirl for old time's sakes. The film is fun... but it's just kinda lame to me now. The magic of the original is long gone, if you ask me.

     When the original A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET was released in '84, it truly did breath new life into the horror genre. I immediately loved it and it quickly became a Friday night staple alongside such time-honored slashers as HALLOWEEN and FRIDAY THE 13TH. I owned the original film on VHS twice, with numerous DVD versions throughout the years as well. I even enjoyed the strangely homoerotic sequel, with all its faults. Which brings us to part 3.

      I remember in high school when DREAM WARRIORS came out and people went absolutely nuts over it- but I was just sitting there all quietly underwhelmed, to be perfectly honest. I liked the film... but I wasn't blown away from it, like I was the original and even the sequel. This one left me feeling kinda blah. As a horror film, that is. (Now as a wonderfully wacky time capsule of 1987 with that extra-helping of late 80's cheese that you know exactly what I'm talking about- it excels. As a comedy, it works great- especially since the film makers decided to inexplicably turn Freddy Krueger into a wise-cracking comedian tossing out one-liners and jokes for days.) I just never found it remotely scary, that's all. Silly, yes. Scary, no.

     By all accounts, I should love DREAM WARRIORS, and I occasionally find myself in the mood to watch it... so I do, and find myself cringing way too much. Let's be real here- many horror films from the latter half of the 80's haven't aged well when viewed today, and DREAM WARRIORS is a perfect example of this. It's downright hokey at times, and some of the effects and scenes come across as rather silly. For whatever reason, horror films from the first part of the decade have a certain dark, grainy charm that holds up today, but was lost in the bright lights and garish color schemes that permeated so many of the scary movies from say, 1986 and on.

     Now there's some great touches in DREAM WARRIORS. For one, Nancy Langenkamp makes a welcome return as Nancy and is every bit as likable as she was in the original. She's now a psychiatrist who specializes in dreams,and immediately takes Kirsten under her wing to battle the return of Freddy Krueger. 80's cult actor Craig Wasson plays Dr. Neil Goldman at the psychiatric ward and devours any scenery in a ten foot radius as always. There's some fun cameos this time around, such as Zsa Zsa Gabor and Dick Cavett, but at the end of the day they're unnecessary and distracting. They also let you know that Freddy Krueger was very much a huge mainstream icon by the time this film was released- whereas the very first ELM STREET felt much more like a low-budget, independent film. Because it was, and that somehow made it much scarier.

     One cannot deny that Chuck Russell does a pretty good job directing the shenanigans on Elm Street this time around, and the dream sequences were huge hits with audiences in 1987. I just didn't love this one, popular opinion be damned. Go read the comments on this film on any given site and you'll see breathless reviews raving at how terrifying and awesome and close to the original the third installment is, and I disagree with all of that. Sure it's a well-made film and I'm not trying to purposely hate on it- I don't hate the film at all. I just don't find it the least bit frightening and the overall tone of the film is nothing like the original- to me, FREDDY'S REVENGE was far more like the original than part 3, in terms of overall atmosphere. The original film and the sequel still treated Freddy as truly evil with no sense of humor whatsoever- and kept him mostly in the dark to keep him mysterious. Not in this one. Freddy is front and center with a newfound treasure trove of sarcastic one-liners that's honestly just irritating and saps the film of any real impact. This one is just too corny and many of the special effects are just too over-the-top at times for it to be taken fully seriously. But to each his own I suppose.

     To me, DREAM WARRIORS is more of a camp classic than an outright horror film, with far more humor to be found in it than horror. And I think making Freddy a sassy slasher with quippy zingers only adds to the lightened mood and in turn takes it away from the darker tones and mood of the first two films. Which is a bummer to me. Here, he's just not scary anymore. Fun, to be sure... but this was when I started losing interest in the ELM STREET films. Around '87 and '88 I was much more interested in seeing FRIDAY THE 13TH PART 7: A NEW BLOOD and HALLOWEEN 4: THE RETURN OF MICHAEL MYERS. To me, the magic was over. 3 can be lots of fun to go back and laugh at, hell even 2 can be a hoot and a half at times- especially with the right crowd and party favors. The first film was always the only truly scary one of the franchise anyways, and you all know it.


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