A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET 3: DREAM WARRIORS (1987)
Just a few weeks back, Samuel Bayer released a remake of the Wes Craven classic that started the never-ending franchise, A Nightmare on Elm Street. In my review, I ranted about the lack of creativity in the new Nightmare and basically cried out for a Robert Englund reprise (which probably isn’t a great idea at 5 a.m.). I made it seem like I’m huge fan of the original film – and trust me, I totally am! – but the truth is, there’s only one Nightmare that haunts my deadite-loving dreams…
AndI’m not alone. ANOES3:DW (totally-terrible-acronym-I-just-made-up alert!) has gotten some pretty rockin’ press over the years.
My idol, Diablo Cody, chose the righteous sequel as part of her Mondo Diablo program at L.A.’s New Beverly Cinema (and paired it with the equally awesome slice of late-80s horror, Fright Night!). Empire dubbed it “the most imaginative of the [Nightmare] franchise.” Fangoria said it had the “most disturbing special effects since The Exorcist.” Janet Maslin of the New York Times even called the dream scenes “ingenious.” And if that’s not good enough for ya – and it has a 71% rating on Rotten Tomatoes! That’s 33% more than Scream 3 and I’ll Always Know What You Did Last Summer – combined!
…And the totally kickass story: Freddy’s back from the undead again (he’s a resilient “bastard son of 100 maniacs,” apparently) and ready to ruin some more prime wet-dream time. But this time, some sleep-deprived kiddies from the local mental ward are trying to fight back! And not just with sleeping pills and sharp objects. They’re also armed with bad-ass cuss-laden disses: “Let’s go kick the motherfucker’s ass all over dreamland!”
…And the talent(less) pool: The all-star cast includes Heather Langenkamp (a.k.a. Nancy), future Medium star, Patricia Arquette (in her first role ever) as Kristen, Laurence Fishburne – listed as Larry Fishburne – as Max, Zza Zza Gabor as herself and a whole bunch of people you’ve never seen before in your life.
…And the totally ’80s poster!:
But enough about the plot, actors and and campaign. Let’s get serious.
Why it’s terrible:
- At one point, when Kristen is supposed to be carrying a lost little girl, she’s clearly carrying an over-sized rag doll.
- Speaking of dolls, apparently Nancy fights the king of the bed bugswith a “Malaysian Dream Doll.” But she never explains what it is – or even tries to use them to help the kids. She just mentions it once, leading to an awkwardly long close-up. (I Googled it and all I got was the ANMOES3:DM script and a link to some weird Malaysian Dream Doll fanfic.)
- Freddy doesn’t get enough screen time. The kids, sorry, the “Dream Warriors”, are clearly the focus this time around. And quite frankly, they’re kinda boring. Except when they die. (Ebert didn’t even feel sympathy for the insomniacs!)
- Nancy looks like she’s been swapping beauty secrets with the Beast.
- The acting is worse than Freddy’s complexion, on a good day. Well, at least Nancy’s is (Patricia’s actually decent). Her response to a doctor telling her a kid cut off his eyelids last month? “Oh. God.”
- Nancy makes the kids go into their dreams when she knows they are probably going to be slaughtered in a highly imaginative way. Bitch.
- Oh, yeah. Nancy sucks.
Why it’s awesome:
- Two words: Larry Fishburne. Five more words: “Ain’t that right, cool breeze?”
- We actually get a chance to understand why the hell Freddy is so freakin’ creepy – his mom was raped by a bunch of crazy dudes, right before she got pregnant with him. Gross – but much more interesting than Malaysian Dream Dolls.
- This kid’s tattoo. (Enlarge for the full effect.)
- Freddy gets clay-mated!
- When they’re not fighting off dream demons, the asylum kids like to hang out and play Wizard Master, which is like Dungeons & Dragons meets Dumbledore meets Awesome.
- The special effects are actually out of control. Like when Freddy turns a puppet-obsessed boy into a human marionette! (This you need to watch to see…)
- The outfits are actually out of control.
- The death scenes are really creative and designed to match the characters.
- “WELCOME TO PRIME-TIME BITCH!” (Krueger kills a wannabee actress by putting her head in a TV.)
- “LET’S GET HIGH!” (Freddy does in a former drug addictwith a lethal injection.)
- Unlike most slasher flicks, we actually get an explanation for why the immortal villain is still able to kill and be re-killed. Dude feeds on dead kids souls!
B-movie bonus!: This nightmare has a hair-metal theme song!