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

The third entry in the Elm Street franchise is a lot of people’s favorites after the first film, and it’s easy to see why, with story credits from Wes Craven and Frank Darabont this instalment features Freddy Krueger (Robert Englund) on the cusp, he’s still scary, but he’s also starting to introduce some quips to his repartee.

It also has the most dreamlike qualities of any of the films yet, the dream sequences in this film feel more illusory than those in the previous films. It also introduces more backstory for Krueger, relating to his conception and birth, while still dabbing with some of the supernatural elements introduced more prominently in Freddy’s Revenge.

The series still has a problem with time. It’s still very much the 80s, but we learn that Nancy (Heather Langenkamp) has not only finished high school, and university, but she’s now a grad student. I’m not saying it couldn’t be done, but that seems awfully rushed, no matter how glad I am to see Langenkamp’s return to the series.

She’s been called in to help at a mental facility, specifically a ward for troubled teens who are having problems with nightmares, and seem to be sharing a delusion about a boogeyman.

Nancy finds herself working with Neil (Craig Wasson) who is in charge of the kids, and attempting to help them work through their issues. Nancy makes some strange suggestions and recommendations, including an experimental drug and the concept that their nightmares may be real.

But two things happen with Nancy’s presence, Freddy ups his attacks, and the group is united by Nancy, and a young gifted woman, Kristen (Patricia Arquette) who has the ability to pull others into her dreams.

It’s a fun film, has some enjoyable sequences, and really embraces the idea of the dream world, and the way the dream can use it, or be used by it.

People love a number of sequences from this film, often citing them as their favorites from the entire series, and they handle the test of time very well. Each of them are unique, and tailored to the target and lets Freddy be both frightening and deliver some great one-liners.

We also get to see how things have fared for Nancy’s father (John Saxon) after the events of the first film, and how he redeems himself in a small but definable character arc, and I also loved the fact that we got to see Laurence Fishburne, who plays Max, one of the institute’s orderlies.

In the long run, I think this is one my favorite entries in the series, though there are bits and pieces I love from most of them. It’s going to be an interesting ride revisiting the rest of the franchise.

Next time it’s The Dream Master! Sweet Dreams.

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