Nightmares of Elm Street, Part 3: Dream Warriors

Seriously?  What is wrong with people this year?  Did I miss the past elections where vandals and violence were a regular feature?  I am not talking about people stealing lawn signs (which is merely silly…and hardly one sided.  Sure, every McCain Supporter will claim their signs were stolen and vandalized while Obama’s were left untouched, but I can find people who had the opposite happen in their neighborhoods).  Stealing signs is childish, but when you have six politicians in one city waking up to vandalism of their homes, people’s cars being keyed,  people being beat up, vehicles being defaced, people being shot*?  Something is messed up.  The violent crazies on both sides are coming out of the woodwork it seems.  It’s like some insane nightmare.

*The last one occured in the UK.

Speaking of Nightmares, let us take a look at the third Elm Street Film.  The Dream Warriors is easily one of the best of the series and one of the best loved.  Dream Warriors deftly handles horror, fantasy, action and comedy in one solid package.  Not entirely surprising, the cooks include Wes Craven, Frank Darabont  (writer of Shawshank Redemption, Green Mile) and Chuck Russell (who also directed, he is also known for directing the Jim Carrey film the Mask).

It’s a pretty effective story.  The last remaining Elm Street kids have been institutionalized, suffering from horrific nightmares.  No one seems to know what to do, because, again, in horror movies?  Adults are dumb and do not listen to anyone.  They presume the kids are really just, you know, suicidal.  Because suicidal people always claim a guy is stalking them in thei9r dreams and trying to kill them.  And they tend to do so en mass.

But these kids are lucky, you see, Nancy Thompson (Heather Langenkamp) is back to save the franchise.  I mean, the kids.  She, with help from Dr. Neil (Craig Wasson, of Ghost Story and more recently Sasquatch Mountain), work against an uncaring world to save the kids.   They do not of course, because frankly, that would be a boring horror movie.  Instead, Freddy kills a few of the kids rather creatively.  Nancy discovers that young Kristen (played by young Patricia Arquette) can pull people into her dreams.  This manages to give the surviving kids an edge.

Nancy and the kids manage to fight back against Freddy,while Dr. Neil meets a mysterious nun who conveniently knows a lot about Fred Krueger.  Neil learns Freddy must be buried on hallowed ground.  Thankfully, Nancy knows who could find the missing remains.  Her dad Donald (John Saxon).  Dr. Neil and Donald work to bury the bones of Freddy (which has a great little Harryhausen-esque stop motion skeleton fight scene) while Nancy and the kids do battle in the dream world.  After appearing to beat Freddy, Donald shows up in the dream world and tells Nancy he is dead, but a-HA!  It’s Freddy!!!  And Nancy is in trouble.  Freddy kills Nancy, but she succeeds in helping the kids before her final breathe.

At Nancy’s funeral, a heartbroken Dr. Neil receives another visit from mysterious old nun woman.  Dr. Neil follows her through the cemetary, where she disappears…but then Doctor Neil sees a headstone…the nun was the ghost of Amanda Krueger-FREDDY’S MOTHER!!!!

This film is notable for many reasons.  For instance, this film introduced the concept of the “dream power”, in which kids have a unique power-usually based in their self image- which they can use to fight Freddy.  The fourth and fifth films fail to put this to good use though.  It also introduces the back story for Freddy that he was the Bastard Son of 100 Maniacs.  His mother was a young nun who worked in an asylum and was locked up for a weekend with 100 depraved maniacs who raped her.

The film also introduced far more elaborate dream sequences.  The first two films had dream sequesnces that challenged you to figure out whether the character was asleep or awake.  In the Dream Warriors, the dreams are more fantasy adventures.  This is easily one of the top three films of the franchise, and worth watching, it is not scary, but it is full of adventure, fun, solid effects and pretty nicely played.

However, the film is also guilty of starting the film down the path the series took that bothered so many fans, specifically, Freddy the Comedian.  This is the film that gave us the line, “Welcome to Prime Time, Bitch!!!”  And while it works in this film, it clearly took the character down a road of self mockery.  So, in spite of the snark, I really do recommend this as a entertaining film to watch.

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