- Movie Rating -

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

| February 27, 1987

I was an admirer of Wes Craven’s A Nightmare on Elm Street a few years ago for reasons that are all but lost on the second sequel.  The original was creepy, based on a novel concept and did very well to keep its boogeyman mostly in the dark.  The new film has none of this.  The success of the Nightmare films is all over this movie.  The budget is bigger.  The cast is bigger.  The visual effects are bigger and more polished.  But the impact is almost null and void.  I walked out of this movie after 96 minutes thinking about lunch.  The movie had already left my mind.

I cannot fault the craft.  The movie has a technical polish that I admired.  Most abundantly I remember a kid tied to a bed frame with living tongues and hung over the pits of Hell.  It’s a great-looking stunt.  The problem is that I had no feeling or affection for the poor kid who was tied up.  I can’t even remember his name.  And that’s the problem here.  While the production values and the technical craft are good, I couldn’t remember a single character.  Like the kids who occupy the Friday the 13th movies, they aren’t really characters.  They are pawns that are set up to be knocked down.  Seriously, I can’t remember a single character.

Well, there is one, the villain.  This Freddy Krueger character has grown in this series form a boogeyman skulking around in the dark to a demonic Bugs Bunny, spouting one-liners before he chops his victims up with his finger knives.  Robert Englund, under a ton of make-up, gives the audience their money’s worth despite the fact that they aren’t really left with anything.

The location this time is different.  The movie doesn’t take place on Elm Street but involves several survivors of the Elm Street boogeyman who still haunts their dreams.  Their parents, we learn again, once hunted down the local child molester and burned him alive.  In death, he haunts the dreams of their children – if they die in the dream, they die for real.  We’ve been over this same ground before.

The difference is that his ghostly encounters have a purpose.  A helpful nun (whose identity you can figure out long before the people in this movie) informs an inquisitive doctor (Craig Wasson) that Krueger can only be silenced by having his bones buried in consecrated ground.  Why?  I have no idea, and really neither do the people who wrote this film.  Consecrated ground is one of those fancy terms that you are suppose to assume doesn’t need an explanation.  I guess I’m asking too much.

The kids at the hospital are not taken seriously by the staff.  That’s why the participation of Wasson and Nancy Thompson (Heather Langenkamp) the survivor of the first movie who now acts as a “dream specialist” is so crucial.   They want to use the psychic abilities of one of the kids to help the others with their problem.  What happens after that is not all that surprising despite some of the aforementioned special effects.

One kid that is curiously missing here is the guy from the second movie, Jessie.  He is left out of this movie probably because that movie didn’t to so well, but I would have been interested in his input.  I felt that the second movie was a missed opportunity to deal with a kid who is dealing not only with Freddy but also with his own sexuality.  It was right there but the filmmakers didn’t want to go down that road.  I think it would have been a worthwhile inclusion, at least to break up the monotony.

About the Author:

Jerry Roberts is a film critic and operator of two websites, Armchair Cinema and Armchair Oscars.
(1987) View IMDB Filed in: Horror