Logline: In a psychiatric hospital, the last of the Elm Street kids fight back against Freddy Krueger, the serial killer who stalks their dreams.
Review: “What a rush.” These words are spoken by Freddy Krueger in A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors and they are a great summation of the film. Even though it does not come close to the brilliance of A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984), Dream Warriors is a fun and imaginative slasher flick in its own right. It is easily the best sequel in the Nightmare franchise.
Dream Warriors feels like more of a sequel than its predecessor. Wes Craven refused to participate in the first sequel but thankfully, returned for Dream Warriors. He wrote an original story that was turned into a screenplay with the help of the director, Chuck Russell, Frank Darabont, and Bruce Wagner. Craven was also an executive producer of the film. Heather Langenkamp and John Saxon, who did not appear in the second film, return to reprise their roles from A Nightmare on Elm Street. It is nice to see these characters again. Tonally, Dream Warriors is different from the first two films and Freddy becomes more comedic. Freddy would become even more comedic in subsequent sequels to their own detriment. Dream Warriors employs more fantasy elements. The dream sequences are more elaborate and in some ways, more inventive. In turn, Dream Warriors has some great visuals and special effects. I love the scene in which Freddy turns into a puppet master and controls one of the helpless teens and the scene in which Freddy has taken the form of a giant snake.
The script is solid and elaborates on some of Freddy’s backstory. One of the script’s strengths is its treatment of the characters. All of the Elm Street teens are interesting and compelling to watch. The cast, which includes a young Patricia Arquette (Boyhood) and Laurence Fishburne (The Matrix), does a fine job. The soundtrack composed by Angelo Badalamenti (Blue Velvet) is good but the most memorable tunes are those featured by 80s rock band Dokken. Into the Fire was previously released in 1984 while the title song, Dream Warriors was written for the film.
Freddy is defeated in a grand finale. My one gripe is that Nancy is killed off in a disappointing scene that is clearly there just to shock the audience. The scene should have had more of an emotional punch than it did. The film is also a bit cheesy at times. These are minor flaws though. As it stands, Dream Warriors works on many levels. It is universally acknowledged as the best sequel in the franchise and for good reason. This would have been a fitting conclusion to the series but being that this is a horror film franchise, more obligatory sequels followed.
Rating (out of ****): ***1/2