FINAL GIRL explores the slasher flicks of the '70s and '80s...and all the other horror movies I feel like talking about, too. This is life on the EDGE, so beware yon spoilers!

Apr 13, 2006

I Heart: A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors

I'd like to start things off with a little Public Service Announcement: Part 2 (of 4) of Hungry Like the Wolf is up today at Nightmare World for your reading pleasure. Read it, dagnabbit!

I'd like to continue things with a disclaimer: I have a fondness for A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors (1987) that is so large, I'm not entirely sure anymore if the movie is actually deserving of said fondness. I'm telling you this because my opinion and glowing praise of it is completely wrapped in a gauzy haze of nostalgia-induced love. So if you see NoES 3 on my recommendation and you hate it and find yourself saying "That movie sucked! That Final Girl lied to me! I'm gonna tear her a new one!", well, I simply can't be held responsible. I have disclaimed!

But look at that poster art! Can a movie with poster art that sweet really suck? And can I be a Dream Warrior when I grow up? Pleeeeease?

Most of you probably have seen this bright spot in the Freddy Krueger saga by now, but for those of you who haven't, the premise is simple. Freddy's back, and he's trying to kill off the "last of the Elm Street children"- the children whose parents burned him alive years before. These kids are a rag-tag group of ne'er-do-wells whose suicidal tendencies have landed them in a mental hospital. Lucky for them, one fellow failed suicide, the plucky Kristen (Patricia Arquette), has the ability to pull people into her dreams. Also lucky for them, Nancy (Heather Langenkamp) from the original Elm Street is an intern at the hospital! She leads the charge and the Dream Warriors jump into Kristen's nightmare and head off to "kick the motherfucker's ass all over dreamland". Yay!! Go, Dream Warriors, go! I love you, Dream Warriors!

As I said, I no longer have any idea if NoES3 is actually good or not. Is it good? Is it bad? Is it good/bad? I'm pretty sure it falls into all three categories at once, which in and of itself is quite a feat. There's a few undisputably great moments, but then there's also some moments that are so...so...so cringe-worthy that my cheeks almost burst into flame from embarrassment whilst watching. Let's just break this bad boy down and see what we get, alright?

THE GOOD

- while Nancy's hair is bigger than ever before, it seems she has, at long last, become acquainted with the product known as "conditioner".

- the creepy girl on the tricycle in Kristen's opening dream sequence. While standing in the basement, she says "This is where he takes us" and for a moment you realize and/or remember what a monster Freddy Krueger was. People end up rooting for Freddy with his quips and his creative kills (which is a whole other topic in itself, the "rooting for the bad guy" impulse), but while alive he would take children to a basement and kill them. Treated more seriously, the Nightmare series could have been terrifying.

-the battle with Freddy's re-animated skeleton in the car yard. Yeah, it looks pretty fake and it's pretty silly, but it's just so Ray Harryhausen that I can't help but love it. Fuck CGI, man.

-learning Freddy's origins: the ghost of Amanda Krueger tells how Freddy is "the bastard son of 100 maniacs". That's an awesome layer to add to the character. Treated more seriously, the Nightmare series could have explored the nature of evil.

-the marionette sequence. Freddy pulls long strands of muscles out of a character's four limbs and guides him out of a top-storey window like a puppet. Grody to the max.

-the cast. You've got "Larry" Fishburne as Max, the tough-love orderly; Jennifer Rubin of Bad Dreams as bad girl Taryn; Craig Wasson of Ghost Story as Dr. Gordon, who you know is totally in love with Nancy but won't say it; the always-welcome John Saxon; and as the doctor who just doesn't get it, the lady who also played Pam Ewing's long-lost mother on Dallas...you know I was all over that.

-Kincaid calling Freddy a "burnt-faced pussy". It just makes me laugh.

THE GOOD/BAD

I just decided, I'm not going to call any of this stuff outright bad. It's all sort of embarassing, but I'm calling it all some corny-ass good/bad goodness. So there.

-when the nerd in the Sally Jesse Raphael glasses declares "In my dreams, I am the Wizard Master!" and shoots green bolts out of his fingertips.

-when Taryn declares "In my dreams, I'm beautiful...and bad!" We know she's bad because 1) she busts out her twin switchblades; 2) she sports glitter on her chest; 3) she has a two-foot mohawk thing going on.


-Max calling Kincaid "Cool Breeze". What a delightfully uncool "cool" 80s nickname.

-the fact that Zsa Zsa Gabor is in this movie...it's just...I love it, yet...it's Zsa Zsa Gabor. In a slasher movie. Zsa Zsa. And she gets killed by Freddy Krueger...it...does...not compute. How do I feel right now?

-I'm not a fan of "funny" Freddy, and this is the movie where he starts to become the Henny Youngman of horror: "Get ready for prime time, bitch!" Bleh.

-Nancy's father's ghost floats down to her in a shower of sparkling sparkles. He's like a disco, rock-star ghost from Xanadu or something.

So there you have it, whatever it is. Yep, I heart A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors from the creepy kid at the beginning to Don Dokken's singing "We're the dreeeeam warriors!" over the closing credits and all the corniness in between. That corniness includes, of course, the giant Freddy head/snake thing that almost devours Kristen. But this picture...disturbs me. Patricia Arquette looks like she's actually having a good time, if you know what I mean...and I think you do.

15 comments:

bodhi said...

zombie films i never tire of..... Perhaps i was a zombie in a former life. Perhaps i'm a zombie NOW, but don't know it.
Can zombies write? hell, can they even TYPE?
Nice blog you have here!

Anonymous said...

I'd say this is easily the second-best Freddy movie EVER, after Part One of course. You are not alone in your intense love. I just loved seeing Nancy again. That character is the best Final Girl of all time, IMHO, and Heather Langenkamp ought to be given more slasher roles. Maybe literally. Wouldn't it be great to see an Evil Nancy somehow?

Al K. Haul said...

spot on points re: NOES 3.
the stuff you mention is what 80s slashers are about: you take the good, you take the bad, you take them both & then you have: a horror franchise. A Horror Franchise. Something you didn't mention, did you notice how much the top view of the Freddy snake looks like a penis?
On that note would you think I'm a closet case if i pointed out how gay part 2 is? watch it & tell me I'm wrong.
xoxoxo

Josh said...

I have an unabashed love for Part Three, because it ignored the stink of part two and cheese factor aside, has the most imagination of any Nightmare on Elm Street since the first one.

"prime time" might suck, but the kill that follows more than makes up for it. In fact, almost all of the kills make up for the birth of Jokester Freddy.

And they kill Lagenkamp and Saxon so they don't have to die like the poor schmucks who came back for Dream Master.

The Retropolitan said...

Part 3 was pretty good -- actually, probably the best of the series. I won't lie, I'm not really a fan of the Elm Street bunch, but I think part 3 is where the 'creepy' and the 'silly' equalized before everything in the series became generic. And I'm not even going to bring up part two.

Craig Moorhead said...

I wish Chuck Russell had kept directing horror movies. This and 'The Blob' - I could write an "I Heart 'The Blob'" article that would leave in need of extra socks - were great movies. I don't know what happened to this guy. Eraser? The Scorpion King? Meh.

Feh.

sc83x said...

the movie was excellent. that and dream master have always been the best nightmares, in my opinion.

i think it's the only horror movie that brings me to tears. "i'll dream you into a beautiful dream..." or whatever she says.

love it.

B.A. Slattery said...

Is this the one where the guy dies in the waterbed? I like that one. But I think that's part 4.

Stacie Ponder said...

They should've ended the series with this movie, in my opinion. Freddy would go on to become a joke...Nancy's dead...Freddy's body is buried...great ending. I'm sure I've seen Part 2 at some point, but I don't remember anything about it. Probably blocking it out!

Like you, Retro, I'm not a big Elm Street fan, but Part 1 and especially Part 3 I like alot.

Not to mention that this movie had ALOT of balls for killing Nancy at the end and leaving her dead. She didn't wake up from a dream, Kristen didn't dream the whole thing...the heroine was just DEAD in a sort-of satisfying way that didn't hurt the plot...unlike, say, what happened to Laurie fucking Strode.

And Josh, you bringing up John Saxon made me go bak and add a point of cheese to the original post that I'd meant to include but forgot.

We're all Dream Warriors! Can we get matching jackets?

Des said...

I would have loved this movie if it were not for the odd dulcet tones of the Dokken theme song echoing through my skull as I type this:

"We're the Dream Warriors!
Don't wanna dream no more,
we're the Dream Warriors!
And maybe tonight,
and maybe tonight you'll be gone!!!"

snarf said...

I must admit that I'm a huge fan of the entire series. I swallow it whole, including all the good/bad-stuff of which there IS plenty. They have always had some great bits of horror-surrealism that few films have been avle to match.

When the films go wrong I usually just imagine that the films are poor recreations of far better movies that have been devoured by hordes of evil and can never be recovered.

So I guess I put myself to work with these films, but I'll say that no. 3 put less of of strain on my need to forgive the flaws of the series than many of the others.

Dirk Manning said...

But STACIE!!!

If the series ended at Part III we would have never gotten that WICKED "Roach Motel" sequence in Part IV!!!

(P.S.-- E-mail me yer #, darn it! That is all!)

Chris Hopper said...

This is my favorite Nightmare movie, but I really did like the soundtrack to part 4.

Rural Juror said...

"m sure I've seen Part 2 at some point, but I don't remember anything about it. Probably blocking it out!"

I actually saw that on television. it makes no sense from what I can remember (something about the teenage guy who now lives in the house being possessed by Freddy or something...but they don't really do a good job of drawing a line of distinction between what's a dream and what's not).

I will give it this, it has an effective scene on a school bus at the VERY beginning

jervaise brooke hamster said...

its funny but whenever i think of this film all that comes to mind is penelope sudrow and the bit with the television, for me that scene has always been the highlight of the film, penelope had such an interesting scrunced up little face (kinda` pretty in a strange kind of way) its a shame she drifted into obscurity, the only other film i remember seeing her in was "after midnite" where she played one of those 3 birds who got into trouble with that psycho whilst driving in the most deserted part of L.A. at 3:AM if i remember rightly that was easily the best segment of the film.