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?
- 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.
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.