Don't wanna dream no more
We're the dream warriors
Maybe tonight you'll be gone
Ask Nightmare fans which is their favorite of the series and without a doubt you'll generally hear "the first and the third." There's a good reason for this. The first movie was an instant classic with a series-ready monster and a creative storyline. Dream Warriors plays off the original beautifully with a welcome return of a familiar character, imaginative dream sequences, a return of the iconic theme music, and most of all, a wonderful cast featuring likable (and relatable) kids.
The movie begins by wisely disregarding Part II as we are quickly introduced to Kristin (a haunted Patricia Arquette) who is having simply awful dreams. Her 'rich bitch' Mother doesn't understand and refuses to take her seriously until a failed suicide attempt (actually a Freddy attack) which winds Kristin up in a mental ward with other kids who are mysteriously having nightmares as well. Turns out, they're the last of the Elm Street children and Freddy wants to finish what he started. With the assistance of a helpful doctor and a new wunderkind grad student, the kids must use their dream powers to stop Freddy once and for all while wrestling with their own personal demons. Not an easy feat.
Oh and the grad student is Nancy! Nancy's back! Yeah!
Okay, let's start with the cast. So, generally in my horror reviews, I'm focusing on the monsters, rather than their victims. In fact when doing my F13 Marathon Review, I pretty much glossed over the characters. But this ain't no Friday movie. Dream Warriors follows the formula of the first one, with literally no weak kids in the cast. Aside from good girl Kristin, we have tough guy Kincaid, mute Joey, sleep-walker Phillip, ex-druggie Tarin, wheelchair bound Wil, and Jennifer, an actress wannabe whose looking for her big break on TV. And boy does she get it. And of course, there's Nancy, who has seen this all before and knows what the kids are going through. She has matured a bit during her time away, and has an almost motherly influence on the teens who don't really know what they're up against. All of these characters are smart and well-acted with individual characteristics and all have a touchingly human side usually lacking in horror movies.
Also like the first movie, NOES 3 uses the kids to make Freddy even more horrifying as he preys upon their fears and weaknesses in malicious, sadistic and frankly twisted ways. Case in point, I DARE you not to wince during the vein puppet scene. It can't be done. I tried. But seriously, because the audience empathizes with the characters so damn much, every single death scene packs a powerful punch. This is what some of the other Nightmares forget, you shouldn't want the kids to die. In fact, the movie also plays cleverly with the audience's emotions by killing off some characters you don't expect to die, and saving others you did. The fact that the "horror movie rules" are thrown to the wind adds some tension to the whole proceedings and makes Freddy more frightening and even more unpredictable.
So yeah, yeah the kids. Nancy. We get it. What about Freddy?
Well Freddy is back with a vengeance in this one - although he definitely has a stronger sense of humor now, with clever quips and the warped sense of humor that the character has become known for. But unlike some of the following sequels, it's done with just the right amount of balance between comedy and horror. As for Robert, well, Robert is awesome as usual and while he may not look as scary as he did in the first or second one, the character is still just as frightening. The way Freddy has learned to toy with his victims is the stuff nightmares are made of. He must have been taking courses during his downtime.
So yes, this is why many people say "the first and the third" and as a "first and third" girl myself, I totally understand. It ain't perfect and the movie loses a tiny bit of steam at the end, especially when it focuses on Dr. Gordon, who is one of the weaker characters in the cast. Also I could have done without Freddy's skeleton prancing around. But I guess the writers had to come up with an ending somehow, and it doesn't really distract from what is overall, a pretty solid film. So I'll let it pass.
Oh and Nancy. Sob, sniff. RIP babe. You did it! You beat Freddy once and for all! Well....until Part 4....
Favorite Moments (may contain spoilers):
- Nancy's back!
- Any of the death scenes really but the vein puppet and "Welcome to Prime Time bitch!" ones definitely top the list.
- Group therapy where the kids realize they're in a dream and find their dream powers.
- Gah Kristin! Why don't you listen to your Mother's decapitated head!!!!
- Nancy's Dad's Back!!
- Joey finally finding his "voice."
- Patricia Arquette's first film.
- The "Freddy snake" was originally pink but the color made it look too "phallic" so he was painted a darker color.
- Dick Cavett requested to interview Zsa Zsa Gabor in the TV dream sequence because he told the director she was one of the stupidest people he'd ever known and wanted her to be killed.
- The sexy nurse who tempts Joey was originally supposed to turn into Freddy Krueger, with her head on the actress's topless body. The effect not only looked incredibly silly but the director realized no one could play Freddy other than Robert and the idea was scrapped.
- The pig on the dinner table who roars at Kristin was an actual pig carcass the special effects guys had bought and let rot to get the proper effect cheaply.
- The car that contains Freddy's bones is supposed to be the same car from the end of the first NOES.
- The movie poster was created before casting was completed, which is why the characters in the poster don't resemble the actors.