Non Canon Review: Nightmare On Elm St 3: Dream Warriors

JULY 18, 2008


Freddy may be the most popular with general audiences (until Freddy vs Jason, the highest grossing film of any of the big 80s franchises was a Freddy film), but personally, he was always my least favorite of the “Big Three” (the others being Michael and Jason). There are more bad Freddy films than good ones, and since there’s seemingly no rules to his powers in the real world, it just didn’t have the same appeal as the more grounded Friday and Halloween films (other than the general supernatural element of the fact that they can’t be killed). However, Nightmare on Elm St 3: Dream Warriors has always held a special place in my horror heart, and dare I say it, I actually prefer it to the original.

While the original is great, it has a really odd structure, and since it’s more serious than any of the sequels, repeated viewings are not really recommended. But 3 was a great blend of the humor and scares, and the colorful cast adds immensely to the proceedings (another check against the original – even Johnny Depp is kind of dull). In other words, it’s the perfect type of movie to show at a revival theater, with a big crowd of people who love it while acknowledging how silly it is at the same time.

Back to the no rules thing, some of this stuff is just “huh?”. For example, Philip walks through a locked door. We can assume this is his dream, but he actually would have had to do that in the real world too for him to end up on the other end of the hospital. And during the climax, Freddy somehow attacks two non-sleeping characters (and leaves the “Dream world” in the process), a bit I never quite understood. And why does the ghost of Freddy’s mother age?

It’s hard to believe that the guy who went on to make Shawshank Redemption and The Mist is responsible for scenes like the one in Dream Warriors where a door appears in the middle of a room, and Patricia Arquette says “It’s a door!” as if it wasn’t clear to the other people in her group. But Frank Darabont (and Chuck Russell, who directed) also came up with some great lines, most of which are delivered by Kincaid (Ken Sagoes!) or the nerdy dude who becomes the “Wizard Master”. Oh, and if I may interject – you know how it’s kind of lame how Freddy kills him almost instantly? There was a big fight scripted, but cut for budget reasons. Hence the Dracula cape and seemingly pointless “electric hand power” he displays.

That tidbit was one of the many highlights during the post screening Q&A with Darabont and Russell (moderated by Diablo Cody). The two are old pals, and they, like the audience, clearly have a fondness for the film that doesn’t keep them from addressing its flaws. Darabont says it should be 20 minutes shorter (I disagree) and they have no idea why the door line is in there. I really hope someone filmed it and tosses it on Youtube, because it was a really informative and hilarious chat, and makes me bemoan the lack of a commentary track with the two on the DVD.

And need I say more?

Nightmare 3 was the very first movie I ever bought (a used VHS for I believe 2.99) and was also the first of the series I ever saw. Which may explain why I tend to like it more than the original, at least in the sense of “If I had a choice, I’d watch 3”. The original is certainly a “better” film in the traditional sense, but when you’re dealing with a guy who can go in your dreams and kill you, it’s best to just have some fun with it, which is clearly what 3 was going for. And then of course, the next couple sequels went too far in that direction. This is the last one where Freddy was genuinely scary and dark, and some of the series’ best kills are here (the puppet one remains my favorite). Plus, they don’t seem like they were developed by a bunch of guys sitting around thinking of ways for Freddy to kill people. And even if they WERE, they are well integrated into the story, so it doesn’t matter. Without this movie, it’s safe to say Freddy would be long forgotten. The goodwill earned from this film (and the financial success of the strangely daytime heavy part 4) led to three more films, none of which were a big success or very good (New Nightmare somewhat excepted – it’s a great idea but not executed as well as I’d have liked), and then of course, the abysmal Freddy vs Jason. So, in a way, fuck you, Darabont and Russell!

What say you?


  1. Better than Nightmare 1?
    Anyway, Nightmare 3 is still the best nightmare movie after the first one, even considering the lame way to kill Freddy (crosses and holy water)

  2. I have major Dokken "Dream Warriors" love.

    As far as my favorites from the series, Part I and III are up there, but for pure comical value it's got to be the not-so-subtle homoerotic Part II. Nothing in the series will ever beat Freddy whipping the nude coach's ass with a towel.

  3. I would agree with you that Part 1 and 3 are the best. However, I did like Freddy vs Jason. It had a great King Kong vs Godzilla thing going (that film was not great) where it was just fun to watch the two classic monsters beat the hell out of each other.

  4. I thought 3 was the stronger of the series sinply because it finally gave the kids somethign cool and interesting to fight/defend against Freddy.
    That and the wizard was so over the top I can't help but have a place for it in my heart!

  5. My preference of the big three was always Jason 1st, then Freddy, then Michael/Leatherface.

    It also hit me at a young age that the Freddy movies made much less sense than the others - which says a lot.
    From an adult standpoint, I understand that people would be stupid enough to go to a summer camp where dozens of murders had happened.
    I could never reconcile things like the scenarios mentioned - Freddy can affect the real world as a skeleton? Kids walk through locked doors?
    The scenes from part six where the kid is in the video game and we are shown what is happening to him in the real world...
    As another commenter mentioned, how do you beat Freddy? So many methods.
    Jason was much more straightforward, at least until he became a zombie and a cyborg.


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