Wednesday, August 27, 2008

A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors

So here’s finally the long-delayed review of Dream Warriors. This is probably the most famous Nightmare film after the original, and the one primarily responsible for the tragically lame NES game back in the 80s. It also brought series creator Wes Craven back into the fold, however briefly; he was one of roughly three dozen screenwriters credited to the film, as this went through a ridiculous number of rewrites before it was finally released (Frank Darabont, who would later go on to direct the classic films The Shawshank Redemption and The Green Mile, also has a screenwriting credit, though you wouldn’t know it from watching the film). Still, despite the script being a bit of a mess, this is one of the most fun in the series.

This one seems to largely pretend the second film never happened, as we instead move on to a mental hospital filled with teens that are all having nightmares of being stalked by a burned-up man with sharp fingernails. The kids start dying off, and all seems hopeless until the hospital gets a new staffer named Nancy (Heather Langenkamp from the first film), who has some experience in such matters and wants to help them. Apparently due to the nature of the dreamworld, everyone has their own magical power that will help them in the fight against Freddy, such as Kristen’s ability to pull other people into her dreams, or the wheelchair-bound Will’s revelation that, “in my dreams, I can walk. My legs are strong. In my dreams, I’m the wizard master!!!” before donning an incredibly silly black cape and making everyone else in the room extremely uncomfortable.

So yes, this is the film where the series goes from being scary to being somewhat cheesy and silly, but it’s still done well enough to work. The kills in this tend to be among the more imaginative of the series, particularly one involving a young lad’s arteries being yanked out of his arms and legs and him being pulled along by them like a marionette. The dialogue tends toward the laughably poor, as one would expect from such a jumbled mess of a script, but I can’t complain much about a film that brings back Langenkamp and John Saxon, and then throws in Larry Fishburne to boot. It may mark the beginning of the series’ descent into self-parody, but it’s still an entertaining film in its own right.

Rating: ***

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