Every day Robert Saucedo shines a spotlight on a movie either so bad it’s good or just downright terrible. Today: Welcome to prime time, bitch!
Making my way through my Nightmarathon, at 1:30 in the morning I began A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors.
The film marked the return of Heather Langenkamp as Nancy Thompson, the heroine of the first film, as well as Wes Craven, who worked on a first draft of the screenplay.
Other writers who chipped in on the film’s script include Bruce Wagner, Frank Darabont and the film’s director Chuck Russell.
In Dream Warriors, the action moves away from Elm Street proper and into the Westin Hills psychiatric hospital, where a group of Elm Street kids have taken refuge in the hopes of curing their horrible dreams about Freddy Krueger.
Coincidentally, Westin Hills is also the hospital where Nancy is interning. Using her previous experience at kicking Freddy Krueger’s ass, Nancy rallies the misfit teenagers into a lean, mean fighting force the film’s marketing campaign so righteously dubs the Dream Warriors.
More superheroes than frightened teen victims, the Dream Warriors realize that in their dreams there are no limits to what is real and what isn’t. By using a form of lucid dreaming to channel their imagination while they sleep, they are able to shape reality, gain powers and fight back against Freddy Krueger.
Not that it does most of them any good. This being a Nightmare on Elm Street film, Freddy gets his chance to provide the audience with plenty of imaginative kill scenes.
Among the Dream Warriors, there is Kristen Parker, played by Patricia Arquette, who has the power to draw others into her dreams. Ken Sagoes plays Roland Kincaid, a chubby African-American kid who becomes a steel-bending strongman in his dreams. Rodney Eastman is Joey Crusel, a mute former gangbanger with a mysteriously disappearing teardrop tattoo who regains his voice in his dreams — in the form of a supersonic scream. Jennifer Rubin is Taryn White, a former junkie who dreams of being a Mohawk-sporting, switchblade carrying punk rocker. Finally, Ira Heiden is Will Stanton, a crippled Dungeons and Dragons geek who, when he dreams, is no longer bound by his wheelchair and can cast spells of magic as a wizard.
Together, the team of Dream Warriors teams up with Nancy and the hospital’s main psychiatrist Dr. Neil Gordon to find a way to put down Freddy Krueger once and for all.
This isn’t the same Freddy who was dream tripping in the last two Nightmare on Elm Street films, though. In Dream Warriors, Freddy Krueger has had his power increase enormously — leaving him with the ability to change shape and give the film’s special effects crew room to go wild.
From taking the shape of a television set to a giant worm to a stop-motion animated marionette, Freddy Krueger is all over the place in Dream Warriors — even popping up into the non-sleeping world and possessing his decomposing skeleton to do battle with a sub-team of Dream Warriors that attempt to douse his bones with holy water.
By Dream Warriors, Robert Englund’s performance as Freddy Krueger had evolved a bit closer into the wise-cracking demon that would eventually go on to host MTV specials. As he systematically slaughters the Dream Warriors, he makes as many puns as he digests his victims’ souls.
Other actors who appear in A Nightmare on Elm Street 3 include a very young Laurence Fishburne, cameos from Dick Cavett and Zsa Zsa Gabor and the return of John Saxon as Lt. Donald Thompson, Nancy’s father.
Also making an appearance is Nan Martin as Amanda Krueger, Freddy’s mother. It is in Dream Warriors that we begin to get our first clues at the origins of Freddy Krueger.
That’s right — instead of just being your garden-variety child murderer with super powers, it seems Freddy was the bastard son of a 100 maniacs and a very frightened nun who was trapped in an insane asylum over one very long weekend.
While I found I enjoyed Dream Warriors, I was left with one nagging question — why is Nancy Thompson’s childhood home such a central part of Freddy Krueger’s mythos?
Is it because that’s where he was first defeated in his supernatural form? You would think the broiler room where Freddy was burnt alive as a human would be his go-to haunt but whenever a creepy child draws a picture of a house or a teenager dreams of Freddy, Nancy’s house with its red door and bars on all the windows makes a cameo appearance. I’m just not sure if I get the significance of the house. Anybody care to help a brother out?
To be continued…
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Robert Saucedo is an avid movie watcher with seriously poor sleeping habits. The Mikey from Life cereal of film fans, Robert will watch just about anything — good, bad or ugly. He has written about film for newspapers, radio and online for the last 10 years. This has taken a toll on his sanity — of that you can be sure. Follow him on Twitter at @robsaucedo2500.