Thursday, September 17, 2015

Franchises: A Nightmare on Elm Street. A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors (1987)

The Nightmare on Elm Street movies have certainly had some very imaginative and eye-catching movie posters and VHS artwork during their run, especially the first five. As I've stated many times before, I have very vivid memories of walking through the horror section of our town's video rental store when I was a kid, looking at the video covers, and these movies never failed to catch my attention. Both this film and the next one, in particular, really left an impact on me with their artwork. Just look at that poster. Is that not awesome or what? It's not quite faithful to the actual film since those characters standing on his blades don't look much like the actual Dream Warriors but it's still some great work and gets across the idea behind the film rather well (plus, this and the other posters are so much better than the bland covers for the DVDs and Blu-Rays). As if that wasn't enough, as I talked about in my introduction to my review of the original Nightmare, the image of Kristen being devoured by the Freddy Snake on the back of that VHS really got to me because all you could see was the head, which made me wonder if Freddy was able to eat people. Getting to when I first saw the movie, it was after the first two but it was also after I had seen The Dream Master, making this the fourth Nightmare I saw. As a result, I had already gotten a big exposure to Freddy's more comical portrayal by the time I got to this, which I had read was when he first began to really go that route. I had also gotten the impression that this was one of the most beloved films in the series, with many, many fans calling it their favorite. I didn't quite know what to expect going into it, though, because I hadn't read many details about the dream sequences and although I had watched the trailer on one of those video scanner monitors that stores like FYE and Wal-Mart used to have, that didn't tell me much of anything since it's a teaser with no footage from the film. Aside from some minute aspects of the story, the only thing I knew for sure was that I was going to see someone get devoured, either fully or partially, by an apparent giant Freddy (I didn't know yet that it was a big, snake-like monster). When I finally did see it, I was quite surprised at how different it was from The Dream Master, which it often got lumped in with. While that film went for just pure entertainment (and had succeeded, in my opinion), this one still had some of the darkness and horror from the first two movies, balanced out by Freddy being a bit less overtly evil and more fun as well as a more fantastical and grander take on the nature of the dreams, with more elaborate special effects. Initially, while I always have enjoyed the film, I put it down a little low on the pecking order whenever I listed the films from worst to best, saying that I liked The Dream Master more because of it's more extravagant dream sequences and effects. I won't know if that'll be the case this time until I rewatch that movie for its review, though, since the last time I watched the entire series, I enjoyed this one more. What I can say is that I do now like Dream Warriors more than I originally did and would say that it is one of my favorites, although I know for sure that I like the original, Freddy's Revenge, and Wes Craven's New Nightmare more.

Kristen Parker is the latest teenager to be tormented by Freddy Krueger in her nightmares, getting her wrists slashed by him during one of her dreams and made to look like a suicide attempt. Kristen is admitted to Westin Hills psychiatric hospital, which is occupied by a number of other kids who are also being stalked in their dreams by Freddy, and grows hysterical and violent when the staff tries to sedate her. She's finally calmed down by Nancy Thompson, who's just out of grad school as a doctor specializing in "pattern" nightmares and has joined the staff. Nancy learns the details of the kids' nightmares from Dr. Neil Gordon, the one in charge of their treatment who has become very close to them over time, who tells her that their shared "delusion" is a boogeyman who haunts them in their dreams. After being introduced to some of the kids and shown her office, Nancy goes to Kristen's house to get her belongings and when she enters her bedroom, she sees a model of her old house on Elm Street that Kristen made. That night, Kristen falls asleep and is again attacked by Freddy. In her panic, she calls upon a power to pull people into her dreams that she possessed when she was a kid and uses it to get Nancy's help. After saving her, and realizing to her horror that it is Freddy Krueger again, Nancy escapes the dream with Kristen and the next day, learns from her that the model of her old home is a house that she constantly dreams about. Nancy is introduced to the rest of the kids being tormented by Freddy, whose assertions about what's going on are ignored by Dr. Simms, one of the higher-ups, and other members of the staff. Freddy begins slicing his way through the kids, killing two of them and creating panic amongst the others. Neil, who is now very worried about them and doesn't know what to do, is told the truth by Nancy and, in an unofficial group meeting, she tells the kids who Freddy is and why he's trying to kill them. She also tells them about Kristen's gift, that each one of them has their own special ability they can tap into in their dreams and they can use it against Freddy. Using group hypnosis, they manage to enter the dream and show off their abilities, but things go wrong when one of the kids, Joey, is caught by Freddy and is in a deep coma when the others wake up. This results in both Nancy and Neil getting fired but, as he's leaving, Neil learns the horrible details of Freddy's very birth from a mysterious nun that he's been seeing lately and also that in order to stop him, his remains must be buried in hallowed ground. It's a plan that Nancy is willing to go along with when she has no choice but, when Kristen is sedated after an angry outburst over Nancy's firing, time begins running out before she, and everyone else, inevitably falls prey to Freddy.

As much as I love Freddy's Revenge, I'll admit that Dream Warriors feels much more like a true sequel to the original film for a number reasons, one of which being the return of Wes Craven as the one who came up with the initial screenplay and also served as a producer. He was brought back because Bob Shaye felt that the second film was something of a misfire and that they needed to recapture the elements and spirit of the original if the series was to continue. It's interesting in that Craven's initial idea for the film was what would become New Nightmare years later, with Freddy entering the "real" world to terrorize the cast and crew of a new movie. At the time, though, that idea was a little too meta for New Line Cinema, so they had Craven and Bruce Wagner (mainly Wagner, since Craven was busy with Deadly Friend at the time) come up with another idea that laid the foundation for the final film. While a lot of the characters that they came up with were retained in the rewrite that Chuck Russell and Frank Darabont did, details about them were changed or mixed around, two more of them who were meant to die were spared (namely Joey and Kincaid, who would get offed in the next film), and the house that Freddy was born in was featured as the house that Kristen dreamt about. Freddy was not only meant to hardly speak like in the original film but he was also supposed to use much more vulgar language than he even did there and the kills were supposed to be as horrific as those in the original as well. I know that Craven was not pleased that the studio didn't go that route in the finished film, nor was he happy with the other changes to the story, and that this was the beginning of his irritation with the direction they were going with the character, which would only intensify as the series went on, further compounded by how Craven was hoping that this would be the last movie.

The film that Dream Warriors ultimately became was thanks to director Chuck Russell and his friend Frank Darabont, who were brought in to rewrite the screenplay to make it more marketable. Russell has said he knew going into it that there was no way they would be able to match the terror of the original and felt that a different direction was needed to keep the audience interested in the franchise. When you consider that he and Darabont only had eleven days to rewrite the script and that they pounded it like crazy while staying in a cabin, with Russell getting a really bad fever at one point, it's amazing that it came out not only as coherent but as good as it did, proof of the talent these two have. And while there were tensions during filming, with the producers feeling that Russell was being a little more ambitious than the film's budget could handle, as well as tension between him and Patricia Arquette (Russell had admitted in recent years that he pushed her too hard), it paid off for New Line, with Dream Warriors becoming an enormous hit and the most successful independently-produced film ever at that time. Russell would go on to direct a lot of other great movies,  such as the excellent 1988 remake of The Blob (another film he co-wrote with Darabont), The Mask with Jim Carrey (his biggest hit by far, and Eraser, which I think is one of Arnold Schwarzenegger's more underrated films. He's also directed a couple of films that I've never seen, like The Scorpion King and Bless the Child, both of which I've heard are not all that good. Since The Scorpion King, he hasn't directed anything other than an episode of Fringe, but it seems like he's getting back into directing features, with a movie called I Am Wrath planned for 2016 as well as a couple of other projects. And we all know the amazing career that Frank Darabont has had, so I don't think I need to go into that. I will say, though, that when I was doing some research, I learned that Darabont was none too pleased about some not so nice remarks that Craven made about his and Russell's rewrite in an issue of Fangoria around the time of the movie's release and wrote a letter to the magazine expressing his irritation, with New Line executive Sara Risher also criticizing Craven for his remarks in an interview with Cinefantastique.

An obvious concrete link between this and the original film is the return of both Nancy Thompson and, late in the film, her father. What's strange, though, is that while her acting in the film isn't bad at all, this is my least favorite of Heather Langenkamp's three performances in the series and I'm not sure why that it is. It could be that I find her to be more relatable in the original and in New Nightmare where she's slowly figuring out what's going on, whereas when she's an expert on it here, that doesn't work. The idea of her helping these kids who are dealing with Freddy since she's dealt with him before is a nice and, more importantly, a logical one, and it does make sense that she would go into the study of nightmares after what she went through, but on the flip side, it makes her feel like a rigid authority figure when she has all the answers. That's another thing: they try to portray her as being much older than the other kids in the film since it's set six years after the original and she's just out of grad school but it doesn't work because she simply doesn't look that much older. In fact, she looks to be around the same age as some of these kids. That also makes the very close relationship that she develops with Dr. Neil Gordon a little hard to believe. I'm not against people as young as her getting close to people who are ten or so years older but, that said, seeing her spending so much time with Neil, having private dinners with him and so on, has never felt right to me (on that note, it's a good thing that they didn't become as close as they were meant to in the original script, which led to a sex scene; it must be made clear, though, that Neil was around her age in that draft). All that said, I don't hate Nancy at all in this film. I like how comforting she is to the traumatized kids, especially Kristen, with the scene where she calms her down after she goes berserk when they try to sedate her being a great introduction for her, and how she wants to do everything that she can to save them when she learns for sure that it is Freddy again, developing something of a kinship with them since she understands what they're going through. I like the idea that she's been taking an experimental drug that suppresses dreams in order to protect herself and feels that they better take them as well to stay alive. That ultimately doesn't come to pass but she then tells them of Kristen's ability to pull people into her dreams and that they each have their own special dream ability that they can use against Freddy. When both Joey and Kristen fall prey to Freddy, she makes the brave decision to go in and save them, giving the remaining kids the opportunity to back out if they want to, which they don't. It's a shame that so many of them get killed despite her telling them that they can fight Freddy but at least she tried. Speaking of which, Nancy herself does get killed at the end and I'm not bothered with that as much as I am how she got killed: thinking that Freddy had been defeated just by Joey screaming at the top of his lungs and embracing a vision of her father that turns out to be Freddy, giving him the opportunity to gut her. After the events of the first film, I'd think that Nancy would know Freddy enough not to fall for that, which adds to this being my least favorite appearance by Langenkamp.

One of the most likable characters in the entire series is Dr. Neil Gordon, wonderfully played by Craig Wasson. This guy is just awesome. He's become very close to the traumatized kids, perhaps more than his profession demands (he's on the verge of tears at Jennifer's funeral, having to remove himself from service), and wants to know what's going on and why they're dying off. While it takes him a while to accept the fact that an undead killer is stalking and murdering them in their dreams, he is willing to take any measures necessary to save them, including prescribing an experimental drug like Hypnocil to stop their nightmares (something that he admonishes himself for after he makes the decision) and taking a leap of faith and listening to the truth from Nancy when he runs out of answers for what's happening. This leap of faith ultimately costs both him and Nancy their jobs but it does prove to him that the whole thing is real and afterward, he learns of the horrible circumstances surrounding Freddy's very conception and that the only way to defeat him is to bury his remains in hallowed ground. When their initial attempt to get the location of the remains out of Nancy's father fails and Nancy is forced to go into the dream and save Kristen, Neil takes matters into his own hands and forces her father to take him to the remains' location. You have to love the moment where he quickly introduces himself to Thompson, following up on a remark that he made moments earlier, and slams him up against the wall, telling him, "I don't know if you care whether Nancy lives or dies but I do!" He gets everything he needs for the burial, including filling a flask full of holy water from a church and taking a small crucifix, and when he finally does find Freddy's bones in the middle of a big junkyard, he makes certain that Thompson won't leave him in there by taking the keys to his vehicle. Even though he never encounters the dream manifestation, he does still contend with Freddy when his spirit possesses the bones and attacks him, taking quite a pounding and getting half-buried for it. Despite that, though, while he's unable to save Nancy, he does manage to vanquish Freddy by using the holy water and the crucifix to make the spot where the remains are buried hallowed ground. Ultimately, the only problem I have with Neil is his sort of romance with Nancy. I like that he cares about her so much but, again, it just feels weird to see him become intimate with this young woman, especially since they just met and we don't see what motivated their becoming so close, except maybe professional curiosity. Other than that, I really like Neil and wished he'd appeared in some of the following films.

Another likable character who doesn't have much combined screentime but is memorable nonetheless is Max, the head orderly, played by Laurence Fishburne (who, according to the people behind the Going to Pieces documentary on slasher films, is not too happy about having been in this movie since he wouldn't let them include footage of him here in their section about big-name actors who got their start in horror films). The first time you see him, he's listening to a news report over the radio about an outbreak of teen suicides and he suggests to Neil that it's because their parents dropped acid during the 60's. When Neil says that Dr. Simms thinks it's nothing but sex, drugs, and rock and roll, Max says, "Shit, that's what keeps people alive." Great introduction. Over the course of the movie, you see that Max is a pretty tough and stern guy when it comes to the rules of the hospital but, underneath it all, he does care about the kids as much as Neil does. When Jennifer tells him that she can't handle a nightmare after the death of Philip the night before, Max allows her to stay up past lights out (that doesn't save her, though) and you get a sense of the trust the kids have developed towards him when Taryn tells this asshole orderly who's harrassing her that she'll tell Max about it if he doesn't leave her alone. Like Dr. Simms, Max comes to believe that Nancy has something to do with what's happening to the kids, refusing to let her see Kristen after she's been sedated and put in the Quiet Room. However, he's a lot more fair about it, telling her that he thinks she means well but, after what's happened lately, he wouldn't let her see Kristen even if Simms hadn't ordered him not to. Too bad that Max didn't learn the truth of what was going on because I'm sure he would have felt bad for disbelieving Nancy.

It's bad when the most unlikable character in a movie is not your villain but that's the case that we have here with Dr. Simms (Priscilla Pointer), one of the head doctors at Westin Hills. She may think that she's doing the right thing and that there's no actual malice in her actions but the way she talks to the kids, refusing to listen to them and actually talking down to them, trying to make them think that the dreams are nothing more than psychological by-products of things that are their fault. At one point, she even says, "How much longer are going to blame your dreams for your own weaknesses?" She decides to start a routine of nightly sedation, completely ignoring how much the idea freaks out the kids, especially Kincaid, whom she has put into the Quiet Room for the night. Even worse, after Freddy puts Joey in a coma, you learn that Simms told Dr. Carver, the head of the hospital, that Nancy has been creating panic amongst the kids. What in the hell did she do that caused panic among them? The only thing that I can think of is when she told them about Freddy but the thing is, Simms wasn't present for that. And just when you think that things couldn't get any worse, Simms promises Neil after he and Nancy have been fired that she'll listen to the kids but she does no such thing, ordering Kristen to be put into the Quiet Room and sedated when she has an outburst over Nancy's firing. Her line, "You stupid bitch! You're killing us!" sums up my opinion of Simms nicely. Some may interpret her character differently, which is possible since, like I said, I don't think she's aware of the harm she's causing, but it's impossible for me to like her after the crap that she does.

In his return performance as Donald Thompson, John Saxon plays him as a very tired, alcoholic, burnt out man whose relationship with his daughter has become very contentious in the years since Marge's death. It's never explicitly stated in the film itself but I've read that Thompson is meant to have lost his job at this point, with Saxon commenting in Never Sleep Again that he's been bumped to being a security guard, which is the uniform that he's wearing here. When Nancy and Neil first arrive at the bar he's hanging out at, Thompson is initially happy to see his daughter and seems to want to reconnect with her, but the minute she brings up the subject of Freddy Krueger and where his remains are hidden, his good mood sours and he becomes angry over it, feeling that she's imagining things all over again. He tells her, "I've lost too much over this already. I'm through with it." When she presses him again for the location, he dismisses her in a way that really upsets her, adding to Neil's anger with him when he confronts him about where Freddy's remains are. I think Thompson's reaction to Neil saying he's not sure if he cares about whether Nancy lives or dies and the fact that he does show him where Freddy's remains are suggests that he still does love his daughter but can't bring himself to believe what she's saying... that is, until Freddy possesses his bones and attacks them. It's great that Thompson, finally, learns that Nancy was right all along (I don't know how the weird stuff he saw at the end of the original didn't convince him but whatever) and his rage towards Freddy kicks back in, I'd like to think not only over what he did in the past but what he's been doing to Nancy, telling him, "I killed you once before, you son of a bitch!" That's another thing I like: we learn for sure that he was part of the angry mob who burned Freddy alive way back when and the cover-up of the crime, something that was only hinted at in the original movie. It doesn't help him, though, because Freddy impales him on the sharp fin of a car, something that I wish didn't happen. I wish he had lived and had been present at Nancy's funeral, feeling bad for not believing her, or at the very least, had put up more of a fight with Freddy and had thought of Nancy right before he died.

In many ways, Kristen Parker (Patricia Arquette) is a callback to Tina in the original film in how she comes from a broken home where her father isn't around, her mother has had a number of lovers in her life, and she's the first person who has the nightmare about Freddy. First-time viewers may also think that she's a fake lead like Tina was when it looks like Freddy managed to kill her by slashing her wrists, learning only in the next scene that wasn't the case. Also like Tina, Kristen is easy to care for since she comes across as a nice enough girl who is severely traumatized by the dreams that she's having and feels isolated and alone since no one, not even her own mother, will listen to her. It's so bad that she goes ballistic when they try to sedate her, kicking Neil right in the groin and cutting Max's arm with a scalpel. This is why she forms an immediate bond with Nancy when she calms her down because she's the first person who bothers to listen to her and she can also tell understands her when she finishes the Freddy nursery rhyme for her, asking where she heard it. Their bond is strengthened further when Kristen is attacked by Freddy for the second time and pulls Nancy into her dream for help as she used to do with her father when she was a little girl, and afterward when Nancy tells her that the house she often dreams about was the one she used to live in and confirms that Freddy is very real. Nancy becomes convinced that Kristen's special ability is the key to dealing with Freddy, that they can make use of both it and the special powers that each one of them has to fight him off. Unfortunately, they're not able to hone these skills enough before they have to put them into action, which is why Kristen, even though she has great athletic abilities in the dream world, isn't able to do much against Freddy except hit him a couple of times, which doesn't do anything. She's also unable to pull herself and the others out of the dream because she's been sedated and at the end of the film, she has to be saved by both the mortally wounded Nancy and by Neil vanquishing Freddy by purifying his remains in the real world. So, she's not much of a heroine, but I don't see that as weakness on her part but rather a case of her not being used to this and not getting enough time to practice her special skills before she has to step up to the plate.

By the way, a brief word on Kristen's mother, Elaine (Brooke Bundy). In a word, she's a complete bitch and, in some ways, is even more unlikable than Dr. Simms. At least Simms feels that she's doing the right thing; Elaine is just a selfish, pitiful excuse for a mother who couldn't care less about how traumatized and frightened her daughter, with a guy that she's brought home for some late night fun being more important to her. When Kristen is going crazy and throwing things at the doctors when they try to sedate her, all the while screaming her head off, Elaine dismisses it as her just trying to get attention and says that she's not going to play her daughter's games. It's like she either doesn't see what's going on in there or just doesn't care, which unfortunately could be the case given how, when Nancy asks her about Kristen's personal history, she flippantly remarks, "Kristen specializes in strangeness," and that she's spent a lot of money on psychiatrists. When Nancy asks if Kristen always had nightmares, Elaine snidely, "No, they've gotten worse since I took away her credit cards." What a complete, selfish bitch who doesn't give a shit about her daughter's well-being. It's a shame that Freddy didn't really cut her head off like he did in Kristen's dream. Andale yourself, slut.

The Dream Warriors themselves are a very interesting, memorable, and, most importantly of all, likable bunch of characters. My favorite is Kincaid (Ken Sagoes), the guy who has a really short fuse that gets him thrown into the Quiet Room, Westin Hills' version of solitary confinement, and comes across as not that likable at first, making some blunt comments about the other kids, including Philip after his death, but he becomes a great, dependable guy as the movie goes on. He has some fabulous lines, like when Max introduces him to Nancy and tells her that he gets thrown into the Quiet Room a lot. Kincaid tells Max, "I do it so I don't have to look at your ugly face all the time," to which Max says, "Yeah, I love you too." One that always gets a smirk out of me is when Dr. Simms is going on about how the nightmares are the by-products of guilt and other things, one of which is overty sexuality, to which Kincaid remarks, "Oh, great. Now it's my dick that's killing me." His best lines, though, come during the third act where he, Will, and Nancy prepare to enter the dream to help Joey and Kristen. Right before they go under the group hypnosis, Kincaid says, "Let's go kick the motherfucker's ass all over dreamland." Later on when they're in the dream but he himself hasn't run into Freddy, he tries to draw him out by yelling, "Yo, Freddy! Where you hiding at, you burnt-faced pussy?! You think you're hot shit with the little mute kid, don't ya? Well let me see ya come get a piece of me! Krueger! Pussy!" And when they're about to descend down into the depths of the dream and face Freddy, he says, "Let's snuff this sucker." Kincaid's dream power is that he's really strong, able to do things like bend metal and break through walls, but Freddy has become so powerful by this point that he's not able to do much against him and gets trounced pretty easily when he tries to fight him. At least he tried, though. Finally, I feel that Kincaid, more than anyone else in the group, shows the raw fear that the nightmares are putting them through when he freaks out when Simms says that they're going to start sedating everyone at night, screaming at her and saying that he's going to beat up anybody who tries to sedate him. He gets dragged away by some orderlies, yelling in hysteria, and that night when he's in the Quiet Room, we see him singing to himself to keep from falling asleep and Sagoes again does a good job of showing Kincaid's fear and desperation during that moment.

Another one of the Dream Warriors who I really like is Will (Ira Heiden), the sort of nerdy kid in the wheelchair whose big thing is Dungeons & Dragons. I just like this guy because of how much of a nice, sweet guy he comes across as, and I think it's sad that he's stuck in a wheelchair, which is even sadder when you learn that it's due to a failed suicide attempt. He has some nice lines of dialogue too, like when he, Joey, and Taryn are playing D&D when Taryn decides to give up on the game and go to bed for the night. When she's gone, he asks Joey, "How do I score that? Enchanced slumber or death?" and Joey makes a throat-slicing gesture. He has two dream powers: he can walk and he is a wizard with magical powers. The idea that he uses his dreams as a way to escape from the reality that he's crippled in particular makes Freddy look like a bastard when he brings it up to him, telling him that he'll be back in the wheelchair when he wakes up and sends a demonic chair after him. My only problem with Will is that, like Nancy, he gets killed due to stupidity on his part when he's zapping Freddy with his wizard powers and then runs at him for no reason, allowing Freddy to get ahold of him and skewer him. Good one, Will. Taryn (Jennifer Rubin), the former drug addict, doesn't have much of a memorable personality to me. She mainly comes across as rather bitter, with an, "I couldn't care less" attitude most of the time, saying that she's only there because it's better than juvie hall, although there are instances that show that she has grown close to some of the other kids, like when she gets angry at Kincaid when he says that Philip died because he was weak and when he pages Neil when Kristen is sedated by Simms, fearing that Freddy will kill her when she falls asleep. The biggest part of her character is that she used to be a junkie, something that she's tried to put behind her but which keeps getting brought up, at one point in a very nasty way when one really despicable orderly tries to use it to take advantage of her. Most significantly, it's what Freddy uses against her when she faces him. Taryn's dream powers are, as she puts it, "I'm beautiful... and bad!", suggesting that she has some insecurities about her looks in reality. I never thought she looked that bad in real life, though; maybe a little haggard from her drug days and the nightmares. Her dream form, however, I've always felt was less "beautiful" rather than just plain ridiculous, with that big mohawk and that outfit. But, that said, she does manage to hold her own against Freddy and might have been able to take him down if he hadn't used her past to weaken and kill her. Finally, there's Joey (Rodney Eastman), the mute kid who used to be a high school debator but can't talk now for some unexplained reason, probably due to a serious trauma. He's another character who's easy to like, mainly because his disability makes him come across as very vulnerable and also because, like Will, he feels like a real sweetheart of a guy. He's not entirely innocent since he has a thing for a hot nurse who works there, which Freddy uses to get him, but his vulnerability, combined with how Freddy puts him into a coma to lure the others into the dream, is more than enough to make you look beyond that and care for him nonetheless (plus, who wouldn't want to have at that woman, am I right?) And as you can probably guess, his dream power is a voice, and a very strong one at that, able to shatter glass when he yells at the top of his lungs, which Nancy thinks was enough to defeat Freddy, for some reason.

There are two other kids in the ward who, unfortunately, don't live long enough to find out what their dream powers are. One is Philip (Bradley Gregg), who has a habit of sleepwalking and whose hobby is making puppets. He doesn't have much screentime or dialogue before he gets offed in a very memorable way but, like a lot of the characters, he seems likable enough and is the first one to bring up that none of the doctors are taking their claims seriously and ignore how, even though they're told that the dreams are a group psychosis, they were all dreaming about Freddy before they even met each other. He also has the memorable line of, "Hi. Welcome to the snake pit," which he tells Nancy when they first meet. The more memorable of the early victims is Jennifer (Penelope Sudrow), an aspiring TV actor who has a habit of putting cigarettes out on her arms, which has made her lose those privileges. Even though she's in the hospital, she still aspires to be an actor, despite what Kincaid thinks, saying that she'd fit in on Lifestyle of the Rich and Psychotic. Of course, we all know that the reason why she's so memorable is her death scene. She falls asleep while watching TV (which is playing two New Line Cinema movies, Critters and Alone in the Dark) and flips the channel to the Dick Cavett show, where Dick turns into Freddy and kills Zsa Zsa Gabor before coming out of the set and grabbing Jennifer. Besides the visuals, the scene is also remembered because it has, "Welcome to prime time, bitch!", one of Freddy's most famous lines, which he tells her before doing her in. It may be the only thing she's remembered for but at least it's an unforgettable scene with an iconic one-liner.

While this is the beginning of Freddy's evolution from a terrifying and truly evil undead killer to a much more comedic villain, I think it's the next film where they fully embrace that angle. Here, Freddy is a mix of the monstrous, depraved villain he was in the first two films and a more comedic, trickster sort of aesthetic to how he claims his victims. On the comedic side, you have the introduction of his one-liners whenever he attacks someone, which, besides the most famous one that I stated up above, include, "What's wrong, Joey? Feeling tongue-tied?", "Let's get high," "What a rush," and, "Perhaps if there was more of me to spread around," among others. In addition, this is when the nightmares that Freddy assaults his victims with start to become more elaborate and fantastical, as well as downright funny in some cases, like when he appears on The Dick Cavett Show and kills Zsa Zsa Gabor before literally coming out of the TV in an over the top way, when he disguises himself as the sexy nurse that Joey has a thing for and ties his hands and feet to a bed with tongues, and when he appears wearing a tuxedo, decapitates Kristen's mom, and has the head rant at her for it. But, all of that said, there's still a darkness to Freddy here that you don't get in the following movies. The first time you see him, Kristen finds a furnace filled with the bones of children and then he runs at her and tries to slash her while yelling like he did in the previous film. While they are much more over the top than before, some of the dreams do still have a dark, cruel vibe to them, like the image of dead teenagers hanging in one room of the house, Freddy slashing Kristen's wrists to make it look like a suicide attempt, his trying to literally gobble her up as a gigantic, snake-like creature, turning Philip's entrails into marionette strings and slowly walking him to his death, and so on. Speaking of the dreams, this is when they start to become more personal to the victims, with Freddy using their fears, vices, or anything else, against them, and while this too would mainly become funny in the following movies, the idea behind it is very cruel, as are some of the ways it's employed here. He's a lot more talkative here than he was before but, that said, his first line doesn't come into quite a while into the film and there are some that he says with the same demonic rage that he had throughout the previous film, like when he recognizes Nancy and growls, "You," when he finally kills her at the end and snarls, "DIE!" and right after that when he's about to kill Kristen, saying, "You're mine now, little piggy!" And the idea that he's using the souls of children that he's killed to give himself strength, physicalized in that horrifying image of those screaming faces on his chest, is as evil as what he was trying to do to Jesse in the previous movie.

Ironically enough, I feel that this is the movie that made Freddy's character feel even more vile and hideous than he was before. We already knew that he was a child killer who murdered, and perhaps molested, dozens of innocent kids but in this film, we learn that even his very conception was twisted: his mother, who appears to Neil as a mysterious nun who calls herself Sister Mary-Helena (Nan Martin), was accidentally locked in a wing of the hospital where the most deranged inmates were kept over the holiday and was raped hundreds of times by them. Since this is never mentioned in the next film, which I saw before this, I had never heard this part of Freddy's backstory (the synopsis on the back of the DVD does hint at it, saying that he was born the bastard child of a hundred maniacs, but I didn't know what that meant when I read it) and so, was quite taken aback at how utterly fucked up this idea was, getting across that he was a truly monstrous abomination of a human being from the very beginning. He's so horrible that the spirit of his own mother comes back to ensure that her son, whom she herself calls an outrage to God and to man, is stopped, telling Neil how it must be done. Also, the idea that Freddy's bones must be buried in hallowed ground, cleansing the evil with the power of God, brings him closer to being a demonic entity, which I had always felt that he was in some ways.

Despite the lingering darkness in his portrayal and character, this is the film where Freddy's physicality starts to become more mainstream. The design of his makeup, while still hideous, isn't as creepy and disgusting as those in the previous two films and, as a result, is easier for general audiences to stomach. I think of this makeup design and that in the next film, which is basically the same, only more refined, as being the classic Freddy Krueger look, with this being what people usually think of when they hear his name. It's a great design, with Kevin Yagher again proving what a talent he is with it, although I personally like the refined version in the next film more. Freddy's new glove that replaces the original that got stolen during the making of Nightmare 2 also feels more mainstream. I'm not sure how to explain it but it looks more like a professionally made movie prop rather than a crude, twisted weapon made by a guy in a boiler room or his garage or what have you. It looks good, mind you, but there is a noticeable difference to it. And speaking of differences, there's something odd going on with Freddy's voice in this film. Sometimes, it's that booming, demonic voice that he developed by the end of the first movie and would have for the rest of the series, whereas other times it's Robert Englund's natural voice again, like when he asks Joey if he's feeling tongue-tied, yells at Kristen's mother about where the bourbon is, tells Taryn that they're old friends, and says that there's always room for more after revealing the souls in his chest. The voice keeps switching back and forth between the two and it's just weird, especially since I'm the only one who's ever noticed it given how I've never heard anyone else bring it up (or the gradual change in the original, for that matter).

Besides a gradual shift in tone, Nightmare 3 also marks a turning point in the style of the series from out and out horror to something more along the lines of dark fantasy. The first two movies, especially the original, were a lot like slasher movies with a supernatural twist to them but starting here, it would become less about slicing and dicing and more about the imagination of the dreams, making them bigger and more elaborate rather than frightening. The production design would begin to take center stage, which you see here with the more Gothic design of the Elm Street house, the hellish red lighting of Freddy's lair, and the memorable set of the junkyard where Freddy's remains are hidden. People would start to get killed in much more fantastical ways rather than simply being gutted by Freddy's glove (although it does get some use here), such as Freddy making Philip into a flesh and blood puppet and dropping him off the top of a building or when he kills Taryn by overdosing her with drugs. There would be less abundant gore (there's barely any in this film at all, which makes it ridiculous to think that it got banned in some countries like Queensland, Australia) in favor of more creative and over-the-top makeup, mechanical, and optical effects, which we'll go into detail about next and which made them feel like much more than just your average slasher movies. And, most significantly of all, the idea of the Dream Warriors being a gifted group of people who each have their own special dream powers that they can use to battle Freddy with elevates it from being just a bunch of teenagers trying to outwit a crazy killer who's after them to something much more mythical, like a group of brave heroes out to defeat an all-powerful villain, something that's straight out of comic books and tales of epic fantasy, including the big movies of the time like The Dark Crystal and Labyrinth. It's really interesting to see how this series evolved as it went on.

The teams of makeup and mechanical effects artists only had $4.5 million with which to pull off the very ambitious stuff that they had planned for the film but they used every penny wisely and managed to make it look like it cost a lot more. The makeup effects, courtesy of a combined effort by Kevin Yagher, Greg Cannom, and Mark Shostrum, are very well done, from Philip's veins being used as marionette strings by Freddy (the close-up shots of those coming out of the tops of his feet make me cringe because of how painful they look) to the tongues he uses to tie Joey to the bed, his syringe fingers, the injection marks on Taryn's arms sucking in anticipation of receiving heroine from Freddy, and the effect of the souls trapped in his torso (which still freaks me out when I see it due to the screaming and their pained expressions). The little simple gore effects that you do see, like Kristen's slashed wrists, Max's sliced arm, Nancy's cut hand, the words, "Come and get him, bitch" being cut into Joey's torso by an invisible blade, Thompson getting impaled, and the shot of Freddy jamming his knives into Nancy at the very end are also effective, especially the first three because of how painfully simple they look. Even more impressive than the makeup effects are the mechanical ones, courtesy of Image Engineering, with the most noteworthy one being the gigantic Freddy Snake that attacks Kristen in that one dream, which Yagher and his team had a lot of input on. That thing is still quite a sight to behold. I'm sure it was an unwieldy, cumbersome, and potentially dangerous effect due to the low budget they had but it worked really well and the detail on it and the motions of its face when you see it up close are very impressive. Another great one is when Freddy comes out of the TV to kill Jennifer, with those long, mechanical arms breaking out of its sides (I saw a bit of that in advertisement for the Platinum Series DVD set when that was first released and I remember not knowing what in the hell it was I was looking at) and Freddy's head coming up out of the top. When he talks, you can tell that it's just Robert Englund sticking his head up through something but the mechanical effect of Freddy's head coming up in the wide-shot before that is what's really impressive and it took a number of watches before I was able to realize that wasn't really Englund doing that. Some of the other mechanical and puppet effects, like the faucet handles becoming like Freddy's arms, with one sprouting knives, the tricycle slowly melting down, and the stuffed pig lunging at Kristen, are pretty simple and kind of crude some cases but they get the job done and look better than crappy CGI any day.

The optical and matting effects by DreamQuest Images, on the other hand, are more mixed in terms of quality. Some of them still look nice, like when Nancy gets pulled into Kristen's dream and goes right through a chair, Freddy appears in the sky above the hospital while puppeting Philip (do those look great or what?), Joey is hanging over that hellish pit after getting tied to the bed, when Freddy appears in all of the mirrors in one room and when divine light shoots out of various spots on his body when Neil is using the holy water on his remains, but others are rather cringe-inducing in how archaic and dated they look by today's standards. The compositing in some shots, like Philip going right through a door when Freddy is using him as a puppet, Brooke Bundy being matted in to make Elaine's decapitated head look like it's ranting at Kristen, and the mixing of the stop-motion skeleton with the real actors in that one scene in the junkyard is pretty bad and not at all convincing, although I do like the idea of using stop-motion in itself. I think the bit where one of Philip's puppets comes to life and turns into Freddy is really cool, especially when its head morphs into Freddy's, and even though it's not integrated into the live-action elements well, I appreciate the skeleton scene as a tribute to Ray Harryhausen's work on Jason and the Argonauts and the animation itself is done very well. There are other effects that I'm kind of mixed on, like the obvious cell animation used for when those balls start floating around magically in mid-air, proving that the group has managed to enter the dream, and the green magic that Will employs when he taps into his dream power. On the one hand, it has a charm to it that CGI doesn't and it helps this feel more like a fantasy but, on the other hand, seeing those kind of effects in any movie where people get killed in horrific and gruesome ways always feels weird and out of place to me. So, some of these effects don't hold up that well and are a painful reminder that this is an 80's film but, like I said at the beginning of this section, there are a number that are still impressive to this day and I applaud the filmmakers for attempting this stuff with the limited amount of money that they had to work with.

This is the first Nightmare on Elm Street to not begin within a dream but rather the lead-up to one. Following the opening credits where we see Kristen building the model of the Elm Street house, as well as trying to stay awake by eating coffee grounds and blaring loud music out of her radio, her mother comes in from a night out and makes her go to bed. After being left alone in her dark bedroom, Kristen dozes off while looking at the model she just built and, in a cut, is awakened by wind blowing and the sound of kids singing. She sits up in bed to find it sitting in the yard in front of the house. She gets out of bed and slowly walks towards the front door, passing a bunch of kids playing in the yard while singing the Freddy Krueger nursery rhyme. When she gets to the front porch, she meets a cute little girl in a yellow dress sitting on a tricycle. The girl asks Kristen her name and after she tells her, she asks the girl what hers is. The girl just giggles and Kristen then asks what this place is. That's when she hears the sound of metal scraping and the little girl rides inside the front door, which opens by itself, saying that she has to go. Kristen runs after the girl, yelling for her not go in the house, but finds that she's nowhere to be seen when she steps inside. She walks to the door on the side of the stairs that leads down into the basement, calling for the little girl. When she hears the tricycle bell, she walks down the stairs into the basement and, after rounding a corner, finds the little girl next to the furnace. She tells Kristen, "This is where he takes us," which makes Kristen decide to get her out of there. When she reaches for the girl, she hears a sound behind her that startles her and then the furnace ignites, revealing that it's full of the bones of children, with the sounds of their wailing coming out of it. The girl looks up to the ceiling upon hearing a noise upstairs and says, "Freddy's home." Kristen picks her up and runs down an adjoining hallway, turning a corner down another, with a shadow on the wall showing that they are are being chased. After running down another hallway and turning another corner, Kristen comes to a spot where she stops dead in her tracks even though she's still moving. She looks down to see thick gunk at her feet, preventing her from going anywhere, and when she looks behind her, Freddy appears at the end of the hallway. He charges towards her and swings his knives just as Kristen manages to pry herself loose and head on down the hall. After running through some more twists and turns in this maze of a basement, Kristen blunders into a horrific room that's filled with the bodies of dead teenagers hanging from the ceiling. The little girl tells her, "Put me down. You're hurting me," and when Kristen looks down, she screams when she sees that she's been carrying a little skeleton this whole time. (That's not nearly as horrifying as the mummified corpse she was originally going to be.)

Kristen "wakes up" back in her bedroom with a scream and then calms down when she sees where she is. She gets out of bed and goes into the bathroom, rolling up her sleeves to wash her face, but when she grabs the faucet handle, it grabs her back. Water starts pouring out of the faucet as she struggles with the handle and the door slams shut behind her. Freddy's image appears in the mirror, laughing at her, and as Kristen pulls on the handle, its anchoring comes out of the sink as well, continuing to hold onto her. The other handle sprouts knife blades out of its "fingers" and stretches up out of the sink by itself, while Freddy continues laughing at Kristen. He uses that handle to slice at Kristen, with blood streaking across the mirror. Kristen's mother comes in to find her wrist bleeding with a razor blade in one hand, making it look as if she attempted suicide. Kristen then faints. Following a scene transition to Westin Hills where we meet some of the characters, including Dr. Neil Gordon, he and Dr. Simms are told to head to the examination room. In the next cut, you can hear Kristen screaming in a nearby room while her mother tells a nurse in the hall that she knows she's just trying to get some attention and when Neil and Simms arrive, another nurse tells them about Kristen and says that everything went south until they tried to sedate her. In the room, Kristen is still screaming and throws a tray at an orderly, who goes around the table and lunges over it to grab her arms from behind. He manages to pull her away from the table as Neil assures her that they want to help her. Neil fills a syringe with a sedative but when he tries to inject her, he gets kicked in the balls and falls to the floor, while Kristen manages to break free of the orderly as Max comes in to help Neil. She grabs a scalpel and cuts Max on the arm when he lunges at her, forcing him and everyone else to back off. As Neil tries to talk Kristen down, she begins singing the nursery rhyme, starting at, "5, 6, Grab your crucifix," but is unable to finish the last verse. That's when Nancy makes her appearance in the doorway by finishing it for her and then calming walking up to her, asking her where she learned it. She manages to take the scalpel away from her and Kristen embraces her like a frightened child.

The next dream begins when Kristen dozes off in her hospital room while sketching the Elm Street house. The door slowly opens and the tricycle that the little girl had been riding in the first dream rolls in by itself, its tires leaving trails of blood behind it. Kristen gets out of bed and creeps around it towards the door, as the bike begins to sizzle and crumple. She backs out through the door which shuts by itself, with a fast camera pull backwards revealing the Elm Street house. Kristen tries to open the door but it doesn't work and she then wanders into a room to the right, where she finds a dining table with a stuffed pig on a plate. She walks up to it, with the sound of buzzing flies and her expression suggesting that the thing smells awfully ripe, when it lunges at her and growls. Recoiling from that, Kristen wanders into another room, with the light coming on by itself when she gets in the center. She hears the sound of creaking wood nearby and then, something enormous begins moving underneath the floor, stirring up the carpet and then going up through the walls, smashing out pieces of it and busting lights. It suddenly goes quiet and Kristen begins looking around the room while backing up towards the door, when she's suddenly lifted up into the air. The Freddy Snake has grabbed her by the feet with his mouth and he slams her down to the ground, slowly gobbling her up (that image him of doing that here is what I saw on the back of that VHS when I was a kid). Screaming while trying to get free, Kristen yells for Nancy when Freddy gets up to her hips, which gets her attention over at her home. Nancy stands up and hears Kristen yell for her again. She looks at the model of the house that she found in Kristen's room and, after appearing to become dizzy, falls back into the chair, vanishing right into it. She falls into the room, smashing through a mirror, and after getting her bearings, she sees what's happening. She grabs a shard of glass and stabs Freddy in the eye, causing him to rear up and drop Kristen. Nancy helps Kristen up as Freddy looks at them and, upon recognizing Nancy, growls, "You." Horrified that her worst fears have been confirmed, Nancy says, "Oh, my God," and the two of them run out the door and close it as Freddy prepares to attack. They try to hold the door shut as Nancy yells for Kristen to pull them out of the dream. With some concentrating, she's able to do so as Freddy smashes through the door. The two of them wake up, with Nancy finding a cut on her hand from the shard of glass, confirming to her once and for all that it's happening again.

After lights out the following night, while Joey watches over Will as he sleeps, one of Philip's puppets that he has hanging on the wall in his and Kincaid's room comes alive, with its head morphing into Freddy's. He sprouts claws on one han, uses them to cut himself free of the strings, and walks towards Philip's bed. Philip "wakes up" and sees Freddy sprout up at the foot of his bed. He tries to scream but Freddy shushes him, rendering him unable to talk or move. Ripping the sheet off of him, Freddy slashes at him four times and then makes the veins in his arms and legs rise up like marionette strings. Kincaid wakes up to see what looks like Philip sleepwalking and tries to call to him and wake him up. When that doesn't work and Philip walks out of the room, Kincaid decides to go back to sleep, saying, "Have a nice stroll, asshole." Freddy manipulates Philip down the hall, past the nurse's station, with the nurse on duty paying too much attention to something else to notice, and makes him pass right through a door. In a cut back to Will and Joey's room, Joey is sitting in a chair by the window, reading a book, when he sees Philip at the top of the hospital's highest point, right next to the edge. He runs over to Will, shakes him awake, and grabs him and carries him over to one of the chairs by the window so he can see Philip. Will tells Joey to get help while he smashes the window and yells at Philip not to jump. Joey runs to the nurse's station but when he can't make her understand, he grabs her food tray and runs back down the hall, banging the tray on the doors in order to wake everyone up. When everyone peeks their head out, they hear Will yelling at Philip and run to his room. Joey runs back into their room and is joined by everyone else, who join Will in yelling for Philip to stop, not realizing that he's completely helpless and, even worse, that there's nothing they can do. After torturing him for a few more moments, Freddy cuts Philip's "strings" and laughs as he falls to his death in front of everyone else.

The following night, with Kincaid locked up in the Quiet Room after his outburst over Dr. Simms deciding to begin a routine of nightly sedation, Jennifer is in the TV room and when Max comes in to make her go to bed, she says that she needs to stay up, that she can't handle a nightmare after what happened to Philip. Max decides to bend the rules and let her stay up, leaving her alone in the room. After a cut that shows Taryn getting hassled by that asshole of an orderly (I always that could have been cut since it doesn't go anywhere), we go back to the TV room, where Jennifer is starting to doze off, leading her to light a cigarette and burn herself on the hand with it. She then changes the channel to the Dick Cavett show, where he's talking to Zsa Zsa Gabor. After a little bit of friendly conversation, Dick says, "Can I ask you something?" and when Gabor says, "Certainly," he turns into Freddy and snarls, "Who gives a fuck what you think?!" He stands up and prepares to swipe at her when the TV goes to static. Jennifer tries to turn the channel and when that doesn't work, she slowly walks over to the set, hearing the sounds of moaning, screaming, and kids singing the rhyme coming from it. She flips the dial on the set and then smacks the screen, when two mechanical arms with clawed hands burst out of its sides and grab her. She's hoisted up into the air as Freddy's head pushes up through the top of the set, with the antennas sticking out of his skull. He tells her, "This is it, Jennifer. Your big break in TV. Welcome to prime time, bitch!" As Jennifer screams, he slams her head into the screen, with Max coming in upon hearing the sound and finding her body hanging limply from the TV.

In the next group session, which is conducted unofficially without Simms' knowing, Nancy reveals to the kids who Freddy is, why he's trying to kill them, and also tells them about Kristen's ability to pull people into her dreams and that they each have their own special dream power. They try a little group hypnosis while Kristen tries to use her power but, at first, it doesn't appear to work since the room doesn't change and Neil tells Nancy that she's going to have to face the reality that she was talking about isn't real. While everyone's distracted, Joey sees the good-looking nurse that he has a thing for outside and walks out of the room. At the end of another hall, she motions for him to follow her into a room and when he does, she sits him down on the bed, telling him that she really likes him and that she makes excuses to come down to the ward every day so she can see him. Back in the group, Nancy tries to convince Neil, who's playing around with a perpetual motion device, to let them try to enter the dream one more time. He sets the device off again and the balls begin floating around in the air magically, revealing that they are in the dream after all. Neil is still incredulous at first but Will convinces him by standing up out of his wheelchair, saying that he can walk in his dreams and that he's the Wizard Master. Will shows off his power by catching one of the balls and, with a spark of green magic, turns it into a butterfly. Nancy then asks Kristen what she can do in her dreams and she demonstrates that she has amazing athletic abilities by running and doing a flip in the middle of the room. It's Kincaid's turn next as he picks up one of the chairs and crumples its legs like they're made of paper, with Neil telling him that it's very unnerving. Kincaid tells them to check out Taryn, who now has that crazy hairdo and outfit, proclaiming, "In my dreams, I'm beautiful," following that up taking out two switchblades and adding, "...and bad."

Back with Joey and the nurse, she, after letting her hair down, lets him unzip the back of her uniform and she slowly pulls it down and then turns around to face him, revealing how insanely hot she is. When she asks Joey if he likes her body, he nods very enthusiastically, as anyone would, and she lays him back on the bed, lying down on top of him and kissing him. Joey may think he's in heaven, but things quickly go to hell when he suddenly groans and the nurse, after getting a freakish expression on her face, pulls back, revealing a very long tongue. Joey grabs it and tries to pull it out of his mouth but she spits it at his left arm, tying it to the back of the bed. She does the same to his other arm and both of his legs and then turns back around and snarls and laughs at him, her laugh morphing into Freddy's unmistakable chuckle. Getting off of Joey, she turns into Freddy off-screen, quiping, "What's wrong, Joey? Feeling tongue-tied?" He cackles as the mattress falls out from underneath Joey, revealing a deep, hellish, bone-littered pit with fire at the bottom. As Joey tries to scream, the lights back in the group room explode and the door slams shut. Kristen warns them that Freddy's nearby and that he has Joey. Neil runs for the door and tries to open it but the knob becomes red-hot. After he recoils in pain, they hear a strange noise that's followed by the sound of the plaster on the walls cracking. Will notes that the room's changing, as a red light engulfs it while the walls begin to burn and the door bubbles from extreme heat. The window breaks and the walls begin to push in, revealing sizzling metal behind them that gradually encloses around them like a cylinder. Kincaid tries to use his strength to push the walls back but his hands are burned. The walls appear to be pushing in towards them when the door-knob jostles. It opens to reveal... Dr. Simms. We're back in reality now, with everyone still asleep in the room, when Simms notices that Joey is lying on the floor. Examining him and trying to wake him up, Simms tells Neil that it's a Code Blue and he rushes for help as everyone comes to their senses.

The climax is set in motion when Kristen is put into the Quiet Room and sedated after having an outburst over Nancy being fired. When Nancy and Neil learn of this, Nancy rushes back to the hospital to try to help Kristen while Neil makes Donald Thompson take him to the place where Freddy's remains are hidden, stopping at a church on the way to get holy water and a crucifix for the burial. When Nancy arrives back at the hospital, Max refuses to let her see Kristen but he does allow her to say goodbye to Kincaid, Taryn, and Will in the TV room. After meeting up with them, she tells them they're going to have one last group meeting. Once they're in the group room, Nancy tells them that Kristen and Joey need them and that they're going to try to enter the dream with them. She also warns them that they will die for real if they're killed in the dream and says that no one has to go in if they don't want to, but none of them back out. Nancy then uses the pendulum that Neil used earlier to put them to sleep, telling them to imagine themselves in the Quiet Room with Kristen as they go under. In the Quiet Room, Kristen, who has been fighting the sedative they gave for a while now, finally succumbs to it and falls asleep. When she opens her eyes in the dream, everyone is in the room with her, to her relief. She tells them that Joey needs their help but, when Nancy asks her where Joey is, metal claws start slicing through the room's padded walls. Everyone panics as the room begins filling up with the feathers inside the walls and they try to stay in the middle of it in order to stay together. Kristen yells for Nancy as the feathers get thick around her and when they clear, she finds herself back in her own bedroom, repeating the scenario at the beginning of the film, with her mother coming home and telling her to go to bed since it's late at night, with the main difference being that Elaine is now sympathetic and loving towards her. Kristen goes along with it and gets into bed, thinking that maybe the whole thing was a nightmare, and when someone downstairs asks Elaine where she keeps the bourbon, as happened at the beginning, Kristen asks her mother not to stay. Elaine then gets pulled outside into the hallway and Freddy, wearing a tuxedo, backs up through the door and yells, "I said, 'Where's the fucking bourbon?!'" He slices Elaine's head off and then shoves it in Kristen's face, telling her that she should listen to her mother. The head then rants at Kristen about how she ruins everything and that she's just trying to get attention. Freddy throws the head away and swipes at Kristen, who manages to dodge him and then use her dream power to run up and jump off the wall when he chases her across the room. Kristen jumps through the window and ends up in the Elm Street house, rolling roughly down the stairs. When she reaches the bottom and stands up, she yells for Nancy, as the scene transitions.

Taryn finds herself in the hallways of the Elm Street house and when she hears Kristen yell nearby, she follows the sound around the corner into a section where it opens up into a seedy backalley. Taryn hears a sound behind her and turns around to find that the hallway she just walked through is now a brick wall sprayed with graffiti of a heart that says TARYN + FREDDY inside it. She tries to go back through but when she can't, she sucks it up, takes out her switchblades, and walks slowly into the alley. A figure in vagabond clothes stands up beside a dumpster and Taryn readies herself as he walks towards her... and then, walks right past her, proving to be a false alarm. Taryn watches him walk past her and then turns to come face to ugly face with Freddy, who tells her, "Welcome home, Taryn. Look familiar?" Taryn backs up, brandishing her switchblades, and tells him, "Okay, asshole, let's dance!" Freddy brandishes his glove and backs up as Taryn stabs at him, coming back at her with a slice at her legs. He slices at her again, managing to get her thighs, but when he raises his arm for another attack, she stabs him in the armpit, causing him to recoil with his back against the wall. He then stops her by saying, "Taryn... why should we fight? We're old friends, you and I. Remember?" As Taryn backs up, Freddy raises his hands, his fingers now turned into syringes filled with drugs, and says, "Let's get high." Taryn, her courage gone, backs up against the wall and is horrified when the injection scars on her arms become little sucking mouths. She's completely helpless as Freddy shoves all of the syringes into her arms at once, pumping her full of drugs as she screams. Freddy's eyes roll up in the back of his head like he's getting ecstacy from this and says, "What a rush," as a vein on the right side of Taryn's head becomes bloated.

In another scene transition, we find Will standing in a dark tunnel. He cautiously walks through it, calling for the others, when he hears Freddy laugh. He backs up against the wall and turns his head when he hears something behind him, seeing a demonic version of a wheelchair, decked out with spikes and chains, turning to face him. Horrified at this, Will turns his head and sees Freddy standing at the other end of the tunnel, commenting, "You look tired. Have a seat." Will tells him that he's fine the way he is, to which Freddy says, "For now, maybe, but when you wake up, it's back... in the saddle... again." The wheelchair screeches towards Will, forcing him to run, but when it catches up to him, he gets against the wall, hoping to avoid it. It clips him in the leg as it goes by, causing him to fall down, with Freddy smiling evilly as it reaches his end of the tunnel and turns back around to face Will. He tells Will, "It's the chair for you, kid!", sending it screeching back at him. Will proclaims, "I am the Wizard Master!" and floats back up on his feet, a black wizard robe appearing on him, and shoots the chair with green magic, causing it to explode. Freddy is noticeably shocked by this as Will turns his attention to him, exclaiming, "In the name of Lowrick, Prince of Elves, demon begone!" and fires at him. Freddy does recoil from the magic but that's when Will makes the stupid mistake of running at him as he shoots, getting within arm's reach of Freddy and allowing him to grab him. He holds Will up into the air and growls, "Sorry, kid. I don't believe in fairy tales," before gutting him.

In the meantime, Kristen is wandering around the Elm Street house, calling for the others, when she enters a room. Nancy comes through the door on the opposite side and the two of them embrace, when they hear cracking sounds behind the wall. They back away from the wall, wondering what the sound is, as it begins to buckle and crack. That's when Kincaid busts a hole through it from the other side and smashes his way completely through, joining them. He asks where Joey is and when Kristen says that she doesn't know, Kincaid decides to "stop guessin' and start messin'," yelling taunts at Freddy to try to make him show himself. When nothing happens, Kincaid writes Freddy off as a coward when a metal door appears out of nowhere behind them. Kincaid is confused since it doesn't look like the door leads anywhere but Kristen tells him that it does, with the door proving her right when it opens by itself, revealing a spiral staircase, bathed in glowing red light, that leads down. Nancy tells them that this is it and asks them if they're ready. They both say that they are and begin walking down the stairs.

After a cut that shows Neil and Thompson finding the spot in the junkyard where Freddy's remains are hidden, and Neil keeping Thompson from leaving him behind by taking his keys, making him help with the burial, Nancy, Kristen, and Kincaid reach the bottom of the stairs and find Freddy's lair, which is a hellish, red-glowing room with a boiler in the center. Kristen spots Joey hanging over a pit in front of the boiler and after they hear the sound of metal scraping, Freddy emerges from behind the boiler, holding a doll that he tosses aside while chuckling. He points his friends' appearance out to Joey, saying, "All the little piggies come home." Nancy yells for Freddy to let him go and Freddy bows while saying, "Your wish is my command." Nancy, realizing her poor choice of words, rushes to help Joey as Freddy begins untying him, threatening to drop him into the pit. Nancy has to run down a large metal tube in order to reach Joey but the thing buckles and comes loose from the wall, with Kincaid having to use his strength to steady it. Nancy rushes to the bottom and grabs Joey's arm as it's the last thing to be untied and tries to pull him out of the pit. Kristen runs down the pipe to help, flipping into the air and kicking Freddy down to the ground when he runs at her. They both get back to their feet, with Freddy doing a pretty impressive move to do so, and Kristen flips over and behind him when he swipes at her. Nancy is still trying to pull Joey out of the pit when she begins slipping down with him. Fortunately, Kincaid grabs the bottom of her sweater and pulls them both out. Freddy manages to backhand Kristen across the face, knocking her to the ground, and is about to kill her when Kincaid pulls a large pipe out of the wall and smacks him on the shoulder, forcing him to the ground. He tries to pummel Freddy again but he catches the pipe and grabs him by the throat, lifting him up off the ground. Nancy grabs a steel bar and shoves it completely through Freddy's torso. The look on Freddy's face and the gurgling sounds he makes initially suggest that it was a fatal blow but he then smiles evilly at Nancy and Kristen and chuckles, pulling the bar out with relative ease and licking the blood off the end of it to mock them, all the while still holding Kincaid in the air. Nancy notes that he's much stronger than before and Freddy says that the souls of children give him strength, ripping open his sweater and showing the screaming faces on his torso, much to their horror. Freddy comments, "There's room for more," when he senses what Neil and Thompson are preparing to do to his remains. He then disappears in mid-air, dropping Kincaid to the ground and making him and the others wonder what happened.

At the junkyard, Neil and Thompson are digging a grave for Freddy's bones when Thompson says that he hears something. Neil, after he stops digging, hears a metal clinking sound nearby and Thompson climbs out of the grave. As they stand and listen, they hear a loud click, prompting Neil to think that there's someone out in the junkyard with them but Thompson says that isn't the case. Upon hearing another sound, this one like a rusty engine attempting to turn over, Neil gets out of the grave and both of them see the headlights on the cars stacked around them beginning to turn on and the cars themselves rustling. They all quickly come alive, including an engine lying nearby, in various ways, with their horns honking, wheels spinning, and windshield wipers running. Thompson runs for his truck but a big stack of cars falls on top of it, making it useless. Thompson tells Neil to bury the remains but when he reaches for the bag holding them, a skeletal hand reaches out and grabs his arm. Freddy's skeleton emerges from the bag, brandishing a glove, and swipes at Neil. Thompson watches as Neil crawls backwards along the ground while the skeleton walks after him and swipes at him again. He tries to shield himself with a hubcap but that gets knocked out of his hands. Just as the skeleton is about to kill Neil, Thompson gets his attention by saying, "It's really you." He turns and nods at Thompson, who picks up a bar and tries to smack him with it, but the skeleton is able to dodge him and when he tries to hit him again, he grabs his arm and stabs him in the gut with his glove. He then lifts Thompson up and flings him, impaling him on the back fin of a nearby car. The skeleton turns his attention back to Neil and stomps towards him. Neil picks up a shovel and tries to hit him with it but he gets cut in the shoulder and, as he yells and slumps in pain, the skeleton takes the shovel away from him and bashes him on the head with it before swinging and whacking him in the face, knocking him into the grave. The skeleton shovels some dirt on Neil, leaving him half-buried, and drops the shovel and laughs evilly. The bones then fall limp as Freddy's soul exits them to head back to the dream world.

Back in the dream, the group enters a hall full of mirrors as Kristen tells them that she can't pull them out of the dream since she's sedated. The door suddenly slams shut behind them and Kincaid and Joey try to open it back up when Freddy appears in the mirror on the back of it. He tells them, "Sorry to keep you waiting. Perhaps if there was more of me to spread around." His cackling image proceeds to appear in all of the other mirrors as everyone backs up through the room, with Joey backing into a corner. Nancy backs up against one of the mirrors and is grabbed by the image of Freddy, pulling her in. Kristen is grabbed by the leg from a mirror near the floor and pulled in while Kincaid gets jumped from behind and, while he puts up a fight, he ultimately gets pulled in too. Joey watches as everyone disappears into the mirrors and gets up and screams, "NO!" The sound is so deafening that Freddy covers his ears as the mirrors rattle before exploding and sending everyone tumbling back into the room. Joey is amazed at himself and Kincaid tells him that he's found his dream power while Kristen thanks him for saving them. Nancy says that Freddy's gone and that it's over, prompting them to group hug in celebration. Nancy hears the sound of her father's voice and sees him materialize in the next room. Walking in to see him, he says that he's crossed over and tells her that he's sorry for everything and that he loves her. Nancy says he loves her too and hugs him, which makes the others smile. Nancy then recoils in pain and a cut shows her getting stabbed by Freddy's glove. Dropping his disguise, Freddy pulls her head back by the hair and snarls, "Die!" as he drives the knives in further, with Nancy screaming. Sensing what's going on, Neil regains consciousness in the real world, while in the dream, Freddy pulls his knives out of Nancy and slams shut the door to the room behind Kristen, separating her from Joey and Kincaid. He tosses Nancy aside and when Kristen runs at him to attack, Freddy backhands her to the floor. Squatting on top of her, Freddy growls, "You're mine now, little piggy!" but before he can stab her, Nancy grabs him from behind and jams his knives into his own chest. Freddy gets up and yells as Nancy continues holding onto him, while in the real world, Neil climbs out of the grave and slides the bones into it. As Freddy continues struggling with Nancy, Neil begins sprinkling the remains with holy water, saying, "Ashes to ashes," causing holes of divine light to appear down Freddy's torso, causing to recoil and fling Nancy off. Neil sprinkles more water, saying, "Dust to dust," creating holes on Freddy's back as he stumbles around the room. Finally, Neil puts the crucifix down into the grave, saying, "Lay the spirit to rest," which results in the image of a cross burning onto Freddy's forehead. He runs around in a circle as the light engulfs him and he vanishes.

The film ends on a bittersweet note, with Kristen holding Nancy's dead body in her arms, sobbing, as Kincaid breaks down the door to find that he and Joey are too late. Kristen tells Nancy that she's going to dream her into a beautiful dream and kisses her forehead before crying again. The penultimate scene is Nancy's funeral, where Neil spots the mysterious nun that told him about Freddy's past and how to stop him. When he follows after her, she disappears at Amanda Krueger's grave, which also reads Sister Mary Helena, revealing that she was Freddy's mother all along. The film ends with Neil sleeping that night, with Nancy's Malaysian dream doll sitting on his nightstand along with Kristen's model of the house... when a light appears in one of the upstairs windows.

The music score by Angelo Badalamenti, who has scored a number of films such as National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation as well as the TV show Twin Peaks (he worked with David Lynch again on Muholland Drive), is an interesting mix of traditional-sounding music and more contemporary, rock-like and synthesizer pieces. The most memorable piece is the music for the opening credits, which is a low-key theme with a constant, "Di-di-do-do-da-da" rhythm accompanied by some menacing music that fluctuates in volume as it goes on. Other memorable themes include this rock-esque piece that plays when Taryn confronts Freddy in the alley, a synthesizer theme when the Freddy Snake scurries underneath the floor and through the walls before attacking Kristen, a frantic, synthesizer theme when Joey sees Philip and warns everybody about it, and a rather sweet, melodic piece for when the nurse starts making out with Joey. To be honest, the film's actual score isn't one of its memorable aspects and, save for those bits I just mentioned as well as some occasional reuses of a few of Charles Bernstein's original pieces, the only other memorable bit of score isn't even part of the actual movie but is this eerie melody for the Freddy nursery rhyme that you hear in the teaser trailer that's accompanied by this little girl humming. It becomes really loud and frightening after Freddy's hand pops out of the model house and the title comes up, which I can also remember more easily than anything in the movie's real score.

What everyone remembers about Nightmare 3 musically is Dream Warriors by Dokken, which was as big of a hit as the movie itself. I knew about this song long before I saw the movie when I read about it in reviews on IMDB (it has to be the most popular song to come out of this series) and it is nothing short of awesome. Truth be told, though, it was so hyped up that when I first heard it, I thought it was just okay. I've always thought that it was good but I didn't think it was awesome at first. I like the songs in the next film a lot more than Dream Warriors but, like the movie itself, I've warmed up to it upon repeated viewings and, when I watched the movie again for this review, I was bobbing my head to it when it played over the ending credits. I have seen the music video for it as well and I thought it was nice too, especially the ending with Freddy waking up and going, "What a nightmare!" Speaking of Dokken, they have another song in the film, Into the Fire, which I've always liked more than Dream Warriors. You only hear a section of it at the beginning and in the third act but I've always liked the sound of it and the lyrics, especially, "Into the fire! I've fallen... into the fire!" Really cool song and I wish it got talked about like Dream Warriors does.

A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors is a really enjoyable film and definitely one of the franchise's crowning moments. It has so many of the right ingredients: great direction by Chuck Russell, a good screenplay by him and Frank Darabont, working from material by Wes Craven and Bruce Wagner, a superlative cast who all give good performances, a slightly more comedic and mainstream take on Freddy that still manages to retain the darkness from the previous two films, well-done makeup, mechanical, and optical effects, a real imagination to the dream sequences, a nice climax with a fairly big scope for a modest-budgeted film, and some memorable songs on the soundtrack. There are some hiccups here and there, like some painfully dated optical effects here and there and a music score that, while good for what it is, isn't the most memorable that we'll get in this series, but overall, it's a very well-done and fun horror flick that serves as the film that put Freddy firmly into pop-culture and also proved his vitality at the box-office when it did as well as it did. Craven may have wished for this to be the last one but New Line Cinema weren't about to kill off such a profitable character and franchise after this!

1 comment:

  1. I have to say that I have liked this movie less and less as the years have gone by. It has a ton of inventive ideas and sequences, but I hate the way it treated the returning characters from the original. Disposing of Donald Thompson so easily was one thing, but dumbing down Nancy Thompson's character at the end was so insulting. I know in Wes Craven's original script, she still died but did so more heroically and without falling for such a stupid trick... and the original shooting draft of this film had her just dying helplessly without a fight. So I am thankful for the last minute change of her leaping up behind Freddy to save Kristen, but man, when I think about how Nancy was disposed of so easily, it just makes me mad.

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