Friday, July 30, 2010

A Nightmare On Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors (1987)

Reviewed By: Billy and JM

We’ve always said at Tower Farm that sequels are better than the originals, but it’s a much less-publicized fact that we are, in particular, fans of Part 3s. Part 3s generally take one of two courses of actions; they either go in a completely different direction, totally screwing up any continuity in the series thus far (Halloween III, Withboard III), or they try to make up for the errors of a misguided Part 2 and bring back the original cast, hoping to strike gold again. This particular movie sort of takes both tracks at once, bringing back characters from Part 1 while also adding insanely stupid elements such as dream powers and changing the villain from a creepy boogeyman into a stand-up comedian. Of course, we love this movie...hell, at TF, we call it A Nightmare On Elm Street 3: Dream Cast. Come on…you’ve got a literally sleepwalking Patricia Arquette, Laurence Fishburne a hundred pounds lighter than you’re used to seeing him, Zsa Zsa Gabor, and the musical involvement of Dokken!

Let’s set the stage for the plot here: you’ve got a neighborhood, and all the kids are unable to sleep and going completely nuts. Rather than try figure out what the hell toxic chemical’s in the water, the parents ship all the teens off to a mental institution…wherein nobody seems to make the connection that they’re all from the same neighborhood (hell…from the same damn street) and having the same dreams. Jesus Christ, this is a class action lawsuit waiting to happen as soon as Erin Brockovich hears about this. You’d also think by the third movie, old Freddy would be smarter than to collect the kids all in one place, where they’ll be able to plan attacks against him. Maybe he’s just trying to round up a captive audience for his ninety-minute set of lame jokes/zingers.
This time around we focus on the character of Kirsten. Or Kristen. We’re not really sure what her name is since she’d referred to as both. This character is played by Patricia, who seems to think this is an initial read-through instead of the actual filming. The lack of enthusiasm with which she recites her lines is unparalleled…that is, until she’ll star in the show “Medium” years later. At least she’s consistent. Kristin/Kirsten has an awesome mom who’s a mixture of all the mom characters from the original cast of “Beverly Hills: 90210.” It’s hard to tell if she’s a coke addict, an alcoholic, a plain-old frustrated soccer mom, or Mrs. Cleaver. Anyway, she sends her daughter to the loony bin after what she thinks is a suicide attempt, but is actually an attack by a sink faucet. Seriously.
Heather Langenkamp is the newest staff member at the hospital; in the years following part one, Nancy has apparently become a “grad school superstar” in the field of “pattern nightmares” (which, we’re not sure, but might include the wallpaper in every room of our childhood Muncie, Indiana home). Nancy also seems to have acquired the hair of the Bride of Frankenstein; the curly mop with the grey streak is literally so startling upon first glance that it’s no wonder the kids around her are all attempting suicide.
Nancy and Kristen/Kirsten develop a special bond when the younger girl drags the older one into her dream. This is, you see, is her “dream power” – something we’re never heard about until now, but sure as hell could have helpful to the poor kids who’ve died in the past two movies. This dream, by the way, features the famous “Freddy worm” – which tries to eat Kristen/Kirsten, but upon closer inspection, is actually gobbling up an oddly shaped stunt woman.
Soon we meet the rest of the Elm Street kids, a wonderful group of idiots that really sets this movie apart from the other sequels. Each group therapy session starts with the fantastic line “Straight talk only in this room,” which we plan to start using daily for no apparent reason other than it makes us laugh. Leading the therapy groups is a doctor played by Craig Wasson and looking exactly like Bill Maher, and this movie’s version of mean Nurse Ratched, whom JM lovingly describes as “the human cigarette.”
Meanwhile, Philip is the sleepwalker who looks a lot like the gross brother in “The Wonder Years,” there’s Will in the wheelchair – possibly played by Sally Jesse Raphael, in her film debut – as well as the always enjoyable Jennifer Rubin playing bad girl Taryn, and our favorite duo Kincaid and Joey, who somehow become the breakout stars of this group (which should tell you something about the rest of these twits). Oh, and we can’t forget Jennifer, the wannabe actress who burns herself with cigarettes. There’s no proof to back this up, but we are convinced this is indeed Tara Reid in her finest performance…aside from her stunning work in “Taradise.”
Along with the awesome characters, this is the Nightmare in which filmmakers decided the best way to keep audiences entertained is to be as gross as possible when it comes to the death scenes. To that end, we get Philip’s veins ripped out of his arms and legs and used as marionette strings, Jennifer’s head slammed into a television set moments after an appearance by both Zsa Zsa and Dick Cavett, Joey tied to a bed with a bunch of wagging tongues, and our personal favorite, the still-nauseating image of little mouths popping up on recovering junkie Taryn’s arms and begging to be fed with heroine.
These deaths give Robert Englund a chance to really let loose in his Shecky Green routine, spitting out one-liners that were reportedly sometimes ad-libbed. Here’s just a sample of Robert’s fine work as a thespian and author:
-“What’s wrong, Joey? Feeling tongue-tied?” – moments after Joey is…umm…tied up with tongues
-“Welcome to primetime, bitch!” – moments before Jennifer’s smashed into the TV
-“Let’s get high!” – moments before brandishing a hand full of hypodermic needles

Unfortunately for Robert, all of these lines are completely overshadowed by Kincaid’s classic taunt, “Yo, Freddy! Where you hiding at, you burnt-face pussy?” He then follows it with a terse but effective, “Krueger, pussy!”

Also important to note: this is the Nightmare in which we learn that Freddy is the “bastard son of a hundred maniacs” and apparently the only way to kill him is to bury him in hallowed ground. Umm…we’d love to make a joke here, but this is just too stupid to even bother. It does, however, bring us John Saxon as Nancy’s father, who must lead the crew back to Freddy’s remains. Nancy’s dad is now a drunk who apparently never takes off his cop uniform. Saxon, of course, looks exactly the same as he does in every other movie.
Anyway…clearly this is a great movie. It’s the beginning of the turning point in the Freddy movies, with the villain slowly becoming more and more comedic and the death scenes becoming more and more stupid; of course, it would take Renny Harlin to really blow the lid off the series, which he did in the very next installment.. But in the pantheon of great horror Part 3s, this one ranks near the top of the list, topped off by the great original poster and the awesome Dokken theme song.  Nothing can top this Part 3 -- but Nightmare easily ranks...



  1. Dream Warriors is one of the best sequels ever! I was convinced that Bradley Gregg "Phillip" was Corey Feldman's older bro. Also, you gotta love Dokken singing the theme song!

  2. My favorite NIGHTMARE film ever. So damn fantastic, it's not even funny. I prefer this one over the original. I don't think the film is stupid at all. The victims should have powers if Freddy does. The death sequences are incredible for its time. And the story actually is a fitting conclusion to what started in part 1. Anyone who shits on this film deserves to have their head shoved through a TV.

    And yes, Dokken does kick ass.

  3. I prefer Jason. He doesn't fuck around.

  4. This film scared the beejesus out of my when I was younger but not because of Freddy. The scene where Freddy the nurse comes in and seduces Joey was the first time I'd ever seen exposed mammaries on TV. But then I was completely horrified when tongues started shouting out of her mouthface. I was traumatized for months. Pretty sure I avoided all female contact at grade school for awhile.

  5. Oh, how I worship this film. It's so damn bad, in all the best ways! The camp value alone is priceless.

    My ex was a big fan of this movie, and whenever he had a problem, he'd scrunch up his face like Priscilla Pointer and exclaim, "Code Blue!"

    And of course watching Dick Cavett/Freddy slash Zsa Zsa while she's wearing her feathered boa is pure cinematic paradise.

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  7. Fred-
    I prefer this to the original, too. I can't decide whether I like it better than part 4, though.

    The Dokken songs are great in this movie. Again, though, I point to part 4. Vinnie Vincent Invasion's song might top "Dream Warriors". Might.

    You had an opportunity for female contact in grade school? Grade school!?

    Motorcycle Boy-
    Me, too.

    You are never wrong. That's it.


  8. Another great posting - I especially love the Tara Reid thing!

    And in recognition of such, may I please present you with this award:

    Keep up the great work!

    - TGWD

  9. I haven't seen this one in a long time. Great review of what is my favorite of the sequels.

  10. NIGHTMARE...3 is not exactly my -favorite- entry (that'd be Part 2, actually, and noooo, not because of all the supposed gay subtexts) but it's the penultimate and defining entry in the series for me, the one that I think of immediately when someone mentions the franchise.

  11. Good God did I love the 90210 mom connection. Pure brilliance.

  12. Heather really looks like she's dressed up for Halloween as Chris Claremont's version of Rogue in that screengrab.

    This is also why I would faint if she were ever to kiss me.

  13. As you know, this is a favorite film of mine. And, I must say, this is probably the single funniest review you have on the whole site. I peed just a little.

    Also, I have an extreme habit of becoming Kristen's mom after watching the film. " Endele! Endele!"

  14. You won another award!

  15. Ha ha ha! I loved this review - and I too love sequels! Nightmare 3 is very cool for both the right and wrong reasons! Love it!

  16. I loved that this one brought back Nancy!! Soooo awesome! I think this one, the original, and New Nightmare are my favorites in the franchise. I love Heather Langenkamp, I actually used to watch the tv sitcom she was on, Just the 10 of Us. She's in the upcoming The Butterfly Room with the likes of Barbara Steele, PJ Soles, Adrienne King, which I can't wait to see! Fangoria has a write up on it
    Dreaded Dreams
    Petunia Scareum

  17. I want to bugger Penelope Sudrow (as she was in 1987, not as she is now obviously).

  18. "Welcome To Prime Time, Bitch!" is one of my favorite lines from the series.

    Looking forward to your next rad review!

  19. So true about threes and random directions... I remember the first time someone told me about Halloween 3...

    Very nice review and blog, incidentally. I still haven't seen all of Nightmare 1, but this really makes me want to.