THE HALLOWEEN HIT LIST
A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET 3: DREAM WARRIORS (1987)
Written By Wes Craven, Bruce Wagner, Frank Darabont & Chuck Russell
Directed By Chuck Russell
Sequels to horror classics are always a point of contention amongst the horror crowd. Whether they’re debating the necessity of a sequel or the individual merits of a given sequel in a long-running horror franchise, it’s safe to say that most horror fans have an opinion one way or the other. For me, there’s usually one sequel in each horror series that stands out from the rest of the bunch. Most of the time it’s because this sequel does something different with the concept of its original and becomes a great piece of entertainment on its own. This is precisely how I feel about one of my absolute favorite horror sequels, A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors.
There is no denying that Wes Craven’s original Nightmare is a classic all its own, and while the second entry in the series left a lot to be desired, Chuck Russell’s third Nightmare film capitalizes on the original’s dream concept and takes it in a different, interesting direction. Heather Langenkamp’s Nancy is back in Dream Warriors, only now she is a psychiatrist specializing in dream therapy who teams up with a group of sleepless teens with special abilities to take on Freddy Krueger. One of the few sequels in the series to actually have Wes Craven’s involvement, what makes Dream Warriors stand out is its ability to entertain the audience at all costs while embracing and adding to the mythology of Freddy. For me, this film sports the most unique collection of kills in horror movie history. They’re equal parts ridiculous and hilarious and never before nor never again has the Nightmare series captured the perfect balance between the humor and terror of Englund’s Freddy as in Dream Warriors.
Now, the concept of the film is sure to get a few eyerolls, but that’s kind of what makes it such a joy to watch. Seeing this cast of teens (including young Patricia Arquette and Laurence Fishburne) use their abilites against Freddy is actually really fun and the dream world in this particular film is incredibly well done. Sure, Dream Warriors is often campy, but director Chuck Russell balances it with creepy imagery and a respect for the original most of the other Nightmare sequels simply didn’t have. If you’re looking for a ridiculous fun and entertaining horror sequel to pass the time ’til All Hallow’s Eve, you’d be hard-pressed to find another one with the absurdist charms of Dream Warriors.
Is it scary? It has its moments, but it’s much more interested in entertaining you at all cost.
Is it gory? Oh yes, and then some. Some of the most inventive kills you will ever see.
Is it funny? It’s the funniest film in the series by far. Robert Englund spouts one-liners with ease.
What’s the atmosphere like? A haunted house with comedic intentions on crack.
Why does it belong on The Halloween Hit List? It’s one of the best sequels of the big three long-running horror franchises (including Halloween and Friday the 13th). It’s entertaining, it contains some of the all-time greatest horror kills and it’s as much about laughing you to death as it is about scaring you. Robert Englund is on point and it respects the original Nightmare without tarnishing it. Honestly, if you’re a horror fan, what more can you ask for? So sit back, relax, grab the popcorn and enjoy Dream Warriors. And yeah, welcome to prime time, bitch.