Usually when the third entry into a franchise is being developed the filmmakers scratch their heads as they attempt to either reinvent the series or go the larger than life approach. Interestingly enough, “A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors” is an amalgamation of both; we get higher production in effects while semi-reinventing the series through narrative choices.
After a visit from Freddy Kreuger in her dreams, Kristen (Patricia Arquette) is checked in to Westin Hills psychiatric hospital against her will. To her surprise, she learns that the other teens in her group sessions have also encountered Freddy. Unfortunately, the collective understanding is dismissed by the doctors as a symptom of mass psychosis- yet another case of adults do not believe in the terror of teens. The only one to believe them is their therapist Nancy (Heather Langenkamp), who makes a welcome return to the series. With Nancy’s expertise, the group must band together to put a final stop to the one who lurks in their dreams.
If one word could describe the key element of “Dream Warriors” it’s resourcefulness. For one, Kristen learns she has the power to physically bring others into her dreams. This ability is combined with the notion of dreams in a very cool way. With Nancy’s guidance, the teens encapsulate the endless possibilities of fantasy by improving their dream versions of themselves into worthy adversaries to Freddy- such as a warlock, brute and switchblade wielding badass. Personally, this is the most alluring aspect of the film as the concept of dreams are really played with on the protagonist’s side.
“Dream Warriors” sets the tone for the future of the franchise as go for broke with the character of Freddy. Robert Englund’s charismatic personality is used much more than previous. Rather than just being a full-fledged villain, humor becomes the forefront of his persona. One-liners are dark, yet satisfying on a comedic standpoint; working as a great counterbalance to the teen’s hysteria. This isn’t to say that the terror of Kreuger is abandoned if anything it is increased by an even more deranged backstory that is disturbing, to say the least.
As far as the presentation, the visuals are stellar once again. If anything, the practical makeup is kicked into higher gear for some squirm-inducing fun. In one instance, Freddy uses a character’s veins as strings; thus using him as a marionette doll. It’s gruesome, but also a visual achievement. Stop motion is used in a most delightful way, giving “Dream Warriors” a clash of a handful of techniques to bring effects to life.
Although the film has a great concept and some captivating elements, the overall execution is delivered poorly with some spotty acting and disappointing sound quality. There are moments that seem redubbed and even a scene where a character says something but their mouth remains still. These minor nitpicks are overshadowed by the disheartening score. A synthesizer is a great tool for 80’s horror, but here the cheap sound comes off as cheesy rather than the endearing campy vibe we have grown to love. That being said “Dream Warriors” still manages to pack a punch and is regarded as a fan favorite to the franchise.