A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors

A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors ★★★★

This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.

This review may contain spoilers.

"Let's go kick that motherfucker's ass all over dreamland!"

Year of my birth, you contain all of the best movies.

This is clearly the sequel the original Nightmare deserved. It contains nightmare sequences that are nearly on the level of the first, returns Freddy to his original set of rules and stakes, and smartly brings Nancy back into the fold. It does all of this while expanding on the mythology in ways that make sense and make the whole experience scary and fun all over again. Other horror sequels wish they could accomplish this balance of reverence and invention.

I actually distinctly remember catching a few minutes of this on TV when I was a kid, and in general was just terrified at the idea of horror movies. I remember the pit to hell opening beneath the bed, and I very distinctly remember the TV set kill. That's evidence right there for how effective this entry is - I've lived my entire life since then with those specific images burned into my brain.

There are some great, really effective sequences in this, and usually with really cool, kind of weird, practical effects. I'm thinking specifically of the puppeteer sequence, the Skele-Freddy fight, and the mirror sequence. Even the opening with the little kids luring Patricia Arquette into the house on Elm Street only to find a room full of hung teenagers and a creepy little girl on a tricycle saying "Freddy's home" - what a great way to announce the series is back on track. And some of the filling in of Freddy's past that they do ("The bastard son of 100 maniacs") is actually memorable and interesting, and adds something to the mythos rather than taking away from it. Certainly the inclusion of "pulling" other people into your nightmare and the ability to adapt to the dream world and give yourself powers is exactly the right kind of mythos-building a premise like this needs and deserves.

I did have a really fun moment towards the end of this - I was all in, absolutely loving every minute of this. And then Nancy's angel-dad showed up, only to quickly turn into Freddy and prove yet another of his tricks. Here are my exact notes from that moment:

"Dead dad at the end is cheesy as fucccccck - oh wait, no it's not - DOPE AS HELLLLLLLLL"

I really loved this movie - it's not quite on par with the truly nightmarish art film that is the original, but it's a damn fine sequel that should be more of a template for horror sequels. In fact, my pitch for a reboot series would be just start with the premise of this one and then start trying to expand on these ideas more. No need to outright re-hash the original when this bananas premise is out there, waiting to be clutched onto and expanded upon. This is a real treat - add it to your October watchlist this year.

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