Release date: February 27th, 1987
Running time: 96 minutes
Director: Chuck Russell
Writers: Wes Craven, Bruce Wagner, Frank Darabont, Chuck Russell
Composer: Angelo Badalamenti
Cast: Robert Englund, Heather Langenkamp, Patricia Arquette, Rodney Eastman, Ken Sagoes, Jennifer Rubin, Penelope Sudrow, Bradley Gregg, Ira Heiden, Laurence Fishburne, Priscilla Pointer, Craig Wasson, John Saxon
There’s nothing more soothing than resting my head down on my pillow after a long day in the real world. As my eyes become heavy, my mind settles and I begin to drift off into that sleepy state where everything’s possible and there are no limits. I can run faster than a cheetah, fly like an eagle, leap through time and dimensions, and meet fascinating characters to have the most amazing adventures with. There’s nothing I can’t do in my dreams, but when it comes to my nightmares – like many of you, I too feel that paralysing fear, quickly making me forget my ability to take control and wake the Hell up.
A Nightmare On Elm Street 3: The Dream Warriors was a film I instantly fell in love with when I saw it on a late summer night back in 1990 when I was eleven years old. Filled with young characters that had to learn how to control their dreams and face their fears in order to survive their nightmares, I could relate to them easily. The more I watched the film, the more it gave me strength in my dream world and waking world that I could stand up to my demons, even if I might not be able to completely vanquish them.
Rather than picking up where its predecessor Freddy’s Revenge left off, The Dream Warriors sets its story in the previously uncharted Elm Street territory of Westin Hills, a psychiatric hospital. Troubled teenager Kristen Parker (Patricia Arquette) is admitted there after waking up from a nightmare having apparently slashed her wrist with a razor. Dr. Neil Gordon (Craig Wasson), along with Dr. Elizabeth Simms (Priscilla Pointer) are at a loss with trying to come with an explanation as to why so many of Springwood’s teenagers are taking their lives after suffering from these night terrors.
The film also reintroduces us to some familiar faces. Returning from the original Nightmare are its lead heroine Nancy Thompson (Heather Langenkamp) and her father Donald Thompson (John Saxon) who now have an even more strained relationship than they did before. Robert Englund, who played Freddy Krueger in all 8 films, reprises his role here and this time round he’s even more sinister and wise-cracking than ever, especially when he sets his sights on last of the Elm Street children whose parents had burned him alive.
Among them are mute Joey Crusel (Rodney Eastman), tough-talking Roland Kincaid (Ken Sagoes), recovering drug addict Taryn White (Jennifer Rubin), aspiring actress Jennifer Caulfield (Penelope Sudrow), sculptor Phillip Anderson (Bradley Gregg) and wheelchair bound Will Stanton (Ira Heiden). It seems to surprise none of the staff at Westin Hills that these kids have all been having nightmares about the same guy, everyone that is save for Nancy Thomspon who’s had some experience in the field.
Realising that Krueger’s killing have long been continuing in the six years she’s been away she becomes determined to help the kids take control of their dreams, face their fears and survive their nightmares. Not everyone’s open to her ideas though, and as Krueger thins out the group Dr. Simms takes drastic action to stop Nancy from having any contact with them. The only one she can really can on in helping her reach the kids is Neil.
As a sequel which gives us more of back-story with Krueger’s past, The Dream Warriors does this remarkably well. We learn about the tragic circumstances in which a nun was accidentally locked in 100 of the worst of the criminally insane and repeatedly raped, resulting in Krueger’s conception – the bastard son of 100 maniacs. There are also some strong performances from Patricia Arquette in her debut film role and Heather Langenkamp who makes the transition from Final Girl in the original to Tragic Heroine in this film. As Nancy guides Kristen in how to utilise her dream power, a bond between them is formed and in a way it’s one character passing the torch onto another and their final scene together is really what makes me love the Nightmare series as whole.
With a gothic feel aided by the imposing façade of Westin Hills, Angelo Badalamenti’s memorable score and the subdued lighting, The Dream Warriors is always my pick of the Nightmare sequels to revisit on those sleepless nights. It always leaves me feeling charged and ready to take on whatever might come my way, real or not.
The founder of Static Mass Emporium and one of its Editors in Chief is a composer and music producer with a philosophy degree. Static Mass is where he lives his passion for film and writing about it. A fan of film classics, documentaries and World Cinema, Patrick prefers films with an impeccable way of storytelling that reflect on the human condition.
You can find his music on Soundcloud .