When I was a little girl, I had a huge crush on Freddy Krueger (Robert Englund). I knew Robert Englund from the miniseries V (1984) so I had no fear of him. I also was never keen on teenagers, so I didn’t mind him hacking them up to bits.
My crush didn’t always work out well for me. At 6 years old, I told a girl who was cheating at a game of 4 squares during recess that I was engaged to Freddy and that he was going to kill her in her dreams. I was sent to the principal’s office and my mom was called. She was not happy. As for me, I regret nothing.
The Nightmare on Elm Street series has a special place in my heart. I’ve seen each one countless times. Even the dreadful entries like FREDDY’S DEAD (1991), I’ve seen over and over again.
Though, I’m in the minority who prefers the second, I do absolutely love DREAM WARRIORS. The cast is fabulous, the characters are interesting, there are genuinely frightening moments, the comedy hits and the plot is a compelling one. Even the callbacks from the first with the return of Nancy (Heather Langenkamp) and Donald Thompson (John Saxon) works and are not ham-fisted or forced.
A mental institution is a perfect place for Freddy’s torture of the Springwood teens to continue. They’re locked away without an escape, considered mentally disturbed and ignored until Nancy shows up as an intern and realizes the fear felt by the patients are from a very real and familiar threat.
The doctor she works under, Neil Gordon (Craig Wasson) isn’t a fool. I like that. He’s inquisitive and doesn’t shut down Nancy. The two actually work well off one another and their concern over the teens well-being really keeps the film moving. My one grievance is that Neil doesn’t show off his dong. In GHOST STORY (1981), we got some full-frontal gold with Wasson; so, in that respect, I feel ripped off.
Thankfully, that’s my only major grievance. The death scenes are spectacular, Freddy is edgy and dark and the teens are likable which doesn’t happen often. I genuinely care about the characters. Maybe it is the vulnerability of the setting and the fact that the kids already have troubles which triggers that emotional response. Everyone hates doctors and hospitals, so the group being trapped in a mental facility while simultaneously chased by Freddy does garner sympathy. Not to mention, Doctor Simms (Priscilla Pointer) is a bitch! I want to punch that dame in the face so badly. Just once I wish Neil had said, “where do you get off, lady?” and knocked her out cold. Though, if Gordon hit a woman it might be hard to paint him as a protagonist afterwards. Still, Simms deserves it.
Now, I do wish there were more scenes with John Saxon. I adore that man. I would watch him read the phone book. He has that old school sex appeal. He’s rugged and strong and has that no-bullshit approach that makes me swoon. He’s just so RAWRRRRRRRRR sexy! Even when he portrayed a Jim Jones style cult leader on THE A-TEAM (1983), I loved him. I’d drink his Kool-Aid any day of the week! When I watch the first movie, I always yell at Nancy when she doesn’t listen to her dad, especially when she jumps in front of that sleaze Rod (Jsu Garcia). Fuck Rod. I’m glad Freddy killed him. He sucked. Don Juan Thompson was right about him.
As for DREAM WARRIORS, from start to finish it’s a great movie. It’s a blast, really. I would have liked for Phillip (Bradley Gregg) to last longer. I thought he brought a certain masculine rebellious charm that was lacking in the other boys, but Taryn (Jennifer Rubin) was the female counterpart to him and received the time and focus. Of the two, the filmmakers made the right choice. Taryn was a strong determined fem with a good backstory and some personal demons to face. I can see why showing that was more significant than getting into Phillip’s angst that was more in line with a typical 1980s John Hughes’ character. Taryn was a far more unique character with a story not often told on the big screen, but personally I just liked Phillip more. If nothing else, he was killed with one of the most memorable death scenes in the franchise.
NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET 3 holds up now as well as it did when it was made. I enjoy watching it back-to-back with BAD DREAMS (1988) which has a somewhat similar plot. The setting is the same and though the storyline has many differences, there’s enough similarities to make the two a great double feature.
For the few who haven’t watched this check it out. For the many who are fans and have seen it a billion times, check out BAD DREAMS. You’ll probably dig it.