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“Let’s go kick the motherfucker’s ass all over dreamland.” — Kincaid, aka Gangsta Hulk, shortly after original Freddy victim Nancy Thompson assembles the Dream Warriors

The Macabre Brothers share an affinity for bargain-bin horror films. It’s actually more like an addiction — hardly a month goes by without one of us wasting $5 on some dubious DVD title. Such impulse buys may not deserve a full review, but like porn, they’re worth a quick and shameful glance. In Basement Ramblings, we answer your most meaningful question: Is this month’s piece of crap worth the price of a Big Mac?

By Phil

Where I found it
Same place I found Nightmare 2: Freddy’s Revenge: in a Freddy four-pack at Walmart. This is the one with Laurence “Morpheus” Fishbourne and Patricia Arquette in her first Hollywood role. And whaddya know, good ol’ Heather Langenkamp is back as Nancy from Wes Craven’s original.

Why it caught my eye
Probably some faint hope that Nightmare 3 is like Halloween: The Return of Michael Myers, which is one of the best random horror sequels starring a celebrity long before his time. Patricia Arquette is no Paul Rudd, but Morpheus is promising. So is the return of Nancy.

The premise
Long before Hollywood made X-Men, The Avengers, the Harry Potter gang and just about every team of super-somethings into multi-billion dollar super-franchises, the horror sequel machine churned out A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors. It’s a superhero flick in horror film costume, featuring a band of sleep-deprived teens who might be suicidal — but might also be prey for the big, bad Fred Kreuger.

The real kicker: these Dream Warriors are led by Nancy Thompson (aka Professor F), the hero of the original who convinced her mom to fess up about burning Kreuger alive when Nancy was young. And so, for now and all of sequel eternity, the poor girl’s close friends (and bloodline and casual acquaintances) are pegged.

Released in 1987 (three years after the original), Dream Warriors is set about a decade after young Nancy defeated Kreuger like some kind of mid-level Resident Evil boss, or that pesky Magneto guy. This guy takes a lickin and keep on tickin, just like a good boogeyman should. He picks up where he left off by haunting the dreams of a young and fragile white girl, Kristen Parker, played by Patricia Arquette in her first major role. She’s a good fit for the could-be-crazy Kristen: wide eyes, soft voice, sticks-straight hair, a touch of crazy in her movements. Kudos to the casting director — it’s no wonder that Medium show lasted as long as it did. (Also reminds me a bit of Winona Ryder in Stranger Things. The casting there is spot-on as well.)

Kristen (aka Jean Gray Arquette) has a knack for remembering her dreams. Hell, she doesn’t just remember them — she lives them. When she builds a true-to-life replica of the Elm Street house where Nancy grew up, it becomes a major setpiece in her dreams, complete with double-dutching schoolgirls and a nasty burn victim with knives for fingers. Totally normal for someone at a mental institute, right?

That’s what Kristen’s philandering mother thinks, and so she ships her only daughter to an institute filled with insomniacs at a time when teen suicide is reaching epidemic levels. The institute is home to Neil Gordon (aka Doc Not-Boyfriend), a psychologist with crazy ideas about dreams, and overseen by Dr. Elizabeth Simms, a Nurse Ratched type who’s more Catholic priest than Freudian analyst. (“You won’t get any further until you recognize what your dreams are: the byproducts of guilt; psychological scars,” she says during a therapy session. It comes not long after Doc Not-Boyfriend sees a nun who might or might not be real. Like so many horror movies, Christianity’s dubious side is there for flavor, not insight.)

Anyway, Kristen goes stab-happy with a scalpel as soon as mom dumps her off at the institute. Luckily, young psychology student Nancy arrives just in time to disarm the frantic teen, but only after she repeats a calling-card rhyme from Nancy’s childhood: “One, two, Freddy’s coming for you…” etc., etc. Her only choice is to partner with Doc Not-Boyfriend and help these kids defeat her nemesis one. Last. Time. (Maybe.)

Dream Warriors plays its hand early and often — Freddy’s ugly mug shows up in full, grim, glistening glory about five minutes into the film and returns as a worm, cloud and vintage Cadillac by the time it’s done — but slow-burning tension and mystery are hardly the endgame. This is the X-Men of ’80s horror flicks, and that’s exactly what director Chuck Russell (of Mask and The Scorpion King) gives audiences: a band of unlikely heroes overcoming adversity to battle both a villain (Freddy) and an unfair institution (parents, man), all with the help of a trusted mentor bearing scars of her own. Prof F, meet your Dream Warriors.

What works
This concept could have failed. It could’ve fallen flat on its face, with no energy, no dread, no grim humor and no sick creativity. The original Nightmare had all four, and even though the third installment has zero creeping dread, it comes bearing the other three in oodles.

First (and most obvious) is the Dream Warriors concept. This shit is just too much fun, and it’s easy to forget that Nightmare 3 came out when horror sequels were coming close to an awful, predictable nadir. The Friday the 13th franchise was six films deep by then, but then again slashers never had the boundless dream element of a Freddy universe. With help from Nancy and Kristen — she pulls people into her dreams with a form of ESP, a la Jean Grey — the three main supporting players harness the powers they have in their dreams: super strength for Kincaid (aka Gangsta Hulk), magic spells for Will (aka Wizard Master) and some kind of switchblade kung-fu for Taryn (aka Punk Girl).

It’s not only a creative touch, but a clever one: If Freddy can change the dreamscape at will, shouldn’t his victims have the same ability? I think so, and the filmmakers run with it. They follow the concept through to the end (and then some), which taps into plenty of twisted Elm Street energy. Besides, I think just about any kid, anywhere, can relate to the awesomeness of a mid-film scene when this crew of misfits discovers their powers — and then puts them to use.

Only this ain’t Harry Potter or even X-Men, and that sense of blissful discovery doesn’t last long. Freddy promptly throws a teen out a window and puts another through a TV set, gangland-style, and the Dream Warriors are only strong enough to battle him together. How do they get there? Group hypnosis, which gets Doc Not-Boyfriend (as in you can never tell what the hell is happening with he and Nancy) in tons of trouble with his superiors. It’s a touch of drama that’s predictable and quasi-realistic, with no real impact on the story, but it’s nice either way. Good to keep things sorta grounded.

Another reason to love the Nightmare series: sweet costuming and special FX. The lighting in Dream Warriors is always bright and bold and colorful — not my favorite for a truly scary film — and it helps show off about a half-dozen imaginative incarnations of Freddy. There’s the worm, then the bondage bed, then the guy with hypo needle fingers, and then finally the living, breathing Cadillac. It’s too bad Freddy also shows up as a dancing Army of Darkness-style skeleton (more on tone in a sec), but I can get past that. It’s not hard when the final scene has Prof F, Doc Not-Boyfriend, the Dream Warriors, Freddy’s many forms and the prof’s father, disgraced former sheriff Thompson (horror standby John Saxon).

What sucks
Not much, other than the fact this film is a lot of fun and little else. It’s been about four weeks since I watched it and vividly remember the big setpieces and reveals — Freddy as a worm, the Dream Warriors discovering their powers, the true identity of the nun — but other than that the rest is blurry. It doesn’t stand out as real horror.

Memorable or not, I feel like I got just about everything I wanted in one sitting, and a lot of that comes down to the plotting of a superhero movie. Once the gears started churning, it was pretty easy to see the puppet strings of A-B-C plotting: misfits meet villain, misfits assemble, misfits meet mentor, mentor teaches misfits, misfits and mentor take on villain. It’s predictable, with visuals that are more stunning than horrifying, and characters that are more familiar than surprising.

And I’m fine with that — it’s still more ambitious than most of its peers (albeit Hellraiser, also released in ’87). But think of it this way: Is Freddy, the child murderer with finger knives, more effective as a wise-cracking goon — a villain — or a truly dark and real threat — a monster? You can make an argument for both, but I think this is the film when Freddy turned completely campy. And once you go camp you never go back.

Verdict
Nightmare 3: Dream Warriors is everything a good horror sequel should be: an homage to the original with new characters, ideas and plenty o’ creative deaths, plus more Freddy than you can shake a five-and-a-half-foot pole at. It also makes a damn good case for more superhero horror movies. The Undead Avengers, anyone??

Ramblings

Begins with an Edgar allan poe quote: “sleep, those little slices of death. How I loathe them”

– kinda irks me they didn’t include the the poem citation

I’ve never seen mixing a cake look so…slimy

Oops my bad, not a cake. it’s crepe or papier mache or something

Turns out this is crazy (i’m assuming) patricia arquette is the first person to be visited by freddy

– come to think of it she always had a good crazy look to her, just like Winona Ryder in Stranger Things. They have that wild-eyed crazy look to em, and that’s on a good day

– she also chugs diet coke, definitely a crazy person thing. And of course they have to crank “Into the Fire” by Dokken

DIRECTED BY DAVID RUSSELL — is this the same dude who did Anchorman?
– nah, it’s actually Chuck Russell, but he still did some biggish stuff: The Mask, eraser (with Ahnold), The Scorpion King

Well that’s creepy: Patricia arquette (didn’t catch her name when she was talking to mom) built a paper machie of the Elm street house

– NICE TRANSITION: she falls asleep, starts hearing the signature Freddy Song, wakes up and looks over headboard to see the girls jumping rope and a decrepit Elm Street house

– “Hi What’s your name?” “Kirstin” there it is

Dude, Saw totally stole the creepy chick on a tricycle thing from Freddy 3

– well, if you want to get rechnical maybe they all take it from

Aighty, some plot:

– Kristin, aka Patricia, dreams about rescuing the children Freddy murdered

– I like the concept…

I love Freddy: not even 5 minutes into the movie and we see him

– enough of this sneaking around, never to be seen bullshit — that’s for the series that make you assume you don’t know what the killer looks like already

OH SHOOT DREAM WITHIN A DREAM

– heh that’s one of the more creative Freddy claw things: His fingers sprout out of an old-school

KRISTIN PARKER

– she’s a suicide attempt

– and, like those before her, she’s freaked out by the thought of falling asleep

OOOOOOh so Freddy is masking his kills as teen suicides

– how topical for the 80s…

“Think about it: all their parents dropped acid in the 60s. It’s fucked up chromosomes.” — Morpheus’ theory about the recent rash of suicides. Freddy dreams, acid flashbacks — potato potatoh

NANCY!!!!

– comes into the room right as Kristin is singing the Freddy rhyme…and then hugs her…and disarms her since she had a scalpal and all

– “They seem to share a group delusion, a boogeyman, for lack of a better word. They’re so traumatized theyll do anything

– “I’ve had some experience with pattern nightmares.” — Nancy after her chat with the doc

Hmmm and now the doc is seeing things: a nurse in full white garb in the outside hallway

Nancy meets Morpheus, AKA Max, AKA Laurence

Both of the crazy kids have a hardcorse crush on Nancy

– they’re dangerous, to themselve and to each other, Max says

– well, all except for Joey with the teardrop tattoo. he’s all about the

IT FEELS LIKE:

– we’re getting introduced to Freddy’s victims: nurse, max, kristin’s mom (who always has gentlemen callers…), maybe also doc?

Nice IBM doc

******DREAM 2*****
kristin falls asleep at the psychiatric ward, cuz that’s where we take crazies in the ’80s (or 40s…), and she’s back in the Elm street house

I wonder if nancy will come to the rescue

Well that’s pretty dope…i like the visceral crawlingthrough the walls

Shit it was freddy as a worm! ha ha ha

And somehow nancy can hear her…oh shit they’re bth asleep

Now look at what you gone did Kristin, pulling Nancy into your dreamscape

Hell yeah, freddy’s snake face is pretty gnarly actually…good special effects, with that glistening, gleaming slime

If you thinkg about it THIS ONE IS A DREAM IN A DREAM TOO

– one dream is nancy’s, one dream is kristin’s

DEBRIEF

What do you know — Kristin was able to bring people into her dreams, her dad

She and Nancy share that talent…kind of cool, better than just rehashing the villain and what he wants/does

AND WE MEET: THE SUICIDE SQUAD
aka dream warriors, the kids Nancy thinks are sharing a delusion BUT who also try to kill themselves
just 7 of them…which sounds good

“You won’t get any further until you recognie what your dreams are: the byproducts of guilt. Psychological scars.” sounds like old-school pysychiatrist lady is preaching Catholocism

Soooo…is

“My mother passed away. She died in her sleep.” THE WAY NANCY SAYS THAT…oh man, it doesn’t sound

Ok, now we know what’s going one: Nancy is taking hypnocil, an “experimental psychoactive drug”
– guess it stops their dreams, which is dangerous…probably true in real life

********DREAM 3******* with Philip, the sleepwalker
– he comes to life as a puppet, one of the puppets philip had on his wall made of paper maiche cuz theywon’t give him  knife- and now frieddy’s walking him like a puppet with bloody tethers attached to his wrists
– walking him straight to the windw, where he’s gonna jump out

These group therapy sessions are pretty wild

“Our new policy: Group sedation at nighttime.”

AROUND SLEEPING TIME
– show how the kids stay awake: watching TV, singing song alone in padded room, saying no to drugs from an orderly

******DREAM 4******
FREDDY ATTACKS ZSA ZSA GABOR!
– that was a fun transition
– “Welcome to prime time, bitch!” freddy says
– before SLAMMING THE CHICK’S HEAD THROUGH A TV SET
– TVs and Freddy do not mix. First Johnny Depp, this time…no name chick who looks like a low-rent Osbourne child

AT THE FUNERAL
the nun gives doc some advice from the graveyard…
– how much you wanna beat sister Mary Helena is either A) freddy in disguise or B) a spirit combating freddy
– i’m gonna go with A after she tells him to basically kill Nancy

“He wears a dirty brown hat. He’s horribly burned. He has razonrs on his right hand. Nancy “Who is he?” junkie girl “His name is Freddy Krueger.”

THIS ALL TAKES PLACE 6 YEARS AFTER THE OTHER MURDERS
“It’s not you. Your parents, my parents, they burned him alive, and now we’re paying for their sins. You are the last of the Elm Street children.” — Nancy doing her best catholic nun impression

Doc spends a lot of time macking on Nancy…nothing much ever comes of it, but whatever

*****DREAM 5***** group hypnosis scene
– cuz that sounds like a good idea
– “Nothing would feel better right now than a nice, long, deep sleep.”
– whelp, first try doesn’t work….OR DOES IT??
– looks like it works just fine for the silent boy with the crush on the sexy nurse…WHO LURES HIM AWAY FROM THE GROUp
– or hormones, Freddy’s best friend next to nightmares
– whelp nevermind they;re in group dream/therapy session together
– “In my dreams, I am the wizard master” heh dork

FIRST GROUP DREAM SEQUENCE
– well that’s kinda fun, shows all the cool shit they can do in their dreams, what they like to do
– In my dreams I’m beautiful. And bad!”
– also kinda twisted all this is happening as silent kid thinks he’s getting laid – ah hell yeah we’re getting real tits with the NURSE!!
– but nope, tongue-tied with Freddy
– yet another tongue attack…she lLASHES HIM TO THE BED, BDSM STYLE, WITH FLESH AND TONGUE
– nice
– “What’s wrong, Joey? Feeling tongue-tied?” cheesy…couldn’t gone for more of a sexual thing, rather than a lame joke about him being mute
– and now the group therapy room is on fire. Good one nanc

And they wake up
– joey isn’t dead but he’s in a deep comma
– “Unusual steps were called for.” — doc after the nightmare session
– aaaaaaaand random WASP tells him he’s off the case
– but yeah, this intra office pysch ward politics stuff is kinda borin

Oh no, wah wah, doc gets fired
– we even have the obligatory carrying his shit to the car in a sad, sade cardboard box scene
– AND THEN TRICKED INTO VISITING THE TOWER PHILIP THREW HIMSELF OFF OF
– not sure why it doesn’t make sense, but damn, like the old guy said, two deaths in two days and one coma is worth

*****NUN SCENE*****
– getting a little background on the history of the psych ward
– a young girl was accidentally locked in over the holidays…and raped hundreds of times, and pregnant
– “That girl was Amanda Krueger.” — nun gives us the history of
– ah ok, she’s not telling doc to kill Nancy, she’s telling him to put Krueger’s bones to rest
– Interesting concept: Krueger wasn’t just a demon, he was born that way (or maybe made that way?) when his mom was raped over and over by the criminally insane

“Come and get him bitch.” — words carved in mute Joey’s chest

“Only one man knows, and it’s time for him to talk.” — Nancy, probably talking about her dad

Aight, so Patricia arquette’s version of crazy is mostly screaming paired with looking real sad/patricia nrormal

******NANCY AND DADDY****
– dad is hammered drunkn at the bar, now working security somewhere
– Nancy wants his help to stop shit,
– doc returns, threatens dad, maybe time to go on husband-weird-not-boyfriend adventure

Doc starts collecting:
– holy water, crosses, etc from the church
– what, is he fighting a vampire now??

“Where are they, Max” “They’re all in the TV room” Is that the same TV room where the wannabe actress

TRIVIA TIME
Q: Where are freddy’s parts/ashes buired?
A: Penny Bros Auto Salvage

******GROUP DREAM 2*****
“Let’s go kick the motherfuckers ass all over dreamland.”
– yep, figured they were assembling a team when we saw just three of the kids with “powers”
– i wanna find a Dream Warriors action poster, like….a full size

Nice transition: we’re brought from a padded room getting shredded to bits into the OPENING SCENE
– of course it’s a ruse, but still must feel like a good shock half of the time
– freddy decapitates mom, then gets yelled at by decapitated mom head
– aaaand she does a backglip away from freddy. power one, good to go

BEST SCENE
– the Freddy vs punk girl knife fight
– freddy has the upper hand: pyschological fear, and when his fingers turn into syringes we’re fucked

WELL best scene so far
– because the dungeons and dragons kid
When you wake up, it’s back in the saddle again.” — Freddy says
– except for that wizard master has a Bookmaster style cape (or whatever that mccauly caulkin movie was) that makes him look like a bitch, even when he’s spraying green lightning a la
But Freddy’s got the trump card: “Sorry kid, I don’t believe in fairy tales.”
– and that’s that

Oh damn is gangsta hulk about to get in a fist fight with Freddy?
– i’m getting crazy Jason in NYC vibes, when he punches off that boxing dude’s head

****BACK TO REALITY
– dad and doc boyrfriend are at the salvage yard digging ashes out of a very freddy-esque vintage chevy

*****BACK TO DREAM****
– kinda stoked they’re in the boiler room
– and now we’re getting the ghetto hulk v freddy fist fight
– meh doesn’t last long…
– think he’s gonna spear ghetto hulk with the same rebar nancy tried to kill him with?
– nice it’s the scene with children’s faces screaming and wailing on Freddy’s stomach

****BACK TO REALITY
– or are we?? jukyard is going apeshit
– and then there’s A SKELOTON FIGHT???
– like, freddy comes to legitimate life as a skeleton with knife finvers
– oh damn and then he throws nancy’s dad into slab of janky metal

BACK TO DREAM****
– starts pulling em all through mirrors…but not joey
– who opens his mouth, screams, and that somehow
“You found your dream power man!”

Um and then dad mystically floats down to Nancy…with a golden shimmer and shit
– I crossed over, sweetheart.” and by that he means freddy killed him
– AND THEN BECAME HIM…kinda figured
– But nancy doesn’t seem effected…MAYBE THAT”S HER DREAM POWER??

WORLDS COLLIDE
– doc hits freddy’s bones with holy water, kills him as nancy fights him in the drea world
– and nancy dies
– back to the graveyard for nancy’s funeral, and maybe a jump scare? freddy pops out of a coffin?
– huh nun was freddy’s mom…nice little tie-in. glad they didn’t go for cheap scare, and i honestly never saw that coming

nope, classier than a jump scare ending: “Dream Warriors,” by who other than Dokken, the obligatory 80s anthem

 

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