Review Date: November 15, 2003
Released by: New Line
Release date: 9/1/1999
Region 1, NTSC
Widescreen 1.85:1 | 16x9: Yes
"Welcome to prime time, bitch!" With those words, Freddy Krueger destroyed all chances of becoming a serious horror villain. Instead, he became an icon. A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors
opened February 27th, 1987, and went on to become a huge hit for the still-small New Line. Freddy had officially risen from his cult following into a pop-culture icon; the ying to Jason Voorhees' yang. Originally released in the Nightmare DVD box set, and now a standalone title, how does the DVD measure up?
Basically ignoring Freddy's Revenge
's existence, Part 3 begins with Kristen Parker (a young Patricia Arquette
) trying desperately to stay awake. Not even Dokken's loud music can save her though, as she succumbs to her dreams. In those dreams lurks the omnipresent Frederick Krueger. Controlling her body, he makes her slit her wrists, forcing her careless mother to send her to an institution.
In the institution, Kristen meets a motley crew of misfits, from a wise-talkin' African-American to a mute boy with a mullet and an obsession with the towel nurse. Also new to the correctional facility is Nancy Thompson (Heather Langenkamp
), the survivor from the first film. She is back, but this time as the staff, as she tries to help all the troubled youth. The kids are all being tormented by Freddy in their dreams, and one by one Freddy stalks and slashes the MTV youth to their deaths.
Nancy and Dr. Neil Gordon (Craig Wasson
) try some unorthodox methods to try and rid Freddy from their patients' dreams, and meanwhile a mysterious nun keeps lurking in the distance. The nun holds the secret to Freddy's existence, and she alone possesses the knowledge to put him away for good (good being until Part 4). Nancy's father (the legendary John Saxon
) also resurfaces to help Nancy & Co. try and put Freddy back in hell where he belongs. Can all the titular "Dream Warriors" converge to rid their dreams of the wise-cracking gore monger, or will they all, as Dokken puts it, "fall into the fire"?
With a script written by Wes Craven and Frank Darabont (The Shawshank Redemption
), and director Chuck Russell (The Blob
) behind the wheel, it is no surprise that Dream Warriors
is one of the best installments into the Nightmare series. Right from the stylish credit sequence, Dream Warriors
is filled with dazzlingly inventive visuals, from the moody photography to the innovatively deceptive set pieces. Nobody is ever safe from Freddy in the film, and Russell's creative juggling of reality and dream makes for one exciting ride.
Then there is the special effects by Greg Cannom (The Howling
, Exorcist III
), which are just as creative as the sets. Freddy comes out of the TV, grows needles on his fingers, and in the best effect, controls a hapless victim with the veins from his hands and legs. Adding to the entire ensemble is some surreal music by David Lynch stalwart, Angelo Badalamenti, as well as a few kick-ass metal songs by Dokken. All these qualities combine to make this a suspenseful and at times haunting nightmare with all the glitz and glamour of an MTV music video.
However, the film may just be an indictment of the very MTV audience it wishes to cater too. Freddy's first words are of course "Welcome to prime time, bitch!" which he says as he rams a teen girl's head through the television. Prior to this scene, time is spent outlining the fact that today's generation watches too much TV. With teens being by far the largest Freddy watching demographic, Dream Warriors
ushers forth somewhat of a punishment towards the MTV-watching youth. A boy is brought to a coma by Freddy for his budding sexual impulses (that he never acts out) and another girl is killed by drugs (which she refuses while in reality). So despite its music video gloss, within the film there lies a subdued critique of the audience and enterprise that it seeks and emulates, respectively.
Preceding the Harry Potter revolution by about 15 years, this film also contains one of the biggest nerds to ever grace the screen. William Stanton (Ira Heiden
) plays a wheelchair bound geek, complete with huge rimmed glasses and a frail build. He is paralyzed by day, but a sorcerer by night ("In my dreams I am the wizard master!"), and proves to all the suffering youth out there that there still lies hope. Please. This character is so cliched and desperately annoying that it continues to anger me today that Freddy spared this guys life for so long in the film. Not since Dustin "Screech" Diamond from Saved By The Bell
has a character been this annoying. Perhaps Freddy let him live as a way to further torture not only the characters but the viewing audience as well. When his death finally happens, and what a beautiful one it is at that, it becomes nearly impossible to regard Freddy as the villain. Not only is the audience forced to identify with Freddy because of his charming one liners, but he also because he has done the world a huge favor by dispensing of the most annoying character ever to grace the film medium.
Other than the wizard man, the rest of the actors are actually surprisingly good. Heather Langenkamp gives a slightly better performance this time around than her turn in part one, and supporting turns by John Saxon and "Larry" Fishburne certainly don't hurt either. Patricia Arquette, in her first starring role, displays a nice range of emotion, and gives her lungs a workout throughout.
And then there is Robert Englund. This film seems to have polarized viewers into two distinct camps regarding the portrayal of Freddy Krueger. Some applaud his witty one-liners and his more camera friendly sneers, while others balk at his comic routine, especially in light of his first two performances. I fall in the latter camp. Freddy was actually one scary adversary in the first two films, due mainly because he was cast in shadows and restricted to near silence throughout. He may be more entertaining spouting his puns, but at that expense the film loses some of its horror. It becomes less a nightmare, and more a comedy. Englund's performance still has its share of chills though; Freddy still wasn't quite over the top yet, that would happen a year later with The Dream Master
Overall, Dream Warriors
is a well made film on all levels, from direction, set design, special effects, all the way to acting (wizard man excluded). Its pacing is tight, and its dream sequences plentiful, and its got its fair share of surprises during the climax. The first film is a masterpiece, but as far as sequels go, you can't do much better than Dream Warriors. Freddy summed it up best: "what a rush!"
This film, like the rest of the Elm Street films, is featured in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen, and contains an amazingly sharp transfer. The print here is in pristine condition, without blemish or artifact. The frequent dark shadows look very deep and surprisingly strong considering the low-budget nature of the film. Yet another fantastic job by New Line.
Presented in either Mono or Dolby Digital 5.1, this track sounds good no matter how one hears it. The 5.1 track is of course the way to go, but both sound very clear and contain a strong sense of envelopment. The 5.1 track has some nice directional effects up front, from John Woo-ish doves to explosive sound effects, but is somewhat silent in the rears. Given that the film was mono though, keeping the sounds up front is more than acceptable. This track really has a lot of punch throughout, and ends with Dokken's rocking "Dream Warriors" theme. Sit back, crank it up, and enjoy the ride.
Like the other releases, all the major supplements have been relocated to the bonus disc, but those who have bought this outside of the box set will find only a few cast and crew bios, a "jump to a nightmare" menu, the awesome trailer and a couple DVD-Rom games. The screenplay is included, as trivia game #3 (although the actual online contest is long over). There are a couple needless web links at the end to round off the disc. The menus have some nice transitions, and the opening montage sets the mood perfectly.
The most entertaining sequel in the formal Nightmare on Elm Street
series, Dream Warriors
is a visually spectacular film with some great effects. Freddy's wise-cracks aren't all that bad either. The audio and visual presentations are great, while the supplements are basically non-existent. Dust off the ol' red and green sweater and sit back with the 80's #1 baddy, this is as good as it is going to get.
Movie - A-
Image Quality - A
Sound - A-
Supplements - C+
- Running Time - 1 hour 36 minutes
- Rated R
- 1 Disc
- Chapter Stops
- English subtitles
- English Dolby Digital 5.1
- English Mono
- Cast & Crew bios
- Jump to a nightmare feature
- Interactive screenplay (DVD-ROM only)
- "Dream World" trivia game (DVD-ROM only)
- Theatrical trailer (standalone release only)