Although billed as pure horror, A Nightmare On Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors strays into fantasy as well and is a pure blast of fantastically diabolical special effects when it’s working in either genre. Around the middle of the franchise marks the place where Freddy Krueger began to turn into more of a cartoonish wise-guy from his original mainly silent phantom, but he’s still pretty foreboding here, as Robert Englund puts energetic work into both his funny and frightening sides. The cool thing about this flick is it’s ‘Goonies’ style aesthetic; several youngsters, committed to a mental facility for their insomniac ‘delusions’, do dream battle with Freddy, and it’s one of the few instances in a slasher film where victims get to fight back in some capacity, and as a unit. Patricia Arquette is wonderful as Kristen, leader of the pack and a fiercely vulnerable spirit, while a young Laurence Fishburne plays the kindly head nurse. It’s also a treat to see Heather Langenkamp return as brave Nancy Thompson, still out for Freddy’s head. The effects are dazzling, from Freddy’s remodelled syringe needle glove in one scene, to a giant pac-man version of his head attempting to eat a live person whole in another, it’s just imagination run wild in dreamland. The kills are still sufficiently gory too, if punctuated by his now classic growling one liners (“Bitch!”). It’s safe to say this is the best in the franchise barring the first film, it’s quite a bit of fun. Oh, and for a good hearty laugh, nothing beats the Dick Cavett/Zsa Zsa Gabor cameo featuring a priceless interruption from Freddy.
Sleek, frightening update on a sagging franchise. Brilliant use of a meta concept that could have easily taken the silly route. Imaginitive, jaw dropping practical effects. A darker, less flamboyant take on the iconic character Freddy Krueger. Wes Craven’s New Nightmare was the best Freddy flick to come along since Dream Warriors, the third installment. After the stale and awkward sixth film, Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare (my ass final), there really needed to be a game changer, something fresh and solid that would shake up a routine that had been getting fairly silly for some time. Who better to facilitate that than the man who kicked the entire legacy off back in 84′, Wes Craven himself? Back with a vengeance and a whole grab bag of new ideas, Crane brought forth a new, remodeled version of the Freddy lore, with some innovative twists. This one takes place in the real world, where Heather Langenkamp is Heather Langenkamp and not Nancy, Robert Englund is actually Englund and not Freddy. Heather has a young son (Miko Hughes, the go to little tyke of the 90’s), Englund is relaxing and trying out the artist’s life, and Craven, also playing himself, has big bold ideas for the Nightmare franchise. The meta doesn’t stop there though; Whatever Craven is cooking up has somehow awoken a very real, very serious and very scary version of Freddy who is now trying to break free from dreams and into our world, using young Hughes as a conduit, and wreaking havoc left right and center. Heather knows the only way to put a stop to the evil is to face Freddy, as Nancy, one last epic time. I love the high concept, I love that Craven conceived of this and got it made, it’s one of the most inventive horrors ofnthe decade. When Freddy does show up, he’s dead straight serious without a quip or wisecrack in sight. His design and attitude are way darker too, he’s a suitable real world dream demon that makes the Englund of past outings look like Big Bird. The special effects crafted for the netherworld Heather ventures into are a confusing labyrinth of body horror, ornate production design and impressive imagination. A complete vision of the Elm Street legacy that does what few horror franchises attempt, let alone succeed at: It reaches beyond the tropes that have got it to where it is and pleased audiences so far, breaks new ground and reinvents the legend.