Where A Nightmare On Elm Street Part 2: Freddy's Revenge left a lot of people a little disappointed, the third film in the saga of Freddy Krueger was little short of a masterpiece of the genre. Returning to the chills of the first movie rather than the forced shocks of the second, it also saw the return of the original hero, Nancy, played by Heather Langenkamp. Other notable cast members included a young Laurence Fishburne (Back when he was still called Larry) and the first movie role for a teenaged Patricia Arquette.
Rather than being set on Elm Street, this third film is set in a mental institute, where a group of troubled teenagers are sharing nightmares about a burned man with a clawed glove. They'll do anything to stay awake, as we see in unnerving detail onscreen. Their group therapy sessions don't seem to be helping, until a young woman called Nancy comes into their lives, and tells them all she knows about the demon in their dreams. Before long, the chaos is unleashed as Freddy tries to off the group of 'Dream Warriors' when they unite to do battle against him.
It was a fantastic idea, and is executed very well for the time. I always loved the fact that in the dream world, the teens are as they wish they could be. For example, the RPG fixated lad in the wheelchair has the use of his legs again, and is a powerful wizard. The mute lad can talk (and indeed scream), and so on. While some of the effects have dated, the suspense hasn't.
This is one of the only Elm Street sequels to actually feel like a real horror film, and while Freddy is letting loose with the odd wisecrack, he isn't presented as the cartoonish bogeyman of later sequels. The fleshing out of his character is done in a subtle way, with his origins described by the ghostly form of Sister Mary Helena. To be honest, the series could have ended very well indeed if it had been left alone with the end of this film, but alas the series was run into the ground with more sequels of decreasing quality.
There are a number of outstanding moments throughout 'Dream Warriors' though, some of which have become icons of the genre, such as the infamous 'Snake' scene in which a huge snake version of Freddy attempts to eat Arquette's character, Kristen. Then there are moments such as the unveiling of Freddy's soul-encrusted chest, or the equally notorious 'Puppet' scene (that still freaks me out to this day).
Really, if you just watched the first Elm Street movie and then this one, ignoring all of the others, it would make for a much more satisfying experience. A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors, is pretty much perfect. Oh yeah, and it has a theme song by Dokken, so it's even more awesome. Isn't it time you checked this film out again? I urge you to do so, and relive a time when Freddy was actually a villain and not a parody of himself.