Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Week of Reel Whorror!: Pointless Nostalgia Day 2

Welcome to Day 2 of the
Week of Reel WHorror!

The toughest part of reminiscing over my childhood horror-movie memories is trying to decide where to start. I've decided to start in the middle with Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors. I didn't start watching in the middle of the NOES series. I had seen the original and the sequel Freddy's Revenge with my cousins. See, I grew up in the boondocks and had to go to my cousins' house to watch FOX without the UHF fuzz. Those were the days when you could actually see movies on HBO and Showtime long before they were released on VHS and Beta. That's right, and Beta. But I digress. In short, my cousins introduced me to the glory of Freddy Krueger.

So when my mom took me to the local video store and I saw Dream Warriors, I had to see it despite her reservations. Why do I consider Dream Warriors a milestone? Because it was the first horror movie I got to experience alone. I remember my parents going to bed and me settling into my dad's chair, excitement bubbling as the tape heads whirred to life. I remember nervously laughing off the deaths, but, in all honesty, it scared the hell outta me. I had to switch on every light as I made my way to bed. Though I always slept with the door closed, I had to leave it open to even attempt to sleep. Therein was my fatal mistake. Just as exhaustion set in...WHAM! My bed shook as the impact's noise broke the silence. I literally bounced from fetal position to sitting straight up only to see my father in the doorway, laughing. He had thrown one of my sister's large stuffed animals against the bed. Dipshit. Luckily, I was young, as the strain on my heart was enough to scare an adult man to death.

Though I didn't sleep a wink the rest of the night, the event didn't leave any lasting trauma. I was able to continue enjoying horror movies for years to come. Since it's been over twenty years, here's Dream Warriors through a more discerning eye:

Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors

Release: 02.27.87
DVD Release: 09.21.99
Rated R
1 hour, 36 minutes


In her film debut, Patricia Arquette (Uncle Buck) plays Kristen Parker, a teen who has nightmares of a creepy house and a horribly burned man in a dirty fedora, Freddy Krueger (Robert Englund, Urban Legend). After slitting her wrists, Kristen is admitted to Westin Hills psychiatric hospital where all the kids are plagued with nightmares of the same fiend with the metal-clawed hand. The lone survivor of Freddy's first REM attacks, Nancy Thompson (Heather Lagenkamp, TV: Just the Ten of Us) is now a psychiatrist who conveniently joins the staff and teaches the kids how to fight Freddy.

Watching this again after so many years, it's amazing how many of the details I recalled. One factoid I didn't recall was that Max the orderly was played by Laurence Fishburne (Event Horizon) back in the days when it was cool to call him Larry. At this point, he still hadn't made Anna Mae eat the cake, so why would I have recognized him? The remaining cast are still largely unknown faces though they all have worked in recent years. It's obvious Patricia has the huge "talents" that make her the focus. Oh, she can also summon people into her nightmares to help her, too.

Freddy systematically attacks each of the kids with his razor sharp claws and equally sharp wit. For example, the last words the aspiring actress ever hears is "Welcome to primetime, bitch!"

Each creative death is crafted with the finest special effects the late eighties had to offer; they spent major budget on some serious claymation. Granted, it looks cheesy as hell now, but you've got to look at these things with the proper perspective.

The story was penned by series creator Wes Craven (Cursed) with director Chuck Russel (The Mask), Bruce Wagner, and Frank Darabont (Shawshank Redemption). It's obvious that serious thought went into this sequel as a means to mop up the mess left by the previous sequel.

Dirty Undies
All things considered, the deaths are still pretty gruesome. Freddy's just cruel when he turns Joey's (Rodney Eastman, TV: Monk) wet dream with the naked nurse into the worst night of his life. I think the marionette maker, Phillip (Bradley Gregg), was the most disturbing, though not as much as some of Nancy's outfits:

Don Johnson called. He'd like his suit back.

And to think I had a schoolboy crush on her. Anyways, Dream Warriors is fairly violent and Freddy's creative creepiness really shines.

The Money Shot
Of all the NOES movies, I used to believe Dream Warriors was the best. While the original will always be great for establishing the premise, this was the superior of the sequels. Dream Warriors, thanks to great writing and the acting of Patricia Arquette, still feels compelling despite being painfully dated. I wonder if they'll get Patricia to cameo in the 2010 remake?

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  1. Again, nice memory (I'm reading your posts in reverse order). The marionette bit was - and remains - horrific. I think this movie was one I asked my mom to rent for me when I was bed-resting after wisdom teeth extraction ... the frights onscreen helped distract from the pain in my jaws.

  2. wisdom teeth extraction - ouch! I'm lucky I've never had to have that done.

    Watching NOES3 again has got me itching for a Freddy marathon. With the new version being released in April, now's the perfect time to sift back through them.

  3. loved that line: "Welcome to primetime bitch". Great line from that movie.

    I hope the new Freddy says bitch with the same passion.