A Nightmare On Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors (1987)

Large head of burnt man with hat floating in clouds, five blades stretch out from the clouds, four people facing the clouds stand on four the of five blades. There is road leading to a house below the sky.Director: Chuck Russell
Running Time: 96 Minutes
Starring: Heather Langenkamp, Craig Wasson, Robert Englund, Patricia Arquette, Ken Sagoes, Rodney Eastman, Jennifer Rubin, Larry Fishburne, Bradley Gregg, Ira Heiden, Penelope Sudrow, Nan Martin, John Saxon, Priscilla Pointer

After A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy's Revenge was considered a disappointment, New Line Cinema chose a different tactic for the third instalment of this profitable series. They brought back Wes Craven, screenwriter and director of the 1984 original, to write a script with Bruce Wagner (which was later reworked on by Frank Darabont, and director Chuck Russell). The end result feels like a direct sequel to the original, honouring what worked so well the first time around, while building upon it so well.

Years after surviving her ordeal, Nancy Thompson (Heather Langenkamp) works at a mental hospital, helping teens suffering from nightmares. Unfortunately, the culprit invading these dreams is Freddy Krueger (Robert Englund), intent on making his horrific return.

As the sole survivor of Freddy's initial nightmare slaughter, Nancy Thompson has taken her terrifying experience, and put it towards helping others with their own troublesome dreams. The progression of her character feels completely believable, taking Nancy to more interesting places than just offing her in the first scene, to make way for new characters. Heather Langenkamp does wonderfully in portraying this evolution of her character, being the only person who completely understands what these hospitalised teens are going through. She is understandably fearful in crossing paths with her abuser once more, but doesn't let it paralyse her. Her focus is ensuring these teens make it through this horrific experience, making sure they survive where her friends did not.

Our entry point for these teens is Kristen, who was recently put under hospital care, after an encounter with Freddy results in the appearance of a suicide attempt. Patricia Arquette puts a likeable performance into the character, making her feel like a well written figure in her own right, as opposed to just the next final girl. It helps that the screenplay goes to great lengths to make each of these characters feel fleshed out and easy to root for, so that when the body count rises, we care for the poor souls who fall victim.

Once more returning to the role of Freddy Krueger, Robert Englund puts his all into portraying the monstrous killer. He casts an imposing presence, where the sight of his silhouette merely standing sends chills down your spine. One gets the impression he's having more of a ball in the role, as Freddy is quipping a lot more, but none of it undercuts the dread he delivers throughout. Be it their physical limitations, personal demons, or hopes for the future, Freddy adapts his nightmarish onslaught for each victim, specifically bringing out scenarios to wear them down, and just downright hurt, before intending to deliver the killing blow. This delivers some brilliant imagination to the dream scenarios, which director Chuck Russell is more than happy to utilise to the fullest potential, and ratchet up the tension for utterly nerve-shredding scenes.

Brilliantly mixing creativity and frights, A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors takes what made the original work so well, and expands upon it for a worthy follow-up.