Jan 20, 2016
The Nightmare-ening Day 3: DREAM WARRIORS (1987)
Man oh man. I wrote about A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors waaaaay back during Final Girl's formative days as an early entry in the "I Heart..." series. I was curious to find out if my feelings had changed in the near-decade-long (!!) interim. Guess what? Boy, they sure have changed.
I heart it even more now! How is this possible, how can I hold so much love? I don't even question whether or not this movie deserves such adoration because obviously it does...and if you don't believe me, I present you with these two pieces of evidence to prove my case:
Taryn's "beautiful...and bad" look and the stop-motion skeleton doing its little victory cheer. That's all it takes for this film to earn a Lifetime Achievement Oscar if you ask me. And since you're reading this, you kind of did ask, so.
This is the Nightmare on Elm Street for me. I was just the right age to totally buy into it, to totally identify with all the misfits who had to deal with adults who just don't get it, to totally find Nancy dying in Kristen's arms and getting dreamed into a beautiful dream to be a 100% higher tragedy than a million Sophie's Choices. (Between this and Deadly Friend, wow, that Wes Craven sure liked to toy with my volatile teen emotions!)
Dream Warriors is just so quintessentially 80s, anyone who has the slightest bit of fondness for horror from that era is going to find a lot to love: Jennifer Rubin, sparkle shower ghosts, a very special theme song, Craig Wasson, this kid whom you always think is another Jacoby sibling even though he never is:
For fuck's sake, it's called "Dream Warriors"! Not-Jacoby shoots friggin' green movie lightning out of his fingers! How much more 80s horror can you get?
Look, just because I love this movie doesn't mean I don't recognize its faults, the most egregious of which is that since her days on Elm Street, Nancy Thompson has taken to living her life as the world's dowdiest 21-year-old.
I admit, however, that her funeral attire smacks of Joan Collins on Dynasty and as such I enthusiastically approve of it.
Okay, actually the biggest sin of Dream Warriors is probably that it's the beginning of the end of Freddy Krueger as a horror villain remotely resembling anything scary. In fact, this is the moment where he changes from nightmare killer into "wiseguy pop culture icon":
He's just killed Zsa Zsa Gabor and then he turns into a TV and I repeat he turns into a TV and then he has a one-liner: "Welcome to primetime, bitch!" It's stupid and I dig it because it's stupid–and yes, I savor the absolute fucking weirdness of cameos by Zsa Zsa and Dick Cavett–but it signifies the End Times for A Nightmare on Elm Street, my friends.
For its place in the series and the genre at large, though, it's a notable film. Breaking the standard slasher mold, several characters manage to survive...including the black guy, can you believe it? And we get some maybe needed-maybe not needed history into who exactly Fred Krueger was when it's revealed that he's the "bastard son of 100 maniacs." If only he'd been the bastard son of 10,000 Maniacs, then he would have lived a life singing earnest, politically-minded kinda folkish music instead of a life full of child murderin'. Alas!
Listen, if Final Girl is still around in another decade then I solemnly swear to take yet another look at A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors. Who knows, maybe by then I'll somehow be able to heart it even a little bit more!
P.S. how come no one ever talks about this teardrop that Joey has on his face in one scene