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Friday Night Frights

Friday Night Frights #1 – A Nightmare On Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors (1987)

After what has felt like an eternity, I have finally gotten back round to writing on this blog (in actual fact it’s been a matter of months). Over this period of time I’ve come up with one or two interesting ideas to keep the blog fresh, exciting and fun to read. Below this waffling piece of nonsense you’ll find a new biweekly series I’m trying out – called simply Friday Night Frights.

For this new piece I’ll be looking at the horror films one can enjoy if stuck indoors on a Friday night. Now grab a beer and chow down on a slice of pizza, as I bring you the first of my Friday Night Frights – A Nightmare On Elm Street 3: The Dream Warriors.

“Hi. Welcome to the snake pit”

If there’s a film at the top of my ‘go to’ pile for a Friday night, then Chuck Russell’s tongue-in-cheek horror sequel The Dream Warriors is that very film. The best sequel to the Nightmare On Elm Street franchise is also the perfect antidote to a boring night in – for a horror fan brought up on 80’s gore and latex effects, its hard not to find something to smile about with this blast from the past.

For those not au fait with the NOES series, part 3 finds Freddy (the demonic stalker of dreams) once again killing off the few remaining teenagers from Elm Street. But this group of anti-social misfits are not alone in this fight, as this time Nancy has returned to Springwood; ready to go toe-to-toe with Freddy for the last time.

The original Nightmare is still an effective mid-80s shocker and one of my all-time favourite horrors from my youth. Even now the premise still feels fresh and interesting when compared to modern horror (and even some of the imitators who have expanded upon it). This is mainly the best sequel for several reasons – although I still have a soft spot for Part 4 if I’m honest.

For starters it actually rounds off the story that originally started in the first film – this allows Part 2 (the second weakest in the series after part 5) is completely ignored. For that reason alone it earns plus points.

600full-a-nightmare-on-elm-street-3--dream-warriors-screenshot

Craven (who wrote this entry after the dismal Part 2 backlash) has created a great set of characters you genuinely care about. When they do meet Freddy (most for the last time) you just hope the remaining group make it to the credits. When Taryn dies I felt (or rather still do feel) sad that her character never got to survive after her druggie days. Its clear when this is the case you become invested in these characters.

The stop-motion effects are a rare treat in horror films, but when they do appear it’s a genuine pleasure to see them. Thankfully it happens twice in Dream Warriors and both times its fantastic to look at.

The first instance it occurs is when Philip meets his ‘puppet’ maker as stop-motion Freddy stealth’s to his bedside. Personally its still one of those ‘magic film moments’ that is missing from modern filmmaking. There really is nothing like seeing a tangible object – as opposed to CGI – moving in frame. When it’s used for the final time (towards the film’s climax) it becomes a loving pastiche of Harryhausen’s own work on Jason and the Argonauts.

“Welcome to prime time, bitch!”

Finally the moments that remain genuine standouts – and really cement this as a good old-fashioned Friday night treat – are the inventive and bizarre kills. Even in the subsequent sequels, nothing came close to the creativity used within Dream Warriors.

The aforementioned moment when Taryn is killed off and the sight of gasping track marks on her arms can be seen (and heard) is an honestly unnerving sight. The same can be said about Philip’s death (see image) as he’s walked like a grotesque puppet or where Jennifer meets ‘TV Freddy’. All of these scenes are the ones fans most associate as standout moments in the NOES series.

Dream Warriors 1

Poor Philip, he’s just a puppet on a string to Freddy

Yes, admittedly the dialogue is shocking at times and the acting by some of the cast is truly laughable, but that’s part of Dream Warrior’s distinct charm. That and the fact it has a cameo from the legendary John Saxon, which instantly adds to the checklist of awesome.

In my opinion this is a perfect for late night viewing on a Friday and one of the great horror sequels. But don’t take my word for, just sit and enjoy this piece of 80s cheese. Once its finished bask in the power rock them and get your Dokken on.

Did you enjoy this piece? If so what future films would you like to see me cover as a Friday Night Fright? 

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