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‘A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors’

By Richard Harrington
Washington Post Staff Writer
March 02, 1987


Jack Sholder
Robert Englund;
Heather Langenkamp;
Patricia Arquette;
Craig Wasson
Under 17 restricted

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Wes Craven's "A Nightmare on Elm Street" was a rarity -- an imaginatively constructed, well-made and compellingly acted horror film. It had its share of truly special effects and gave the film world one of its more memorable apparitions, Freddy Krueger, he of the burned face, slouched hat, nasty disposition and, of course, razor-sharp steel version of Howard Hughes' fingernails. With Freudian precision, Freddy stepped out of a dream and pulled people into their own nightmares.

"A Nightmare on Elm Street, Part 2: Freddy's Revenge" wasn't quite up to the mark, but for a sequel it wasn't bad. Together the films have grossed almost $55 million. Now comes "A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors," and while it's better than its predecessor, it's still not quite up to its inspiration.

Naturally Robert Englund is back as Freddy (Englund is something of a cult figure these days), but so is Heather Langenkamp, who played his nemesis in the first film. Craven and Bruce Wagner wrote the script, and Chuck Russell, who cowrote "Dreamscape," makes his directing debut.

While she was believable as a distressed teen-ager on the first go-round, Langenkamp is somewhat less convincing as an adult. Six years down the road, she's become a specialist in dream disorders, called in to a psychiatric ward to work with seven Elm Street teen-agers whose nightmares are pushing them toward suicide. It turns out they're the children of the vigilantes who burned Freddy to death after he'd murdered some other children. Freddy is really mad now, and he starts popping into their dreams in the rudest of ways.

Among the more shocking: a marionette transforming into a mini-Freddy who uses one victim's streaming blood as strings to manipulate him out of a bell tower window; Freddy's claws changing into hypodermic needles to dispatch an ex-junkie ("What a rush!" he chortles); and a mute teen-ager literally tongue-tied by his erotic fantasies. Freddy may be one ugly fella, but he hasn't lost his sense of humor.

His primary target this time around is the psychic Patricia Arquette -- Rosanna's younger sister -- a shorter, chunkier version of Daryl Hannah. With Langenkamp as a guide, Arquette and the other teen-agers soon find out that not only is there strength in numbers (even as those numbers dwindle) but that the best battleground is Freddy's Hell.

There are a few cheap thrills in "Elm Street 3," but there are also plenty of effective effects, including mirrors-as-drowning-pools, Ray Harryhausen skeletal work and Freddy's body as a living frieze from hell.

The film's major weakness can be summed up in two words: Craig Wasson.

Wasson, who has the charisma of a bowl of wet chow mein, plays the sympathetic doctor who must try to outwit Freddy. The film's slow moments invariably occur when he's on screen, even if there is a funny visual reference to his last film, "Body Double."

Priscilla Pointer, who looks like the distaff version of "Star Trek's" Bones, plays a cynical fellow doctor, and Nan Martin plays a nun who provides some rather late explication du texte for the whole "Elm Street" series.

This may be the end of the line for Freddy Krueger, but don't bet on it.

"A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors" is rated R and contains explicit language and scenes of graphic violence.

© Copyright 1999 The Washington Post Company

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