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Belittling Horror Excessively: Nightmare On Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors04:29 PM -- Sun October 8, 2017

WARNING! This post contains extensive spoilers for this movie. Watch the movie before reading! Or don't. You have been warned.

Nightmare On Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors (1987)
Rated R
IMDB Says:
“A psychiatrist familiar with knife-wielding dream demon Freddy Krueger helps teens at a mental hospital battle the killer who is invading their dreams.”
IMDB Rating: 6.6/10
Metacritic Rating: 49/100
Rotten Tomatoes: 74% critics, 67% audience
Solee: 2/5
Mikey: 2.5/5
We paid to watch this on Amazon.

Solee: So last night you made me watch A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors. My first question is … what do you have to say for yourself?

Mikey: Okay dude. There are so many reasons why this was a good idea! First of all, this was payback for you feeding me your beloved movie from your youth. Secondly, it actually came to mind back on day 1, when we watched IT. I hope you see the similarities. Thirdly, it’s fun! Fourthly, it is indeed a movie from my youth. I’ve probably seen it three or four times, way back when I was a teenager. The hypodermic needle scene was one I remembered well.

Solee: That was one of the better moments. So let’s talk about this IT comparison you’re making. The bad guy takes on the form of the victim’s fears … sorta. Does the comparison go deeper for you?

Mikey: Not deeper, completely different. That is kinda-sorta true, but isn’t what I thought about. It was about the larger world ignoring the monster, and only this group of kids was preparing to take it on, and they have some special power to defeat him. It’s about the team vs. the monster.

Solee: That’s a totally valid comparison that I didn’t think of at all. Cool. And both groups of “kids” are 80s kids. But totally different. How is that possible?

Mikey: Well this group was beautiful. And bad.

Solee: With a mohawk! They definitely represented the shiny dresses and synth music side of the 80s, whereas the IT kids were the biking until dark and playing unsupervised in sewage runoff side.

Mikey: Don’t let the IT kids fool you - they were just younger and nerdier. When they age a few more years, they’ll be listening to The Cure and wearing Members Only jackets themselves.

Solee: Yeah… I guess you’re right. This is what makes me a Xennial (blegh … just kidding, that’s a stupid term). I was born in the late 70s, but didn’t start getting into pop culture until the 90s. So I completely missed the Boy George, big hair, jewel-toned makeup stuff. That and I was pretty nerdy, relatively speaking.

Mikey: Me too! But while I reject the term Xennial forever and always, my youth was The Goldbergs for sure. I had a Members Only jacket, and it had buttoned epaulets. And I certainly listened to The Cure.

Solee: And YOU STILL listen to 80s pop more than is healthy.

Mikey: That statement has not been evaluated by the FDA. I maintain it is beneficial on many levels.

Solee: Whatever. So, as I rewatched Chain Saw Massacre, I was a little disappointed that it didn’t have the same impact as when I watched at a younger age. How did Dream Warriors hold up for you?

Mikey: Well, I’m not great at memory, but I can definitely recall it was a little scary when I originally saw it. I think the puckering track-marks were not as mildly discomforting as they were this time. And the Great Wizard (thankfully not Grand Wizard) was not as stupid. I probably thought it was cool, though I doubt I would acknowledge that.

Solee: Haha! Yeah. Kids are dumb. Speaking of kids … why were movie makers in the 80s so scared of little girls on tricycles?

Mikey: I’m not sure where that comes from, but it is pervasive. I will acknowledge that this movie included quite a few rather creepy images. A lot more effective than I expected. From little things like Freddy’s saran-wrapped head coming out of the Terminator TV (silly overall, but his head was … creepy), to the big nasty moment of the whole movie which was incredibly effective: the marionette scene. Horrifying.

Solee: That was legit uncomfortable for me to watch. I don’t even like thinking about it now. But the rest of the movie felt like sitting through someone telling me about their scary dream. I’m sure it was weird and scary for THEM, but for me … just boring.

Mikey: I liked it more than that, but it definitely had the dream-like quality of “anything can happen, so who cares what happens?” I spent a lot of time thinking about the rules, and why Freddy didn’t just instakill them all at any moment. Seemed like he didn’t have any actual constraints...

Solee: It was pretty silly how their every attempt to fight him was INSTANTLY defeated by the fact that he could make them think they were awake when they were actually asleep. They’d try … think they failed … go their separate ways … and BAM. FREDDY.

Mikey: Yeah, the whole “woke up but it’s still a dream” has never been leveraged more extensively (except maybe in all other Elm Street movies). I have actually had that dream before, but the writers seem to think that’s how all dreams are. Like every time these people fall asleep, they immediately start dreaming of themselves waking up in the same exact spot they fell asleep.

Solee: You’d think at some point they’d clue into that fact. These weren’t the brightest kids. I feel like movies from the 80s in general didn’t age well. Is that because people were so caught up in themselves? This movie that seemed Very Scary at the time it was made is now a movie I’d watch for a good laugh. I’m sure that’s not what the director was going for.

Mikey: It probably wasn’t all that scary for adults. It was definitely a silly concept. I think there are trends. In the 80s there were grungy grindhouse things like the 70s, but the more popular ones were the mass-market almost-family-friendly things like this. Things were beginning to get sanitized for the mass audience, while it was more Wild West in the 70s. Of course, it did feature significant nudity, and a lot of really angry swearing. Didn’t it seem like Freddy really held a lot of unexplored rage towards these kids? I mean he couldn’t hold himself back.

Solee: He was pretty angry. One of the more vengeful monsters, seeing as he’s come back for many movies to seek revenge for his death. And he pretty much succeeded the first time! Guy needs some therapy.

Mikey: That’s the real way to take him down, a therapist falls asleep and counsels him.

Solee: Changing the subject, this was another movie that included teenagers self-harming. It handled it very differently from Split, though. In Dream Warriors, the self-harm was used for shock value (a room full of hanging teenagers, cutting, drug use). It certainly didn’t treat the idea of suffering and self-harm as a badge of honor, either.

Mikey: I forgot the room of hanging people. I don’t remember the context of that. But in the case of drugs and suicide, we actually see both of them being treated (though the wrist-cutting was actually Freddy, but hey, her mom thought she was trying to kill herself, and took care of her and got her help). So kind of good that way, these kids are getting therapy (from a terrible therapist).

Solee: One of my other notes was about how disturbing these therapists were. One of them is a horrible person who clearly doesn’t like kids and the other one is creepily trying to establish a romantic relationship between himself and a much younger intern. Neither of them is someone I’d trust with the mental health of my loved ones. And unfortunately, neither one is completely off-base for what one might find in the system.

Mikey: And the intern herself should’ve been receiving therapy, not giving it. Also, interns don’t get their own offices. But hey, maybe this whole movie is a powerful, scathing indictment of The System, and a desperate plea for change, falling on deaf ears! Or it’s a Freddy movie.

Solee: Sounds like one of my worst nightmares. Wait. Am I awake or asleep right now??

Mikey: Do you see your deadbeat dad floating down from the ceiling in sparklies?

Solee: Sparkly Daddy! That was by far the most ridiculous thing in a movie full of ridiculous things.

Mikey: Yes, on top of the Harryhausen stop-motion skeleton battle, that was ten times worse. But the dad was nothing but ruination to this movie. The thing I couldn’t get over from the get-go was how the scrawny little doctor bullied him into helping him find the bones when he didn’t want to… and then he’s just going along with it all the way, like he’s cool with it.

Solee: It’s the power of creepy, power-imbalanced, inappropriate workplace romance, Michael!

Mikey: It sure is. His behavior was absolute nonsense. Mad props to the writers of this movie all around, for nothing making any sense at any point. One of my big notes was that I actually think this is a really cool and clever movie concept, and I bet it could be remade today (from a new script, obviously), as a really great movie. Everybody with the powers of their dreams and whatnot.

Solee: Could it? Or has that idea already been co-opted and done better by movies like Inception and Dr. Strange?

Mikey: Those feel very different to me. To me, the core of this movie is that this group of people, each with their own issues and powers, get together to fight the evil only they can beat. Basically, it’s what X-Men has done better. I say the remake needs to have serious rules - Freddy can only do X, Y, and Z which is why they don’t all die in the first two seconds, and gradually they all learn what they can do, and in the end it takes a combination of what they can all do to defeat him. Wait, it’s Mystery Men! I love that movie!

Solee: You sure do. That was another one I didn’t really get. I have a feeling we’re going to have very different ratings for A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors. You go first!

Mikey: You have to master your rage, or your rage will be your master. Not so different actually. This was really dumb, and didn’t have much to redeem it. Like I said, the concept was really cool, but no part of the execution was (except for that incredibly gross marionette scene). So I think this is a solid… 2.5. I’m bringing that up a little because honestly, it is sorta fun all around. I didn’t get bored like you, because I’m always waiting to see what Freddy will do next. How low can you go?

Solee: Not so different after all. I’m giving it a 2. I should probably give it a 1 since I was truly bored with it, but I am giving it a boost for living through the 80s and because I might actually recommend it to someone as a laugh. I can appreciate scary movies that are silly. I just don’t think I was in the right mindset to appreciate this one as that while watching it.

Mikey: Good! The other good news is that our next movie is a Solee pick! What is it going to be?

Solee: Well, I’m very excited to see My Bloody Valentine 3D (2009 remake). But in 2D.

Mikey: Ah, how romantic.
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