Everyone knows the razor clawed, burnt killer Freddy Krueger and if you’ve seen all of the A Nightmare on Elm Street series, the third installment is easily the best sequel. The first ANOES is a classic, we’re introduced to Krueger, we learn how he became the burnt killer that torments the dreams of the children of Springwood, especially the kids of Elm Street. The second movie, ANOES 2: Freddy’s Revenge, is a contentious hot topic among horror/slasher fans.
It has its fans and it has its critics, I don’t really care for it.
Then came ANOES 3: Dream Warriors, the movie that truly set the tone (for better or for worse) for the rest of the series. 30 years ago today, we got to see a group of troubled, institutionalized teens take on Krueger with the help of the returning Nancy Thompson (Heath
er Langenkamp) who we last saw fight him in the first ANOES.
If you loved Freddy’s Revenge for its darker tone, then this is probably where you got off. For the rest of us that loved how Freddy separated himself from Jason Voorhees, Michael Myers, Leatherface and every non-verbal killer of the ‘80s, this was truly the beginning of Robert Englund’s Krueger becoming a pop culture icon.
Krueger isn’t as dark, trading in his menacing nature from the first two films for more elaborate, entertaining kills and memorable one-liners. Krueger isn’t full on ham -yet- but this is the pinnacle of funny, scary Freddy. Turning one mute patient into a marionette, slamming another through a TV, and so many more great kills. The jokes are mild enough to not be too corny and having Nancy back in the mix helps tie the series back together after the more disconnected Freddy’s Revenge.
Nancy wasn’t the only returning name in this movie (her dad, John Saxon, returns as well), creator Wes Craven helped write the Dream Warriors story and screenplay, intending for this to be the last outing for the killer.
Dream Warriors would also serve as a catapult for the career of Patricia Arquette, who like Johnny Depp, got their first movie credit in a flick about a sweater and fedora wearing, razor glove wielding, nightmare killer. Krueger would return the next year in ANOES 4: The Dream Master, what I would consider the last good entry of the series until Wes Craven’s New Nightmare in 1994.
The goal of the movie (like all the others) is for the teens to band together and defeat Krueger. But by defeating him through the burial of his physical bones, they unleashed the Krueger pop culture icon everyone knows. It was also the first ANOES to feature a current band writing a theme song for the movie, truly making Krueger a pop culture figure. Dokken’s “Dream Warriors” song and accompanying video are so ‘80s. Who doesn’t love that song?
The movie isn’t without its faults, depending which kind of Krueger you like the best, but it is a classic among slasher fans and is still considered one of the best, if not the best, entries in the series. Renny Harlin would take the director chair for The Dream Master and continue forward with not only the story of Dream Warriors but the inventive, one-liner Krueger we saw develop in the third movie.
As a kid who grew up knowing this Freddy Krueger, I look to this movie every year during October as part of my annual Halloween movie marathons. It’s my favorite of the series and the same for so many other Fred heads. The first ANOES is a classic, which I also love, but Dream Warriors best sums up everything about Freddy that pop culture knows him as before we got to my least favorite movies of Robert Englund’s time as Krueger, ANOES 5: The Dream Child and Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare.
ANOES 3: Dream Warriors was released 30 years ago today truly unleashing Freddy Krueger, the burnt, wise cracking, nightmare killer and pop culture icon. I have nothing but love for it.