Nightmare on Elm Street 3
, 18 Aug 2009
Ive never been a big fan of the Elm Street films not that I think they are without merit, but I think I may have seen the latter ones first and come to the earlier ones with a rather jaundiced view of Freddy Krueger as a wise crack jabbering Ronald McDonald type piece of merchandise (after all I was only eight The Fat Boys released Are You Ready For Freddy?). Anyway, when I finally got round to seeing A Nightmare On Elm Street (1984) Krueger was far to familiar and therefore harmless, which is an odd quality for a child killer, and it wasnt until I saw New Nightmare (1994) that I really appreciated the series blurring of fiction and reality and the power of this particular bogey man.
So why revisit the films now? Well, in recent years you will have noticed that all those scary videos you saw when you were too young are being remade, re-imagined, re-booted and so on, and so it should come as no surprise that next month shooting starts on A Nightmare On Elm Street (2010). After reading numerous recent articles on the series I came to the conclusion that I had never seen the third instalment, a film often referred to as the best of the sequels that Frank Darabont also had a hand in scripting only provoked my interest further
A Nightmare On Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors takes place six years after the original and sees Kristen Parker (Patricia Arquette) sent to an asylum after an encounter with Freddy results in an apparent suicide attempt. We soon learn that her fellow patients are also being attacked in their sleep. Naturally the attendants and Doctors dont believe them but a new staff member, the originals Nancy Thompson (Heather Langencamp), makes sure that the kids know they can fight back. From here we have the killings, attempts at staying awake and what appears to be the start of those terrible quips.
What I could do at this point is pick the film apart and moan about the acting or some of the effects, but that would be doing the film an injustice (sure they would be genuine complaints but to kick a twenty year old horror sequel for these things seems worthless) instead Im going to focus on what it has got and what modern mainstream horror films are desperately lacking at the moment weirdness. Watching Dream Warriors it immediately becomes apparent how rare it is nowadays to sit down in a cinema and watch something that just isnt right. There is plenty of violence on show, there are jumps and shocks but very little in the way of genuine oddity.
Take two of the deaths on offer here, in one instance Krueger possess a string puppet, slices open the arms and legs of a young man and proceeds to uses his victims veins to control him like one of his own puppets. The whole affair is staged so effectively that it hard to say whether it is creepier when you see the boys point of view (veins et al), or the real world angles where all you see is the puppet-like sleepwalking. Then you have the ex-drug user killed by Freddy via some Crack Fox style needle fingers. This death is horrible enough but what really sticks in the mind is the girls needle marks opening up and moving like mouths waiting to suckle. These things are just plain creepy.
I think what happened here was that those responsible for the subsequent episodes looked at the earlier films and decided that what mattered was the blood when it was really the basic oddness of how these kids were being killed
which is a real pity because the cinema became a place where we were thrilled instead of chilled nothing wrong with a few thrills of course but with action films doing the same basic thing it all becomes slightly samey.
I know this is asking a lot but I hope that the new film is more in the tradition of Dream Warriors than the current crop of slick remakes and torture films. I want to go to the cinema and leave in a worried state. I want to be stopped in my tracks a few days later when a weird image pops into my mind. Do yourself a favour and revisit this film, then go grab a copy of Candyman (1992), give Paperhouse (1988) another whirl
whatever you do dont settle yet another blood drenched piece of banality.
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