Directed by Chuck Russell [Other horror films: The Blob (1988), Bless the Child (2000)]
This is one of those films I can watch over and over again without getting tired of it. Without a doubt the best movie in the Elm Street series save the first one, Dream Warriors does almost everything right.
Like most movies in this series, this is sort of a hard one to take an overall look at, what with the fact I’ve seen it around eight to ten times, thereabouts. There are portions that feel a bit out there, such as the whole mysterious nun (who communicated to Neil, but not to Nancy, for some reason), and while it led to a pretty good origin of Freddy’s birth (‘the bastard son of a hundred maniacs’ – such a great description), it didn’t really feel like it fit. That said, it added something interesting to the film, so I don’t really begrudge it.
The whole ‘dream powers’ thing is the type of idea that, in many other movies, I’d find sort of ridiculous, but it’s done really well here. I still laugh a bit at how Ira Heiden’s character looks while a magician, but still, I think they did a fine job blending some lighter fantasy with the dark horror elements. Speaking of which, I absolutely love the opening to this one – the papier-mâché house, the utterly creepy dream, and then the suicide attempt. Grabs your attention right from the start.
The special effects, too, are damn good. My favorite death is the whole marionette kill, and the scene with Freddy in the stars, cutting the strings, has always been a favorite of mine of the series. Freddy-snake looks a little suspect, but the skeleton sequence is solid, so that’s a plus.
There’s no performance here that disappoints. It’s great to see Heather Langenkamp back, along with John Saxon (despite neither one having particularly happy endings). Jennifer Rubin, for some reason, stood out, along with Ken Sagoes and Patricia Arquette (who is, behind Nancy, my favorite lead character of the series). Of course, Englund gets the highest praise – while more comedic influence is creeping into his character, he’s still plenty menacing here.
And “Dream Warriors” by Dokken? What a kick-ass song.
Honestly, there’s not much about this movie that I don’t like. I don’t think it’s a perfect 10/10, but at the same time, I can’t really pinpoint my perceived issues with the film. Perhaps it comes from the sub-plot regarding Freddy’s mother, and the fact that despite thinking that he’d finally be put to rest, he’s clearly still an active spirit come the end of the film. It is a bit bothersome that he’s been seemingly destroyed three times (if you want to count the half-assed ending of the first film), but he seems immune to defeat.
All that said, though, without a doubt, this is the finest Elm Street film past the original, and I don’t believe I’ll ever really get tired of it. A solid film overall.