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New Line Home Cinema presents
"What a rush!!"
DVD ReviewIf there's one thing I can be assured of in my lifetime, it's that I'll have the distinct pleasure of having lived through the 80's horror boon, wherein characters like Jason, Freddy Krueger, Michael Myers, and countless clones ruled the cinemas—and audiences would actually pay to see a totally plotless, infinite rehash of generic horror concepts over and over again! Of course, things haven't really changed much, but still, just as music fans say there will never be another Beatles, I say there will never be another Freddy Krueger. Growing up, I religiously devoured the Nightmare on Elm Street movies and part 3, Dream Warriors, was my personal favorite. When I placed this new DVD version into my player and fired it up, I was all awash with excitement over re-living part of my childhood in glorious 5.1 sound and digital image quality. Unfortunately, reality came crashing down on me, exaggerating the fact that Elm Street 3 has NOT aged well at all.
The film continues the story of the Elm Street children, whose parents murdered a violent psychopath named Freddy Krueger years ago. Krueger's spirit (Robert Englund) now terrorizes the dream world of these children as revenge. He kills these kids in elaborate ways within their minds, which then makes them die in reality. The story is set in a mental institution where several of these Elm Street kids are being held in order to help them with their "psychological problems." The kids suffer from Freddy-induced nightmares, but no one wants to believe the problem is real. Nancy Thompson (Heather Langenkamp), the original heroine of the first film, returns as a psychologist who wants to help the group overcome their dreams. She discovers that one of the patients, Kristen (Patricia Arquette), has the ability to summon other people into her dreams. After many of the kids are killed by Krueger, Kristen decides to use the power to unite the remaining kids where they can use dream powers to fight him.
After the dismally poor Elm Street Part 2, this one at least has a better plot and slightly better writing. This cannot, however, save the general ho-hum presentation. For those of you who have never experienced a classic Nightmare film, they generally follow a distinct flow: kids fall asleep and Freddy kills them in an effect-laden sequence using every state-of-the-art technique available in the day. Elm Street 3 is no exception, and, as I said, it doesn't age well. The concept is rather boring in a sense since the children seem to have no defense whatsoever against Krueger's maniacal plans. The idea behind this film is that the children realize they can give themselves fantasy powers inside their own dreams to help them fight Freddy, except these new powers seem to only get them killed quicker.
Most of the young people in the film are played by charismatic actors, but their potential is a little underused, especially Lawrence Fishburne's early role as a guard/nurse in the mental ward. This weak usage of character adds up to, as usual, only one place for the audience to seek personality: Freddy Krueger. Robert Englund hams it up as the villain, becoming the hallmark of the series. From the cartoonish ways he often kills these children to the awful one-liners he unleashes, Krueger is the real star of the show.
Eventually, the movie tries to introduce plot in which Krueger will finally be stopped once and for all, but of course, it's never the end. This kind of apocalyptic filmmaking was expected in the 80's, where horror icons almost always won and almost always came back to do more bad things. Nowadays, though, it seems dull. Krueger is virtually unstoppable, yet the most benign things seem to send him reeling back into hell—but none of this matters since he'll just think up some other scheme to kill more children.
Rating for Style: B-
Rating for Substance: C
Image Transfer Review: Offering both widescreen and fullscreen versions of the film, this disc sports a new transfer of the film. For the most part, the image is very good with clean colors and detail. Compression artifacts and pixelization are virtually nonexistent. The source print, however, seems a bit murky and grainy in many areas; age seems to have taken its toll here. Black level is sometimes not quite accurate and the grain effects the quality of certain sequences. It would appear that New Line did the best they could with the film since most of it looks great, but age problems are noticeable. The full frame version appears to be simply a non-matted version of the widescreen. Either version is really acceptable, but the composition and cropping on the widescreen looks better and it's anamorphically enhanced, which will go over better with 16:9 sets.
Image Transfer Grade: B+
Audio Transfer Review: A new Dolby 5.1 audio track graces this re-release, and it goes over pretty well. The majority of the movie is settled in the front channels, but this is done with a good, wide range of sound. Surrounds are used sparingly for select sound effects and there is very little specific directionality. Dialogue is balanced well with the rest of the on-screen action. The most dramatic improvement over the original mono is the musical portions of the film which feature a good deal of beefing up. There is very little LFE channel usage, I think a few claps of thunder are about the only active elements. New Line gets a gold star on their homework assignment for the inclusion of the original Mono soundtrack. Yeah, it sounds pretty crappy in comparison, but you might as well include the ORIGINAL audio and make everyone happy than risk alienating Nightmare devotees who can't stand the 5.1 mix.
Audio Transfer Grade: B+
Disc ExtrasAnimated menu with music
Scene Access with 31 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English with remote access
Cast and Crew Biographies
Cast and Crew Filmographies
1 Original Trailer(s)
Extras Grade: C+
Final CommentsIt would seem that you either love the Elm Street series or hate it. Dream Warriors is certainly the best written of them all, but it's potential goes totally unfulfilled when one considers what could have been done with it. I think the director and crew knew that there would inevitably be another film, so why bother putting a lot of effort into finalizing Freddy Krueger's killing spree? It's good for a derivative horror film, but even then, disappointing. Grab it on rental.
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