[31 Days of Horror Part V: A New Beginning] Day 2 – A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors (1987)

Director: Chuck Russell

Cast: Heather Langenkamp, Patricia Arquette, Laurence Fishburne, Priscilla Pointer, Craig Wasson, John Saxon, Dick Cavette, Zsa Zsa Gabor, Robert Englund

Screenplay: Wes Craven, Bruce Wagner, Frank Darabont, Chuck Russell

96 mins. Rated R.

 

A Nightmare on Elm Street was a huge hit, and while its sequel, Freddy’s Revenge, was financially successful, New Line Cinema realized that the second installment of this popular franchise missed the mark in more ways than one. So, they went back to the creator, Wes Craven , for help. He reluctantly answered. The next installment would have to be one that honored the roots of the series while adding a fresh spin. It’s something more franchises should hope to achieve.

Kristen Parker (Patricia Arquette, Boyhood, TV’s CSI: Cyber) is experiencing horrible nightmares at the hands of Freddy Krueger (Robert Englund, Lake Placid vs. Anaconda, The Funhouse Massacre). When her mother fears for her safety, she is admitted to Westin Hospital, a psychiatric ward run by Dr. Neil Gordon (Craig Wasson, Body Double, Akeelah and the Bee). There, she meets several other teens being tormented by Krueger. They soon learn from Nancy Thompson (Heather Langenkamp, Hellraiser: Judgment, TV’s Just the Ten of Us), a survivor of Freddy’s slayings, that Kristen and the others are the last of the Elm Street children, and Krueger has plans to rid them once and for all. But Nancy has a plan using an untested sleep disorder drug and bit of practice, she plans to turn the tables on Krueger using his very dream power against him. But can they stop him?

Dream Warriors takes the high-concept premise of the original Nightmare on Elm Street and stretches it into new directions. There’s a more fantastical element in this sequel that would permeate through the rest of the series, especially seeing the “Dream” version of our core characters. Director Chuck Russell (The Blob, I Am Wrath) expertly flitters between horror and fantasy in a really special way.

It’s great to see Langenkamp return in the role of Nancy. It adds a feeling of returning to this installment that the previous film was lacking, and when you include John Saxon (Enter the Dragon, From Dusk Till Dawn) reprising his role as Nancy’s father, it feels like wrapping up loose ends. I get the sensation that this was intended to be the final film of a trilogy, and it works in that way while continuing on.

Newcomer Patricia Arquette shines as Kristen. I just loved watching her perform (it isn’t hard to believe, everyone on set was in love with her). She has an innocence that she adds to the role and a nice character arc as she struggles with finding the strength to defend herself from the horrific Krueger.

What’s really kind of amazing are the cameos from Dick Cavett (Beetlejuice, River of Fundament) and Zsa Zsa Gabor (Queen of Outer Space, Moulin Rouge). These kinds of cameos don’t ever really seem to work, but perhaps it is the sheer absurdity of it all (Cavett said he wanted Gabor to appear with him as he found her so annoying and would never actually interview her in real life) that seems to work. It’s a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it kind of magic.

Dream Warriors was also a product of the 80s with its very own song performed by rock group Dokken. It’s a forgotten piece of marketing that I wish would come back. Lines like “Welcome to Prime Time, Bitch!” (Robert Englund famously improvised the dialogue) and the song “Dream Warriors” firmly plant this film in its time period.

I also have to credit the film for its incredibly unnerving special effects. There’s a sequence involving puppetry that, though it hasn’t aged perfectly, still works just as well. I have to mention the Freddy snake as well, phallic though it may be. This is an effects film done very well on a tight budget.

A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors forges a new path for its mythology and franchise trajectory, and it is one of the better installments in the series. Rooted in myth, horror, and fantasy, Chuck Russell’s film tortures its youthful cast of characters while developing each of them, even if some fall back to archetype as opposed to dynamism. It boils down to a film that is more fun the more you watch it, and it doesn’t lose its thrills for the sake of its more mystical elements. It’s a hell of a ride over 30 years later.

 

4/5

-Kyle A. Goethe

 

 

For my review of Sean S. Cunningham’s Friday the 13th, click here.

For my review of Wes Craven’s A Nightmare on Elm Street, click here.

For my review of Steve Miner’s Friday the 13th Part 2, click here.

For my review of Steve Miner’s Friday the 13th Part III, click here.

For my review of Joseph Zito’s Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter, click here.

For my review of Jack Sholder’s A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge, click here.

For my review of Danny Steinmann’s Friday the 13th Part V: A New Beginning, click here.

For my review of Tom McLoughlin’s Jason Lives: Friday the 13th Part VI, click here.

 

For more Almighty Goatman,

31 Days of Horror Part II: Day 25 – Bad Taste (1987)

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Director: Peter Jackson

Cast: Terry Potter, Pete O’Herne, Peter Jackson, Mike Minett, Craig Smith

Screenplay: Ken Hammon, Tony Hiles, Peter Jackson

91 mins. Not Rated.

 

I’m a big Peter Jackson (The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, The Lovely Bones) fan. I’ve really enjoyed the kind of art he can create on a budget. I will say, however, his early work leaves a lot to be desired. I guess there is a point in Jackson’s career that I start to love his work, The Frighteners. Bad Taste came before that point.

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In Bad Taste, the population of Kaihoro has been replaced by aliens who wish to harvest the humans for intergalactic fast food. The Astro Investigation and Defense Service recruits several agents to stop them.

This movie is just kind of bad. I didn’t like the wooden characters, the sound work is terrible, and I just didn’t find it very interesting. The idea can work, but I just didn’t see it happening here.

One important point to make is that director Jackson didn’t give up, filming the entire movie over the course of four years while working a regular job. That takes a lot of work, and I can respect that.

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Now, I cannot forgive Bad Taste for its boring film work, even if I liked the ending and the alien costuming was pretty interesting. There is a lot to improve upon, but it didn’t work nearly as much as it should have. What did you think, bloggies?

 

2/5

-Kyle A. Goethe

 

For more 31 Days of Horror, click here.

For my review of Peter Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, click here.

For my review of Peter Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, click here.

For my review of Peter Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, click here.

For my review of Peter Jackson’s The Lovely Bones, click here.

For my review of Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, click here.

For my review of Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, click here.

For my review of Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies, click here.

[Oscar Madness] Beverly Hills Cop II (1987)

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Director: Tony Scott

Cast: Eddie Murphy, Judge Reinhold, Jurgen Prochnow

Screenplay: Larry Ferguson, Warren Skaaren

100 mins. Rated R.

  • Academy Award Nominee: Best Music, Original Song (“Shakedown” by Harold Faltermeyer, Keith Forsey, Bob Seger)

 

When Beverly Hills Cop became a downright hit in 1984, a follow-up became inevitable. At first, the idea of a TV series surfaced, but that was quickly shut down and a film sequel began production. 1987: Beverly Hills Cop II.

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Axel Foley (Eddie Murphy, Trading Spaces, A Thousand Words) is deep undercover back in Detroit to stop illegal credit card scammers when he hears that Lieutenant Bogomil of Beverly Hills has been gunned down by a group of thieves for getting too close. Now it’s off to Beverly Hills to stop them, with the help of Billy Rosewood (Judge Reinhold, The Santa Clause, Dr. Dolittle: Million Dollar Mutts) and John Taggert in this sequel from action director Tony Scott (Top Gun, Man on Fire).

First of all, how does this sequel compare to Beverly Hills Cop? It isn’t technically better, but it is bigger and a little crazier. The level of believability is pushed pretty hard a few times in this film, particularly during a high-speed chase involving a cement mixer. Eddie Murphy, Judge Reinhold, and John Ashton are a great action-comedy trio, providing laughs that come from the story rather than just jumping out of thin air. Jurgen Prochnow (Das Boot, Beerfest) and Brigitte Neilsen make some great villains as well.

I happen to love the Academy-Award Nominated song “Shakedown” and I think it adds to the musical score without completely redefining it. The great qualities of this film come from the fact that the great parts of the original film are kept intact while getting a fuel-injection of energy.

Tony Scott knows how to direct action, and he knows how to let the actors do the work.

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Now, is Axel Foley the next James Bond? Perhaps not. Axel Foley is a fantastic character and Beverly Hills Cop is a fantastic series…also “Shakedown.” “Shakedown” is awesome. That too.

 

4/5

-Kyle A. Goethe

 

For my review of Martin Brest’s Beverly Hills Cop, click here.

[12 Days of Christmas] On the Second Day… Silent Night, Deadly Night Part 2 (1987)

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Director: Lee Harry

Cast: Jean Miller, Eric Freeman, Elizabeth Kaitan, James L. Newman

Screenplay: Lee Harry, Joseph H. Earle

88 mins. Rated R.

 

Sometimes, you get sequels that enrich the original film while furthering the ideas put forth by its predecessor. Sometimes, you get a sequel that spends its first half with flashbacks of the first film. Silent Night, Deadly Night Part 2 is the latter.

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After seeing his brother gunned down on Christmas, Ricky Caldwell (Eric Freeman, Children of the Corn) begins to display the same disturbed behavior that Billy had. As he is interviewed by Dr. Henry Bloom (James L. Newman, Flags of Our Fathers, Evan Almighty), Ricky describes the events that led him to a psychiatric hospital, all the while displaying his anger towards Mother Superior (Jean Miller) for her involvement in Ricky’s descent into madness.

This film makes absolutely no sense and nothing actually happens. There are plot holes galore, like the fact that Ricky is just able to walk out the front door of his asylum unnoticed.

Eric Freeman’s performance is nails on a chalkboard. He says his lines in the same monotone voice that would drive anyone he speaks with to a mental institution themselves. Beyond getting himself immortalized in a Youtube video forever, Freeman cannot act himself through the framing device of the film’s first half. He might have Voice Immodulation, so I guess I can’t blame him. No wait, yes I can.

Elizabeth Kaitan (Twins, Spy Hard) is another such actress, but she holds up slightly better in other movies, barely. We know why she is here, though. She shows up. She gets naked. She gets murdered. Standard Elizabeth Kaitan performance.

The trouble started with a poor original film for a sequel, followed by a low budget and a bad screenplay. They continue on with more blandness until your finished project is so bad that a drinking game was invented to get through it. DRINKING GAME: Drink every time Ricky adjusts his eyebrows. Drink responsibly, though, folks. He does this at least 100 times in the film. You have been warned.

 

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“GARBAGE DAY!”

 

Silent Night, Deadly Night Part 2 is just plain garbage. There you go.

 

 

1/5

-Kyle A. Goethe

 

 

For my review of Silent Night, Deadly Night, click here.

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