Oct. 27: A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors (1987):
Virtually every horror franchise of the 1980s had a good first film followed by a few dozen increasingly terrible abominations, but let us not forget that a few of these sequels were actually rather entertaining. A prime example of that is today'92s film, which is easily the best sequel to A Nightmare on Elm Street.'a0'a0'a0'a0'a0
It'92s not surprising that this is virtually the only decent Nightmare sequel. Wes Craven, director of the first film, produced the film and co-wrote the script (with Frank Darabont!). This is the only film Craven was involved with until 1993'92s New Nightmare, and it'92s the only one to feature characters from the original film.
Nancy Thompson (Heather Langenkamp), the heroine of the first film, is now a therapist specializing in dream therapy. She takes an experimental drug to suppress her dreams, lest Freddy drops in to say hi, but after taking a job at a mental hospital she discovers that she isn'92t the only one with Freddy troubles. A group of kids at the hospital have all been having mysterious dreams about a scarred man with a glove covered in knives.
Nancy discovers that these kids are some of the last Elm Street kids, whose parents burned Freddy Krueger (Robert Englund) alive, and he wants them. One of these kids is Kristen Parker (Patricia Arquette, screaming more than she speaks), who has the ability to draw others into her dreams. Working with a doctor at the hospital (Craig Wasson), Nancy works with the kids to train them to fight back in their dreams. She also works with her father (John Saxon), to find Freddy'92s remains and perhaps get rid of him for good.
As the series went on, the Elm Street films got sillier and sillier, and Freddy Krueger became more and more like an undead standup comic, doling out zingers before he kills you. This movie has some of that (Freddy says '93Welcome to prime time, bitch,'94 before pulling a girl into a TV), but the film still retains the ability to make him scary. There'92s a particularly horrible sequence in which Freddy uses a kid like a marionette, and walks him off the roof of a building. Of course, the movie also just happens to be fun, but it'92s good that it still has the ability to give you a jolt.
Chuck Russell gives the film some nice atmosphere in his directorial debut, and David Lynch regular Angelo Badalamenti supplies a creepy score. There is also some surprisingly nice acting in the movie. Arquette impresses in one of her first roles, even if it is mostly because of the volume of her scream, and Saxon always makes every film he appears in better. There'92s even a supporting turn by Laurence Fishburne, during a fallow point in his career, as an orderly at the mental hospital.
This movie may only be a classic to those of us who were woken up as eight-year-olds by dreams of Freddy, but to everyone it should be a creepy, mean little flick, and a good reminder that sequels can be horrifying for reasons other than their worthlessness.
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'97'a0'a0'a0 Friday the 13th Part 2 (1981): This sequel, the first featuring Jason Voorhees as the main villain, may be the scariest in the entire series, even if that isn'92t saying all that much. In this one, Jason hasn'92t yet acquired the hockey mask. He'92s just a retarded hillbilly psycho, living in the woods and wearing a burlap sack on his head. And that'92s pretty scary.
'97'a0'a0'a0 Psycho II (1983): I was pleasantly surprised when I watched this unexpectedly good sequel, particularly since I expected it to be an appalling mess. It'92s 22 years after the events of Psycho. Norman Bates (Anthony Perkins, in a surprisingly sympathetic turn) has been let out of the asylum, and he'92s trying to get on with his life and remain sane, though events conspire to challenge Norman'92s efforts.
'97'a0'a0'a0 Halloween III: Season of the Witch (1982): I can'92t really defend this as a good movie, though it'92s so outrageous and ridiculous that I defy anyone not to have fun with it. Eschewing Michael Myers entirely, the film instead picks up the Halloween element of the series, giving us a story of a doctor (Tom Atkins) who stumbles on a plot by a sinister toy maker (Dan O'92Herlihy) to kill millions of people who wear his company'92s masks on Halloween. His plan includes robots, a piece of Stonehenge and magic that is beamed through TV sets and turns the mask-wearers into bugs and snakes. Just try to avoid giggling.