A Nightmare On Elm Street III: Dream Warriors poster by Jason Edmiston
It’s that time of year. Ghouls and Goblins abound, Serial Slashers seek out new victims on celluloid, and Freddy Krueger rears his horrifically burned visage yet again.
To date, “A Nightmare on Elm Street III: Dream Warriors” is my all-time favorite horror film. When “Nightmare III” hit the pay-cable airwaves, I was 11 years old and fascinated by all things Monster-related. I do believe that “Nightmare on Elm Street III” was the first of the Nightmare films that I had ever seen, and did so by sneaking behind my parent’s collective backs to watch it on HBO. Even at a young age I was intrigued by this monster, Freddy Krueger. I had grown up on a steady diet of Universal Classic Monster Movies. “The Wolf Man“, “Frankenstein“, “Creature From The Black Lagoon“, and “Dracula” were all characters which suited my viewing tastes as a kid. Television programs such as “Manimal” and “V” as well as early Kaiju films “Godzilla” and “Rodan” were HUGE influences on me as well. I was crazy about Monsters.
Of course, Fred Krueger wasn’t just any Monster, he was an accused child-killer, freed from prosecution on a technicality, then hunted down and burned to death by the parents of his young victims. Freddy managed to cheat death and become a demon which swore vengeance on the parents of Elm Street by killing their children within dreams. If you were so unfortunate to be one of the Elm Street children, and you fell asleep, you were in Freddy’s world and subject to his rules. The “Nightmare” films were always a fantastical journey into the dreamworld but Nightmare III held something very different. It proposed that the last of the Elm Street children, now teenagers, banded together, and exhibiting superhuman-like powers in the Dreamworld made a valiant attempt to defeat Freddy Krueger once and for all. I loved it from the moment it started playing on the screen. While both “Nightmare on Elm Street” and “A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge” were more horror-based entries, Nightmare III sought to enhance the Dreamworld sequences with bizarre special effects such as the “Freddy Snake” a full-size animatronic puppet, and “Freddy TV” in which Krueger violently erupts from a standard-issue television in order to dispatch a young, Hollywood obsessed victim while screaming the line “Here it is, Jennifer! Your big break in TV! WELCOME TO PRIME TIME, BITCH!“.
What thrilled me about the Nightmare films, and especially “Nightmare on Elm Street III” in particular was the whole sense of wonderment that came when those Dream Warriors entered the Dreamworld. In that world they could be anyone and do practically anything. Yes, Fred Krueger was a Monster in all senses of the word but here he was a wise-cracking anti-hero claiming his warped right to the souls of the last of the Elm Street children. Krueger was the perfect antithesis to the silent and lumbering Jason Vorhees and Michael Myers of years past. Here was a new dawn of Monster. One who seemingly could not be stopped because he only existed in dreams. I instantly became a fan of the franchise not so much for the fact that I enjoyed the movies but more because I wanted to figure out “How did they do that?!“.
Freddy Krueger exhibiting his ability to transmute in “A Nightmare on Elm Street III: Dream Warriors”.
Freddy dispatches Tara, played by Jennifer Rubin, by injecting her with a lethal dose of heroin in “A Nightmare on Elm Street III: Dream Warriors”.
I started reading all the Monster magazines I could get my hands on. Every “behind-the-scenes” book. I wanted to know all I could about the FX which brought these characters to life. I called Kevin Yagher, who at the time was the lead FX artist on “Nightmare on Elm Street III”, and went on to create the Chucky doll from the “Child’s Play” series, and The Crypt Keeper of “Tales from The Crypt“. A few years later I called FX legend Tom Savini to ask his advice on starting my journey as an FX artist. Savini put me in touch with Oscar-winning FX artist Dick Smith, who then invited me to his home/studio to spend the day with him answering all my questions and showing me slide presentations of how to properly make life-casts, apply old-age make-up, and create wireframes for puppets. It blew my mind to have access to one of the great legends of Make-Up Effects. A man who had worked on seminal films such as “The Godfather“, “The Exorcist” and “Amadeus“.
Kevin Yagher is seen working on the full-size animatronic Freddy Snake from “A Nightmare on Elm Street III: Dream Warriors”.
Although I ended up becoming a Graphic and Web Designer, a soft spot resides in me for all things Monster-related. I love a good werewolf or vampire movie. Get nostalgic when hearing people talk about the original Godzilla movies, and know that “A Nightmare on Elm Street III” was instrumental in sending me on a journey to meet one of Hollywood’s greats.