Every Town Has an Elm Street Part 3 (A Nightmare on Elm Street Part 3: Dream Warriors, 1987)

nightmare_on_elm_street_3_posterNow let us take a look at the third Elm Street Film.  The Dream Warriors is easily one of the best of the series and one of the best loved.  Dream Warriors deftly handles horror, fantasy, action and comedy in one solid package.  Not entirely surprising, the cooks include Wes Craven, Frank Darabont  (writer of Shawshank Redemption, Green Mile) and Chuck Russell (who also directed, he is primarily known for directing the Jim Carrey film the Mask).

It’s a pretty effective story.  The last remaining Elm Street kids have been institutionalized, suffering from horrific nightmares.  No one seems to know what to do, because, again, in horror movies?  Adults are dumb and do not listen to anyone.  They presume the kids are really just, you know, suicidal.  Because suicidal people always claim a guy is stalking them in thei9r dreams and trying to kill them.  And they tend to do so en mass.

But these kids are lucky, you see, Nancy Thompson (Heather Langenkamp) is back to save the franch-uh-  I mean, the kids.  She, with help from Dr. Neil (Craig Wasson, of Ghost Story, Body Double and most recently, Sasquatch Mountain), work against an uncaring world to save the kids.   They do not of course, because frankly, that would be a boring horror movie.  Instead, Freddy kills a few of the kids rather creatively.  Nancy discovers that young Kristen (played by young Patricia Arquette) can pull people into her dreams.  This manages to give the surviving kids an edge.

Nancy and the kids manage to fight back against Freddy, while Dr. Neil meets a mysterious nun who conveniently knows a lot about Fred Krueger.  We also see the return of Nancy’s pop, Donald (John Saxon).

At Nancy’s funeral, a heartbroken Dr. Neil receives another visit from mysterious old nun woman.  Dr. Neil follows her through the cemetary, where she disappears…but then Doctor Neil sees a headstone…the nun was the ghost of Amanda Krueger-FREDDY’S MOTHER!!!!

This film is notable for many reasons.  For instance, this film introduced the concept of the “dream power”, in which kids have a unique power-usually based in their self image- which they can use to fight Freddy.  The fourth and fifth films fail to put this to good use though.  It also introduces the back story for Freddy that he was the “Bastard Son of 100 Maniacs”.  His mother was a young nun who worked in an asylum and was locked up for a weekend with 100 depraved maniacs who raped her.

The film also introduced far more elaborate dream sequences.  The first two films had dream sequences that challenged you to figure out whether the character was asleep or awake.  In the Dream Warriors, the dreams are more fantasy adventures.  This is easily one of the top three films of the franchise, and worth watching, it is not scary, but it is full of adventure, fun, solid effects ( a very nice stop motion fight is reminiscent of Harryhausen) and pretty nicely played.

However, the film is also guilty of starting the film down the path the series took that bothered so many fans, specifically, Freddy the Comedian.  This is the film that gave us the line, “Welcome to Prime Time, Bitch!!!”  And while it works in this film, it clearly took the character down a road of self mockery.  So, in spite of the snark, I really do recommend this as a entertaining film to watch.

Growing Up In the Movies Is Kinda Dull (Boyhood, 2014)

Boyhood_posterI happened to see the Golden Globes Best Picture Drama winner Boyhood this weekend.  While it was a nominee of course.

The film has a neat gimmick, it was filmed across a twelve year span.  The young boy at the film’s start is the same college age actor we see at the end.  The same goes for his sister and friends.  So, as the characters age, they are not suddenly a new actor every few scenes.  It is a nifty gimmick on it’s face.  The acting is strong in the film.  I went in very much looking forward to the film, as it seems to garner praise and love from everyone who sees it.

Well, except, apparently me.

Richard Linklater’s ode to boys becoming young men is…well, kind of dull and aimless.  Young Mason (Ellar Coltrane) lacks any sense of personality or spark.  He feels aimless at the start of the film and feels entirely aimless at the end of the film.  His parents grow and change, but in an ambiguous fashion.  We see the father (Ethan Hawke) living in a run down apartment with a musician friend, and the next time we see him he is married with a new baby.  His mother (Patricia Arquette) survives an abusive relationship, valiantly fighting to protect her children…then needs her boyfriend to remind her it is her son’s birthday.

But Mason…well, we never, ever get a sense of his hopes and dreams.  In fact, the film offers no indication that he has them.  We only see him take an interest in photography later in the film.  And yeah, it hints that he has a real gift for it.  But the film gives no connection to this being a true passion for him.  Because Mason comes across and completely uninterested in anything.  As a viewer, we are given this unformed character.  And maybe his lack of drive was intentional…but frankly, it just reads as dull for me.

It does not help that the film makes the passage of time unclear.  One of Mason’s step parents just vanishes from the story after a fight.  No indication as to when or why he is gone, he just is.  Linklater clearly meant for things like music to help define the passage of time as the songs use tend to be from the general years the story is happening.

Truthfully, if you took the gimmick away.  If this had been filmed during a three month period a year or so back with different actors playing Mason at the various stages of his life?  I cannot see the film garnering half the praise it does.  It feels like every scene was created on the fly, like Linklater was relying on the actors to overcome the lack of anything resembling a story.  In many cases, it is not even the most interesting points of Mason’s life.

I am a bit amazed how people are connecting with this one when Mason is such an empty character on screen.  He has no drive, no passions, no hopes…he just is there.  What is there to connect to?

It has brief moments…there were times I laughed.  And times I felt something akin to caring.  But it was never brought about by Mason, who is the focus of the film.  It was always because of characters outside of him.  This is not because I thought Ellar Coltrane was a bad actor…I just found Linklater imbued the character with nothing for Coltrane to connect with.  So he shrugs his way through the story.

What kills me is I love the behind the scenes aspect.  The idea that the film took twelve years to make and Mason is played by the same actor all the way through?  Very interesting.  But that does not make the actual result, the actual movie itself, interesting.

Blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑