A Nightmare on Elm Street Part 3: Dream Warriors Review
Written by: Rileyofthedead
Welcome to part 3 of my retrospective on the Nightmare on Elm Street series. Today we're going to take an look at the 1987 sequel Dream Warriors, the film that most fans consider to be the best sequel to part one. I had fun with my review of Freddy's Revenge because it's not a film I take too seriously; the backstory isn't as interesting and there's more things to make fun of than to praise. I mean Freddy is in the movie for a whole 13 minutes, which honestly I was surprised to read that. But here we have Dream Warriors, the sequel to beat all sequels, because this took the premise of Nightmare part one and kicked it up to 11. This is what all of the Nightmare sequels should have been like.
One of the reasons why I love the 80's era of horror movies so much is for the comedy. Sure most of it is unintentional, but sometimes there are films that mix comedy and horror that create a great movie. Dream Warriors is one of those movies. This introduced the humor side of Freddy Krueger, a man who absolutely enjoys his job. Of course immediately by part four they take the humor too far and make Freddy a slapstick comedian rather than a murderous monster, but at least here we can enjoy it. Honestly, you all know that "Welcome to prime time bitch!" is quite possibly the greatest scene and line out of all of the movies. That scene with Zsa Zsa Gabor leading up to the line, is something I can picture happening in one of my dreams, and it's just great.
This being the best sequel, although New Nightmare probably ties in my book, had an interesting start. Here we have returning to write was Wes Craven and Bruce Wagner, with the intent on ending the series. The original idea pitched to the studio was the basic premise that would eventually become New Nightmare, which I'm grateful for that movie coming out later, since there was much more build up, but we'll talk about that movie later.
Instead we had Dream Warriors but with many different changes. For starters, Wes Craven hadn't intended to kill off Nancy, which I really wish they hadn't. But when Chuck Russell and Frank Darabont took the writing helms using Craven and Wagner's ideas, they ultimately killed her off. However in the original script probably the biggest change was the scenery: Gone was the Elm Street house and Westin Hills was downplayed, but instead we had this ranch house which was where Freddy was born. The plot intended for the teenagers to be coming to this ranch home and committing suicide, (although it's obviously Freddy pulling the strings), and had this been the case the film may have been more controversial at its release since teen suicide was such a taboo subject at the time.There were also character elements and plot differences such as:
- Nancy was not a dream expert or any kind of mental health professional.
- Kristen stayed in the institution for only a while and had a father.
- Neil's last name was Guinness, Dr. Simm's last name was Maddalena.
- Taryn was African-American, Joey was the one who built the model of a house and has trouble getting around (although did not use a wheelchair), and Philip was a thirteen year-old.
- Will's name was originally Laredo, with long hair, did not use a wheelchair, and the one who made the clay puppets.
- There is no talk of Krueger's mother having been a nun or Freddy being "the bastard son of a hundred maniacs,"
- Both Joey and Kincaid are killed.
- Lt. Thompson's character is very different in this script compared to the movie.
The other major change mentioned is that Freddy wasn't going to be as talkative and much more violent. You can find this script via Wikipedia, which I thought was just as good if not a little weaker than the final product -yeah, I read it, I'm a dork-. One thing I liked was that it focused a little bit more on Neil and Nancy's relationship, because I personally love those two and would have liked to have seen them together (if Glen hadn't died...). To me the original script had problems of its own, my impression was that it seemed a little too intense and somewhat nonsensical on paper. I liked bits and pieces of it but I think if anything, what Dream Warriors is now couldn't have been any better.
The movie opens with Kristen Parker staying awake by drinking coke and making a modle house that resembles 1428 Elm Street. In the background Dokken can be heard as the introduction plays, until Kristen ultimately has to go to sleep. She wakes up in front of the Elm Street house where a little girl warns her that "Freddy's home". After a chase ensues, Kristen wakes up only to realize that she's still dreaming as Freddy cuts her wrists, making it look like a suicide attempt. Her somewhat asshole mother assumes its a cry for attention.
Enter Nancy Thompson who has come to work at Westin Hills under Dr. Neil Gordon. She meets Kristen who recites the famous "One, two, Freddy's coming for you..." poem and realizes that her enemy is still out there in people's dreams. Not only that but after meeting fellow teens Kincaid, Joey, Taryn, Will, Jennifer, and Phillip, she discovers that these kids are the last of the Elm Street children. Nancy laments her past experiences to Dr. Gordon and insists on placing the kids on Hypnocil an experimental dream suppressant to protect them.
Kristen has another nightmare where a big phallic Freddy-worm tries to eat her, so she uses her ability to pull Nancy into the dream to protect her. Despite saving Kristen, two of the teens still are murdered by Freddy. First we have sculptor Phillip who makes puppets. Freddy uses this to his advantage to make a human puppet out of Phillip (with some of the creepiest and best effects in the movie) to make him jump from a window. Second there's Jennifer, who as we all know dies after Freddy burns her with the best comeback ever and smashes her head into the TV. The staff think that these two merely committed suicide.
This brings me to something I never understood; if they think Jennifer killed herself then A). Why would she do it by smashing her head into the TV? 1A). Even so how could she have been so powerful enough to force her head into the TV? and B). There's no way she could have gotten up there without a ladder or something, she's clearly just hanging there. How stupid are these doctors?
Anyway Nancy and Neil try to use Hypnocil to experiment on ways of protecting the rest of the teens. This fails and leads them to getting fired after Joey gets seduced by a sexy nurse who turns out to be Freddy who puts him in a coma, which I must admit, he had that coming. I mean how horny did he have to be to really believe that he would get some action by the sexy nurse? That's mean, I know.
So Nancy and Neil go to find her father, as Neil has learned from a nun that the only way to truly kill Freddy is to bury his remains. Lt. Donald Thompson has become alcoholic since part one and mocks his daughter's plea. Neil won't stand for this and forces the man to come help him bury Freddy. Meanwhile Nancy returns to the hospital to undergo one more sleep session with the kids to help Joey and save Kristen who had been placed in the 'quiet room'. Inside the dream Freddy manages to kill Taryn and Will before getting Nancy, Kincaid, Joey, and Kristen together to finish them off. However by this point Neil and Lt. Thompson have found his bones, causing Freddy to leave his victims to go reanimate his corpse to attack the two men. (Here we learn that you don't fuck with Freddy's skeleton).
At the climax of this fight, Freddy ultimately trick Nancy by impersonating her father to stab her to death (Sadness), but at the same time Neil manages to finish the job of burying him and uses holy water. This affects him in the dream, giving Nancy the opportunity to stab him and kill him off before she succumbs to her wounds (more sadness). It is revealed that the nun Neil had seen was none other than the spirit of Freddy's mother. But with Freddy defeated the kids are safe. For now.
After I viewed this movie, my expectations for the rest of them were high. There was no excuse to not be as creative and creepy as Dream Warriors was. However sadly part four takes everything good about this movie and craps on it in the first twenty minutes, leading to a string of awful sequels in comparison. Stay tuned for Dream Master and Dream Child.
Trivia Time: Apparently Robert Englund wrote a treatment for the film that was ultimately never used.