A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors is a 1987 slasher film and the third film in the Nightmare on Elm Street series. The film was directed by Chuck Russell, written by original creator Wes Craven and co-written by Bruce Wagner, and starred Craig Wasson, Heather Langenkamp, Robert Englund and Patricia Arquette in her first role. It is the sequel to A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy's Revenge and is followed by A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master.
Six years after the events of the first film, Kristen Parker makes a replica of a house on Elm Street. While she is asleep she dreams about a little girl outside the house. When Kristen wakes up and goes to the bathroom she finds she is still asleep and encounters Freddy Krueger, who slashes her wrists with the razors on his glove. When Kristen awakes, she is holding a razor blade to her wrist. Her mother mistakes this incident as a suicide attempt and places Kristen in Westin Hills, a psychiatric hospital.
Kristen meets the other patients of the hospital- Joey Crusel, who does not speak; Taryn White, an ex-drug addict; Roland Kincaid, a tough kid with behavioral problems; Phillip Anderson, a talented sculptor; Jennifer Caulfield, a wannabe actress; Will Stanton, who uses a wheelchair because of an earlier suicide attempt. They are the "last of the Elm Street children" – the remaining children of the vigilantes who killed Freddy. Kristen also meets Dr. Neil Gordon, a psychiatrist, and Nancy Thompson, the new staff research scientist.
All of the kids are being tormented by Freddy in their dreams. If Freddy kills them in their dream, they die "for real." When Kristen has another terrifying dream where she is attacked by Freddy in the form of a giant snake, she reveals a latent ability to bring others into her dreams by bringing Nancy into the dream to assist her. Nancy sees the potential of Kristen's ability to defeat Freddy for good.
Freddy kills two patients when they fall asleep. He slashes Phillip's feet and wrists and uses his tendons to walk him like a marionette to the top of the building. Freddy cuts the tendons, and sends Phillip falling to his death. Later, while Jennifer watches TV, the host of a talk show turns into Freddy and attacks the guest, Zsa Zsa Gabor. Jennifer walks over to the TV and smacks it. Two large mechanical arms explode out of the sides of the set; Freddy's head comes out the top. The arms pick up Jennifer and smash her head-first through the screen.
Meanwhile, Dr. Gordon receives visits from a mysterious nun, who introduces herself as Sister Mary Helena. She tells Dr. Gordon that Freddy Krueger was born in the abandoned wing of the same hospital, Westin Hills, after inmates gang-raped his mother, Amanda Krueger. Amanda Krueger was a staff member who was accidentally locked inside over the Christmas holidays. The nun also says that when he was killed, Freddy Krueger was never properly buried and must be laid to rest in consecrated ground.
Nancy tells the kids during a group session that in their dreams they can be whomever, and possibly do whatever, they want. Nancy convinces Dr. Gordon to try an experimental hypnosis to put the kids and themselves into a deep sleep and have Kristen attempt to pull them into her dream. The attempt does not go well. Freddy, in the form of a hot nurse, lures Joey away and holds him captive in the dream world and renders him comatose in the real world. As a result, Dr. Carver fires Neil and Nancy from the hospital.
Nancy goes to see her father, Lt. Donald Thompson. She makes an impassioned plea to him for help which ultimately falls on deaf ears. Neil tells her to go back to the hospital to help the kids while he forces Lt. Thompson to help him find Freddy's remains and bury them. The two men stop at a church to collect holy water and a crucifix.
Back at the hospital, Nancy and the kids attempt a group sleep session to try to go in and free Joey and get to Kristen, who was thrown in the "quiet room" and sedated without her consent. As soon as the kids fall asleep, Freddy separates them. He kills Taryn by giving her a drug overdose, and he stabs Will in the stomach with his glove. Kincaid, who dreams of having super strength, manages to fight his way through Freddy's barriers and reunite with Nancy and Kristen. The three save Joey before Freddy can kill him. However, Krueger reveals he gains strength from imprisoning the souls of his victims inside him. Kincaid attacks Freddy, but Freddy easily picks him up with one arm. Freddy is about to kill Kincaid when he senses that someone is messing with his corpse and disappears.
Neil and Lt. Thompson have found Freddy's remains in a large auto salvage yard. They begin to dig a makeshift grave when the bones come to life. Lt. Thompson attempts to attack the Freddy-skeleton but the skeleton kills him by throwing him on a car fin. The skeleton then beats Neil with a shovel, leaving him unconscious near the makeshift grave.
Still in the group sleep session, the remaining kids and Nancy proceed to make their way through Freddy's lair when they come to a room full of mirrors. Each of the party are grabbed and pulled through the walls by Freddy, except for Joey who lets out a piercing scream which shatters the mirrors and releases his friends. Nancy notices a bright light from an adjoining room and realizes it is her father. Her father says his spirit has crossed over and wanted to say goodbye to her, and they embrace. Seconds later, Nancy is stabbed twice in the stomach by Freddy, who took the form of her father to trick her. Believing that his biggest threat has finally been removed, Freddy proceeds to attack Kristen. Just as he is about to kill her, Nancy appears behind him and makes Freddy stab himself with his own glove. At the same exact time, Neil awakens and sprinkles the holy water on Freddy's remains. He also uses the crucifix and completes the burial, causing Krueger to disappear in a brilliant white light. Nancy, grievously wounded, dies in Kristen's arms.
At the Thompson's funeral, Neil sees the mysterious nun again. When he goes to thank her, she vanishes. He is left standing by a gravestone. On the stone there is a name, Amanda Krueger; just below that is another name, Sister Mary Helena. The nun was the spirit of Freddy's mother. Later, Neil falls asleep at his home, where he has the same house Kristen made at the beginning of the film. A light suddenly comes on inside the model house, implying Freddy's still alive, which sets up the events of the next film.
- Heather Langenkamp as Dr. Nancy Thompson
- Patricia Arquette as Kristen Parker
- Robert Englund as Freddy Krueger
- Craig Wasson as Dr. Neil Gordon
- Ken Sagoes as Roland Kincaid
- Rodney Eastman as Joey Peterson
- Jennifer Rubin as Taryn White
- Bradley Gregg as Phillip Anderson
- Ira Heiden as Will Stanton
- Laurence Fishburne as Max Daniels
- Penelope Sudrow as Jennifer Caulfield
- John Saxon as Donald Thompson
- Priscilla Pointer as Dr. Elizabeth Simms
- Clayton Landey as Lorenzo
- Brooke Bundy as Elaine Parker
- Nan Martin as Amanda Krueger
- Dick Cavett as Himself
- Zsa Zsa Gabor as Herself
Elm Street creator Wes Craven, who did not participate in the first sequel and indeed did not want the franchise to be a franchise at all, intended for this film to end the series, but its success made that impossible.
Craven's very first concept for this film was to have Freddy Krueger invade the "real" world, emerging to haunt the actors filming a new Elm Street sequel. New Line Cinema rejected this metacinematic idea at the time, but years later, Craven's concept was finally brought to the screen with Wes Craven's New Nightmare.
The "dream suppressant" drug Hypnocil which Neil researches is also featured and written into this film, yet more prominently figures in Freddy vs. Jason and is mentioned in Freddy vs. Jason vs. Ash. The psychiatric hospital Westin Hills reappears in both A Nightmare on Elm Street 5: The Dream Child and Freddy vs. Jason.
In interviews with cast and crew in the DVD extras, it is revealed that the original idea for the film centered around the phenomenon of children traveling to a specific location to commit suicide, with dreams of Freddy Krueger eventually discovered to be a common link between the youths. Suicide, at the time, was a taboo social issue and this led to the abandonment of that storyline, though some aspects remained within the filmed version which still depicts suicide and self-mutilation, though they were deemed less controversial because these acts are committed with Freddy's distinct influence, inserting enough fantasy into the acts to remove it from the supposed controversial exploitation of disturbed youths in America.
In the original script by Wes Craven and Bruce Wagner the characters were somewhat different from what was eventually filmed. 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. This script also showed the ranch house where Krueger was born, and is the house that shows up in their dreams rather than the Elm Street house. Contrary to the film, Lt. Donald Thompson knows from the start that Krueger is real and still alive. He had been missing and Nancy was intent on finding him, she finds him and learns that he was obsessed with finding the Krueger house and burning it down. There are scenes and lines that are very reminiscent of the first film. There is no talk of Krueger's mother having been a nun or Freddy being "the bastard son of a hundred maniacs", and both Joey and Kincaid are killed. The deaths in this script were much more grotesque, with Krueger not as talkative and more vulgar. In Jeffrey Cooper's novelization The Nightmares on Elm Street Parts 1, 2, 3: The Continuing Story (1987), the original Craven/Wagner version of the Nightmare 3 script is adapted, rather than the Russell/Darabont rewrite. Thus the book version of the story is fairly different from the finished film.
The theme song of the movie, "Dream Warriors", was written and performed by the American heavy metal band Dokken. The success of the single led to the following sequels to include a heavy metal song in its soundtrack.
In the original VHS release of the film, during the opening sequence, a hard rock instrumental version of the song "Quiet Cool" is playing. The original version of that song, performed by Joe Lamont, was written for the movie with the same name in 1986. When Dream Warriors was released on DVD, the song that was on the original theatrical release, "Into the Fire" by Dokken, was reinserted.
Banned in Queensland, AustraliaEdit
In Queensland, Australia, Dream Warriors was banned by the then Bjelke-Petersen government due to its drug references, particularly the scene where Freddy's glove becomes a number of syringes as he injects his victim with a heroin overdose. In 1990, the newly elected Goss government abolished the Queensland Film Board of Review. Consequently, Dream Warriors became available to Queenslanders through normal market channels rather than just through sympathetic video rental stores.
The film released theatrically in the United States by New Line Cinema in February 1987. It opened in 1,343 theaters, grossing $8.9 million and debuting at number 1 during its opening weekend. It eventually made $44,793,222 at the domestic box office, making it both the highest grossing film for the studio that year and the 24th highest grossing film of 1987. It is the third highest grossing of the original Nightmare movies after Freddy vs. Jason and A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master.
The film received more positive reviews than the first sequel. It has garnered an average score of 72% on Rotten Tomatoes, based on 32 professional reviews. It is almost unanimously considered the best Nightmare film after the original, but still received some negative reviews from critics because of the comedic themes present in the film; director Chuck Russell said in an interview he felt it needed to be taken down a different path, making Freddy fun to keep the audience entertained instead of being dark and scary over and over again.
Roger Ebert gave the film 1 and a half stars out of 4.
1988 Saturn Awards
- Best Horror Film (Nomination)
- Best Make-up (Nomination)
- Best Supporting Actor – Robert Englund (Nomination)
Fantasporto Awards 1988
- International Fantasy Film Award Best Film – Chuck Russell (Nomination)
- Critics Awards: Special Mention – Chuck Russell (Won)