Thursday, September 17, 2015
Franchises: A Nightmare on Elm Street. A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors (1987)
Kristen Parker is the latest teenager to be tormented by Freddy Krueger in her nightmares, getting her wrists slashed by him during one of her dreams and made to look like a suicide attempt. Kristen is admitted to Westin Hills psychiatric hospital, which is occupied by a number of other kids who are also being stalked in their dreams by Freddy, and grows hysterical and violent when the staff tries to sedate her. She's finally calmed down by Nancy Thompson, who's just out of grad school as a doctor specializing in "pattern" nightmares and has joined the staff. Nancy learns the details of the kids' nightmares from Dr. Neil Gordon, the one in charge of their treatment who has become very close to them over time, who tells her that their shared "delusion" is a boogeyman who haunts them in their dreams. After being introduced to some of the kids and shown her office, Nancy goes to Kristen's house to get her belongings and when she enters her bedroom, she sees a model of her old house on Elm Street that Kristen made. That night, Kristen falls asleep and is again attacked by Freddy. In her panic, she calls upon a power to pull people into her dreams that she possessed when she was a kid and uses it to get Nancy's help. After saving her, and realizing to her horror that it is Freddy Krueger again, Nancy escapes the dream with Kristen and the next day, learns from her that the model of her old home is a house that she constantly dreams about. Nancy is introduced to the rest of the kids being tormented by Freddy, whose assertions about what's going on are ignored by Dr. Simms, one of the higher-ups, and other members of the staff. Freddy begins slicing his way through the kids, killing two of them and creating panic amongst the others. Neil, who is now very worried about them and doesn't know what to do, is told the truth by Nancy and, in an unofficial group meeting, she tells the kids who Freddy is and why he's trying to kill them. She also tells them about Kristen's gift, that each one of them has their own special ability they can tap into in their dreams and they can use it against Freddy. Using group hypnosis, they manage to enter the dream and show off their abilities, but things go wrong when one of the kids, Joey, is caught by Freddy and is in a deep coma when the others wake up. This results in both Nancy and Neil getting fired but, as he's leaving, Neil learns the horrible details of Freddy's very birth from a mysterious nun that he's been seeing lately and also that in order to stop him, his remains must be buried in hallowed ground. It's a plan that Nancy is willing to go along with when she has no choice but, when Kristen is sedated after an angry outburst over Nancy's firing, time begins running out before she, and everyone else, inevitably falls prey to Freddy.
As much as I love Freddy's Revenge, I'll admit that Dream Warriors feels much more like a true sequel to the original film for a number reasons, one of which being the return of Wes Craven as the one who came up with the initial screenplay and also served as a producer. He was brought back because Bob Shaye felt that the second film was something of a misfire and that they needed to recapture the elements and spirit of the original if the series was to continue. It's interesting in that Craven's initial idea for the film was what would become New Nightmare years later, with Freddy entering the "real" world to terrorize the cast and crew of a new movie. At the time, though, that idea was a little too meta for New Line Cinema, so they had Craven and Bruce Wagner (mainly Wagner, since Craven was busy with Deadly Friend at the time) come up with another idea that laid the foundation for the final film. While a lot of the characters that they came up with were retained in the rewrite that Chuck Russell and Frank Darabont did, details about them were changed or mixed around, two more of them who were meant to die were spared (namely Joey and Kincaid, who would get offed in the next film), and the house that Freddy was born in was featured as the house that Kristen dreamt about. Freddy was not only meant to hardly speak like in the original film but he was also supposed to use much more vulgar language than he even did there and the kills were supposed to be as horrific as those in the original as well. I know that Craven was not pleased that the studio didn't go that route in the finished film, nor was he happy with the other changes to the story, and that this was the beginning of his irritation with the direction they were going with the character, which would only intensify as the series went on, further compounded by how Craven was hoping that this would be the last movie.
The film ends on a bittersweet note, with Kristen holding Nancy's dead body in her arms, sobbing, as Kincaid breaks down the door to find that he and Joey are too late. Kristen tells Nancy that she's going to dream her into a beautiful dream and kisses her forehead before crying again. The penultimate scene is Nancy's funeral, where Neil spots the mysterious nun that told him about Freddy's past and how to stop him. When he follows after her, she disappears at Amanda Krueger's grave, which also reads Sister Mary Helena, revealing that she was Freddy's mother all along. The film ends with Neil sleeping that night, with Nancy's Malaysian dream doll sitting on his nightstand along with Kristen's model of the house... when a light appears in one of the upstairs windows.
The music score by Angelo Badalamenti, who has scored a number of films such as National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation as well as the TV show Twin Peaks (he worked with David Lynch again on Muholland Drive), is an interesting mix of traditional-sounding music and more contemporary, rock-like and synthesizer pieces. The most memorable piece is the music for the opening credits, which is a low-key theme with a constant, "Di-di-do-do-da-da" rhythm accompanied by some menacing music that fluctuates in volume as it goes on. Other memorable themes include this rock-esque piece that plays when Taryn confronts Freddy in the alley, a synthesizer theme when the Freddy Snake scurries underneath the floor and through the walls before attacking Kristen, a frantic, synthesizer theme when Joey sees Philip and warns everybody about it, and a rather sweet, melodic piece for when the nurse starts making out with Joey. To be honest, the film's actual score isn't one of its memorable aspects and, save for those bits I just mentioned as well as some occasional reuses of a few of Charles Bernstein's original pieces, the only other memorable bit of score isn't even part of the actual movie but is this eerie melody for the Freddy nursery rhyme that you hear in the teaser trailer that's accompanied by this little girl humming. It becomes really loud and frightening after Freddy's hand pops out of the model house and the title comes up, which I can also remember more easily than anything in the movie's real score.