A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors

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A Nightmare on Elm Street 3:
Dream Warriors
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Chuck Russell
Produced by Robert Shaye
Screenplay by
Story by
Music by Angelo Badalamenti
Cinematography Roy H. Wagner
Edited by Terry Stokes
Chuck Weiss
Heron Communications
Smart Egg Pictures
Distributed by New Line Cinema
Release dates
  • February 27, 1987 (1987-02-27)
Running time 96 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $4.5 million
Box office $44,793,222 (United States)

A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors is a 1987 American slasher fantasy 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.[1] 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.


Two years after the events of Freddy's Revenge, Kristen Parker is troubled by nightmares of Freddy Krueger. She has a nightmare in which she is chased by Freddy, who then slashes her wrists; however, upon waking, it appears to Kristen's mother that Kristen has slit her own wrists in a suicide attempt. Kristen's mother admits her to the hospital, and Kristen becomes hysterical at the threat of sedation by hospital staff. Her fears are only quelled by the appearance of Nancy Thompson, who gains Kristen's trust by finishing a nursery rhyme about Freddy and recognizing a scale model of her own home Kristen had crafted out of papier-mâché.

Other patients in the same ward as Kristen include Philip, a talented puppet maker; Kincaid, a tough guy with attitude problems; Taryn, a former drug addict; Joey, a boy so traumatized that he refuses to speak; Will, bound to a wheelchair after a failed suicide attempt; and Jennifer, an aspiring actress. Nancy has joined the hospital as a dream therapist and begins working with Neil, a doctor who has previously attempted to convince patients that their dreams cannot harm them, and Max, an orderly at the hospital. The ward in which Kristin and the other children are placed is managed by Dr. Simms.

That night, Kristen again has another nightmare about Freddy. However, during her encounter, Kristin is able to pull Nancy into her own dream. Nancy saves Kristen from Freddy's attack, and he immediately recognizes her. The two escape Freddy. Meanwhile, Nancy attempts to get Neil to prescribe medication, called Hypnocil, that will suppress the patients' dreams, but he is unwilling to move forward. That night, as Philip is dreaming, one of his puppets becomes Freddy. He slashes out the veins and tendons on Philips arms and feet, turning him into a human puppet, and walks him up to a top window of the hospital. Freddy then cuts his "strings" and Philip falls from the window and dies. The staff believe that Philip committed suicide. The next night, Max allows Jennifer to stay in the TV room because she is distraught from Philip's death. She nods off and Freddy appears on the television. As she walks toward it, Freddy's arms protrude from the sides of the TV, and his head pushes up underneath the antenna. He grabs her and smashes her head into the TV, electrocuting her. The next morning Nancy reveals to the other patients who Freddy is, and that the patients are the last of the children who lived on Elm Street. She also explains that Kristen's ability to pull people into her dreams is just the advantage they need. Nancy and Neil experiment with the patients in a form of group hypnosis and group dreaming. At first, they do not realize that they are dreaming and attempt to leave, but they soon find out that they are wrong. While in the group dream, each of the patients exhibit extraordinary powers or abilities, as Nancy explained they had in their most wonderful dreams, and describes them as battling abilities against Freddy on his turf. However, Joey had wandered off during the dream and is captured by Freddy, disguised as a nurse to whom Joey is very attracted. He is tied to bed posts above a fiery pit and left defenseless. When the group awakens from the dream, they discover Joey is comatose. Their deaths coincide with the appearance of a nun, Sister Mary Helena, who tells Neil about Freddy's origins as "the bastard son of a hundred maniacs", and that the only way to defeat him is to lay his bones to rest. As a result of Joey's coma, and the suggestion of the Hypnocil, Nancy and Neil are fired, and Dr. Simms orders mandatory nightly sedation for the remaining patients.

Based upon the details Sister Mary Helena shared with Neil about laying Freddy's bones to rest, he convinces Nancy to reach out to her father, Donald Thompson, the only person who knows where Freddy's remains are hidden. Donald refuses when Nancy asks for his help. Neil receives a page from the hospital, and immediately calls. Taryn answers and explains that Kristen had acted up and was sedated and locked into the quiet room as per the orders of Dr. Simms, and she begs for help. Neil confronts Nancy's father, and they finally leave to collect Freddy's remains while Nancy returns to the hospital to conduct another group dream session in order to rescue Joey and defeat Freddy. Kristen is able to pull Nancy, Kincaid, Taryn and Will into her dream, but the group is quickly split-up. Taryn is pulled into an alley behind Jake's bar, presumably where she used to go to do drugs. Freddy appears and Taryn tries to fight him. As she is backed up to the alley wall, Freddy's fingers turn to syringes and Taryn's needle marks enlarge and begin pulsating. Freddy injects her with ten syringes full of drugs and she is killed. Will is pulled into the same hallway in which Tina, an earlier victim of Freddy's, began her first nightmare. A giant, lethal wheelchair appears at one end of the hallway and Freddy appears at the other, taunting him. The wheelchair speeds towards Will and he dodges it, but receives a slash to his leg. As the chair heads for him again, Will becomes the wizard master and destroys it. He then attacks Freddy, but Freddy overpowers him and stabs him. Kristen, Nancy and Kincaid find Joey, but also encounter Freddy, who again battles the group. However, Freddy disappears just as Neil and Donald begin to lay his bones to rest. Freddy possesses his earthly remains and kills Donald, and then returns to the dream world to defeat Nancy and the others. In the ensuing battle it appears the group defeats Freddy, and Nancy is visited in the dream by the spirit of her father, who explains that he has "crossed over". However, while embracing Nancy, the spirit of Donald is revealed to be Freddy in disguise, who then stabs Nancy with his glove. Kristen attempts to kill Freddy on her own, but Nancy comes from behind and stabs Freddy with his own glove just as Neil (in the conscious world) throws holy water and places a cross on Freddy's bones. Freddy is killed as Kristen cradles a dying Nancy in her own arms.

At Nancy's funeral, Neil again spots Sister Mary Helena in the cemetery and leaves the service to address her. However, when he moves to where he saw the nun, he discovers a tombstone dedicated to "Mary Helena—Amanda Krueger", revealing that Sister Mary Helena was in-fact the mother of Freddy. The film ends with Neil sleeping in his own bed with the Malaysian dream doll and Kristen's model of 1428 Elm Street. As he sleeps, the bedroom light in the model comes on, revealing that Freddy is still alive and setting up a new installment .



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 prompted a continuation.

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 and is much younger, 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. In the original script, there is a romance between Nancy and Neil and they eventually have sex. 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. Freddy is killed by Nancy by using his own glove, not by holy water. 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, Australia[edit]

In the Australian state of Queensland, 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 Taryn with an amphetamine 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 Australian public at the time thought the ban was absurd, as the film was not very graphic.


Box Office[edit]

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,[2] making it both the highest grossing film for the studio that year and the 24th highest grossing film of 1987.[3] 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.[4]

Critical Reception[edit]

The critical reception of Dream Warriors was positive, especially when compared to the first sequel. It has an approval rating of 73% on Rotten Tomatoes, based on 33 professional reviews. It is almost unanimously considered the best Nightmare film after the original,[citation needed] 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 tone and scary over and over again.[5] Roger Ebert gave the film 1 and a half stars out of 4.[6]

Many fans of the A Nightmare on Elm Street franchise hail this film as one of their favorites out of all nine films[citation needed] in the series (the original seven along with Freddy vs. Jason and the 2010 remake) due to the fact that in order to revitalize the franchise after the disappointment of Part 2, it contained a number of special effects, a new comedy-side for the character of Freddy Krueger, the return of Nancy Thompson and Donald Thompson both from the original film, a theme song by legendary heavy metal band Dokken, cameos by famous celebrities such as Dick Cavett and Zsa Zsa Gabor, and Wes Craven was back on the production as co-writer and executive producer and both Robert Englund and Heather Langenkamp[citation needed] have both stated that this film is the fans favorite.


1988 Saturn Awards
Fantasporto Awards 1988
  • International Fantasy Film Award Best Film – Chuck Russell (Nomination)
  • Critics Awards: Special Mention – Chuck Russell (Won)

See also[edit]


  1. ^ TV.com (2011-09-21). "Patricia Arquette". TV.com. Retrieved 2013-07-15. 
  2. ^ "A Nightmare on Elm Street 3". boxofficemojo.com. Retrieved 2011-04-02. 
  3. ^ "1987 Domestic Grosses". boxofficemojo.com. Archived from the original on 2 March 2011. Retrieved 2011-04-02. 
  4. ^ "Nightmare on Elm Street series". boxofficemojo.com. Archived from the original on 2 March 2011. Retrieved 2011-04-02. 
  5. ^ "A Nightmare on Elm Street 3 - Dream Warriors". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 2013-07-15. 
  6. ^ A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors review Ebert, Roger

External links[edit]