Greatest Movie Series
Nightmare on Elm Street Films
A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984) | A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy's Revenge (1985)
A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors (1987) | A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master (1988)
A Nightmare on Elm Street 5: The Dream Child (1989) | Freddy's Dead: The Final Nightmare (1991)
(Wes Craven's) New Nightmare (1994) | Freddy vs. Jason (2003) | A Nightmare on Elm Street (2010)
|A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors (1987)
d. Chuck Russell, 96 minutes
Film Plot Summary
Under the credits, in close-up, a young girl (at 1:20 am in her bedroom) stirred up a paper mache mixture, dipped a newspaper clipping into it, and applied the wet paper to a surface. [It was later revealed to be a house structure, resembling 1428 Elm Street from the previous films.]
Exhausted, she was desperately attempting to keep awake with a spoonful of coffee crystals, a swig of Diet Coke, and loud music on her radio (Dokken's Into the Fire). Her middle-aged mother Elaine (Brooke Bundy), arriving home with a gentleman date downstairs, burst into the room and demanded that her daughter go to sleep, although 16 year-old Kristen Parker (Patricia Arquette) protested, claiming she was still experiencing "awful dreams."
When she fell asleep, she began dreaming and had an awful nightmare:
She screamed, causing her mother to burst into the bathroom to end the dream - catching a dazed and weak Kristen standing there and slashing her wrists with a razor-blade (and a sprayed streak of blood on the mirror), before fainting.
Kristen was hospitalized at Westin Hills Psychiatric Hospital in Springwood, where there were reports of an "alarming trend" of teenage suicides in the area. One of the friendly orderlies named Max Daniels (Lawrence Fishburne) told Dr. Neil Gordon (Craig Wasson) that he suspected "f--ked up chromosomes...all their parents dropped acid during the 60s." Another conservative doctor, Dr. Elizabeth Simms (Priscilla Pointer) had surmised: "It's sex, drugs, and rock 'n' roll."
A new "hotshot" staff member, grad school intern Nancy Thompson (Heather Langenkamp), appearing six years after the original film, was noted for "groundbreaking research on pattern nightmares." She was the latest topic of conversation when the doctors were alerted to an emergency situation. A berserk-acting Kristen had torn her stitches out, and viciously fought back and cut orderly Max with a scalpel when Dr. Gordon attempted to sedate her. Kristen backed into a corner, singing the familiar children's rhyme from her dream: "Five, six, grab your crucifix..." The song's verse was finished by Nancy Thompson (with a white streak in her hair) as she entered the exam room. Nancy asked: "Where did you learn that rhyme?", then removed the scalpel from Kristen's hand and hugged her.
Nancy was briefed by Dr. Gordon about the specific group of institutionalized, surviving teens who were severely sleep-disordered - suffering from insomnia, narcolepsy, and bed-wetting. They shared a group delusion - a nightmarish "boogeyman" - and were so traumatized that they would do anything to avoid sleep. One deceased teen had cut off his eyelids to stay awake. Nancy herself was taking a sleep-depressant prescription of Hypnocil, and described the function of the song - it was designed to keep the boogeyman away. Nancy soon met some of the teen patients. Besides Kristen, there were six other teenagers there (some were introduced later) for various problems, including attempted suicides:
After interviewing Kristen's mother in her home, Nancy entered Kristen's bedroom to get the girl's packed suitcase, and was startled to see the paper mache house of her former Elm Street home. At his computer terminal that night, Dr. Gordon researched Hypnocil, learning that it was:
In Kristen's hospital bedroom as she was lying in bed, she made a charcoal pen sketch-rendering of the Elm Street house, before dozing off to sleep, for another nightmare:
Nancy awakened in her apartment's chair, but with a cut on the palm of her hand.
The next day with the paper mache house under her arm, Nancy confronted Kristen in her office about her "amazing gift" - "Have you ever done that before? Pulled someone into your dream." When she was four or five, Kristen admitted that she often had dreams and brought her dad in with her. Nancy also told her that the man in her dreams was "real."
During a group therapy session with the seven troubled adolescents, Phillip interjected that the groups' dreams were a "group psychosis, sort of a mellow mass hysteria" - they had all dreamt of Freddy, even before meeting each other. Dr. Simms dismissed the dreams as "the by-products of guilt, psychological scars stemming from moral conflicts and overt sexuality." That night in the room that Joey and Will shared after playing a game of Dungeons and Dragons, they took turns sleeping - if the sleeping person made even "one whimper," the other one would immediately awaken them.
During dinner at Springwood's only Thai restaurant, Nancy told Dr. Gordon that his patients were in "real physical danger from their dreams." She suggested "dream deprivation" by having the doctor prescribe an experimental psychoactive drug, Hypnocil, for the suicidal, surviving teenagers so that their nightmares would disappear, just until things were "under control." She professed a similarity with the teens - "I know what they're going through," and wanted to be protective of them, but the doctor refused her recommendation.
Then, Phillip experienced a troubling and deadly dream:
The doctors considered Phillip's death a "sleepwalking accident" or maybe a suicide, although Nancy and the teens knew differently - Phillip was wide-awake at the time of his death, and he had been murdered by Freddy (Taryn: "That bastard murdered him!"). Dr. Simms thought the adolescents were blaming their dreams for their own weaknesses and problems, ordered their doors locked during sleeping hours, and instituted a policy of "evening sedation" to provide them with "uninterrupted REM sleep to release all that negative energy." Nancy protested the new policy: "They'll be defenseless against their dreams." Dr. Gordon supported Nancy, by asserting that he would administer the dream suppressant Hypnocil to them: "I want these dreams stopped, till we get some answers." But he was unsure of his own decision, telling Nancy: "I hope you know what you're getting us into."
After light's out in the institution's drab TV room littered with old furniture, Jennifer was watching TV on a wall-mounted set, to avoid going to sleep and dreaming: "I can't handle the nightmare." [The films Alone in the Dark (1982) and Critters (1986) were playing.] She burned her hand with a lit cigarette to stay awake. Sometime during her TV watching, she dozed off and experienced a lethal nightmare:
At the funerals of Phillip and Jennifer, Dr. Gordon stood off to the side, where he was comforted by a mysterious nun, Sister Mary Helena (Nan Martin), who performed volunteer work at the hospital. She told him: "Only one thing can save the children. The unquiet spirit must be laid to rest. It is an abomination to God and to man."
Later at Nancy's apartment where Dr. Gordon had dinner, she showed him her Malaysian dream doll to bring good dreams. He felt discouraged in his work with the teens, now that two had died: "I'm running out of answers." She replied that maybe he was ready to hear "the truth," if he would only trust her.
In the next group therapy session, Nancy told the remaining, bewildered teens that she knew who was killing them - a horribly-burned child-murderer named Freddy Krueger with a dirty brown hat, and razors on his right hand before he died. Six years earlier, she recalled how Freddy had killed her friends and almost killed her. Nancy described why they were targeted. Their vigilante parents had burned Freddy alive:
She then described her strategy to prevent any further murders by the "creep" -- "Kristen is the key. She has a very special talent, a gift." Nancy stressed that all of the teens possessed similar special powers in their wonderful dreams - and that their powers could be used and harnessed.
Dr. Gordon then led the group in hypnosis and relaxation with a chrome pendulum device, so that Kristen could 'take' everyone in a mesmerized state into a dream. It didn't appear to work, so the group took a break - (although it had been successful):
And then the door opened on the therapy session, and Dr. Simms asked: "What's going on in here?" From her point of view, she found the group sleeping, but slowly awakening in their chairs. However, Joey was lying on the floor in a deep coma, unconscious and not breathing -- he had been kidnapped by Freddy during his sexy dream.
Dr. Simms and supervising physician Dr. Carver (Paul Kent) were upset by the unauthorized group session and its deadly consequences, as well as with staff members Dr. Gordon and Nancy Thompson - who were accused of having an entirely-failed approach to the teens (believing that their dreams were real). They were both relieved of their duties.
As Dr. Gordon packed his personal files in his car to leave, he spotted Sister Mary Helena in the bell tower in the unused wing of the hospital (since the 1940s), and pursued after her. He entered a dungeon-like room, where the nun was lighting a candle before a statue of the Virgin Mary. She called the room "purgatory" -- where the "twisted, lonely" and worst of the criminally insane had been locked up like animals. In a notorious scandal that occurred in the past, one young staff member, Amanda Krueger, was accidentally locked in there over the holidays, and the inmates kept her hidden for days: "She was raped hundreds of times." She was found barely alive, and pregnant, carrying Freddy - "the bastard son of a hundred maniacs." After describing Freddy's tragic birth, she went on to describe Krueger's improper burial:
At Joey's bedside, Nancy fiercely commanded: "Let go of him, you bastard." Slash marks appeared on Joey's bare chest, spelling: "COME AND GET HIM BITCH."
Dr. Gordon described the rantings of the mysterious nun to Nancy, and asked about Freddy's corpse: "What happened to his body?" Nancy believed he was burned to death in his boiler room by the angered parents, and then his remains were hidden - and only one man knew the location, Nancy's father, Donald Thompson (John Saxon), now a security nightwatchman. At Little Nemo's Tavern, they met with her estranged, alcoholic father, who asserted: "Fred Krueger is dead" - and he made it clear that he didn't want any further involvement. She asked about where Freddy's bones were hidden (to give him a proper burial), but he refused to help.
Back at the hospital, the teens were totally anguished and despairing that their two beloved doctors had been fired. Kristen had to be taken to the Quiet Room and sedated against her will to calm her, after she screamed at Dr. Simms: "You're killing us." By phone, Taryn notified Nancy and Dr. Gordon about Kristen's sedation in the Quiet Room, worried that "Freddy's gonna get her" when she fell asleep. Nancy sped back to join the teens at the hospital to save them from danger.
Meanwhile, Dr. Gordon compelled Mr. Thompson to accompany him on a "little scavenger hunt" - to locate Freddy's bones or remains! At a church, Dr. Gordon filled a whiskey bottle with holy water, and took a small crucifix from a baffled priest (exchanging it with his driver's license). Slightly later, Dr. Gordon and Thompson drove up to Penny Bros. Auto Salvage yard, where Thompson stated: "It's deep in the heart of the place."
At the hospital, Nancy and the remaining three teens (Taryn, Will, and Kincaid) held their "last group" sleep session, to try to link up in their dreams to free Joey - and Kristen. Nancy cautioned: "If you die in this dream, it's for real." She specified that they had to stay together to defeat Freddy. The group entered a dream state (or dreamscape):
[Meanwhile, at the junkyard deep within the stacked cars, Thompson and Dr. Gordon drove up to a junker, a 1959 red Cadillac hidden within a towering heap of rusted metal. Dr. Gordon pried open the corroded trunk with a shovel, and gazed upon an old dusty burlap sack inside. Although Thompson attempted to drive away, he realized Dr. Gordon had taken the keys, and was forcing him to stay: "You're about to attend a funeral, one that's long overdue."]
In the auto graveyard as they dug a grave, Dr. Gordon and Thompson sensed a presence - as radios, headlights, wheels, fan blades, windshield wipers and horns of junker cars came to life. Thompson ordered Dr. Gordon to "bury the f--king thing" - but as he reached for the burlap bag, a hand from the charred bones of Freddy's skeletal frame emerged. Dr. Gordon scrambled away as he was pursued and slashed by Freddy's razor-fingered hand when the entire skeleton became possessed and animated.
Thompson glared at the skeleton, recognizing it as the resurrected Freddy that he had once killed. But the creature yanked Thompson off his feet, and threw him into the metal wreckage, impaling his chest on the Cadillac's jutting tail fin (# 6 death). Dr. Gordon grabbed the shovel to strike back, but Freddy took it and propelled the doctor back into the open grave, and then began to fill the hole with loose dirt, to bury him alive. [A reference to a similar scene with actor Craig Wasson in Body Double (1984).]
Freddy returned back to the Elm Street house, where the four individuals were in a dead-end, mirrored corridor - he surrounded them with multiple cackling mirror images of himself. After Freddy had grabbed his three companions (Nancy, Kincaid, and Kristen), Joey screamed a deafening "NOOOOO!" - using his own "dream power" to foil Freddy. The mirrors exploded into fragments, and hurled the three back into the corridor, and Joey's friends were saved. Nancy celebrated with her friends: "He's gone. It's over."
She turned and saw her father in glowing gold light descending to her as a spirit, and telling her: "I've crossed over, princess." He apologized to her, professed his love, and hugged his daughter. As they embraced, Thompson became Freddy, and he stabbed Nancy in the chest with his gloved, razored hand. As he jabbed deeper, he exclaimed: "Die." (# 7 death). He then attacked Kristen, threatening: "You're mine now, little piggy" - although Nancy with her last bit of strength took Freddy's hand and stabbed him with his own glove.
At the grave site in the junkyard, Dr. Gordon awakened and crawled out of the grave hole. He pushed the heap of Freddy's skeletal bones into the grave, and sprinkled the bottle of holy water onto the bones. As the holy water hit the bones and burned them, in the dream world where Nancy was still struggling with Freddy in a death embrace, bright shafts of light poured out from the pattern of stab wounds across his body. Freddy shrieked and staggered in pain. Then, Dr. Gordon held the crucifix against the skull's forehead, while vowing: "Lay this spirit to rest" -- a cross-shaped mark burned itself into Freddy's forehead, and more blinding white light burst forth. The spirits of his victims poured forth from him, now freed from captivity, as he whirled around and became one hot ball of flame that exploded into nothingness. (Freddy's death) Kristen cradled a dying Nancy in her arms:
In the final funeral scene, mourners surrounded the casket of recently-deceased Nancy. Dr. Gordon glimpsed the nun nearby and rushed to speak to her, but she disappeared behind a large gravestone. He looked down at a headstone, marked with the name AMANDA KRUEGER, Her Name in Christ, SISTER MARY HELENA, 1907-1968. He exclaimed in horror: "Oh, my God. You were his mother."
In the epilogue, Dr. Gordon (in his home) fell asleep next to the model of the Elm Street house with Nancy's good-luck Malaysian dream doll standing guard. Suddenly, an upstairs light in the Elm Street toy house turned on, as the film went to black before the credits.
Film Notables (Awards, Facts, etc.)
This film was considered the true sequel to the original 1984 film, with the return of Heather Langenkamp and John Saxon. It also featured the debut film role of Patricia Arquette. The setting was one year after the end of the second film A Nightmare on Elm Street Part 2: Freddy's Revenge (1985), and six years after the original film, but there was no continuity or mention of the main character Jesse.
Many critics/reviewers and fans have considered the film the best of the series. One of the reasons for its success was that the story and screenplay were co-written by Wes Craven. Frank Darabont (The Shawshank Redemption (1994) and The Green Mile (1999)) also worked on the screenplay.
With a production budget of $5 million, and box-office gross receipts of $45 million (domestic).
Body Count: 7 (all on-screen, committed by Freddy Krueger). Also, the death of Freddy himself in the conclusion.
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