After the near-collasle disaster that was Freddy’s Revenge, the horror gods on high brought us Dream Warriors, the wildly fun and fantastical ride featuring some big names, rockin’ tunes, and memorable kills. Easily many fan’s favorite installment, this movie hits all the marks that a horror film should.
Kristen Parker (the adorable and amazing Patricia Arquette) has been having bad dreams, and after making a model of Nancy’s old house and scarfing down soda and raw coffee, her mother tells her to go to bed. She dreams of Freddy, who else? After waking up, she goes to the bathroom and turns on the water faucets, when they turn on her and hold her wrist as Freddy slices away. Screaming bloody murder, her mom enters the bathroom where Kristen is holding a razor blade and looking at the blood pouring from her wrist. Her mother, Elaine, being the uninvolved, country-club type, takes her to the local mental institution, though she thinks Kristen did it to get attention. The two main doctors, Dr. Gordon, and Dr. Simms, rush in to help when she begins lashing out at everyone. After cutting Max (Laurence Fishburne), the kid’s favorite orderly, she begins crying hysterically, and repeating the Freddy nursery rhyme. She can’t remember the last line, but someone else does. Enter Nancy Thompson, a graduate student intern, bent on helping these kids and their ongoing battle with Freddy. It seems she has an instant connection to Kristen, and is the only one able to calm her down.
That night, Kristen has another nightmare, but this time, she uses her power to pull Nancy into her dream for help. Freddy has turned into a giant, phallic, snake-like creature and tries to eat Kristen. Nancy stabs him in the eye, and realizes Krueger is back. The rest of the kids in the hospital, all having trouble with this nightmare man, include Phillip, Taryn, Kincaid, Will, Jennifer, and Joey. Joey has become mute, Will is in a wheelchair after a failed suicide attempt, Kincaid is an over-the-top angry teen, Jennifer wants to be an actress, Phillip is a sarcastic artist, and Taryn is a recovering drug addict. The doctors, in misguided attempts to help these kids, believe their issues are derived from “the byproducts of guilt – psychological scars stemming from moral conflicts and overt sexuality”. Yeah, okay, sure. Kincaid is often thrown in the quiet room for his outbursts, Phillip enjoys making marionette dolls, Jennifer burns herself with cigarettes, Joey is in love with a nurse on the ward, and Will is a dungeons-and-dragons type. In two nights, Phillip and Jennifer are both murdered, in two of the more memorable death scenes. At Jennifer’s funeral, Dr. Gordon encounters a mysterious nun, who seems to know exactly who Krueger is. Nancy convinces Dr. Gordon to believe her that Freddy is, in fact, real, and out to kill these kids. She wants to use Kristen’s dream power to pull them all together in one dream to finally beat Krueger, once and for all. They succeed in doing so in an unathorized group session, when Joey is lured into a room with the nurse of his dreams. She turns out to be Freddy, and is tied to the bed with tongues. He is now in a coma, and Dr. Simms and the head honcho, Dr. Carver, promptly fire Dr. Gordon and Nancy.
Dr. Gordon comes across the nun again, Sister Mary Helena. She tells him how Freddy was born because of the multiple rape of his mother, a nurse who once worked in the mental hospital. She calls him the “bastard son of 100 maniacs”, and that the only way he can be stopped is to bury his remains in consecrated ground. They come up with a plan to help the kids. Nancy and Dr. Gordon track down her father, who is the only one who knows where Krueger’s bones were hidden. He refuses at first, and has turned into a bit of an asshole. Eventually, Dr. Gordon forces him to help, as Nancy returns to the hospital to help Kristen. She has been sedated for the night and put in the quiet room for having an outburst. Nancy convinces Max to let her see the remaining kids, when they all hypnotize themselves and enter the dream with Kristen. Taryn, who is “beautiful and bad” in her dreams, confronts Freddy, but is killed with two hands full of drugs in syringes. Will, who is the Wizard Master in his dreams, is killed as well after his own powers fail him. Now, it is just Kristen, Nancy, and Kincaid. They band together to find Joey, still hanging on, unable to speak. Freddy begins to let him fall to his death, but Nancy grabs him at the last second. Kincaid, with super-human strength, pulls them both to safety, as Freddy continuously knocks the shit out of Kristen. Nancy impales Freddy with a pipe, but he has grown stronger with the souls of all the children he has killed, and prompty removes it, and begins to strangle Kincaid. Meanwhile, Dr. Gordon and Lt. Thompson have located the bones and begin to dig a grave for them. As the group tries to make their way out of the dream, they enter a hallway of mirrors. Freddy appears in all of them simultaneiously and pulls them all in, except Joey, who hides in a corner. Eventually, he can’t take it anymore, and finally shouts his first words in the whole movie, “NO!” This frees his friends and shatters all the mirrors. They believe they have finally won.
Dr. Gordon and Lt. Thompson are suddenly attacked by Freddy’s skeleton, and Thompson is killed after being impaled on some car parts. Dr. Gordon is beaten down pretty viciously, but still manages to retain the crucifix and holy water he snagged from a church on the way. Nancy and friends enter another room, when the ghost of her father appears, apologizing to her for all the bad blood between them. They hug, and just when you think all is well, he morphs into Freddy and brutally stabs her with his fingerknives. Freddy slams the door shut, cutting them off from Joey and Kincaid, and Kristen must try to fight him on her own. She is nearly killed, when Nancy, with her last bit of strength, grabs Krueger’s glove and gives him a taste of his own medicine. At the same time, Dr. Gordon is pouring holy water on Freddy’ bones, causing him to develop holes of light in his body. Eventually, he vanishes into thin air from the effects of the holy water. Kincaid and Joey bust down the door, as Nancy dies in Kristen’s arms. At Nancy’s funeral, Dr. Gordon sees the nun again, and chases her, only to come across her gravestone. She was a ghost, and her real name was Amanda Krueger….she was Freddy’s mother. Dr. Gordon, asleep in his bed, is peaceful knowing he has Nancy’s Malaysian dream doll and the house that Kristen built on his nightstand. Suddenly, the light in the model house comes on. Roll credits.
If you can’t tell from my synopsis or from seeing it yourself, this movie rocks. It rules. It is fantastic. The cast is incredible, and features cameos from Zsa Zsa Gabor and Dick Cavett, as well as the extremely addicting single, ‘Dream Warriors’, from hair band, Dokken. In fact, their music video for this song is iconic, featuring Patricia Arquette and Robert Englund, as well as scenes from the film.
Dream Warriors is smart, funny, innovative, and as I stated before, has everything a good horror film should. It is easy to see why this is a favorite amongst the fans. Unlike Freddy’s Revenge, this one had an excellent plot, sympathetic characters, a more realistic Freddy who does not want anyone to do his evil bidding for him, quoteable lines, and a cast chock full of superstars, including veteran actors Craig Wasson, John Saxon, and Priscilla Pointer, though the so-called ‘no-name’ stars are just as worthy. Hardcore fans aren’t likely to forget their names, even if they did not make it as big as Patricia Arquette and Laurence Fishburne, though I can’t say enough about Arquette. She has always been one of my favorite actresses, and she really shows her acting chops in this. Its success, in part, likely comes from the fact that Wes Craven was on board with this one, and also because of the unique setting of the film, a mental hospital. Of course, the return of Nancy, always a fan favorite and one of the original ‘final girls’, didn’t hurt. I always felt the character of Will was the original Harry Potter, and all the characters in this one had depth, which is more than I can say for many horror films, especially those in franchises. Ken Sagoes and Rodney Eastman (Kincaid and Joey) would return for The Dream Master, which I will be gushing over, I mean…reviewing, next!