Dream Warriors opens with a girl making something out paper mache and popsicle sticks. Clearly, Freddy is back and making with the torment, since we see her take the late night snack of champions – coffee grounds chased with a swig of Diet Coke. Delicious!
After Kristen’s mom comes to safely tuck her into bed, even though she’s brought some dude home for drinking and surely, other activities, Kristen drifts to sleep – but not before looking at her creation.
OMG she made a copy of Nancy’s house out of paper mache and popsicle sticks – pass the Folger’s and diet soda. Dude, when I was a kid, it was like my goal in life to make a recreation of Nancy’s house (which is a real house in LA, apparently) in art class. HOWEVER, I had fussy art teachers that insisted we learn how to needlepoint and marbelize paper bookmarks and do all sorts of things that seriously did NOT coincide with me being a ten year old horror fan.
Anyways, Kristen has this really awful dream where she’s stuck in Nancy’s house and seems to wake up, only to find herself in her bathroom, where Freddy slices her wrists open. Flashback to reality and Kristen’s left holding the razorblade in the bathroom, naturally, and off she goes to the looney bin. A rite of passage for all teenagers, I’d like to think.
So Nancy ends up at Westin Hills Psychiatric Hospital where she’s not the only one having dreams that would make grown men pee their pants in terror. Every other teenager in her unit is too, and apparently the last guy sliced his eyelids off to stay awake. (A permanent “OUCH!” for that one). She’s introduced to group therapy, where we meet the various members of the psychiatric unit.
This is Phillip, who, as you can see, has the distinctly creeptastic habit of making puppets.
We also meet Taryn, the drug addict gone straight as an arrow…
Jennifer, whose big goal after life in the psych ward is to become a famous television actress…
Will, who took a long walk off a very short pier, which landed him in a wheelchair…
Kincaid, who’s always talking about how tough he is…
And Joey, who’s mute and has a crush on the foxy nurse who restocks the linens. Awesome.
They’re supervised by super-hot Neil, and totally witchy Dr. Elizabeth…
And their male nurse? IS TOTALLY LAURENCE FISHBURNE. Check it:
Anyways, the beleaguered kids are trying to convince the adult doctors that they’re not crazy, and the kids are pretty much told they have “guilt issues” and mild group psychosis…which is cool. Except they’re all dying.
And yay, Nancy is back! Between parts I and III, it’s explained that Nancy went off to college, studied dream research, and now she’s back to intern or something at the ever-so-cheerful Westin Hills! She meets Kristen and essentially talks her down off a ledge, and later that night, when a phallic-looking Freddy monster attempts to eat Kristen in her dream, Kristen “calls” Nancy into her dream to help her, leading Nancy to realize that, well, Freddy’s back.
Which, you know, sucks for her, considering she’s been leading a nice and normal life.
But how exactly has Nancy been leading a normal life? She drops her purse accidentally in front of Attractive Doctor Neil, who picks up a prescription bottle labeled “HYPNOCIL”. Later on, Neil being the good, completely ethical doctor that he is, researches what exactly Nancy’s taking.
As you can see from Doctor Neil’s totally rockin’, super fast computer, Hypnocil is a dream suppresant. He confronts Nancy about this, and she hems and haws for a bit, before begging him to put all the Westin Hills kids on Hypnocil. Neil, like the reserved square that he is, refuses and tells her he won’t put anybody on an experimental drug.
That’s okay, though, because Phillip’s about to bite it. No one with that creepy of a hobby can survive that long in one of these movies.
As any seasoned Nightmare or horror vet can suspect, one of Phillip’s delightful creations comes to life.
There’s no non-grody way to put it, so Freddy simply slices Phillip’s tendons out and uses them to make him into a human puppet and make him walk the plank – if the plank were a long, arduous, bloody walk up to a tower, where he then cuts Phillip’s “strings” and causes Phillip to fall several stories to a splattertastic death.
To this day, I cannot hear about tendon injuries and not immediately have this spring to mind. Seriously, I curl up into the fetal position every time I see this scene. Words cannot describe how painful that would be. Shudder.
The kids are obviously shaken up by Phillip’s death and Bitchy Doctor Elizabeth orders everyone to be locked in their rooms at night and given sedatives. As you might suspect, this does not go over well, and Strangely Hot Doctor Neil decides to prescribe Hypnocil to the kids, of which Doctor Elizabeth does not approve. She tells Neil that if anything happens, it’s all his fault. Not hers.
Before they can get the Hypnocil, though, needy, neurotic Jennifer meets the dark side of television. She convinces Laurence Fishburne to let her stay up and watch TV past lights out, which results in Freddy um…becoming an extension of the television.
Freddy basically plunges her headfirst into a television set mounted on the wall.
I am sure the Aqua-Net and hair gel overdose did little to help matters, honestly.
At the funeral, Doctor Neil runs into a sour-faced nun, who talks to him briefly before he’s interrupted and he turns around to find…she’s no longer there! Desperate for answers, Nancy and Neil decide to take matters into their own hands.
So Neil and Nancy decide to do a little group sleep session to interact with the kids or something like that, and that’s where we get more in depth about this special power Kristen has to essentially control her dreams and call people into them. In Will’s dreams, he can walk; in Kincaid’s dreams, he’s super strong. Kristen can do some awesome gymnastics. I’m not sure what Joey can do, as he wanders off to find the sexy nurse of his dreams beckoning him to a room to make all his wildest dreams come true. Taryn’s super power is looking cool and carrying knives, apparently.
I know it’s shocking, but Sexy Nurse turns out to be Freddy Krueger, and while the rest of the group gets trapped in a room that’s slowly melting, Krueger kidnaps Joey and Doctor Elizabeth wakes everyone up. They discover Joey’s in a coma – and of course, the blame? Laid right at poor, befuddled Neil’s doorstep.
Nancy, meanwhile, vows to rescue Joey from Krueger, who I didn’t even know could write. Huh!
Neil has an episode with the creepy nun – Sister Mary Helena – who tells him that Krueger won’t rest because he hasn’t been buried in consecrated ground. She describes Freddy’s conception, which isn’t pleasant (a nun accidentlly locked in the asylum was raped repeatedly by crazy people, thus creating Freddy). Nancy divulges that the only person still alive that she knows of who knows the location of Freddy’s remains is her dad, who is, understandably, reluctant to leave the comfort of a steady stream of Johnnie Walker Black and bar food to dig up a serial killer he roasted a couple decades before.
Neil somehow convinces him, and Nancy takes off to help the kids sleep-rescue Kristen from being killed by Freddy in her sleep, while Neil and the staggering dad take off to go bury Krueger…again, with Neil making a pit stop to hijack some holy water from a church.
Nancy, Will, Taryn and Kristen go in to save Joey, but Will and Taryn go down for the count. We establish pretty early on that Will’s your prototypical nerd, right down to the Dungeons and Dragons love, and in his dreams, he’s a Wizard Master. (Who also walks.)
Basically, he dresses like the Count from Sesame Street and makes green sparks shoot from his hands, but Freddy just quickly stabs him.
And Taryn? Taryn gets into a knife fight with Freddy, but he makes short work of her too.
Freddy turns his hands into syringes and pumps Taryn full of drugs. Owwwwww.
Back with Neil and Nancy’s dad, they’ve arrived at the junkyard where the Elm Street parents stashed the bones of Freddy Krueger, and they begin digging the grave. Nancy’s dad is obviously jumpy, which is made more so by the fact that the bones of Freddy reanimate and impale Nancy’s dad on a sharp piece of metal, and bang Now Probably Concussed Doctor Neil on the head.
But now Freddy’s got more important things to do, like his regular line of work: killing people in whackadoodle dreams, so he heads back to dreamland to polish off the rest of the group, who have united and managed to save Joey from Krueger as he disappeared to go take care of business in the real world.
He masquerades as Nancy’s dad and then stabs her in the stomach. Dude, that’s low!
Right as it looks like Freddy may win, Neil turns out to only be semi-concussed and manages to push Krueger’s now lifeless bag of bones into the makeshift grave, say a prayer and douse the remains with holy water, which leads to some interesting special effects.
So, Freddy’s dead, but now, so is Nancy, as she dies in Kristen’s arms. Boo!
At the funeral, Neil sees Sister Mary Helena walk away and follows her, only to discover that her real name at least, wasn’t Mary Helena.
Man, if your own mother comes back from death to tell people how to kill you? You’ve got issues.
And we end with Doctor Neil, who has INEXPLICABLY SAVED KRISTEN’S PAPER MACHE HOUSE – seriously, who would save such a creepy thing?
But not before we get the final “gotcha” moment:
So…why is this one the best?
Well, for starters, you get resolution to the issue of what happened to Nancy. Even if it’s a resolution you don’t necessarily love, it gives you solid answers. They bring back the strong female lead in Kristen, and they give you survivors you actually care about in Kristen, Joey and Kincaid. The deaths are morbidly cool and the special effects are well done. It takes the original permise of the franchise and gives it meat on the bones in the sense of having “dream powers” while remaining true to the original. It remains scarier than the original, I think, because it makes the kids helpless in reality and in their dreams. They’ve all been locked up in a psychiatric hospital because everyone thinks they’re crazy, forcing them to live at the whim of adults who “know best”, and their dreams are terrorized by the crazy toasted man.
It’s the finest of any of the sequels and I believe that’s due to Craven’s involvement, which shows. Craven wouldn’t be involved with any of the sequels until New Nightmare, which is less sequel and more meta, but they all wear a little thin without his brainpower behind it.