Monday, June 9, 2014

A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: The ORIGINAL Script!

Had Wes Craven had his way, we could’ve ended up with a very, very different movie. Just how different, you may be wondering? Read on, Freddy fanatics…


I’m going to tell you kids something you already know: “A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: The Dream Warriors” is pretty fucking awesome. With all of the hilarious Freddy quips, inventive deaths, big name stars (Morpheus and Patricia Arquette among them!), rockin’ Dokken tunes and a screenplay that’s both energetic and spooky, not only do I consider “Elm Street 3” to be the best of the Freddy movies, as far as I’m concerned, it’s the only Elm Street movie. It’s a film that struck a near-perfect balance between the series’ early, pure horror roots and its latter, self-parodying excesses; as such, it’s one of the most revered slasher flicks of the 1980s, and for very, very good reason.

That said, there’s something that’s always kinda’ peeved me about the film...or rather, the film’s poster. For one thing, the kids represented on the flyer don’t really look anything at all like the kids in the movie (where’s the platinum haired new wave rocker chick and the dude in a denim jacket swinging a mace, guys?), and then, there’s that little two-story ranch home near the bottom of the poster. See it just sitting there, being all ominous and spooky, all out in the woods and stuff? Sure, there’s a mechanic in the final film about a papier-mâché house that looks similar to that, but beyond that, the on-poster home has precious little to do with the film itself.

Now, I’m no cinema historian, but if I didn’t know any better, whoever designed the film’s poster looks like he or she based his or her work on the film’s original script. You kids know all about the original “Elm Street 3,” don’t you? You know, the one Wes Craven and pals ironed out sometime in 1986, with a totally different plotline, redesigned characters and totally different deaths and creep out sequences? Well, if not, perhaps its time I gave you fellows a look at what could’ve been, no?

Picture it: 1985. The second “Elm Street” movie had just been released, and it, for lack of a better term, sucked. An executive mandate for the first “Elm Street” movie pretty much wrested the series away from original director and Freddy creator Wes Craven, whom had nothing to do with part 2. Although the second film did make quite a bit of money, pretty much everybody and their mama knew it wasn’t anywhere near as good as the first flick (despite some hilariously blunt homoerotic overtones), so the guys at New Line Cinema said “you know what? How about we give Wes a call, and ask him if he wants to help out with part 3.”

While Wes Craven didn’t end up directing the actual film, he did have a hand in its production and its script. Before Frank Darabont and director Chuck Russell punched up the script (effectively, giving us the movie we all know and love today), Wes Craven and Bruce Wagner were hired by New Line to deliver an initial script, and hells a poppin’, what they sent in was WAY different than the final filmed product. While there are some similarities between the original script and the final script, there are a ton of changes, which really affected the entire tone of the story; ultimately, the original “Dream Warriors” script was a bit darker and more gruesome, with a greater emphasis on Nancy as a sort of vigilante defender. Oh, and it completely rewrites the entire Freddy mythos, so for those of you that are heavy into canon, you might want to pay attention here.

So, what was the original script like? Here, dear readers, is my official Cliff Notes version of the ORIGINAL “A Nightmare on Elm Street 3”…

First up, there’s a pre-credits scene featuring a fetal Freddy literally ripping through his mother’s stomach in a cabin out in the middle of nowhere. This is followed up by a montage of  “missing kids” posters across America, with the camera panning in on a flyer for a missing redheaded girl.

Then, we jump to Nancy, driving down some country back roads, listening to radio reports about teen suicide trends. Hey, she sees that one redheaded girl from the missing poster, just standing on the side of the road! Naturally, she lets her hitch a ride with her.

Of course, Nancy gets a flat tire. Sans a spare, she wanders out into an open field, where she encounters the same cabin from the intro. And outside it,  there are kids in little tuxes and party dresses skipping rope and singing the iconic “One, Two” nursery rhyme. As any normal human being would do, Nancy approaches the home, as the kids scatter into the darkness. There’s a bunch of tricycles on the porch. And the wind chime has razor fingers on it!

Inside, she finds an elevator with floor numbers reaching up into the 5,000s. She steps in, gets trapped, and it drops down at like a million miles per hours. And it also goes sideways, like the “Tower of Terror” and shit. Then, Freddy’s claw hand attacks her, but she fends it off. Then the HELL-avater stops, and she encounters both a giant tricycle and her elderly dad -- you know, the police guy from the first movie. He gives her the old “We barbecued his ass way back when speech,” pointing to Freddy’s charred skeletal remains. But there’s only a hand left? Hey, where did the rest of his flame-broiled zombie ass go, he asks?

Then we jump back to the redhead sleeping in Nancy’s car. A gigantic snake (with Freddy’s glove for a head!) yanks her -- by the mouth -- through the windshield. She’s sucked up into an oak tree (not an Elm tree, the script specifically tells us) where…well, I suppose its safe to assume not much good can happen.

So back in the cabin, Nancy and her dad chase Freddy’s hand around, until it squeezes through a barred window. He then pulls his eyelids out like Stretch Armstrong and SLICES THEM OFF with a razor-blade lined finger! Then, Nancy wakes up. Oh, I get it -- she was dreaming in her car the entire time! Enter Neil Guinness, a doctor who just conveniently happened to be out in the middle of goddamn nowhere.

Apparently, Nancy fell asleep at the wheel, and crashed her car in a ditch. He checks her out…medically speaking, of course. There’s blood all over Nancy’s car. Apparently, she hit an animal…yes, that’s right, an animal. Guinness said she can stay at his place. Nancy accepts his offer, because she’s the most reasonable person in the history of the world.

At Guinness’ place, Nancy talks about how she’s tried to find her dad, who apparently went AWOL after the first movie. He said there’s this house he’s been trying to find for awhile, though…

So, Guinness, being creepy as hell, peers at Nancy while she sleeps. He notices her RX meds -- something called  Hypnocil. A psychiatrist by trade, he decides to flip through some medical books. It’s some sort of non FDA-approved experimental drug that’s supposed to suppress night terrors or something.

Nancy seems to have a nightmare, with the hitcher from earlier flying through the window. She’s had her hair ripped off her head, showing a bloody scalp a la that one hooker in “Warlock: the Armageddon.”  THEN THE HAIR COMES ALIVE AND ATTACKS HER! Guinness watches Nancy writhe in bed with the invisible force, so he intercedes. He slaps her, and then his fucking jaw falls off and his skin starts melting into putty. Uh-oh…

With a four foot wide mouth, Guinness starts to “digest” Nancy whole (similar to the snake scene from the official ANOES3.) Right before he eats her head, the snake monster’s head transforms into Freddy’s. Then the REAL Neil arrives and wakes her up. She has a fit about the drugs not working anymore. She looks down at her hands, and there’s some charred, flesh-like shit underneath her cuticles…

Next scene, Neil and Nancy drive back to the field, and what do you know, her car is gone. She notes an ominous looking tree, surrounded by ominous looking birds. Last night, she said, was the first time she’s had a dream of any kind in five years.

Neil and Nancy arrive at the hospital. There, he encounters Kristen, a young woman who had just attempted suicide. What unfurls next is pretty much the same scene from the NOES3 finished product, with Nancy singing the nursery rhyme to “calm” Kristen down. From there, we’re introduced to the denizens of the hospital’s “special adolescent ward”: There’s Jennifer, who has a knack for burning herself with cigarettes; Taryn, a black girl that likes to draw pictures of fire; and of course, Kincaid who is pretty much the same character as he is in the final product. By the way: I cannot tell you how much pride I feel knowing that the actor that played him GRADUATED from the same university I did.

Neil and Nancy talk for a bit. For whatever reason, kids from out of town seem to be flocking to the county to commit suicide. And all of the survivors appear to have sleeping disorders.

Hey, they found Nancy’s car…suspended 200 feet in the air over a grain silo, for some reason! And it’s been slashed to shit, by something…

So, Nancy gets hired by Neil as an assistant. They go to Kristen’s parents’ place, and they are complete yuppie scumbags who only care about tennis. They say they’re going to send her to a boarding school in New York. Yeah, that’ll fix her. Nancy goes into Kristen’s room. She finds a photo of Kristen…and the hitchhiker from her dreams!

Then, the local cops find the hiker’s body in the trees. Nancy decides to investigate the mysterious cabin…which wouldn’t you believe it, just so happens to exist in “the real world,” too…and as soon as she steps into the kitchen, SHE SINKS INTO AN UNDERWATER ABYSS! There, she sees her dad, with bloody eyes, at the bottom. She goes upstairs and encounters “baby Freddy,” which turns into the full grown version we’re all more accustom to. A Mini-chase begins, and Nancy escape from house, and Freddy promises to “shit” on her corpse someday.

By the way; the film doesn’t take place in Springwood, Ohio, the canonical setting of the series. As to where the movie textually takes place, the script never tells us.

So Nancy runs to Neil. He tells her the last Freddy dream was all a hallucination. The cops say the cabin out back is the old “Krueger place,” which some locals think is haunted. In fact, just last week, some dude locked himself inside it and tried to burn it down. And hey, he’s one of Neil’s patients, wouldn’t you know it? Holy shit, that lunatic that tried to burn the place down? IT’S NANCY’S DAD! Somehow, he blinded himself in the blaze. He tells Nancy that the house has to be destroyed, because its some sort of metaphysical portal that allows Freddy to enter people’s dreams or some shit like that.

ENTER Joey and Laredo. Joey is a frail kid with spasms who has built a near perfect replica of the Krueger cabin. Laredo is some long-haired Dungeons and Dragons dweeb. We also meet Phillip, whom we are told “sleepwalks.” So, Phil ends up getting hoisted by Freddy, kinda’ like Phil in the final print. Only, he’s not strung up like a puppet, he’s just being kinda’ carried down the hallway, I suppose. Freddy walks him right through a wall, and straight into the path of an oncoming ambulance.

There’s a group meeting after Phil’s death, and the psych department director is a real bitch. Neil thinks all the kids are experiencing “delayed stress syndrome.” Kristen undergoes an EEG. Nancy thinks she sees Kristen disappear while being probed, but Neil thinks she’s still hallucinating. The next day, Kristen’s parents check her out of the hospital.

Cue Jennifer’s death. It’s virtually the same as it is in the movie, only sans the “Welcome to prime time, bitch!” line.

Kristen returns to school, with bandaged wrists, and all of the snobby girls make fun of her. In psych class, they’re having a convenient lecture about dreaming, and Deimos, and the dream world being a interphase between life and death and shit. Kristen falls asleep, and in her dream, yanks one of the tops off the bitchy girls. Except Kristen really does yank the girls’ top off in class, and it’s all funny and stuff.

Next scene, Nancy looks like she’s going to set the old Krueger house ablaze. A cop and his German Shepherd show up, though and prevent her, so she goes back to the ward to probe her daddy for advice. Her dad tells her the only way to get the job done is to burn the house from the inside, and with the help of some “dream warriors,” too.

Back to Kristen. In her room, she’s looking at some St. Girard Catholic School flyers when all of a sudden she develops stigmata AND FLIES THROUGH HER BEDROOM WINDOW IN A JESUS CHRIST POSE. She’s literally flown to New York and through the school, where all of the girls have bloody arm bandages, too. She winds up in the old Krueger house, where Freddy “crosses” himself and blood and shit comes out. She cries to Nancy, who is awake, and gets sucked through a portal in her mattress.

Nancy finds herself in Kristen’s dream, just in time to make the save. Right before Fred gets them, they both wake up in Kristen’s bed. “We have to talk,” Nancy says.

So, the two go back into Dreamland, to burn down the Krueger house. However, they end up attacked by a GERMAN SHEPHERD with FREDDY COLORED FUR AND A FREDDY HEAD! Kristen pulls Kincaid into the dream, and he punches Freddy. Freddy gets all big and stuff and then the trio wake up in the hospital, where the psych director is really, really peeved…and not really asking any questions about how THEY ALL ended up in the secured facility through the apparent magic of teleportation.

In the next scene, Nancy and Neil have sex -- and trust me, it’s about as clumsily written as you’d expect a love scene penned by the dude who made “The Last House on the Left” would be. Nancy has a dream that all of the dead kids offed earlier in the film approach her and ask her to kill Freddy for them. She wakes up. She goes to the hospital, and her dad tells her that all the kids in the hospital are “dream warriors” that have gathered for a final battle against Freddy. They escape into a group meeting, and all of the kids “vanish” during some sort of meditation ritual. Neil can’t believe his eyes!

They awaken on some mystical hilltop, all transformed into real “Dream Warriors.” Joey is now all muscular and shit, for example. Nancy gives them a Patton speech about why they’ve been assembled…a “Seven Samurai,” basically, to kill Freddy. A door literally appears out of nowhere, leading to Freddy’s home, presumably. They all chant “We’re home!” before entering the great unknown…

Back at the hospital, there’s a massive manhunt going on. At one point, Nancy’s dad -- no longer usable in the Dream World, we were told earlier -- runs across the lawn, on fire and shit. Before he dies, he tells Neil that he has to physically go to the Krueger house and burn it down.

In dream world, the kids TRY to set the Krueger house on fire, but nothing happens. So, they all have Molotov cocktails, saying shit about how they’re going to get Freddy. Taryn gets distracted, though, by her “Grandma’s” voice. Of course, it’s Freddy, who yells “Grandma, your black ass!” and EATS her alive with his torso, which has “The Thing” teeth now. “Sometimes, you’re hard to stomach,” Freddy quips.

Joey gets it next. He walks into a room that turns into your typical high school girl's dorm, where he meets up with one of the girls at school he used to have a crush on. She kisses him, but her tongue turns into a snake and rips his goddamn eyeballs out. Then Freddy TURNS INTO A BED and rips his arms and legs off. Some gruesome shit right there, for sure.

Then Neil shows up at the ranch and quotes Shakespeare. Then he looks at the wind chime, which is now made out of human fingers! He goes in, and cuts off one of his fingers, and then puts it back on. Which, I guess, means he’s officially in the dream world now. And Freddy puts out the house fire by simply opening his mouth and spraying the flames with water.

Now, we come to Laredo’s death, and holy shit, this would’ve been something. Freddy shows up disguised as Laredo’s little brother, and tries to guilt trip him about his drowning. Laredo, displaying more sense than anyone in the movie thus far, kicks his “brother” in the balls and says he ain’t falling for that shit, Holmes. And realizing that he can do anything in dreamland, HE TRANSFORMS  INTO A TEN FOOT TALL GARGOYLE! Freddy responds by transforming into A GIANT CROW, to which Laredo responds by transforming into a giant fucking net. And then, Freddy jumps out with a post-hole digger(?!?), screams “screw you,” and he’s dead. Needless to say, it would’ve been a hoot to see how Kevin Yagher and pals would’ve made this one come to life; and considering how shitty the “transformative” battle sequence from the second “Mortal Kombat” movie turned out (which came out A DECADE after this film was released), it’s a pretty safe bet we would’ve seen ourselves some Grade-A lame-oh special effects here.

So, we’re down to Neil, Nancy, Kristen and Kincaid. The script says Kincaid spit’s a giant clam at Freddy (a shellfish or a booger, I’m not sure) and they napalm his ass with Molotov cocktails. Kristen manages to yank everybody out of the dream right before a fire incinerates them in dream world…

…and they wake up RIGHT IN THE MIDDLE of her parents’ big soiree. And of course, Freddy follows them into the real world, and we’ve got some CRAZY SHIT coming our way. Freddy kills a ton of guests as collateral damage, and the kids run into Kristen’s dad’s TROPHY ROOM where he has a ton of guns and shit. Kincaid grabs an AR-14 and goes Al Capone on Freddy, but it doesn’t really daze him. The four try to dream teleport once more, and they wind up back at the mental institution. That is, everybody except Kincaid, who is STUCK IN A WALL between the real world (Kristen’s parents’ place) and the dream plane! Freddy then gives Kincaid a razor claw colonoscopy, with his glove popping out of his mouth. Through the aperture, Freddy’s head turns into a crocodile, and he BITES OFF THE HEAD of the bitchy psych director!

“Are we dreaming, or is this real?” Nancy asks. We as viewers have no idea at this point. The surviving three then find themselves back at the ranch home. Freddy calls Neil a “faggot” and knocks him out with a Dhalsim punch. Freddy calls Nancy and Kris the “c-word,” and a boiler room chase ‘tis on. Eventually, Nancy remembers how she beat him in the first movie -- by pretending that he’s not real -- and sure enough, it makes Freddy burst into flames.

In comes Nancy’s dad, all burned up and shit. Of course, its Freddy in disguise, but unlike in the final movie, Nancy KNOWS it’s not really her dad and stabs Fred with a shard of metal. Unfortunately, it also allows Fred to stab her, mortally wounding her. Kristen gets a pre-death lecture from Nancy, and Kristen promises to dream her away to a magical fantasy realm. With the house in flames, Kris drags Neil out.

So, the house burns to the ground, revealing a newer house, circa the 1940s. Apparently, its created a time loop, sending Kristen back to Freddy’s birth. She finds fetal Freddy, slams him up against a wall a few times and stabs him with his own claw blade thingy.

Flash forward a few months, and Neil and Kris are having diner. Apparently, Neil gets to visit Nancy nocturnally now. She bids him adieu, and there’s the little replica of the Krueger house Joey made. And then, right before the credits roll, we see a light mysteriously flick on inside the prop…followed by an ominous metal scratching sound.

So, uh, yeah, there’s a lot of changes there, no? I guess, mechanically, it’s the same film, but the characters (especially Nancy’s dad) and especially the chronology of the Freddy mythos are totally different. Whereas the latter films established Freddy as an actual human being (albeit, one that’s the alleged bastard son of a thousand maniacs), in this film, it’s VERY clear that Freddy was never a “real” human being at all, instead, being some kind of murderous mutant, claw handed freak that, I guess, has always lurked in the shadows. Of course, that opens up a huge timeline paradox; if Freddy has always been this mutant freak-o, then doesn’t that completely contradict the entire mythos established by the first film? I mean, shit, the very first scene in that one was Freddy assembling his claw hand, and here, the movie is telling us that it was something Freddy was born with. The part about Freddy being a molester and getting burned and shit remains canon, but its seriously skewed by the re-invention of Freddy’s background; I’m not saying it’s a complete plot hole, but it certainly muddies what was, up to that point, a fairly cohesive character origin story.

I actually liked Nancy taking on the vigilante role in the film, and I thought the dynamic of her and her loony asylum-bound dad working together to fight Freddy would’ve been awesome. Hey, it’s better than just using him as a drunk that gets killed by a shovel, I suppose. Overall, I also liked the “Dream Warriors” as assembled in this film more than I did the final product “Warriors” -- they are largely the same characters, but the minor tweaks, I thought, really created a more interesting cast.

Furthermore, I really liked the retooled bit players, especially Nancy’s love interest, who comes off as a bit more of a jerk here. I also fucking LOVED the idea of making Kristen’s parents super yuppie scumbag don’t-give-a-fuck socialites, and the “Freddy crashes the party scene” would’ve been all sorts of awesome. I also liked the psych director character, who was excised out of the final shooting script; she definitely made for a great “sub-villain,” of sorts.

The death scenes in the original script I thought were way better than the death scenes we got in the final film -- although as stated above, I’m not sure how good they would’ve looked using contemporary technologies. All in all, the deaths just seemed more gruesome and vicious, and the idea of hearing Freddy yell “Grandma, your black ass!” would’ve been the funniest thing in the history of anything.

As far as the Catholic imagery, I guess it would’ve been cool, even if that “crucifix” nightmare scene would’ve likely looked like shit on the Silver Screen. There’s also a ton of iconography about Deimos and the blind -- an allusion to Greek mythology, almost assuredly -- but it really doesn’t lead to anything too noteworthy. And the ending, I think, set up the series for a new franchise tandem team -- Neil and Kristen -- with Nancy probably in line to return as a “Dream Angel,” sort of a good version of Freddy Krueger, as was a plotline in the old “Elm Street” Marvel comics.

Of course, the “Elm Street 3” we got was just flat out awesome, so I can’t complain too much about the heavy script changes that went on from draft one to the finished product. Alas, in an alternate reality somewhere, you can rest happy, knowing that there exists -- somewhere in the multiverse -- an “Elm Street 3” featuring Freddy Krueger as a giant bird. Lord knows, that helps me sleep a little better, each and every evening…

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