I’ve had this paperback called The Nightmares on Elm Street: Parts 1, 2, 3: The Continuing Story for many years. I don’t remember when or where I got it, but I can hardly remember ever not having it. I don’t think I got it when it was brand new, but either way, it has followed me throughout many moves and different states, but somehow I had never bothered to actually read it. I don’t know why, but it has always just sat on a shelf or in a drawer.
One day this year, I decided it was time set aside all the fine literature on my to-read list and and finally just read A Nightmare On Elm Street 1 – 3 (and a bonus story about The Life and Death of Freddy Krueger) condensed into a 216-page novel. It was practically guaranteed to be entertaining, and it was indeed.
Reading the first two stories was enjoyable enough. They were quite familiar, and while there were some occasional differences from the films and the odd character insight not present on screen, there weren’t many big surprises. Dream Warriors on the other hand was a whole different ballgame.
Reading the novelization of the third film is essentially like experiencing a remake, and in some ways, dare I say, it was even more thrilling than the movie.
The entire book was written by Jeffrey Cooper, and according to the front cover, was based on the screenplays by Wes Craven, David Chaskin, and Wes Craven and Bruce Wagner. As you may or may not know, the Dream Warriors script went through some changes before making it to the screen.
NightmareOnElmStreetFilms.com has both the original Craven/Wagner script and the later re-write by Chuck Russell and Frank Darabont available here.
After finishing the novelization, I gave the Craven/Wagner script a quick read, as it was what the novelization was supposedly based on. Indeed many of the unfamiliar scenes of the novelization were present in this script, though there are still a lot of differences between the two. Some parts of the novelization are neither present in the original script (at least this version I read, which says “first draft” on it) nor in the finished film. I may take a closer look at the original screenplay in a future article, but for now, I’m just going to focus on the novelization. Either way, if you’re a fan of the film (and I assume that you are), I highly recommend reading both. You get two very different Dream Warriors experiences that are both different than the beloved film.
Without further ado, here are some things about the novelization that are different than the film.
The Freddy Snake
Kirsten’s dreams in the novelization differ significantly than in the movie, but she does still meet a Freddy snake. In the book, however, the room is filled with water and Freddy is more of a sea serpent.
The Freddy Dog
Not only is there a Freddy snake in the Dream Warriors novelization, but there’s also a Freddy dog. During one of the dream sequences, Nancy and Kirsten are together and are confronted by what is described as a massive German shepherd with red and green-striped fur and the “leering, burned” face of Freddy. He chases them into the nightmare house while drooling before turning into Freddy proper. As they enter, they see Jennifer’s bloody face being devoured by maggots in a firebox.
Taryn Breathes Fire
In the film, Taryn is a young woman trying to move past her drug problem, and her special power is a punk rock attitude(?). I mean, she’s beautiful and bad. It’s not hard to believe these traits turned out not to be much of a match for Freddy. In the book, on the other hand, she could breathe fire, which seems much more helpful in a battle situation. Granted, she’s still tricked into thinking Freddy is her grandma before he slashers her face and murders her, but at least she had a cool power (even if she squandered it).
In the novelization, when the titular dream warriors are first discovering their dream powers, and Taryn is breathing fire and whatnot, Kincaid discovers that he can fly. Again, this is probably a more helpful skill than bending chair legs, but much like Taryn, he never really takes advantage of the power, so it turns out to be just as useless.
Read our interview with Kincaid here.
A Tamer Puppet Sequence
In the book, Phillip is still puppeted by Freddy as he sleepwalks to his demise, but we don’t get the disgusting marionette imagery that we do in the movie, and it was frankly a pretty disappointing read. I was afraid the rest of the print version would follow suit. Boy, was I wrong.
Jennifer’s death scene is essentially the same as it is in the movie, though she doesn’t see Zsa Zsa Gabor on the Dick Cavett Show, and when Freddy emerges out of the television, he doesn’t say, “Welcome to prime time, bitch!” That’s because Robert Englund made that one up. In the book, he says instead, “Heeeere’s Freddy!” and you can almost feel a tumbleweed blow by your feet until we get a nice gruesome description of Jennifer’s demise:
With that, Freddy’s powerful arms jerked Jennifer forward, ramming her head through the TV screen with tremendous force, crushing her skull as thick glass shattered and the picture tube imploded in a sparking, hissing mess of brain, glass, and glowing phosphors.
Max found Jennifer’s body a few seconds later, her bloody legs dangling limply from the front of the set. He managed to call downstairs for help before rushing to the bathroom to puke up his guts.
Another difference in this scene is that instead of Freddy’s head emerging from the top of the television, his face simply fills the screen.
Laredo and His Dead Brother
The Will character’s name is Laredo, and he’s not the wheelchair-bound wizard master that we’re accustomed to, nor are there any dream wheelchairs of death. Laredo does play D&D and whatnot, but his powers are also cooler than they end up being on screen. In the book, Freddy appears to him in the dream world as his dead seven-year-old brother in a red and green striped bathing suit, blaming him for letting him drown.
It’s actually pretty reminiscent of the scene in IT in which Pennywise appears as Georgie while the Losers Club members are in the sewer and blames Bill for his death. I don’t remember if that scene was in Stephen King’s novel or not, but the timing is interesting as IT was published in 1986 and the original Dream Warriors script, which also features the scene in question, was penned in ’86. The IT miniseries, which definitely featured the scene, debuted in 1990. I’m not saying the two have anything to do with each other. It’s just interesting.
Anyhow, Laredo is not fooled by Freddy’s ruse, and rather than succumb, kicks his dead little brother in the nuts (the word “nuts” is actually in the script). Laredo then turns into a fire-breathing dragon in the novelization (it’s more of a giant gargoyle in the script), and Freddy turns into a large crow to fly away and avoid the fire. The Freddy crow then pecks the Laredo dragon in the eyes, but the Laredo dragon turns into a big net to catch the bird. The Freddy bird then turns into a blob and seeps through the holes in the net, and disappears.
For a moment, Laredo is satisfied that he somehow won the battle before Freddy impales him with is own sword and sends him into a laughing pit of fire that chars him to the bone. Stupid Laredo.
I don’t know about you, but I think this scene would have been a great deal more satisfying than Will’s demise in the movie. Especially considering that it would have certainly been all practical and from the same crew that gave us the movie’s other wonderful effects, such as the Freddy snake. I can only imagine that budget and time were at play here.
Joey Gets More Than Tongue-Tied
As you know, in the movie, Joey is seduced by a nurse at the hospital, who turns out to be Freddy, who then ties his hands and feet to the bed posts with tongues. Joey is then suspended over a pit of hell fire before Freddy slices a message on his torso. Ultimately, Joey survives the film and meets his demise in the follow-up, but originally, he wasn’t so lucky.
In the novelization, which borrows from the original script, there was no nurse, but a similar scene played out with Joey and a girl he knew since junior high, whom he had always fantasized about. The girl of course turns into Freddy and his tongue goes into Joey’s mouth and pops out one of his eyes from the inside before wrapping around and pushing the other eye inward. Joey is tied to the bed, but in this version, he is stretched until he explodes in a bloody mess.
Eat Shrimp and Die
Joey isn’t the only one who survives the film, but suffers a different fate in the novelization (and the original script). Fan favorite Kincaid, I’m sorry to say, also meets his demise, but not before grabbing a handful of shrimp and blasting Freddy with a sub-machine gun.
In the novelization, he’s with Kirsten and Neil in the dreamworld dealing with Freddy before they seem to crash into reality into the middle of a high-class party Kirsten’s parents are hosting. Allow me to share another excerpt:
Everyone seemed to be all right except for a few minor scrapes and bruises. Kincaid had already snatched a handful of shrimp from a broken dish on the floor and was studying the house and its well-dressed occupants with admiring eyes.
“Some party!” he said.
Shortly thereafter, they find Kirsten’s dad’s gun collection, and Kincaid grabs a sub-machine gun and shoots Freddy up. The group leaves the party through some kind of portal back to the hospital. Freddy grabs Kincaid, however, before he can get all the way through the portal, and as a result, he is split in half. This scene is also in the original screenplay, but is much more graphic as Freddy says, “Your asshole belongs to me, Kincaid,” before shoving his claw up Kincaid’s rectum and out through is mouth.
Kirsten’s mom also meets a grisly demise during the party scene. Just after Kincaid has his way with the shrimp, Freddy shows up and slashes her across the abdomen, disemboweling her before sticking his face into her exposed viscera and eating it.
In the novelization (and the original script), Dr. Simms’ name is Dr. Maddalena, and she too meets her end as Freddy enters the real world. Just after they get back to the hospital after Kincaid’s death, Freddy decapitates her with his glove.
Nancy and Neil
In the book (as well as the original script), Nancy and Neil have much more of a romantic relationship. There are some scenes in the script that aren’t even in the book, but they have a lot more alone time together, and sleep together. In fact, the story ends with Neil being eager to sleep so he can see Nancy in his dreams (she dies in this version too).
Nancy’s Father and Freddy’s Mother
Both Nancy’s father and Freddy’s mother play substantial roles in the finished movie, but beyond passing references, they have very little to do with the events in the novelization. Nancy’s father does have more of a role in the original script, so I’m not sure why he’s absent from the novelization. The junkyard sequence with Freddy’s skeleton is completely absent.
Lackin’ the Dokken
The worst part of the novelization is the troubling lack of Dokken, which is such a critical element of the finished film. There are no references to Kirsten listening to Dokken or anyone wearing Dokken clothing. We should consider ourselves lucky that this problem was addressed in the finished product and perfected in the Dream Warriors music video.
There other minor differences here and there throughout the novelization, and I highly recommend that any fan pick up a copy. Even beyond just having a cool collector’s item, you’ll have an easy-to-read piece of entertainment that gives you a different (and somehow gorier in some ways) version of a horror classic.