Welcome to Written in BLOOD! This monthly series will take a look at the long-lost novelizations of some of horror’s finest films! Sometimes these novelizations stay very true to the final product, and sometimes they go completely and absolutely bonkers! Either way, we will examine the details and the subplots written in these books that add to the stories we already know and love.
I want to do a little exercise with you. Ok? Ok. Sit back, wherever you are right now, and close your eyes. Don’t do anything silly like peeking, either (I’ll know if you do, for The Eye of Tyler the Terrible few can endure). Now that you’re sufficiently scared and sitting back with your eyes closed, think about A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors.
What are some of the most memorable moments in the film for you? Is it the marionette-murder of poor little Phillip? How about the carving of a comatose Joey’s stomach with the infamous “COME AND GET HIM BITCH”? Is it the famous “In my dreams I’m beautiful, and BAD” line that a mohawked Taryn gives to the other Warriors? if you’ll give me one more guess, I’d say that it’s got to be all the stop-motion fighting between Neil, Nancy’s dad Donald and Freddy’s charred bones. There are dozens of iconic scenes that pop into your brain when you think of the film, so it doesn’t really matter which ones you choose. Now that you have all of your favorite parts of the film locked in your mind, open your eyes. Thank you for participating.
What if I told you that the novelization for the film contains NONE of these iconic scenes, and that it actually has very little to do with the movie at all?
It’s true. The novelization for the film was written by and tacked on to the end of a larger anthology called The Nightmares on Elm Street. It contained the stories of the first three films and even had an extra chapter at the end that gave a little insight into Freddy’s origins. Due to how long it takes to get a book printed and on bookshelves, the story for Dream Warriors was written based solely on the first draft script outline from Wes Craven. This helps explain why the entire story is fit into a snug 56 pages.
After Craven turned in his draft, the entire film was re-written and changed by incoming director Chuck Russell and Frank Darabont. The changes that these two made weren’t smiled upon by Craven, but he bravely endured the humiliation by receiving an Executive Producer credit and a metric ton of cash. Russell and Darabont, for their part, were trying to make a lighter movie than what was originally planned and written. This gave us a funnier Freddy, which directly led to his pop culture explosion in the late 1980’s. A lot of what they changed was for the best and made for a better film, with one major exception.
Since I can’t list the differences between the novelization and the film (because everything is different, and my editors would kill me if I turned in a 12,000 word editorial), I’m going to highlight a specific scene that I wish would have made the migration from book to film. I’m going to drop a SPOILER WARNING here for those of you who are wanting to hop on eBay and pick up a copy of The Nightmares. Real-talk, though, you should keep reading anyway. Both the book and the film are old enough to have bald spots and lower back pain, and this scene doesn’t have a profound effect on the main storyline of the film. Now that the real-talk is over, we are going to look at the scene that involves poor little Joey and how his horniness gets him in major dream-trouble.
Joey’s Bedroom Boner
In the film version of Dream Warriors, Joey is separated from the group by being super horny and following the hot nurse he helped pick up some towels earlier into a vacant room. When they get in there, she proceeds to get nekid and Joey, being super horny, falls for the ruse. Of course, this hot nekid nurse is Freddy in skin-disguise, and after some fancy tonguewerk, traps Joey above a flaming pit. This causes real-life Joey to fall into a coma, forever asleep and susceptible to skin-carve-writing.
In the book, Dream Joey is able to speak easily and is equally as horny. He is separated from the group as they are dreaming themselves into the house on Elm Street. He is actively looking for Freddy and goes into a lonesome room itching for a final confrontation. What he finds in there isn’t Freddy, but rather Beth Dorsett, the “subject of Joey’s most intense private fantasies since Junior High”. Just like in the movie, they start kissing, and then things start to get weird with her tongue. That’s where the similarities stop.
Unlike in the film, Joey isn’t tied up by Freddy spitting tongues onto his wrists and ankles. Freddy-Beth plunges their tongue deep into Joey’s mouth until he starts to gag. As they embrace each other tightly, the elongated dream tongue snakes its way up into Joey’s skull, popping one eye out of its socket and doubling back to plunge the other deep into his brain. As an eyeless and screaming Joey falls back onto the red and green-striped bedspread, the four bedposts grab his extremities and pull him taught like a string. The last thing that Joey hears is Freddy’s laughing voice. “You’re such a good kisser,” the Crispy Criminal croaks as the four bedposts rip Joey apart, showering the room with an explosion of blood and bone.
“The last thing that Joey hears is Freddy’s laughing voice. “You’re such a good kisser..”
Pretty badass, right? I understand why they wanted to keep Joey alive in the film, but the scene in the book is so deliciously dark. It follows closely to the grim vision that Craven initially had for the film, and I am completely here for it. Sometimes Freddy can be a little too silly, which always made him less scary than other slashers like Jason or Michael. If Dream Warriors would have lowered the mohawk a little and given us more child explosions, it would have made Freddy a much scarier villain. If that’s what you’re looking for, or if you just want to experience a different version of the film altogether, do yourself a favor and pick up a copy of Jeffrey Cooper’s The Nightmares on Elm Street. You won’t be disappointed, I promise.
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