Future action movie maestro Renny Harlin came to Hollywood from Finland to take over the NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET franchise for one entry with THE DREAM MASTER, in which Freddy Krueger gets resurrected in order to get revenge on those who put him in his grave, and to hopefully take a few more teenage souls along the way. Brian Helgeland co-scripts this effort that brings together Robert Englund, Tuesday Knight, Lisa Wilcox, Rodney Eastman, Ken Sagoes, and Danny Hassel. The result would prove to be the biggest box-office success for the series to that point, and a killer soundtrack to boot.
The third time was certainly the charm in the Nightmare on Elm Street” series with DREAM WARRIORS, which put together a team of adept but troubled teenagers in taking on the fiercely powerful (and growing more so by the day, Freddy Krueger, who is out to kill these kids in their nightmares. Nancy Thompson (Heather Langenkamp) is back to show them how to defeat the evil rascal, but they need to work as a team to do it. The debut role for Patricia Arquette, plus an early appearance from Laurence Fishburne, make it a highlight, along with, of course, Robert Englund in his most iconic of roles. Chuck Russell directs from a screenplay whose talent includes Frank Darabont and Wes Craven himself.
A very speedy follow-up to A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET replaces Wes Craven as the creative force, taking the series in a new and unexpected direction under the guiding influence of Jack Sholder. Screenwriter David Chaskin supplies the subversive screenplay that caused it to become a cult hit in the gay horror-loving community for its homoerotic subtext that adds one more layer to this story of a confused teenage boy struggling to control his impulses driving him to commit heinous acts, with only the love of his gal pal to perhaps curb him from doing Freddy’s bidding. While derided at the time of its release, the film has its champions, even if it deviates the most from Craven’s vision among the sequels. Mark Patton, Kim Myers and Robert Englund star.
Wes Craven refreshed the struggling slasher film genre with this more surreal and intense take, saving New Line Cinema with one of the big surprise hits of 1984: A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET. Heather Langenkamp stars as Nancy Thompson, who finds out that she is not alone in having a recurring dream about a badly burnt and scarred man named Freddy Krueger who terrorizes her with horrific acts of terror (Craven says that the character’s name was based on a school mate who bullied him as a child). What’s even more scary is that her friends are starting to die mysteriously, and Nancy is sure that if she were to fall asleep and dream, she will be next in line to be a victim. Her parents think here is something wrong with her, and the local police can’t believe a word of it, so she must fend for herself. But surely she can’t stay awake forever! John Saxon, Johnny Depp and Robert Englund also co-star in this first of many films in the long-running and beloved horror series.
Dreamscape stars Dennis Quaid as a psychic enlisted into a top-secret government experiment that puts him into the nightmares of another person in order to cure them. However, when the President of the United States becomes the subject, he finds himself embroiled in a plot to assassinate the world leader in his sleep. Kate Capshaw, Max von Sydow and Christopher Plummer co-star in this low-budget but high-concept sci-fi/thriller that would be the precursor to a great many genre films, including THE MATRIX.
Joe Dante’s Explorers marks the big screen debuts of two future stars, Ethan Hawke and River Phoenix, who, along with Jason Presson, make up the three young boys with a thirst for adventure and scientific exploration. In their dreams, the boys have a connection to a circuit board that they eventually use to build their own little hovering spacecraft, thanks to the help of a strange spherical energy capsule in which they place an abandoned tilt-a-whirl carriage that they use their computer to control. The makeshift spaceship gets them into all sorts of adventures, before culminating in a close encounter with aliens in outer space.