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13 Things You May Not Know About Nightmare on Elm Street 5: The Dream Child

Posted on the 09 May 2014 by Weminoredinfilm.com @WeMinoredInFilm

You can see our other Nightmare on Elm Street lists here.  Today, it’s time for Nightmare on Elm Street 5: The Dream Child (1989), aka, the one where Alice is pregnant

Despite operating from a bare bones script due to the WGA writers’ strike, Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master turned into the biggest hit in Elm Street history, becoming one of the top 20 grossing films of 1988.  However, New Line’s aggressive marketing and licensing combined with Robert Englund’s willingness to do just about anything to promote the franchise had overexposed the character of Freddy Krueger.  Plus, the humor of the prior films was quickly teetering toward camp.  So, when Nightmare on Elm Street 5: The Dream Child came out almost exactly one year to the day after Dream Master it found its audience was just a little tired of the franchise [from this point forward, unless otherwise noted all quotes come from Never Sleep Again: The Elm Street Legacy].  

1. The themes of motherhood and abortion came from a new mother at New Line

Sara Risher Elm Street

Even with Freddy around and delivering endless one-liners, Dream Child attempts to deal with pretty heavy concepts, such as drunk driving, parental expectations, alcoholism, and pro-choice vs. pro-life.  The abortion debate is settled rather quickly when Alice refuses to abort her baby even though doing so would cut off Freddy’s re-entry into the world.  

Where did that come from, though?  According to Executive Producer Sara Risher, “I really think that I came up with the story, because I was a new mother. And I remember stressing that [the teenage audience is growing up] during the creation of the script. I thought it needed to have those themes of abortion and birth and motherhood.”

2. A similar concept was originally pitched for Nightmare on Elm Street 3

Nightmare 3 Poster

Risher may have been inspired for the dream child concept by a very odd pitch screenwriter Leslie Bohem delivered for Dream Warriors, “For Nightmare 3 I had pitched [New Line] Freddy has a baby.  I went in, one of the executives was pregnant at the time, and I [said] picture Freddy clawing his way out [of the womb]. No one liked my idea. So then I got a call for Nightmare 5 and when they came to me they said, ‘Remember when you wanted Freddy to have a baby? Well, we like that idea now. What if Alice was the mom?’

3. The dreams of an unborn baby?  WTF were they thinking?


New Line’s official Press Kit synopsis describes Dream Child’s premise:

“Seeking revenge against Alice, [Freddy] Krueger discovers he is too weak to enter her dreams to continue his rabid rampage against humanity. He must find renewed access to the living world, and discovers a new victim—the ‘dream child,’ Alice’s unborn baby from her affair with boyfriend Dan.  Freddy nurtes his comeback by invading the dream stage of the unborn child, hoping to be reborn into the world by Alice’s baby.  Feeding of the baby’s purity, he regains enough strength to enter the dreams of Alice’s friends.”

Sure.  Fine.  Whatever.  Can we get to the killing now?

Not so fast.  New Line first hired John Skipp and Craig Spector to write the script, and seeking to justify the dream child premise Skipp now argues, “Now where do dreams come from? They come from the collective unconscious. Just like the mind of God. Freddy is like this oil slick on the dream pool, this evil black miasma that’s kinda floating there. He can sink into anyone’s head; he’s this eternal, awful thing.”

Spector further clarifies, “If you believe that concept.  Who would be most in touch with that but an unborn child? Who for nine months is in a perpetual dream state. They’re dreaming constantly. Freddy has established himself as the guy who sneaks in through the back door of perception. I wanted to play with that, because the door swings both ways. If Freddy can come in, we can go into his world.”

After Leslie Bohem was hired to re-write, he sought to “make up a set of rules for what [Freddy] was doing to get himself into the real world, which might be a little muddy in the movie, but essentially it was to get all four of [Alice's] friends’ souls and give them to the baby.”

4.  One early script involved the kids being in a production of Medea


According to Leslie Bohem, “I wrote a draft that was basically Alice was in a theater group, and they were doing Medea.”  Thanks to Tyler Perry we now have to pause and clarify that Bohem is not referring to Madea, a story about a black man playing a fiery old black grandma, but instead most likely the ancient Greek tragic play Medea, about a woman who takes revenge on a husband for stepping out on her.  Now, back to Bohem’s quote, “It was very, very weird.  There was a play, and then there were the dreams.  I finished, and they went, ‘Yeaaaah, we have this other idea.’” 

5.  John Skipp and Craig Spector had to fight to get credit for their work on the script


Just how different was John Skipp and Craig Spector’s original script?  Well, according to Skipp the only line which survived into the finished film was “It’s a boy.”  In his version of the film:

“Their dreams weren’t just being chased by a monster.  It was more like I dreamed I finally got out of this fucking town, and wasn’t going to grow up like my dad, an alcoholic asshole who beats me.  Or I dreamed that I was going to grow up and be the type of person I always hoped I would be.  Freddy, who’s coming up through this baby, is like, ‘Oh, no you won’t.  I’m here to make sure that all your dreams die.’  We were really going to try and figure out how Freddy works, why he did it, and what made him a monster.  Some nun got raped, right, and that mother would have been locked up and that boy would have been a disgrace.  He was born stygmatized, he was born shameful and sinful.  So, he was basically raised by mean nuns, who helped make him the monster that he was.  You would just go into his past and see, ‘Oh God, they fucked with him, and he became a monster.  That’s how he got twisted at the root.”  You can read their original script at NightmareOnElmStreetFilms.com.

Leslie Bohem worked on the script after that, but he was going off of pages of outlines from New Line.  He didn’t know he was working from material originated by Skipp and Specter until he received an arbitration notice since their lawyers got busy when the initial Dream Child posters came out and did not credit Skipp or Specter as writers.  They at least deserved a “Story By” credit, which they did ultimately receive.

Looking back on it now, though, Skipp concludes, “Even though I fought to get my name on it once I saw it I was more like, ‘Hey, could you put my name on 3 instead because that one’s really good and 5 not so much.”  Oddly enough, only half of Leslie Bohem‘s screenplay was kept, with William Wisher Jr. and David J. Schow performing extensive re-writers, though only Skipp, Specter, Bohem, and Schow received writing credits for the film.

6. The poster was released before they’d even started filming


If you were a Nightmare on Elm Street fan looking at that poster in 1988/1989 you were probably curious what the heck “Dream Child” meant, and what was going on with the fetus in the crystal ball in Freddy’s glove.  Well, the people making the film thought the same thing, too.  That poster came out before they actually had a clear idea what the movie was going to be beyond its premise and title.  

7. The director only had 8 weeks to finish the film, 4 weeks to shoot, 4 to edit

Exactly how rushed were they to make their release date of nearly one year to the day after Nightmare on Elm Street 4?  New Line gave director Stephen Hopkins 2 months, 1 to actually shoot, and another to edit.  As a result, the production was in constant motion, shooting on one stage while the crew prepared another.  Hopkins’ efforts were impressive enough to later land the gig directing Predator 2.

8. Dan’s bike scene death was originally pretty darn horrific

Dream Child has a surprisingly low body count, but it originally attempted to make up for it by turning in some remarkably grisly and disgusting (in a good way?) death scenes.  Then the MPAA told them to get real, and the death scenes were all cut down considerably.  The unedited versions of the scene have ever been officially released on VHS and Laserdisc.  The most notorious of the bunch is Dan’s-merge-with-motorcylce death.  You can watch the unedited version below, but just remember this is graphic enough the MPAA of 1989 made them cut it out meaning this video doesn’t even qualify to be considered Rated R:

Basically, the mere seconds we saw in the finished film were full minutes in the original cut.

9. Greta was originally cut open and had the contents of her stomach fed back to her


And the grisliness spills over to Greta, the model who Freddy stuffs with food until she explodes. Nasty, right?  It could have been worse. Originally, Freddy filleted the doll version of Greta, and force-fed its innards to Greta.  This resulted in even more laughing from the guests.  That’s not all.  Freddy quipped, “You are what you eat,” at which point Greta realized Freddy had gutted her as well and was now feeding her material from her own stomach. 

Now, why on Earth would the MPAA think that was too far?  Then again, they let Hannibal get away with it in a non-dream setting over a decade later in 2001.

10. The comic book kid originally had his head cut off

Nightmare5 A-Ha

Insert joke about A-Ha’s “Take on Me” here

They clearly figured the wizard master from Dream Warriors was so much fun why not make one of Dream Child‘s victims a comic book nerd since that would afford them some really fun imagery to play with.  Unfortunately, that ultimately came out looking like this:


It’s kind of hard to imagine how such a death could truly become more gruesome considering that by the end the kid’s entire body has been turned into paper.  However, in the original cut while Freddy is shredding the paper we can see the poor kid’s agonized facial expressions and hear his screams before Freddy ultimately chopped his paper head off.  The MPAA, again, said no soup for you.

11. There was originally a rap song

No, not that one.  The Fat Boys did a rap song with Robert Englund for Nightmare on Elm Street 4, but presumably to stay hip and “down with the kids these days” Elm Street 5 originally featured a sequence during the graduation ceremony where Alice, Greta, and Yvonne performed an impromptu rap song.


According to Kelly Jo Minter, who played Yvonne, “My friends who were really hip-hop people would have been mortified if they saw me do that.”  For their parts, Lisa Wilcox it was cut while Erika Anderson (Greta) says she has no memory of performing the song or ever reading about it in the script.

12. Freddy was played by the screenwriter for the teaser trailer

David J. Schow, one of the guys who did re-writes on Dream Child‘s script, actually got to be in the film.  Kind of.  

That’s Schow’s hand in thee Freddy glove at the end.  The baby carriage was a big prop which he could fit into, but the lights they had to place inside the carriage caused his arm to almost catch on fire.

13. They lost 200 tarantulas.  Maybe


The original movie prop of Freddy’s arm from Dream Child

Remember when Freddy’s arm gets cut off and then transforms into green and red tarantulas which scamper away?  Well, according to director Stephen Hopkins they “got lots of tarantulas, hand-painted them green and red, and on the floor of the stage placed a little wall up in the shape of an arm and had trainers come in and around the tarantulas.”  The plan was to simply drop the wall and film the resulting scattering of the spiders.  However, after they got the shot they were left with a studio full of around 200 angry tarantulas.  Hopkins figures, “We probably carried on shooting on another set, I’m sure.  I don’t think anyone ever found them again.”  Or maybe it was somebody’s else job to ensure the tarantulas were all accounted for.  Still, as far as the director knows those spiders just roamed freely through the studio and escaped into the free world.

 The final damage

  • Body Count: 3 
  • Box Office: $22.1 million, which would be like making $44.4 million at current ticket prices (i.e., around how much The Internship made last year).  That’s very, very not good compared to Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master, which grossed $49.3 million domestic in actual dollars,$95.6 million after you adjust for ticket price inflation.  It’s not just in comparison to Dream Master that Dream Child looks bad.  It’s actually the lowest grossing Elm Street film in franchise history, other than Wes Craven’s New Nightmare.   Still, $22.1 million for Dream Child was around 4 times more than its budget.  

Next time, we’ll look at why exactly they gave Freddy a daughter in Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare.

You can use the following links to check out all of our other “13 Things…” lists: Nightmare on Elm Street, Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge, Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors, Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream MasterFriday the 13thPart 2Part 3The Final ChapterA New BeginningJason LivesNew BloodJason Takes Manhattan, Jason Goes to Hell, and Jason X,

Sources: Never Sleep Again: The Elm Street LegacyNightmareOnElmStreetFilms.com, HorrorFanZine.com

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