Tie-ins between movies and music videos were once almost omnipresent on MTV.
Some of these were simply videos that used footage from the movies that the songs appeared in, like Kenny Loggins‘ “Footloose” or “Danger Zone” from Top Gun. Some went further and actually incorporated band members into a narrative revolving around the film, like the Pointer Sisters’ “Neutron Dance” from Beverly Hills Cop or Starship‘s “Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us Now” from Mannequin. Michael Jackson‘s famous “Thriller” video actually incorporated elements of the era’s horror-movie boom into its production design and story.
Dokken‘s “Dream Warriors,” however, might be the only video that simultaneously integrated all of those film-related techniques.
The song was written for A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors, which premiered in theaters on Feb. 27, 1987, and served as a successful return to form for the franchise after the disappointment of 1985’s A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge.
The collaboration came about because Dokken manager Cliff Burnstein “was very close with Wes Craven, who was the guy behind the whole Nightmare on Elm Street franchise,” bassist Jeff Pilson told UCR in 2018. The band shot on set with Robert Englund, famous for playing series villain Freddy Krueger, and Pilson described him as “just a kick-in-the-ass funny guy – just a great guy.”
Their “Dream Warriors” clip also included a few specifically filmed sequences with actress Patricia Arquette, who made her debut in Nightmare on Elm Street 3. Those elements — the incorporation of actors from the movie and the band playing the song — are really what make the video so entertaining.
Watch Dokken’s ‘Dream Warriors’ Video
The narrative reflects that of the film, in which a group of teens are forced to band together and travel into the dream world to defeat Krueger. In the video, Arquette’s Kristen Parker character is building a small doll house in the creepy style often used by the franchise. This is something she also does in the movie, but here she plasters the back of the house with pictures of Dokken cut out of fan magazines.
She then falls asleep and journeys into the house in her dreams, where Freddy Krueger attacks her. Before Krueger can kill her, however, members of Dokken appear and begin playing the song. They slowly drive him back with the force of their heavy metal, rescuing Parker.
At the end, with the tables turned, Krueger wakes up from his own nightmare and exclaims, “What a nightmare! Who were those guys?”
The cheekiness of the video — not to mention Dokken’s surging popularity at the time — got it into heavy rotation on MTV. This clip also marked a turning point in that the franchise began featuring more metal: A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master included songs from the Vinnie Vincent Invasion and the Sea Hags, while A Nightmare on Elm Street 5: The Dream Child boasted tracks from Bruce Dickinson and W.A.S.P., among others.
There have long been rumors of a Nightmare on Elm Street reboot in the works. For a lot of fans, the franchise could do worse than returning to the Dokken-inflected roots that made it so popular in the late ’80s.
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