A Nightmare On Elm Street 3 Cut An Effect That Was Deemed Too Disturbing For The Movie

Anyone who has worked in film can tell you that plans are constantly changing. You try to plan for it all in advance in pre-production to try to make things run smoothly once filming starts. But you can only plan for so much, especially when it comes to the below-the-line crafts. Makeup might not look right on camera. Costume changes can happen in the middle of production once deemed impractical. A stunt may be completely re-worked when safety is called into question (though, unfortunately, not always). That's when the team has to quickly come up with something or else risk a delayed production. A death sentence!

In the case of "A Nightmare On Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors," the special effects department dealt a lot with this trial and error process. Freddy Krueger's supernatural murderous attempts in this installment reached new levels of ridiculous creativity. That creativity came at a cost, though, as the special effects team had to figure out how to bring their ideas to life.

Whether it was trying to perfect the gigantic Krueger snake or troubleshooting using real televisions with metal arms in a death scene featuring Krueger, the team had to work to get these ambitious ideas done within the time constraints they were under. Sometimes time wasn't enough, though. In the case of the puppet used in the scene where Kristen (Patricia Arquette) is trying to save a little girl from Freddy Krueger, some changes had to be made right on the spot.

Too real

No good deed goes unpunished, and in the case of crafting the little girl corpse we see in "A Nightmare On Elm Street 3," doing exactly what the director wanted ended up backfiring. As special makeup effects artist Mark Shostrom shared with Bloody Disgusting, director Chuck Russell's instructions were straightforward: "Think Aushwitz." So, he went about his task to create what Russell wanted:  "I went to the Simon Wiesenthal museum and I got research and I made this corpse. The ribcage looked very emaciated and it was a little heart wrenching, this poor little girl puppet."

If you've already seen the film, you already know that this is not what we got in the final cut. No, instead we got the less impactful skeleton grinning up at Kristen, telling her that she is hurting. While it gets the point across, it's not the emotional gut punch originally envisioned. So, what exactly happened to warrant this change? Shostrom did too good of a job.

After 10 weeks of hard work in constructing this mechanical corpse, Shostrom presented the little girl puppet to Russell. It was so realistic looking that the director completely shut down even the thought of filming it. As Shostrom describes the moment on set, he shared, "[Russell] looked and said 'Oh my God, everybody who's Jewish in the audience is going to look at this and hate me. We can't film this.'" With the time crunch, though, something had to be done and fast.

Last minute decisions

Making decisions under time constraints is never a fun time. For Russell on the set of "A Nightmare On Elm Street 3," there were too many things going on at once when Shostrom came to him with the mechanical girl puppet he asked for. Time couldn't be wasted on sitting on a decision. No, hard choices had to be made. This put Shostrom and other crew members in a tricky position, though. They had to shoot the scene right then and there, but couldn't use the puppet that Shostrom had spent 10 weeks making.

"I've never in my life experienced anything like that because at the very least take an hour, put it on film and decide later when you're not frazzled by shooting three units and the day before Christmas. But they didn't even film it," shared Shostrom. What makes this more sad is that the puppet no longer exists. It apparently rotted away. All of that work and no one got a chance to see it. 

What we see onscreen is the prop department's last-minute solution to the problem. Good in a pinch but, as mentioned before, not exactly the one-two punch needed to shock viewers after seeing some of the other special effects executed scenes prior. If there had been more time, one wonders what Shostrom could have crafted after Russell vetoed his creation. Unfortunately, we will never know. All we can do is mourn the loss of what could have been.