Buttkickin’ Halloween Songs: “Dream Warriors” — Dokken (1987)

I lie awake and dread the lonely nights
I’m not alone
I wonder if these heavy eyes
Can face the unknown…

Yes, 80s hair metal. Deal with it.

Aw come on now, as far as 80s hair metal goes, few did it better than Dokken. Oh sure, they were replete with all the spandex and hair spray and make-up and a big power ballad or two, but they were a cut above the usual dreck. Better songs, stronger musicianship, pop hooks certainly but with a strong rock/metal foundation underneath. Don Dokken on vocals and George Lynch on guitar made for a formidable pair on the rock scene… if they could go five minutes without killing each other. But that’s a spice for another meatball…

And then let’s couple Dokken up with the entire Nightmare on Elm Street franchise, one of the horror/slasher genre’s most enduring legacies. Few in the modern terror realm could boast as iconic an image as that of Freddie Kreuger, the flame-scarred, child-killing, soul-stealing boogeyman who haunts unsuspecting teenagers in their sleep. I’ll tell you what, the first time my brother and I stayed up to watch the original Nightmare on Elm Street on cable, there was ZERO sleep that night. None. Nada. Zilch. Zero. Bupkis.

So anyway, the two forces collided for 1987’s third installment of the franchise, with Dokken providing the theme song Dream Warriors. The film was probably the second best of the lot (after the original, although given the quality of the sequels that’s not saying a whole bunch), featuring a young Patricia Arquette and Laurence Fishburne, alongside the original film heroine (and survivor) Heather Langenkamp and the late great John Saxon. Dokken’s theme song is a pretty effective spooky number, opening with some atmospheric minor key noodling from Lynch that erupts into a full-blown 80s metal cruncher.

The lyrics are your basic love letter to the Elm Street movies and the ever-growing threat of Freddie Kreuger as he draws closer to his intended prey. Few horror franchises feature as strong a theme song, if they have one at all. Is the song dated 80s metal? Maybe. Is it an effective spooktacular tune? Assuredly. Does it still totally rawk? Without reservation. Any teen of the 80s/90s is one of Freddie’s children. Grab your crucifix…

Maybe tonight you’ll be gone…