The NeverEnding Story III: Escape from Fantasia is a 1994 German-American fantasy film, and the final film in the NeverEnding Story trilogy.
This is the only film to follow an original storyline instead of the novel.
The movie opens up in Fantasia, where the Old Man of Wandering Mountain, who records the Neverending Story, resides in the Crystal Cave, hidden in Wandering Mountain - the highest point in Fantasia - located within the Mountains of Destiny. He discovers that one day, the writing style will change and act strange, which will make the Neverending Story difficult to record. This is a sign that an evil force called “The Nasty” will arrive. The Nasty takes holds of young humans when they turn away from reading. To stop The Nasty, there needs to be a young human of voracious reading, great imagination, and extraordinary courage.
1 year after the events of the second movie, the now 13-year-old Bastian Bux is dealing with more troubles; his father Barney Bux marries a divorcee named Jane Baxter, and they move into Jane’s house, more suited for 4 people than Bastian’s house. Bastian also gets a step-sibling: a younger sister named Nicole. Bastian, an only child, had always wanted a brother or sister, but Nicole wants nothing to do with Bastian, and acts antagonistic towards him.
On his first day at Hillabury High School, Bastian puts styling gel in his hair, but it dries out his hair. Inside the school, while Bastian asks Nicole where the men’s room is, everyone runs from a group of ruthless thugs known as the Nasties – Dog, Coil, Mookie, Rage, and their leader Slip. After Bastian asks if they know where the men’s room is, they lead him down into a boiler room and lock him in. The janitor Mr. John appears behind them and threatens them with expulsion. After Bastian bangs on the door, they open it, and Bastian confesses what they did to him. He takes off running, and the Nasties go after him.
While running from the Nasties, Bastian hides in the library, where he comes across the school’s new librarian: Karl Konrad Koreander, whom Bastian had met before in the previous movies. Koreander has brought the books from his old bookstore, including Treasure Island and The Neverending Story, which is now a reference book, not to be taken from the library under any circumstances. Koreander allows Bastian to stay in the library until school ends. Bastian notices that since the Neverending Story is part of his life, it chronicles the most recent events of what has happened to him, including the Nasties.
After reading, the bell goes off, and as Bastian makes his way to the library door, the Nasties find him. Bastian retreats into a broom closet where he escapes into the book and into Fantasia. The Nasties find the book and soon discover that it chronicles everything, including what they say.
Meanwhile, Bastian ends up meeting the gnomes Engywook and Urgl and tells them about what has happened. After he finishes, they ask him if the book is in a safe place. The Nasties, after reading this, realize that if Bastian could do anything to Fantasia that he wanted while he read the book, so could they. Using their control of the book, they create a firestorm that destroys the gnomes’ house, and partially sets Barky the Bark Troll on fire. Realizing the Nasties have the book and are causing these terrible things, Bastian also realizes that he cannot go back as they have the book. The gnomes reveal one other way for him to return to Earth: the AURYN, which is in the possession of the Childlike Empress. Back in the real world, the Nasties escape the library (which they have trashed) when Mr. Koreander arrives.
Just then, the group sees Falkor the Luckdragon flying through a storm, but due to the weather, Falkor loses altitude and crash-lands. Falkor tells them that Silver City’s inhabitants are acting crazy, and the Ivory Tower has been destroyed, but the Empress has managed to escape to Wandering Mountain. Although unwilling (except for Bastian), they all fly to Wandering Mountain.
The Childlike Empress arrives at the Crystal Cave, where she informs Old Man that the plague was so powerful, not even the AURYN could stop it. Old Man informs them that the Nasties are the ones controlling these events, and they now possess the Neverending Story. Old Man also tells the Empress that he cannot enter the human world, and only a young human with voracious reading can. The Empress uses the AURYN to summon their savior.
Just then, Bastian and the others walk in. After a brisk reunion, Engywook asks how Bastian is going to get the book away from the Nasties. The Empress gives Bastian the AURYN and tells him that he is to make a wish to return to the human world, and use its power to return the book to Mr. Koreander, and should only use the AURYN to stop the Nasty, then return it to the Empress. Bastian makes the wish, but he doesn't go anywhere, so Barky and Falkor hold onto him while he makes the wish again.
Meanwhile, the Rock-Biter and his son Junior arrive outside the cave. Junior runs in just as Bastian makes a wish, and Bastian, Falkor, Barky, and Junior all get transported. Engywook and Urgl also get transported after Engywook steps on fragments left behind by Junior and then touches Urgl. All of them end up in the human world.
It is revealed that Falkor is stuck flying in the sky, Barky is wandering around in the forest, Junior is climbing on Mount Rushmore, and Engywook and Urgl are in Nome, Alaska.
The Empress communicates with Bastian and tells him that all of the Fantasians got caught in a “wish overload” and are with him. She also tells him that he can’t use the AURYN’S power to stop the Nasties, as the new Fantasia it follows will be different and won’t include them. His new task is to reunite the Fantasians and return them to Fantasia before he returns the book to Koreander, or else they will be lost forever.
The Nasties spot Bastian and give chase, but lose him in a crowd of people waiting for the bus. One of the Nasties ask Slip if Bastian is going to the cops, and Slip replies that even if he did, Bastian is the one that stole the book, and it even says so in the book.
Meanwhile, Falkor arrives at Mount Rushmore just as Junior falls off Abraham Lincoln’s nose; Falkor catches him just before he hits the ground.
At home, Barney learns from Jane that Bastian skipped 3 classes and stole The Neverending Story. During a conversation between Nicole and Bastian, Nicole – who doubts that Fantasia exists – wonders if Bastian can prove that Fantasia exists; this causes Bastian to accidentally wish that he could prove to her that Fantasia existed, wasting the one wish that could set things right in Fantasia. As Nicole leaves unsatisfied, Bastian continues looking through his telescope until he falls asleep.
Meanwhile, the Nasties arrive at their hideout: a hole behind a dumpster in the parking garage of a mall. Dog suggests that they steal the AURYN from Bastian in order to gain control. Slip likes the idea of permanently controlling Bastian’s life, so they all agree.
Bastian awakens to the sound of a firework explosion and looks through his telescope to see Falkor and Junior flying. He runs out of the house to find where they land, while the Nasties pursue him. Falkor and Junior land in the city's Chinatown, and Bastian meets up with them. Dog is about to catch him, but Falkor spooks him and the others, stalling long enough for Bastian to climb on, and they all take off into the sky.
Meanwhile, in Nome, Alaska, Engywook and Urgl enter a Federal Express building and hide inside a package, where they plan to label Bastian’s address on one of the packages.
Bastian tells Falkor that if the Nasty reaches the Empress, Fantasia will end. Bastian tells Falkor to drop him and Junior off at Bastian’s house, while Falkor continues searching for the others.
At Bastian’s house, Bastian hides Junior in the garden, but Junior follows him into the kitchen, causing a loud mess that wakes up Barney, Jane, and Nicole. Barney and Jane head downstairs, but find only Bastian there. Bastian says that he was up for a late-night snack, then checked to make sure all of the machines were in working order (at 1am). Jane notices the AURYN, and Bastian says that he got it at a pawn shop.
As the parents go back upstairs, Junior emerges from the atrium and goes upstairs with Bastian. Nicole hears them and peeks out her door, but doesn’t see them.
The next morning, Barky hides in a logging truck, but as the truck goes at full speed, he falls out onto the dusty road. A dog then arrives, presumably to urinate on him, while he tells the dog to get lost.
At Bastian’s house, Nicole almost discovers Junior’s existence (but doesn’t due to Bastian hiding him), but her attention is drawn towards the AURYN instead. As Bastian heads downstairs, she steals the AURYN before heading out the door; Junior witnesses this and wants to go home.
Meanwhile, back in Fantasia, the Rock Biter tells his wife that Junior is in the human world, and even presents fragments of Junior to her, causing her to faint. They then argue about Junior and how he shouldn’t have gone with his father. This escalates to the Rock Biter talking about his wife's mud cakes and how “after 2,000 years of marriage, they still taste like hockey pucks”.
At school, Bastian opens his locker, only to have water explode in his face as a prank. He then walks over to the Nasties and proclaims “This is my story, and I’m gonna get you for this.” As he walks away, Dog almost attacks him, but is stopped by Slip, who reminds them that they are supposed to be expelled, and decide to wait until 3:00 to attack him.
In Nicole’s classroom, one of her classmates shows off a credit card so that they can go shopping to the mall, but it is snatched by the teacher. The teacher also notices Nicole fondling the AURYN, and demands it, but Nicole uses the AURYN’s power to wish the teacher would leave the class alone, which she does. Nicole realizes its potential, and walks out with the rest of the class.
Bastian notices Nicole holding the AURYN and follows her, but is captured by the Nasties. Slip demands the AURYN, but after they frisk Bastian, Slip finds out that Bastian doesn’t have it. They warn Bastian that they will use the book to find the AURYN, and threatens that Bastian will never see his family again when the Nasties find the AURYN.
Bastian returns home to find a tree truck loading in Barky, who slaps one of the delivery guys down after he makes a remark that “he would be better off in a wood chipper”. After the tree guys leave, Bastian asks Barky how he was able to track him down, and Barky says that there was only one “Bux” in the phone book. Engywook and Urgl arrive in a FedEx box, and Jane picks up the box, only to be disturbed that voices are coming from it. Bastian takes the box, then asks Jane if she knows where Nicole is; Jane tells Bastian that Nicole said she was be at the mall.
That night, Bastian and the others all head out to the mall, and luckily, it happens to be Halloween. The Nasties find out that Nicole is literally above them, so they go searching for her as well. While in the mall, Bastian and the others split up; the Nasties do the same. It turns out that Nicole has been using the AURYN’s power to wish for different sets of clothes.
During the search, Bastian runs into Mr. Koreander, who wonders when Bastian is going to return the book. Dog finds the AURYN while Nicole is applying makeup, and steals the AURYN. Bastian and Nicole meet up while running, and Bark Troll knocks Dog out, retrieving the AURYN. Coil steals the AURYN off Bark Troll’s hand and all of the Nasties retreat to their hideout. Bastian scolds Nicole for her use of the AURYN, as she has caused the potential destruction of Fantasia and the human civilization.
With Fantasia now under the Nasties’ control, Slip sends crustacean-like creatures into the realm. The inhabitants of Fantasia become corrupted by the Nasties’ power, including the Childlike Empress. In the human world, everyone turns nasty and argumentative; Mr. Koreander even pelts his wife with a plate of spaghetti. Barney and Jane also fall victim to the Nasties’ control.
Nicole and Bastian run into the alley behind the mall, and Nicole fears that another divorce might be happening again, as her parents used to argue all the time. Bastian then gets knocked down by an electrical explosion, and temporarily becomes corrupted by the Nasties’ power, reminding Nicole of all the cruel things she said to him since they first met. Nicole apologizes, as she did not want to get hurt again. With Bastian now free of the Nasties' power, they run back to the parking garage.
Meanwhile, Barky and the others accidentally find their way into the Nasties’ hideout, but are ambushed. Bastian and Nicole hear Engywook’s voice and follow it. Upon entering the Nasties’ hideout, they confronts Slip, and state that if anything bad happens to the human world, it will also affect the Nasties. After Dog agrees, saying he doesn’t want anything bad to happen to his mother, Slip attacks him, losing the AURYN to Barky in the process. After a fumble between everyone, the AURYN lands in Bastian’s hands. As Bastian is about to make the wish, Slip approaches him and says that if he is really brave, he will drop the necklace. Nicole reads out of the book, which tells Bastian to place the AURYN down, which he does.
Through reading the book, Nicole states that after “years of practice from karate lessons” (Bastian only took 2 lessons), Bastian turns into “a mix of Bruce Lee, Steven Seagal, and Jean-Claude Van Damme”. Bastian uses his newfound strength to defeat Slip and Dog, and when Falkor appears, all of the Nasties run away in terror.
However, through further reading, they discover that Barney and Jane are divorcing after only a week of marriage, and the Rock Biter leaves his wife. Realizing they still have a chance to set things right, Bastian says goodbye to the Fantasians, who all teleport back to Fantasia; Barky wishes that “Fantasia would go back to the way it was before this nasty business started”, which works; Fantasia is restored to its original state. As Barky and Junior walk home, Junior is reunited with his parents, and Engywook and Urgl have their house rebuilt.
This also has an effect on the real world; Bastian and Nicole run home to find Barney leaving the house, but all 4 of them happily reunite. At school, the Nasties are revealed to have been changed as well; now they are friendly bookworms, and Slip is even in a relationship with Coil. After they leave, Bastian reveals he used the book to change their personalities from nasty to friendly. Bastian returns the book to Koreander, who tells him, “the story’s not over yet”, as Bastian and Nicole walk off and high-five each other.
- Jason James Richter as Bastian Bux.
- Freddie Jones as Karl Konrad Koreander, the school librarian.
- Kevin McNulty as Barney Bux, Bastian’s father.
- Tracey Ellis as Jane Baxter, Bastian’s stepmother.
- Melody Kay as Nicole Baxter, Bastian’s stepsister.
- Jack Black as “Slip”, the leader of the Nasties.
- Ryan Bollman as “Dog”, a Nasty who does not know how to read and is constantly picked on by Slip due to his lack of intelligence. He is named “Dog” because he wears a dog collar.
- Carole Finn as Marcia “Coil”, a female Nasty with a rattlesnake tattoo on her right arm, and Slip’s girlfriend.
- In the end credits, the character name is miscredited as "Mookie".
- Nicole Parker as "Mookie", a female Nasty with frizzy red hair.
- In the end credits, the character is named Nasty #1.
- Adrien Dorval as “Rage”, the tallest of the Nasties, who doesn't say much.
- In the end credits, the character is named Nasty #2.
- Freddie Jones as Old Man of Wandering Mountain.
- Tony Robinson as Engywook.
- Moya Brady as Urgl.
- Julie Cox as The Childlike Empress.
- Kaefan Shaw as Barky, a 313-year-old bark troll.
- William Hootkins as the voice of Barky.
- Gord Robertson as Falkor.
- William Hootkins as the voice of Falkor.
- Frederick Warder as Rock Biter.
- Gary Martin as the voice of Rock Biter.
- William Todd-Jones as Mrs. Rock Biter.
- Mac Macdonald as the voice of Mrs. Rock Biter.
- Dave Forman as Rockbiter, Jr.
- Gary Martin as the voice of Rockbiter, Jr.
- Thomas Petruo as Large Head, the Empress’s chief advisor.
- Mark Aecheson as Mr. John, the school janitor who expels the Nasties.
- Andrea Nemeth as Rachel, a friend of Nicole.
- Danu Anthony as Samantha, a friend of Nicole.
- Marilyn Norry as Mrs. Crackerby, Nicole's rude English professor.
- Ruth Nichol as Samantha's mom.
- Shirley Broderick as Mrs. Koreander.
- Alfonso R. Quijada as FedEX Delivery Man.
- Ulrich Kinalzik as Eskimo Trapper.
- John 'Bear' Curtis as Lumberjack.
- Richard Newman as Photographer.
- Veena Sood as Sales Lady #1
- Marcy Goldberg as Sales Lady #2
- Lossen Chambers as Sales Lady #3
- Hrothgar Mathews as Nursery Truck Driver
- Samantha McKenna as Schoolgirl
- David Longworth as Log Dispatcher
- Jessica Walden as Bird Girl
- Lauren Samis as Creepy Girl
- Jenna Irvine as Trickster
- Jesse Camacho as Beaver Boy.
- USA casting: Mike Fenton, C.S.A. and Allison Cowitt, C.S.A.
- European casting: Lynne Carrow, Irene Lamb, and Uschi Drews
- Production design: Rolf Zehetbauer
- Visual effects supervisor: Derek Meddings
- Digital visual effects: Toccata New Image Productions (a member of the Bibo Group)
- Matte paintings, visual and optical effects: Cinemagic Film Effects Studio GMBH
- Animatronic creatures: Jim Henson's Creature Shop
- Line producers: Harry Nap and Harold Lee Tichenor
- Associated producer: Klaus Kähler
- Executive producer: Tim Hampton
- Location art director: Jill Scott
- Costume design: Monique Prudhomme and Vin Burnham
- First assistant director: David Tringham
- Dialogue coach: Robert Easton
- Gaffer Berlin: Holger Greiss
- Gaffer Vancouver: Andrew Davidson
- Supervising sound editor: Jim Roddan
- Director of Photography 2nd Unit: Paul Wilson, B.S.C.
- Digital effects supervisors: Efi Wizen and Doron Fiterman
- Matte paintings by:
- Thorsten Binte
- Alexander Manasse
- Doug Ferris
- John Grant
- Production supervisor: Susie Ford
- Production executives: Michael Boehme, Graham Ludlow, and Sylvia Friedl
The music score was composed by Peter Wolf and performed by the Munich Symphony Orchestra.
Unlike the first and second film, which feature original songs, this film not only features pre-existing songs, but also does not end with the "Neverending Story" song.
- Life is a Lemon and I Want My Money Back – Meat Loaf.
- Used for when Bastian puts hair gel in his hair.
- Crash Boom Bang – Roxette
- Used for when Jane drives the kids to school.
- I’m a Stoneman – Stoneman.
- Used for when Rockbiter, Jr. watches TV.
- Born to be Wild – Steppenwolf (performed by Stoneman).
- Rock Biter sings this when riding his bike.
- Dream State – Coda.
- Used for a party at the Nasties’ house.
- Back and Forth – Aaliyah.
- Nicole watches the music video.
- United – Prince Ital Joe & Marky Mark.
- Used for when Slip and the Nasties drive to their hideout.
- Mission of Love – Nemorin.
- Used for when Nicole enters Bastian’s bedroom and almost discovers Junior.
- Games People Play – Inner Circle.
- Used for when Nicole steals the AURYN.
- Girly Girl – Lucilectric.
- Used for when Nicole dresses up at the mall.
- Nasty World – Real-Im-Pact.
- Used for when the Nasties split up to find the AURYN.
- Born to be Wild – Steppenwolf (performed by Stoneman).
- End credits.
- Mission of Love – Nemorin.
- End credits.
- Dream On… – Nemorin.
- End credits.
- Shortcut to Forever – Phillip Ingram and Siedah Garrett.
- End credits.
- How How – Yello.
- Kiss From a Rose – Seal.
- The Neverending Story - Giorgio Moroder and Keith Forsey (performed by Real-Im-Pact).
- This is the only movie in the Neverending Story trilogy that does not feature Atreyu; the reason is unknown.
- When Bastian hides in the library and the Nasties run by him, Jack Black gives a finger pose to the camera crew.
- When Bark Troll gets transported to the forest, he notes that the trees around him are balsam, hemlock, fir, oak, aspen, and maple.