Movie Review – A Nightmare On Elm Street 4: The Dream Master

1988 New Line Cinema

Two Stars

When the First Nightmare on Elm Street was released in 1984 it became an instant horror classic, the concept was a very dark and frightening twist on the slasher genre that was growing stale by that point. The filmmakers took the series in a bizarre and somewhat unintentionally funny direction in the second movie but then rebounded nicely with the third entry in the series. A

Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master unfortunately is a step in the wrong direction in terms of quality.
Full of inconsistencies and paper thin characters this movie looks like a music video and sounds like it to due to the inclusion of way too many pop songs in the soundtracks and an overly glossy and slick production style that strays too far from the look of the previous movies. Still the movie manages to entertain on a certain level because of some nicely done effects and Lisa Wilcox who is appealing in the role of Alice.  

I sort of consider this and the following sequels to be separate from the first three movies. The Freddy who comes back to life in this movie really doesn’t resemble the Freddy from the first three movies all that much nor does the tone and feel of the later entries match the earlier movies. I can still enjoy them to a certain extent but only if I separate them from the earlier and better entries (excluding large parts of the second).

As the movie begins Freddy is still dead but Kristen (now played by Tuesday Knight) is convinced he is coming back while Joey and Kincaid believe he is gone for good, silly them. Soon the dream slasher is opening shop on Elm Street (and elsewhere) once more and mayhem ensues, sort of. The mayhem in this movie is not as fun or inspired this time around.

In this movie Freddy-Lite is truly unleashed upon the world. Freddy enters his wise cracking mode full time, is filmed in nice bright lighting for the most part, wears sunglasses, and is not too creepy at all.

I found the second half of this movie to lack any real tension or suspense simply because most of the characters have not had any previous experience with Freddy and that diminishes the threat. We know that Kristen, Joey, and Kincaid know Freddy from personal experience but the others have not been plagued by Freddy in their dreams. They do not really know who or what he truly is. The deaths in Dream Master are overly gimmicky and have little impact. Because of the way the final third of this movie is shot and edited there is not a clear line between the dreams and reality in the movie. There is a lack of continuity with the previous movies as well; when someone gets killed in the dream world there is no blood in the real world except when Kincaid’s dog bites Kristen. Once again this goes against the concepts established in the first movie. Continuity did not seem to be overly important to the makers of the series.

Other aspects that bring down the quality are Robert Englund’s cameos as other characters, they’re silly and distracting. This movie is also too damn bright, the dark creepy dream world has been replaced with beaches and brightly lit sets not too conducive to scaring people. The ending seems rushed and there is no buildup to the Dream Master rhyme that Alice uses to destroy Freddy. She is not having much success against Freddy but suddenly remembers the rhyme (with the help of the dream children?) and uses a piece of glass to turn the tides? There is also no explanation as to why the big showdown at the end is set in a church, does the church have some meaning to Freddy or Alice? If so it’s not explained. Not a strong movie by any means but also not the worst Nightmare film, unfortunately the quality of the series would go lower from here.
Newline finally updates their logo. Much better.

New Line finally updates their logo. Much better.

The style just keeps improving on the titles. Too bad the movie isn’t better.

The good:

Lisa Wilcox as Alice.

Lisa Wilcox as Alice.

My favorite glove in the series.

My favorite glove in the series.

The not so good:

Flaming dog pee opens a crack in the earth.

Kincaid wishes he had some marshmallows.

Freddy comes back to life for some unexplained reason. Must be some powerful pee!

Freddy talks without moving his mouth. Badly done resurrection scene all around.

Freddy plays shark…

…and then officially jumps the shark.

Very subtle foreshadowing for the doomed characters.

I will die in a way connected to my asthma.

I will die in a way connected to bugs.

I will die in a way connected to The Karate Kid…I mean martial arts.

Random thoughts and observations:

Too bad Patricia Arquette couldn’t reprise her role as Kristin. Tuesday Knight isn’t bad but is a little too soft for the role.

The new Kristin.

Curtains blowing in the wind.

More curtains.

More curtains blowing in the wind. I sense a theme here or maybe Bed, Bath, and Beyond sponsorship.

Nice wig on Lisa Wilcox's double. They couldn't afford hair dye?

Nice wig on Lisa Wilcox’s double. They couldn’t afford hair dye?

Were Alice and Dan dreaming? If so how did they get into the truck in the first place? If they weren’t dreaming how was Freddy able to manipulate time and keep them looping around?

No, not the broken window! Run Freddy run.

Yawn. Freddy dies again. How exciting. Oh looky at the little baby hands.


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