1988 New Line Cinema
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.
The not so good:
Very subtle foreshadowing for the doomed characters.
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.