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A Nightmare On Elm Street 4: The Dream Master

1988 / Renny Harlin / MAX / R


"Mmm... Rick, you little meatball. I love soul food. Bring me more."

Quick Rundown of The Dream Master

This is the fourth part of the Nightmare franchise. This time around Freddy is dead, and the characters from the third installment, Dream Warriors, are struggling to cope with the trauma left by their experience with Freddy. If you're not familiar with the franchise I'll lay it out for you: Freddy is a child murderer (perhaps a pedophile) who upon being found innocent by the court due to a "technicality" was burned to death by the parents of the murdered children. Freddy Krueger now seeks revenge through the nightmares of the children of Elm Street.

The first film covers the premise and we learn how the beloved Nancy Thompson conquers the psychological terrorist. The second film follows a new character who happens to live in Nancy's old home, he battles with Freddy over the possession of his body. The third film in the franchise is where most can agree that A Nightmare on Elm Street hits its stride. We follow a group of teenagers in a mental institute. Nancy returns in the third film but Kristen, a girl who can drag others into her dreams, becomes our new protagonist.

The characters from the third film are back for the fourth but are quickly picked off one by one. Just before Kristen is taken off the table she's able to pass her abilities to her friend, Alice, who also has the ability to daydream, and from here the fairly straightforward rules of the Nightmare franchise are bent, twisted, and broken. With Alice taking on the abilities of her friends once they die she's able to eventually best Freddy, but as these slashers go, he'll be back.

A Nightmare On Elm Street 4: The Dream Master

The Creative Team Behind The Dream Master

The man directing this film, Renny Harlin, went on to direct action thrillers like Die Hard 2, and Cliffhanger. More recently Renny is going to be responsible for The Strangers trilogy that's on the horizon. Tuesday Knight takes over the role of Kristen in this film, previously the character had been played by Patricia Arquette. It looks like Ms. Knight has embraced her horror roots, and enjoys taking B-horror roles. She's also the daughter of the late musician Baker Knight. She released a self titled pop album in 1987.

Rodney Eastman, who plays Joey, went on to play Andy in I Spit On Your Grave, which I was going to cover earlier this month, but the content is bleak. There's a playgirl in this film as well. But everyone knows who the star is, and that's Robert Englund. Robert's acting credits go on for miles. Besides the Nightmare films, he's been in other slasher cult favorites like Hatchet, Behind The Mask: The Story of Leslie Vernon, and Urban Legend.

A Nightmare On Elm Street 4: The Dream Master

Jake's Take On The Dream Master

I'm a huge fan of these cheesy slashers. As a teen I watched them religiously. This one specifically is one of my least favorites. I don't care for the daydreamer, and the kills are pretty forgettable. There's one where Alice's boyfriend fights an invisible Freddy, and I'm convinced they just didn't have Robert on set that day, and just told this kid to kick air; the execution is lazy. The best kill in this film is the bug girl. She has a debilitating fear of bugs, therefore Freddy turns her into one, and then squishes her inside of a roach motel. This kill still feels creatively bland. The effects are fun though. The soul pizza, and the ending where the souls mutate his skin to work against him are the best aspects of this film. These sequences are spectacular to watch and Robert never fails to sell. Despite the effects, and Roberts portrayal of the psycho killer, Freddy, the ending falls flat on its fried face. The way in which Alice defeats Freddy is the most cop out solution they could have thought up. If you've never seen any of the films in this franchise I definitely would not recommend starting here, but rather start at the beginning, or watch A New Nightmare for a one off adventure.

Do you have a recurring nightmare?

  • I don't remember my nightmares.

  • Wouldn't you like to know...

  • Yeah, and Tuesday Knight's Never Too Late is always playing.


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