A Nightmare On Elm Street 4: The Dream Master (1988)

Kristen (Tuesday Knight) is the last child from the parents that killed Freddy Krueger (Robert Englund). Freddy has returned and now it’s up to Alice (Lisa Wilcox) to stop him.

Director: Renny Harlin

Cast: Lisa Wilcox, Tuesday Knight, Robert Englund, Andras Jones, Brooke Thiess

MPAA Rating: R for adult situations, language, nudity, and violence

Fun Fact: Patricia Arquette could not reprise her role as Kristen due to her being pregnant.

Wes Craven turned down the chance to write and direct the fourth installment of the franchise. That had New Line Cinema having to go out and find the pieces for the fourth film. With Robert Englund returning as Freddy Krueger, it seemed like the series would still be in good hands. Renny Harlin, who is known for his action films, was brought in to direct and Patricia Arquette needed to be replaced like stated in the Fun Fact with Tuesday Knight.

How do you describe The Dream Master? I would have to say bold and explosive and it doesn’t really feel like a true horror film and more like a hybrid of action and horror. With Harlin in the director’s chair, you are in for a thrill ride from the very beginning. You get exploding windows and a car crash, which could be more on the action side and or horror depending on what is going on. It’s an interesting direction while the first three films are in darker tone, this one feel light hearted. With this light-hearted turn, you start to get to what I like to call “Goofy Freddy”. He has his darker moments here and there but, it’s less of that and more wise cracking jokes and one liners. Robert Englund is still giving his all and you can tell he’s having fun with the role once again.

My biggest complaint about it is that it goes Alien 3 before Alien 3. That’s due to some character deaths and I don’t want to spoil who it is. The beginning of the film was bold to deliver and it did work and it got the appropriate reaction out of me. It doesn’t really affect the rest of the story but, it’s sad to see characters that you really got to know and now they’re gone. So, what would be the point to getting to know and root for when you know the result will be something that shouldn’t really happen? Then again it gives continuity to the series as being a direct sequel to the third film. With that being said, the characters as a whole are a mixed bag. Tuesday Knight is an adequate replacement but, the film shows it’s missing Patricia Arquette. Lisa Wilcox is fine as Alice and it gives us a new protagonist to take on Freddy in the future. Andras Jones as Rick was decent as well. I know some would get turned off with his martial arts bits but, it’s short and the film doesn’t make a focal point. It’s a teenage character that needs a trait and some teens are into marital arts. I didn’t care for the Dan character as he was just there and it leads to a forced romance with Alice. It’s not really touched up on and you can tell they didn’t have the time to develop it in the script.

While that was my biggest gripe of the film, the best thing about this one is that its creative. The deaths are different and the way Freddy is taken on is probably the most creative of the series up to this point. It also has one of my favorite death scenes in the film and whole franchise and that’s Debbie’s death. It plays with the character’s fears and the effects on it hold up well, even today. The effects have been upgraded from the previous installment probably due to this film having a lightly bigger budget.

Overall, A Nightmare On Elm Street 4: The Dream Master is an interesting direction of the franchise. It’s one of those light-hearted films that was to attract more of a main stream audience into the theater. While Freddy hasn’t made a complete turn to “Goofy Freddy” we still get some killer edge that he once was. While the previous installments were creative in the death scenes, this one is the most creative by far. If you haven’t seen this one I would give it a shot.

Verdict: Hit

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