A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master

09/03/2018 08:45

Film: A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master

Year: 1988

Director: Renny Harlin

Writer: Brian Helgeland, Jim Wheat and Ken Wheat

Starring: Robert Englund, Rodney Eastman and John Beckman



If you had a chance to read my review of the original A Nightmare on Elm Street you know that it terrified me as a child. I did get the pleasure of seeing this sequel on the big screen as they did an event for the 30th anniversary of the film. The official synopsis of this sequel is Freddy Krueger returns once again to terrorize the dreams of the remaining Dream Warriors, as well as those of a young woman who may be able to defeat him for good.

Now I will admit, growing up I got a box set of the VHS tapes for all of the films in the series. Back then I enjoyed all of the films, including this one. It impressed me then that series always is trying to do something new. Coming off of the Dream Warriors, we start off with their leader Kristen (Tuesday Knight) having a nightmare of Freddy’s house. There is a little girl outside of it drawing it and tells her that he isn’t home. Kristen has the ability to pull other people into her dreams, which she does here. She brings the other two Dream Warriors, Kincaid (Ken Sagoes) and Joey (Rodney Eastman). They are upset with and tell her to leave Freddy be as he is dead.

All three of them go to the same school and Kristen has a boyfriend. His name is Rick (Andras Jones) and he is really into karate. She is also friends with his sister, Alice (Lisa Wilcox). She is really quiet and daydreams a lot. Her self-esteem is really low. Also in their circle is Debbie (Brooke Theiss) who is really into fitness and Shelia (Toy Newkirk) who is very smart. I find it interesting that this film has such a diverse group of friends as it ties back in later. There is also Dan (Danny Hassel) who is a jock that Alice and Debbie have eyes for.

This film wouldn’t be a Nightmare on Elm Street without Freddy (Robert Englund). He is brought back to life when in a dream Kincaid ends up in the junkyard from the previous film. His dog is with him and he urinates on the consecrated ground. It actually comes out as fire. This is one of my biggest problems with the film. I don’t like this idea, because this happening in the dream world shouldn’t have any effect on him coming back. He was buried in the real world and I think that something should have happened there for him to come back. This dream sequence is really cool though.

As Freddy picks off the other Dream Warriors, Kristen brings Alice into the dream world. She comes face to face with Freddy. Before the dream, Alice brought up there is a rhyme about a Dream Master. It is supposed to be a way to control your dreams. When Kristen is killed by Freddy, Alice absorbs Kristen’s power to pull people into her dreams. She also takes on some of Kristen’s personality as well. This actually brings up something I really like about this film. Alice has a mirror in her room that is covered in pictures of her friends as she is has no self-esteem. As her other friends are killed by Freddy, she absorbs their personality and their strengths. In an odd way, she finds herself through her friends.

Something else I really like is the distinct dream sequences we get that really capture each person and what their interests are. I won’t go into each one, but I thought they were pretty good. One I will bring up is when Alice and Dan are trying to help Debbie and they are caught in a time loop. I am a big fan of films that have time travel and things like this happen in dreams. I thought it was a good touch for sure. On top of that, the main character being named Alice and trying to do things in a dream world is a funny callback to Alice in Wonderland. There is also a moment where producer Robert Shay who is lecturing a class. Through what he is teaching we learn there are two dream gates, one good and one bad. I thought this ends up a good tie-in to Freddy and the Dream Master.

The editing of the film is also really good. The film gets right into it and the pacing never slows down. I actually am quite surprised as it balances the death scenes with filling us in on the stories as well. I also feel bad as no one believes Kristen when she is terrified to go to sleep, but then it starts to happen to Alice. I will say though that with such a great way to kill Freddy in the previous film, I was disappointed in this one. The showdown between the two is good and I liked the tie-in, but I just wanted more personally and left a bit let down.

As for the acting, I thought it was pretty good across the board. I do have to lead off that I wasn’t the biggest fan of replacing Kristen with Knight over Patricia Arquette. I believe there were contract issues, so I don’t fault it too much. Especially since Knight did a pretty solid job in this film. I thought was pretty cute and I found it interesting that she sang the opening song of the film. I really l liked seeing Sagoes and Eastman back, but kind of wished they would have had them around longer than what they did. Wilcox I definitely have to give a shout-out to. She definitely comes off as shy in the beginning and you can see her building up as the film goes on. She did a really good job and despite how they make her look plain, she is pretty cute as well. I thought the rest of the cast was diverse and did a fine job in each of their roles, especially since it sounds like a lot of was improvised. Then of course, I couldn’t do this without talking about Englund. This is the film that took the comedy from Dream Warriors and turned it up even more. I’m not the biggest fan of it as I think it’s a little too much. I don’t mind some of the one-liners though.

The effects for this film were great and they surprisingly still hold up very well. The film does get a little repetitive in some of the deaths, but there are also some really interesting ones. My personal favorite from the film and it still makes me cringe is the one that happens to Debbie. I also thought the film was shot pretty well also. The dream sequences seemed real to me and would be quite terrifying to be in them. They do some different things for each character that correlates to them. That is definitely a positive for me.

This brings me to the soundtrack for the film. This one is very 1980’s and I really liked it. Many of the songs in the film say something about dreams, which I am a sucker for when you connect the song back to something in the film itself. I thought the music doesn’t hurt any of the scenes and definitely helps to build the feel of the scene when needed as well.

Now with that said, I realize the older I am now that this film isn’t as good as I thought when I was younger, but it still is fun. It does have some good aspects to it. Something that is very interesting the series is all of them having a strong female lead. This one has some deeper things that definitely help me enjoy it more now that I could pick up on then. It does have its issues like the resurrection of Freddy as well as how he is defeated, which does bring my rating down. I thought the characters are all unique and how they help create the Dream Master. Englund does bring a little too much comedy to the role for this film, which I wasn’t the biggest fan of either. I thought the effects hold up really well being done practically and the soundtrack of the film is good. This isn’t the worst in the series, but it definitely is not the best either. I would recommend it if you like the series as I said, it is still a fun watch.


My Rating: 7 out of 10