A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master (1988)
By: J.R. McNamara on September 5, 2007  |  Comments  |  Bookmark and Share
Roadshow (Australia). Region 4, PAL. 1.85:1 (16:9 enhanced). English DD 5.1, English DD 2.0. English Subtitles. 90 minutes
The Movie
Director: Renny Harlin
Starring: Robert Englund, Tuesday Knight, Ken Sagoes, Rodney Eastman, Lisa Wilcox
Screenplay: Scott Pierce, Brian Helgeland Music: John Easdale, Craig Safan
Tagline: "Pure Evil Never Really Dies"
Country: USA
The success of A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: The Dream Warriors made sure that one thing would irrefutably happen: sequel, sequel, SEQUEL!!!!!!! The studio clamoured for it, the fans clamoured for it, but most of all, the merchandisers clamoured for it. Freddy had gone from kiddy-fiddling, child murdering, revenge-filled monster, to pop star and media darling. This film, directed by Renny Harlin, was the cream of the crop for the Nightmare series, delivering the top box office dollar, which, when you consider the fact it was made during a writer's strike, and the only reason Harlin was employed as director was because New Line president Robert Shaye thought he looked strong enough to work long hours, is a damned miracle!! Tragically Freddy's constant media exposure reduced his 'fear factor' and made him less and less scary, which would eventually kill the franchise… even if only until Freddy vs Jason.

A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master continues from where A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: The Dream Warriors left off. Freddy Krueger asylum slaughter survivor Kirstin (this time played not by Patricia Arquette, but by pathetic stand-in Tuesday Knight) has been having Freddy-esque nightmares again, and uses her 'dream power' to pull in fellow screwballs Joey (Rodney Eastman) and Kincaid (Ken Sagoes). Her two friends warn her that perhaps her interference in the 'dream realm' could bring Freddy back. Freddy does come back, but not due to Kristin's influence: for some reason Kincaid's dog Jason (is this a nod to future opponent Vorhees?) pisses flaming urine on the spot where Freddy was buried in Kincaid's dream and this brings him back…


The three survivors are quickly dispatched by the bastard son of 1000 maniacs, and Kristin is stupid enough, in her dying breath, to bring into her dream her friend, and sister to her boyfriend Alice (Lisa Wilcox). The insecure and lonely Alice witnesses Freddy's actions, and becomes the 'fresh meat' for Freddy to feast upon. Using Alice as an anchor, Freddy starts to kill her friends in ironic ways with a sharp wisecrack, but as they die, something strange happens to Alice - she gains all their strength and confidence. But will this be enough to beat the dream demon, and will her work as a waitress at the café 'The Crave Inn' suffer as a result?

Probably, well at least until A Nightmare on Elm Street 5: The Dream Child.

There is no doubt Freddy is the most charismatic of almost any bad guy in history: his quips make him likable …well, almost. When you consider his opponents for the title: the silent Michael or Jason, the bleating Leatherface or the Mummy obsessed Norman Bates, he really was a shoe in.

The effects in this film are pretty cool and Freddy's make up is at its best, and most of the performances, which means everyone except for Tuesday Knight, are pretty good. The awful Knight spoils almost every scene she is in, and also sings the dreadful 'Nightmare' song which plays over the opening credits. There are a few plot holes in this film, and the obvious Alice in Wonderland and Alice: Through the Looking Glass influences are at times ham-fisted and over-literal, but all in all A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master is a pretty fun film, that remains that way as long as you don't hold it up to too much scrutiny, and don't mind sitting through what feels like, at times, a John Hughes film gone bad.
This film is presented in 16:9 widescreen, and is a nice, crisp and clean transfer, free from any artifacts, which is what should be expected from a top selling franchise like this. even if it IS a horror movie.
The audio can be set to Dolby 2.0 or 5.1, and like the picture, can't be faulted.
Extra Features
There are several features on this disc:

The original trailer for the film.

The 'Jump to a Nightmare' trick where you can just watch each nightmare individually, without the storyline screwing up the gory enjoyment.

Like the other discs there are a few documentary vignettes that all seem to be taken from a bigger, more complete Nightmare on Elm Street documentary:

Krueger, Freddy Krueger tells the tale of the origin of the 3rd sequel, and follows all the decisions made towards its release and marketing. Interesting stories of the horrors of filming during a writer's strike are brought to you by Robert Shaye, Rachael Talalay, Bob Shapiro and director Renny Harlin.

Let's Make Up has some great archival footage of Freddy's make up being done, and some interviews with Howard Berger of KNB.

The Finnish Line is a short piece with director Renny Harlin.

Hopeless Chest is a look at the special effects of the 'soul pizza' and the 'chest of souls' from the film. This doco features interviews with John Carl Buechler and Robert Englund.

The packaging claims that there are cast and crew pics, but I could not find them.
The Verdict
As a teen, this was probably my favourite slasher of all, but as an adult, I realize it is a hype filled 'pop star' slasher, and the beginning of Freddy's downfall. Nevertheless, it is entertaining, and, hell, it's Freddy, and still far ahead in leaps and bounds over some of the other fodder released around the same time, and even some of the shite released now.
Movie Score
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