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

A Nightmare on Elm Street 4 - The Dream Master (1988)


The film picks right up where A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors left off: Kristen (Tuesday Knight, The Babysitter), Joey (Rodney Eastman, Spork) and Ronald (Ken Sagoes, Intolerable Cruelty), the last surviving Elm Street kids, have been released from the Springwood Mental Institution. They believe that Freddy Krueger (Robert Englund, C.H.U.D. II – Bud the Chud) is dead for good. However, when Kristen begins having nightmares (again!), she’s convinced that Krueger is back and she is right!

Reaction & Thoughts:

This is where the rot set in — the franchise never quite recovered from this sequel. A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors (1987) had a perfect ending and this follow-up seems totally unnecessary.

A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master, written by Brian Helgeland and Scott Pierce, directed by Renny Harlin (The Long Kiss Goodnight), offers nothing new, relying on a proven formula that begins to look so tired. More important, Krueger is no longer the vicious killer of the first three movies — he has been turned into a wisecracking villain straight out of Sesame Street, not Elm Street.

The level of grotesqueness is high, but the suspense is very low. There is an obvious attempt to outdo the murder sequences from previous installments. Some of the make-up and visual effects are quite good. But the production design, as elaborate as it is, looks a bit cheesy. The set-pieces are colorful, but not scary. Robert Englund’s shameless scenery chewing only helps accentuate the flat storyline. In all fairness to the actor, he’s working from a terrible script.

Englund is at the very least a commanding presence, but the same thing can’t be said of the rest of the cast. None of the young actors register. To make matters worse, Patricia Arquette (Boyhood), who had played Kristen in A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors, couldn’t reprise her role. The part went to newcomer Tuesday Knight, who is decidedly less talented than Arquette. Thankfully, Knight exits the story pretty quick and Lisa Wilcox (Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventures) takes over the lead, who is a (slightly) better heroine than Knight.

Conclusions & Final Thoughts:

A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master is uneven and hardly worth anyone’s time. It’s a sub-par sequel for the most part, with a humorized villain that makes the movie even less interesting. Color, 99 minutes, Rated R.

Followed by A Nightmare on Elm Street 5: The Dream Child (1989)


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