A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master ★★½

Even as a kid, A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master was one of my least favorites in the entire series. The fact that it was a direct sequel to the one NOES film I loved more than anything was surely a major contributing factor. Initially I was the most upset with Kristen's replacement; Tuesday Knight is a gimmicky knockoff of Patricia Arquette, from her silly name to lousy acting ability, there was just no way I could take her seriously. They really pushed to have the same feel in the opening nightmare scene, there's a similar little girl in the frilly dress outside of the dilapidated Thompson residence, the nursery rhyme, the tone, it's all similar but, it's also what I consider your typical sequel downgrade. It's an imitation and if you're familiar with the original source, you're going to notice a difference in quality.

Of the sequels so far, NOES 4: The Dream Master is the most dated. From quotes like - "Do yourself a favor and get a VCR", to pop cultural references being tossed around (Debbie can't stop talking about Dynasty), I can't help but find it super cheesy. Not to mention Rick's character who is a generic combination of Ferris Bueller, the Karate Kid and Duckie from Pretty in Pink.

It really shows that writer Brian Helgeland (hot off of Robert Englund's directorial debut, 976-Evil) was pressed for time when it comes to the script. In a desperate attempt to think of a proper way to resurrect Freddy Krueger, we're instead given a befuddling scene with Kincaid's ADORABLE dog, Jason, pissing fire over Freddy's burial site in the junkyard, which opens up the earth and releases the nightmare. When Kristen's corpse is found burning in her bed, her mother, Alice and Rick just stand in the doorway and watch her burn, like they're sitting around a bonfire, hypnotically staring into the flames. No one would think to grab a blanket and throw it over her body, run to a phone or grab a fire extinguisher? I guess some people truly would like to watch the world burn. Me? I'd like to burn this script. There's a scene outside of Nancy's old house, which I thought was now only visible in their nightmares as Freddy had taken up residence there, that I found absolutely unbelievable. You think the house looks that way while everyone is awake, on top of the fact it's in a neighborhood with mini-mansions? That place would have been torn down ASAP.

The murder-scenes and nightmare sequences are tamed down to the point of ridiculousness (with one exception for Debbie's roach motel scene). That scene on the beach? Okay, it makes me laugh but that's only because it's wildly out-of-place. It couldn't be any further from the horrific nature of the nightmares in the first film. Another unintentionally hilarious scene is Alice's Dream Master Montage where she has a stunt double in a bad, brownish-grey wig, using nunchuks.

On the topic of Kristen and Alice, the actresses portraying each character were awful. This was the first misstep in Annette Benson's casting direction for the NOES films. During one of the funeral scenes, Alice is shown with a fake, glue tear hanging out in the crevice of her nose and cheek for a long while. The sunglasses were a nice touch to further fuel my suspicion that the actress was incapable of producing her own, natural tears.

The biggest travesty in A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master is that Freddy Krueger is no longer scary. He has become unusually cocky and not menacing, but arrogant, both in character and the actor portraying him. Fame had really gone to Fred's head by the 4th film in the series. It doesn't help that Finnish director, Renny Harlin was more interested in having Freddy become the hero, or, as he said in an interview, a James Bond-like character [WHAT?! I guess that explains the dumb scene on the beach?].

And finally, the icing on the cheesecake was the decision to show the headstone of Freddy's victims in the same section of the cemetery. Nancy and her father buried with Roland Kincaid and Kristen Parker--apparently there's a special section of the graveyard for Freddy's victims, the Elm Street plot.

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