A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master

Director: Renny Harlin (1988)
Starring: Lisa Wilcox, Andras Jones, Danny Hassel, Robert Englund
Find it online: IMDB, Amazon UK, Amazon US

Kristen returns, although she's not played by Patricia Arquette anymore. Tuesday Knight (HA) steps into Patricia's shoes for long enough to accidentally resurrect Freddy and get herself killed. Fellow loony bin inmates Kincaid and Joey return too, albeit only to get offed within the first half hour. Poor Joey. Although he can speak now, his libido gets the better of him again and he ends up suffering the movie's most entertaining death. And, as soon as you see the setup, you'll guess the punchline. WET DREAM. GET IT, BECAUSE IT'S A WATERBED. AHAAAA HAAA.

But before Freddy kills her, Kristen manages to pass on her abilities to schoolmate Alice (Wilcox). Handy that, since Freddy now has his sights set on Alice and the various other youths of Springwood. But see, Alice is a zany daydreamer type (read: annoying goon). With every death, Alice grows stronger and stronger and gains more abilities, making her the titular 'Dream Master'. Eventually, the stage is set for an epic showdown between the Dream Master and Freddy Krueger himself. Disappointing dullness and an irritating lead character make this the weakest Nightmare until the next one.

Freddy is in full-on cartoon mode now, and is but a caricature of his original self. He makes lame jokes, his jumper is brighter than ever and he prances embarrassingly around the screen like he were the fucking Leprechaun. Still, Robert Englund is always a watchable presence, and it's hard to fault the man, even when he's making a joke of his best character.

There are a few fun deaths to be found within The Dream Master, including one which sees a girl turned into a cockroach, Joey's 'wet dream' (GET IT), a pizza-related kill, and a particularly cruel one with an asthmatic girl. Freddy's demise too, is perhaps his finest and amongst the most memorable in the whole franchise. This review is full of spoilers, in case you hadn't noticed.

But, after the glorious lunacy of the first three Nightmares, this fourth entry feels tired and just a little average. Freddy is starting to suffer from signs of overexposure - he's a serial killer, not a fucking standup comedian - and the 'Dream Master' storyline really grates, thanks to a whimsical, limp lead performance concentrated on an irritating central character. There's no sense of menace in the movie at all; one senses that Renny Harlin really isn't suited to horror movies. Although by this point, it seems they weren't really trying to make 'horror' as we know it. Krueger's too familiar to be scary now, so why even try?

Ultimately, The Dream Master isn't really that bad of a movie - Freddy's worst days were yet to come - but it's nowhere near as good as its predecessors. And that, for a Nightmare on Elm Street, is just a damn shame.


  1. Hmm, I have found him a tad too familiar now too. He is so in your face it happened very easily. Still love it though and will give the rehash a try.

  2. I love the Elm Street movies - even the bad ones. Am definitely planning on checking the remake out too.