A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master (Renny Harlin, 1988, USA)

Nightmare on Elm Street 4

A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master
, popularly referred to as “the MTV nightmare” of the franchise, is considered by some to be one of the best films in the franchise. It was a major financial success upon its release in 1988, further cementing Freddy Krueger’s role as a pop culture phenomenon. The filmmakers and writers were already aware of this in conceiving Nightmare 4, as it is the first film in the franchise where Robert Englund received top billing. People were coming out to see Freddy at this point, and he receives more quippy lines here than in any other entry in the franchise up to this point.

The film picks up on the action of Dream Warriors, replacing Patricia Arquette with Tuesday Knight and killing off Kincaid and Joey. Knight was an aspiring popstar at the time, and her music is featured prominently in the film. Unfortunately her music doesn’t compare to Dokken’s fist-pumping “Dream Warriors” theme. Nightmare 4 is competently made by Renny Harlin. It dispenses with a lot of the rules of the Nightmare universe and does not feel genuinely creepy, instead relying heavily on gross-out scares. I am thinking in particularly of the scene in the restaurant with the meatballs, as well as when Freddy turns Debbie into a giant cockroach.

The film also delves further into Freddy’s backstory. The finale does have some amazing effects, and Freddy’s demise in this film – being destroyed from the inside out by the trapped souls inside him – is truly memorable. The sequence of Freddy passing through the portal with the screaming souls is also quite impressive. On the other hand, you have scenes of Freddy on the beach with his glove acting like the shark fin from Jaws. Nightmare on Elm Street 4 is a mixed bag – some good ideas, some not.


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