A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master
Dir: Renny Harlin
Star: Robert Englund, Lisa Wilcox, Tuesday Knight, Danny Hassel
Cert / Year: 15 - R / 1988
Format: DVD R1

The "story" of Dream Master takes up after the events of the third film and sees Kristen Parker (Tuesday Knight) and her fellow surviving "Dream Warriors", Joey (Rodney Eastman) and Kincaid (Ken Sagoes) reintergrating into normal life at high school. But Kristen is still dogged by nightmares of Freddy's boiler room labyrinth and continues to draw her friends into her dreams, much to their continued displeasure. Her ongoing fear of Freddy inevitably fuels his spirit, resulting in his resurrection. Hungry for the souls of the "Dream Warriors" who inexplicably beat him Freddy resumes his pursuit of Kristen, Joey and Kincaid. As the clawed dream demon gets closer to Kristen she discovers that her boyfriend's sister Alice (Lisa Wilcox) has the unique knowledge and knack of controlling her dreams. As Kristen fights to survive against the new onslaught of her former tormentor she calls to Alice for help, unwittingly opening a door for Freddy to reach the dreams of the new generation of Elm Street children. Can Alice stop him from collecting more souls of the children and prevent him from growing stronger? and can she beat him once and for all?

The third installment of the series, Dream Warriors basically concluded the story or saga but New Line Cinema ever dilligent in the accumulation of further wealth use A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors as a springboard for a further 2 films. The spotlit portrayal of Freddy Kreuger as an anti-hero and main focus for this film although detracting slightly from the original concept is merely a reflection of the popularity of the character in real life even though he now seems to have lost the all important capacity to scare you witless.

The decision to allow the Frightful Finn Renny Harlin to direct the film is an ostensibly bad one as his inexperience is blatantly evident. Harlin appears to take much for granted in respect of the viewing audience and if you are unfamiliar with the series then the film probably won't mean very much to you. In fact it means little to the fans of the series anyway, but in a different context. The suspense is non-existent and the scare factor is seriously negligible as more attention is paid to the abundant special effects courtesy of Steve Johnson and Screaming Mad George. In addition to the previously vicious Freddy Kreuger, now cracking wise every 30 seconds which removes the barriers of his cold and calculating murderous nature. In one or two circumstances the maliciously indulged humour of Freddy does work quite well like it did in Dream Warriors but now it is an almost constant barage of quips which seriously deviates from the primary and all important terrifying persona of the killer. This kind of light hearted verbal despatch employed upon killing someone may well have worked in the James Bond movies but the continued quips in this context now merely demean the film.

Renny Harlin attempts to run before he can walk in a directorial sense in my opinion as he sacrifices the real suspense, horror and terror in favour of special effects. This is in addition to his generally inconsistent direction which at times appears a little bold and adventurous but results in the photography primarily being nauseating and generally hard going. The film has little to offer to captivate the audience and relies heavily upon the popularity of Freddy in order to spin the muddled and incoherent story and although the worst of the series is undoubtibly A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy's Revenge this film is a close second (which says it all.....a second rate movie!. The veritable Swiss cheese that is the "story" is so full of plot holes that if it wasn't for Freddy you would no doubt just switch it off and relegate the film to the back of your darkest cupboard (or sin bin, if you have one). It is a great pity that after the sterling and intelligently written basis of the character and story by Wes Craven it is reduced to a mundane and almost banal representation in this movie. Freddy Kreuger's make up once again is reworked by Kevin Yagher as you see far more of him now it required a certain more realistic appearance of seared flesh which works better but the really scary part of the make up is of course Robert Englund underneath it all.

Another excellent performance of Freddy Kreuger by Robert Englund whose jaunty physicality offers the character a more menacing appearance as his abstract evil invades the sacred teenage dreamscapes. The most terrifying scene in the movie has to Freddy Kreuger in drag. Singer/songwriter Tuesday Knight although not especially radiant in the role of Kristen, originally played by Patricia Arquette in Dream Warriors does provide a short lived but reasonible performance in her debut. Newcomer Lisa Wilcox makes best of a bad lot as Alice and despite her character appearing as wooden as a tree trunk at times she is very reminiscent of a young Sissy Spacek in Carrie. Rodney Eastman returns as Joey from Dream Warriors whose raging hormones are exploited once more by Freddy Kreuger in an attempt to kill him in a "Playboy" fashion, leading to one of the most memorable scenes of the film featuring former "Playmate" Hope Marie Carlton. Ken Sagoes also reprises his role of Kincaid from Dream Warriors and gives a brief but decent performance despite witnessing the impressive resurrection of Freddy. The huge junkyard scene works quite well and the effects courtesy of Dreamquest were awesome at the time but show their faults now. The rest of the ensemble cast provide generally mediocre performances but Brooke Theiss, Toy Newkirk, Danny Hassel and Andras Jones deserve a mention for doing better than most.

Unlike the first and third films Dream Master sheds much of it's gothic or more traditional horror film elements and instead resembles an almost "pop-art" movie. More a tossed salad of ideas and concepts really which are all wrangled together in a predominantly incoherent and chaotic fashion by the direction of the Finnish flounder Renny Harlin. Some of Harlin's work isn't particuarly bad but he sure as hell can't direct horror films and that is evident with this film. The degree of surrealism required to bring the Elm Street stories to life on screen must be beyond Harlin's understanding as he struggles to translate the flimsy plot and script(s) to celluloid. In another film some of his adventurous attempts at direction may look quite stylish or perhaps even cool but here they are misplaced and ill advised presenting a hideous representation of what could have been an exceptionally better executed production. It appears that as the budget for the movies increases and New Line provide new directors an oppurtunity to cut their teeth the story gets horribly convoluted and the films rely on effects more than suspense........which is always a big mistake.

Dream Master is nakedly 2 dimensional and is painfully lacking any real substance or atmosphere not to mention devoid of terror. Typically eighties with some decent music and catastrophic hair gel experiments and generally BIG hair. Overrall rather dissapointing, it is a wonder that Renny Harlin ever worked again after directing this steaming pile of crud.


Are You Ready For Freddy?!"


Hows This For a Wet Dream!

Rating: 1.5 out of 5

Picture 1.85:1 Great digitally remastered transfer
Audio Dolby Digital 5.1 & Original Stereo soundtrack Excellent Dolby mix.
Cast & Crew Biographies.
"Jump to a Nightmare" scene selection.
Cool interactive menu
Verdict As this disc is part of The Nightmare on Elm Street "Platinum Series" boxed set the disc is different to the standard release and the minimal extra's on this disc are reflected by a seperate disc within the collection which contains the bulk of the extras for this and the other films. This is however a very good presentation of the movie.

Reviewed by Logan Back Top Home