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

A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master

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Just one year after the events of a Nightmare on Elm Street 3, the survivors of that ordeal are now out of the asylum and living their lives the best they can. But as is usually the case with Freddy, he has an obnoxious ability to come back from the dead. This time accidentally….somehow. Whatever. It’s just another excuse for the evil killer to run amok, and Freddy easily starts polishing off the survivors of the last film. His final task for Kristin, however, is more sinister. As the last of the Elm Street children, once Kristin is dead his revenge is complete and his killing spree is over….unless of course Kristen can bring more people into her dreams, thus giving Freddy a new batch of people to potentially fear him. So in order for him to continue his fun, Kruger goads Kristin into bringing her new friends into her dream. She inexplicably chooses Alice, her own boyfriend’s shy, quiet little sister. In the ensuing struggle, Kristin manages to transfer her dream power to Alice. Only problem is, Alice has no idea how to use that power, so she ends up inadvertently bringing even more unsuspecting teens into Freddy’s house of horrors, dooming them all to painful deaths. But with each new death, Alice gains the strength of her friends own dream powers, until she’s finally forced into a final confrontation with the evil Dream Master once and for all.

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It is at this point in the series history where we now begin the proud tradition of Freddy really hamming it up for the audience. Sure, he’s always had some dark quips, but now he’s almost gone full on snark mode at this point. I gotta admit, part of me kinda loves it, because out of all of the multitudes of slashers, Freddy ends up being the one that has the most personality. But at the same time his actions are so different from the first movie that he’s almost become a completely different character at this point. True, he still gets a sadistic pleasure out of tormenting people, but now he’s dropping cheesy lines and puns along with all the manic slashing he’s doing. I’d be really torn about the differences if I didn’t enjoy both versions so much for vastly different reasons.

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I honesty don’t have much to say about this entry. At this point the next three films really start becoming so similar that they begin to blend together into one long series of increasingly wacky death sequences. This fourth entry is actually so closely related to the next one that you could almost consider them one long film. Except this movie ends up being the worse of the two, because it ends up being the least interesting, despite the fact that it was actually the most successful film of the series until the Friday the 13th crossover in 2003. But no matter how much money it made, I just don’t find it all that fun. If I was forced to give the Nightmare movies a ranking, then Dream Master would probably be somewhere close to the bottom near Freddy’s Revenge. I just don’t find anything in it all that memorable, beyond the ending, because I gotta admit, Freddy does get a pretty interesting “death” sequence at the end there.

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But beyond that the film is much of the same as the films before. The acting is largely the same, with some of the same actors making a return appearance from the last film, and of course Robert England returns to play the burnt-up bad guy, and does a bang-up job as always. There are admittedly a lot of creative kills in this one, including a girl that’s afraid of bugs who gets squashed in a roach motel. But despite the creativity involved, the deaths don’t end up being nearly as gory, nor as entertaining as the previous films, and they also end up getting out-shined by the latter films. So overall I’d say this is the more ‘meh’ Nightmare outings. Enjoyable enough for fans of the series, but easily skip-able on repeat viewing, or if you just want to see the best the series has to offer.

Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master is available on a variety of streaming services.

Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master is also available on DVD and Bluray.

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Michi

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