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

You shouldn't have buried me, I'm not dead.
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A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master - You shouldn't have buried me, I'm not dead

A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master is the first indication that the franchise has less of a future than a marriage between Ted Bundy and a snuff fetishist. From the lame 80s opening music performed by Patricia Arquette's Kristen replacement (Tuesday Knight), the fact that they had to replace Kristen with another actress in the first place and the short-lived return of Kincaid and Joey (who now sports the voice of the one character Keanu Reeves can play), it is easy to determine that the experience is about to be a templated rushed experience that would sit comfortably with Kincaid's dog in the Boston Box. The movie takes all the standard slasher techniques that appeal to the mainstream, dumbs down the gore, enlists a cast to play shallow characters and throws Freddy in the mix armed with a joke book stolen from Carrot Top.

In order to facilitate the late eighties (and beyond) fixation with dull-wittedly, overstated ironic deaths in slashers it is necessary to have a number of equally dumb-witted and "obsessed with certain past times" characters to make droll victims of. The Dream Master has no lack of such one-track mindedly superficial people and within a short period of time the viewer knows that the non-major players consist of a girl that hates bugs, a ninja, an asthmatic and a number of other characters soon expecting predictably ironic deaths.

Having been freed from Westin Hills, Kristen, Joey and Kincaid are leading a Freddy free life and experiencing the harrowing dramas of high school such as relationships, sport teams, the social food-chain and other important things like that. Kristen has a couple of new friends, Alice the daydreamer, Sheila the nerd, Debbie the rebel and Alice's brother, Rick, the love interest.

Meanwhile Freddy is becoming bored in his junkyard graveyard and decides it is about time for his comeback, still able to manipulate the dreams of the Elm Street children but unable to manifest himself in the flesh he invades Kincaid's junkyard dream and manipulates his resurrection. Unable to fully recollect the magic ingredient from his old copy of "Cenobite Resurrection for Dummies" he settles for flaming dog piss instead of blood, rebuilds his tissue from the canine metabolic waste and prepares for his rampage to finish the kids of Elm Street.

Alice (Lisa Wilcox) manages to get herself pulled into Kristen's dream as Freddy, not satisfied with just the Elm Street crew, wants more souls for his harvest and plans to use Kristen's power to drag victims into his realm... or something. Alice is somehow the anti-Freddy and manages to gain the dream powers of Mr Krueger's victims and plans to get some revenge of her own using the power she inherits from Kristen's demise.

With the basic premise fudged back into existence Freddy now has free reign to invade the nightmares of Kristen's high school buddies, crack a few lame puns, do battle with his nemesis Alice the Dream Master and maybe hint at another sequel, although the fact that our villains secret weakness is poetry and a piece of glass he shouldn't survive long.

Freddy's being is crow-barred back into existence and more victims are introduced by a change in his motivations and a flimsy plot alteration. In comparison to other standard "this is the supernatural anti-hero and his motivations for killing are this" slashers, A Nightmare on Elm Street 4 slots in nicely and can be skim watched like 80% of this niche form of modern stasher. The real travesty is that the whole concept of Freddy and the nightmare combination is pure genius and in The Dream Master he has been demoted to the ranks of "Horny the Clown" or "Lester the Scarecrow". There are a few creative kills such as the asthmatic's vacuum packed skeleton and the initial breakage of the weight lifters arms but these deaths are executed in comical and non-disturbing ways which removes the horror aspect and makes for very family friendly viewing and will not arouse the passions of someone looking to be shocked, disturbed or even wanting to grimace.

With a fairly weak storyline this sequel is simply an excuse to cash in on the success of the previous incarnations of Freddy and as he had no flesh and few victims left there had to be a new twist and motivation for our burnt fiend. Obviously without the talents of Wes Craven, the writers (like the aforementioned Lester trying to masturbate to internet porn) were just clutching at straws and hurriedly threw something together just to get it to market. A necessary part of the franchise if you plan on watching the others but it may be worth stopping at three if you don't want to ruin the nightmare.
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Categories: Slasher Movies
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