A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET 4: THE DREAM MASTER (1988)

When I hit a milestone movie around here, defined loosely as a movie arbitrarily important because it is a round number, I usually go for something I know is good, that I’ve seen, but that I haven’t reviewed. 100 was GHOSTBUSTERS. 200 was PRINCESS BRIDE. 400 was SHAWSHANK. And so on. So, here we are at 750. Three-quarters of 1000. And what happened? I lost track and watched NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET 4. But who knows… maybe it is a secret cinematic gem…

a_nightmare_on_elm_street_4_the_dream_master

I watched A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET 4: THE DREAM MASTER (1988) on 10.19.14. It was my first viewing of the film.

There is nothing worse than replacing a lead character with a new actress. The role of Kristen was played fairly well by Patricia Arquette in number 3. Sure, she screamed a little too much for modesty, but she was fine. She is replaced (apparently due to pregnancy, according to the official story) by Tuesday Knight. She is not bad, per se, but the sort of haphazard re-casting of a major character is the sort of blandness which permeates this movie.

Of all the 80s schlub stylings the first three films could be accused of, this fourth installment is the worst so far. The script was supposedly written by Brian Helgeland in seven days. He would later go on to write brilliant screenplays like LA CONFIDENTIAL, MYSTIC RIVER, and MAN ON FIRE. But, apparently, even a wonderful writer can’t throw together a good NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET script in a week. So what we get, in this movie, is a whole bunch of terrible dialogue, some real stretches in terms of Freddy kills, and a sincere lack of coherence.

The idea to bring back all the kids from 3, off them, and introduce a whole new set of characters is not terrible. But the way it is done feels lazy. Especially horrifying, it must be said, is when the film has a sequence towards the end which leads the viewer to wonder for a moment if their Blu Ray player is skipping. Deja Vu is fine. But inane deja vu without explanation is less than fine.

This movie has some entertaining bits, but more of it is just boring. The Karate Kid sequences are bad. They get worse when the lead girl, Alice (Lisa Wilcox) squires her dead brothers skills by picking up his nunchucks, and becomes Karate Kid Part III, which everyone knows is the worst one. The ‘fight scene’ with her and Freddy at the end is all time worst fight scenes ever. And, for a series which makes its hero surprisingly easy to kill at the end of each film, she manages to off Freddy by making him look in a mirror. I don’t care if it corresponds with a nursery rhyme. Freddy Krueger should never be killed by looking in a mirror.

The movie tries to have the mirror thing be a theme. Alice doesn’t like her image, but slowly reveals it by taking the pictures of her dead friends off of her mirror. Then she uses a mirror to kill Freddy. Get it? It’s a theme about mirrors. I have no idea what the heck it means. But it is about mirrors, no doubt.

I wish there was something good to say about this movie. It is hard to find much. As bad as the second film is, and it is bad, this one is much worse. The special effects have a small improvement, but not enough to leave an impression. In terms of tone, look at the pictures at the top of my articles for parts 1-3. Then look at the picture at the top of this article. That is what we are dealing with here. Starting to think that this series definitely peaked with the third movie.

SCORES

FILM: 2; MOVIE: 5; ACTING: 3; WRITING: 2

2+5+3+2+0=12

FINAL SCORE: 3 out of 10

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~ by johnlink00 on October 20, 2014.

One Response to “A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET 4: THE DREAM MASTER (1988)”

  1. If you struggle with this one, which I like – oh boy. You’ve got a world of hurt on your hands when it comes to part 5. Good luck.

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