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

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‘Terror beyond your wildest dreams.’
A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master is a 1988 American supernatural slasher horror film directed by Renny Harlin (Devil’s Pass; Deep Blue Sea; Prison) from a screenplay co-written by Brian Helgeland and Scott Pierce.

The New Line Cinema production stars Robert Englund, Lisa Wilcox and Danny Hassel.

The $13 million film was released on August 19, 1988, to generally mixed reviews, grossing over $49.3 million in the US, making it the highest-grossing film in the franchise until the release of Freddy vs. Jason (2003).

Plot synopsis:
Kristen, Kincaid, and Joey have been released from Westin Hills and are living as normal teenagers. However, Kristen believes Freddy is coming back and summons Joey and Kincaid into her dreams; they warn her that dreaming of Freddy might cause his return.

The next day, Kristen meets up with her boyfriend, martial arts enthusiast Rick Johnson, and their friends: Rick’s sister Alice; Sheila, an asthmatic genius; and Debbie, a tough girl who doesn’t like bugs.

That night, Kristen stays awake to keep from dreaming, but Kincaid falls asleep and awakens in a junkyard, where Freddy is accidentally resurrected. Kincaid tries to fight off Freddy, but Freddy kills him. He then tricks Joey into thinking a model is swimming in his waterbed before attacking him.

At school, Kristen panics when she notices Joey and Kincaid are missing and is knocked out. She is nearly attacked by Freddy when the school nurse wakes her up. She later tells Rick, Alice, and Alice’s crush Dan Jordan about Freddy.

At dinner, Kristen notices her mother Elaine had slipped her sleeping pills, and she falls asleep. In her dream, Freddy overcomes Kristen’s attempts to repel him and forces her back to his home. Being the last of the Elm Street children, Freddy goads Kristen into calling on one of her friends, so that his fun can begin anew…

Reviews [click links to read more]:
“Despite its general predictability, The Dream Master is surprisingly inventive; the scare tactics work well (special mention to the cheesy Pizza with screaming heads of the dead for Pepperoni) and obvious plot contradictions are eliminated by a logical script. Robert Englund is in good form yet again…” Empire

“Harlin’s arsenal of conceits and visual effects—pirouetting overhead angles, dancing trigonometry formulas, a pizza flavored with tiny human heads, a lot of fancy play with a water bed, and much, much more—keeps it consistently watchable and inventive.” Chicago Reader

” …Dream Master is probably the most fun a viewer can have with the series. The deaths are completely imaginative, the special effects top notch, and the acting is solid on all accounts. It is also probably the most quotable entry of the series. It is entertaining as hell. Nonetheless, part of me wants Freddy scary again.” Slasher Studios

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“Freddy, for his part, sleepwalks through the action, delivering his tired witticisms. Somewhere in the middle of the film, I wanted to buy Freddy a collection of bon mots by H. L. Menken or Dorothy Parker. His way with words leaves a lot to be desired here. This film is light on special effects, too, though some of them are clever.” Krell Laboratories

“I appreciate that the film, like the rest of the series, relishes in the freedom Wes Craven’s original idea gives it and the sheer imagination on display. And I love that it’s clearly having a good laugh with it, with a sense of humour that’s contagious. Yes, it’s sht. But it’s good sht.” That Was a Bit Mental

“The only real payoff is at the end, when all those tortured souls trapped in Freddy’s putrid body break out like rampaging acne. Otherwise, the chills are few and far between, as are the laughs. There are also rehashes from previous Nightmares and sly steals or references to other films, including Lifeforce, The Purple Rose of Cairo, The Fly, Aliens and Ninja III: The Domination.” Washington Post


“It does stumble a bit at times, though – particularly during its first act, which focuses on the characters from Dream Warriors, who are given no love by the screenwriters. Overall, however, this is one of the most entertaining movies in the series and a great celebration of 80s cinematic decadence.” Nerds on the Rocks

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“Freddy Four was the last of the first six Nightmare movies that has more scares than laughs. It follows a familiar Freddy formula. I do appreciate the continuation of the series from film to film, even if it is short lived in the fourth edition. Dream Master’s has its memorable kills. The cockroach motel is a comedy classic…” Without Your Head

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