Alamo Drafthouse's Terror Tuesdays Presents: A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET 4: THE DREAM MASTER (1988)

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Typically, as I have discussed before, after seeing the 7th installment of Friday the 13th at Alamo, I find it somewhat annoying when the killers in horror films become mascots. I go against my own idiosyncratic pet peeve when it comes to a few films. The Firefly Family from The Devil’s Rejects and House of a Thousand Corpses, Bela Lugosi as Dracula, and of course Robert Englund’s masterwork Freddy Krueger. I have always been a Freddy over Jason person, maybe because I feel like that the Nightmare on Elm Street movies have a better sense of humor about them. 

I honestly love all 4 of the first Nightmare on Elm Street movies and some beyond that, but today we’re here to talk about the fourth installment in the unbelievably successful series, A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET 4: THE DREAM MASTER. Although picking up almost directly where Dream Warrior left off, the film itself is a different beast. Directed by Renny Harlin (Cliffhanger, Deep Blue Sea), who was able to direct Die Hard 2 immediately after Dream Master due to it’s success; the film has almost unstoppable thrills. It’s also one of the few films I can even think of at this moment to switch protagonists entirely without being an anthology film. 

The main plot is that Kristen Parker (Tuesday Knight; Mistress, How To Be Single), played in Dream Warrior by Patricia Arquette who didn’t reprise the role, still has her ability to summon her friends into her dreams, even though Freddy is supposedly dead. We all know he’s never dead though. This time he is brought back to life in Kincaid’s (Ken Sagoes; A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warrior, Intolerable Cruelty) dream, when his dog, Jason (HA HA) digs up a hole and literally pisses fire into it, which somehow re-animates our favorite burn victim. 

From there, it is high-powered nightmare antics one after the other. The deaths in this film are some of the more creative in the series or in any other series that was out at the time. The weightlifting/cockroach scene where Debbie (Brooke Theiss; They Came From Outer Space, Uncle Buck) becomes the thing she hates the most is still one of the most genuinely stomach-turning death scenes in all of horror film history. 

While Kristen was the heroine of Dream Warrior, her mother gives her sleeping pills and in the midst of her final dream, Kristen summons her boyfriend’s sister Alice (Lisa Wilcox; A Nightmare on Elm Street 5: The Dream Child, The Watcher of Park Avenue) to help her and when Kristen succumbs to Freddy, Alice inherits her power to summon people into her dreams. 

I love the plot of this film a lot, because it actually has a little bit of depth to it. The practical effects, which come from horror heroes Image Engineering and Screaming Mad George, among others, are incredible, and as usual, Freddy’s make-up is properly disgusting. The puns in the film are incredibly over the top. For example when Freddy says “Rick, you little meatball” in one of Alice’s worst nightmares about working in the pizza shop forever. 

Another thing that I could talk about for a long, long time but will try to keep to a few sentences is how much I love the soundtrack for this movie. The diner scene where Dan (Danny Hassel; A Nightmare on Elm Street 5: The Dream Child, Simon & Simon) first goes to visit Alice and “In the Flesh” by Blondie plays. The ridiculous yet awesome “I Want Your (Hands on Me)” song that plays during the aforementioned weightlifting scene and how could I fail to mention the dojo scene where Kristen’s boyfriend,Rick (Andras Jones; Night Trap, The Demonlitionist) gets his martial arts on to the catchiest song on planet earth “Anything, Anything” by Dramarama. 

I could seriously write a treatise on this film (and all the other Nightmare films) so I will stop before I actually do. It’s one of my favorites in the NOES franchise. It was also the first one where Robert Englund received top billing as Freddy Krueger, and the first (and only) one where Freddy raps with The Fat Boys in their music video for their contribution to the soundtrack. It is seriously just one of the most fun horror movies of all time, and I’m very glad I finally go to see it on the big screen, which is how all the NOES film should be enjoyed, honestly. 

Thanks to Alamo for a great Terror Tuesday. Next Tuesday, I’ll be seeing Waxwork, in the last installment of Arrow in the Head’s “Summer of 88” programming for the month of July. More awesome films are coming up for Terror Tuesday next month, including Blade (AHHHHHH Steven Dorff), Sleepaway Camp 2, and more!!! Stay tuned!!! 

Lorry Kikta