A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master (1988)
As Scary as a Dog Peeing Fire
Welcome to Wonderland, Alice - Freddy
It would be fair to say that the "Nightmare on Elm Street" movies are like a rollercoaster, every good movie is followed by a bad movie. So whilst "A Nightmare on Elm Stree" was good "A Nightmare on Elm Street Part 2" was terrible. Then came "A Nightmare on Elm Street 3" which was an improvement but that was followed by "A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master" which unfortunately ended up being bad. The problem with "A Nightmare on Elm Street 4" isn't that it looks bad as director Renny Harlin does an adequate job of making it entertaining visually with some nice action scenes. Nope the problem is that to keep the storyline going "A Nightmare on Elm Street 4" is absolutely daft with a dog peeing fire being one of the most memorable and daftest scenes in the whole movie.
Hoping to start leading normal teenage lives Kristen (Tuesday Knight), Joey (Rodney Eastman) and Kincaid (Ken Sagoes) once more find themselves being drawn into the world of nightmares when Freddy Krueger (Robert Englund) is resurrected and is after revenge. But Freddy doesn't just want these 3 he wants their friends as well and goes after Alice (Lisa Wilcox), Rick (Andras Jones) and Dan (Danny Hassel) as well as he toys with them in their dreams blurring reality with nightmares.
To keep the "Nightmare on Elm Street" franchise going the storyline we get starts with 3 survivors from the previous movie trying to lead normal teenage lives until they end up bringing Freddy back from his junkyard grave and into their nightmares again but also those of their friends as well. As for the reason why they bring Freddy back doesn't really matter as it seems quite obvious the writers of "A Nightmare on Elm Street 4" were given the task of manufacturing a storyline so more money could be milked from the franchise.
What this means is that there is little which is good about the storyline but a lot which is bad. Now you don't expect any form of reality from a horror movie especially the "Nightmare on Elm Street" franchise but with a young girl who seems to be taking on the characters of her dead friends and a dog which pees fire it's total and utter nonsense and bad nonsense at that. It's a case that the storyline becomes laughable by being so stupid and for the most unimportant.
The sort of saving grace is that Renny Harlin comes on board as director and despite coming before he gave us "Die Hard 2" and "Cliffhanger" he does make "A Nightmare on Elm Street 4" look like a glossy production. Ignoring the dog peeing fire scene for the most the action scenes are all well crafted so that whilst they are not scary they're not cheesy or tacky. And thankfully Harlin infuses "A Nightmare on Elm Street 4" with pace so that whist over 100 minutes it doesn't feel overly drawn out. Although a totally tacky martial art training montage just feels like corny padding.
As already mentioned "A Nightmare on Elm Street 4" starts out with the survivors of "A Nightmare on Elm Street 3" and whilst Ken Sagoes and Rodney Eastman return Patricia Arquette is replaced by Tuesday Knight. It at least provides a modicum of continuity as we firstly watch them get drawn back into battle with Freddy before their friends most notably Lisa Wilcox as Alice take on the evil nightmare slasher. The trouble is that Wilcox and Andra Jones as Rick don't really deliver their characters so they end up being remarkably flat. Of course Robert Englund once more layers on the latex as Freddy and whilst he gets nowhere near enough screen time for my liking he at least does create more than a 2 dimensional characters.
What this all boils down to is that following "A Nightmare on Elm Street 3", "A Nightmare on Elm Street 4" is a disappointment. It may look like a better production with Renny Harlin delivering some nice action scenes but the narrative is non existent and what there is daft. The peak of daftness comes from a dog peeing fire but that is just one moment in many which ends up being laughable. "A Nightmare on Elm Street 4" is by no means as bad as "A Nightmare on Elm Street 2" but doesn't get close to being as good as "A Nightmare on Elm Street".
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