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

A-Nightmare-on-Elm-Street-4With “Dream Warriors” there was a purpose for its premise. It was the last of the Elm Street children and they had a score to settle with Freddy. With this Renny Harlin installment there isn’t much that can be done beyond the visual and Harlin brings it to the forefront with all sorts of surrealism that audiences will appreciate. Sadly, the cause for Freddy’s revival isn’t too creative, nor is the reason for the continuation of this narrative. There could have been a lot more to do with the concept of the dream warriors, and “Dream Master” is sadly just a vague reflection of the creativity brought to the aforementioned.

“Dream Master” leaves off directly after “Dream Warriors” where now Freddy has been revived thanks to volatile dog piss and has emerged from the bowels of hell to wreak havoc on his domain once again. Most of the film is spent trying its best to connect both entries and does so through a deus ex machina where Kristen is sadly snuffed out but not before passing her power on to young Alice. If our dreams are our own personal domain and they grant us our own personal powers, then why is it possible for us to pass on our personal powers?

Wouldn’t that be transferring souls in some form or another? And why do we learn about it now rather than the previous film where the combined powers of the Dream Warriors could have helped to defeat Freddy and spare lives? Plus if our personal powers allow us to achieve a form of empowerment in our dream domains why does it reflect on the actual person in reality? Nevertheless, “Dream Master” is a fairly serviceable sequel with a cheap device used as a vehicle for the series, but it doesn’t do much to add to the logic of the mythos when all is said and done.

On a purely nostalgic basis, “Dream Master” is watchable and at times very creepy, but as a sequel it’s strictly a one and done affair that doesn’t overwhelm thanks to its inability to take the mythos and lore to another stratosphere. Harlin however knows how to direct a damn fine visceral experience and the dreams are presented with hues of blues and reds that are quite fascinating to watch, even when resorting to cheap scenarios (that air karate fight is awful every single time) to get the story moving to the next kill. Like the sequels after “Dream Master” is about getting to next fatality as quickly as possible and doesn’t explore the story as much as I would have liked. Filled with some considerable plot holes and a cheap deus ex machina, “Dream Master” is the lesser of the “Nightmare” sequels, but serviceable more surreal one nevertheless.