Nightmare and Dreams Month: Nightmare on Elm Street 4: Dream Master (1988) Review

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When everything looked like it was going so well, the Nightmare on Elm Street franchise takes a huge step backwards. Maybe it’s the fact they attempted to churn an Elm Street movie out every year. Maybe it’s the lack of main characters from previous instalments. Or maybe it is the confusing, nonsensical plot which doesn’t really take advantage of anything that makes the Elm Street franchise so watchable.

It doesn’t necessarily start badly but the warning signs are there. Characters return from the best instalment in the series so far (Dream Warriors) but aside from Rodney Eastman’s Joey and Ken Sagoes Kincaid, who play their part, albeit a minor one, the biggest disappointment is that central character Kristen, originally played by Patricia Arquette, has been recast. This wouldn’t be a major issue if it wasn’t for the poorly acted counterpart that has been drafted in (a less than impressive Tuesday Knight).


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Kristen is recast… badly


This is just the beginning. There was a simplicity that worked in Dream Warriors and let the story have space to be creative, particularly with the kills. Here the movie resorts to the muddled story-telling that plagued the second movie, with some half-baked plot point about a Dream Master and being able to pull people into your dreams. It has potential but is never used to it’s full effect.

Luckily, as with every film in the series, there is a saving grace: Freddy Kruger. The plot/story-telling and the reasoning almost doesn’t matter when your key protagonist is this effective and Robert Englund plays this role effortlessly. I have mentioned before how creative the concept of the Elm Street series can be, particularly with the freedom of nightmares. At times, Dream Master shows this, with one particularly good scene linking back to the first instalment but this time involving a waterbed.


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Kruger is still the best part of the whole movie


It isn’t enough though because too much time is spent on the nonsensical plot. This also means we get the same issue that past Elm Street movies have suffered from which is “how to kill Freddy.” This instalment is just as random as the others and seems to have a resolution that appears from nowhere and lacks any actual explanation.

Overall, Dream Master is a return to the worst elements of the series. It lacks sense, decent characters or a finale which works. Englund’s Kruger makes a welcome return and is still the best aspect of the whole movie but this isn’t enough to save the worst of the franchise so far.

Rating – 2

(1 – Awful, 2 – Average, 3 – Good, 4 – Great, 5! – Must See)


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A repeat of the past mistakes





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