A Nightmare On Elm Street part 4: The Dream Master

Dir: Renny Harlin, 1988

8/10

The man with the hat is back and, no, it isn’t Indiana Jones but our favourite wisecracking ghost, murdering teens and making box office receipts.

At the end of this films predecessor, Freddy Krueger was, finally, laid to rest, unable to harm another living teen.

But money talks in Hollywood and, after respectable returns on part 3, Freddy wasn’t going to rest for long.

The charred remains of the child killer, lay buried in a scrapyard, doused in holy water.

Kirsten (Tuesday Knight) begins dreaming of the Elm Street house and Freddy’s boiler room. 

Frightened, she brings in her friends into the dream, Joey and Kincaid, who reassure her that Freddy is gone and talking about him could bring about his resurrection.

However, later that night, Kincaid dreams about the scrapyard where Krueger is buried and, inadvertently, causes his rebirth and is brutally killed.

That same night, Joey dreams of the pin up girl on the poster in his bedroom, appearing underneath his waterbed. Morphing into Freddy, Joey is dragged under and murdered.

Realising that both Joey and Kincaid have not turned up for school, Kirsten is scared that they’ve been killed.

Her fears proven, Kirsten brings Alice (Lisa Wilcox) into her dreams, the sister of her boyfriend Rick.

One by one, Freddy murders Kirsten and her friends until only Alice is left who must defeat the scarred demon and release the souls of her friends.

The second in the Dream subtitle trilogy, following Dream Warriors and preceding The Dream Child, this fourth entry into the franchise endeavours to scale things back to its roots while retaining the thin strand of humour that ran through the third film.

Whereas Dream Warriors was very fantastical, director Renny Harlin, does away with the over the top theatrics and goes more for surrealist horror.

The trend for catering the victims’ nightmares towards their fears and history continues, but they don’t have silliness that part three had.

Strangely, out of all the entries in the series, only two suffered censorship problems in the UK; this and Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare.

What’s strange about it, is that none of the issues concerned violence or gore. For this film, 56 secs was cut to remove Rick, and later Alice, brandishing and flailing a pair of nunchakus with the cuts expanded to 1 minute and 7 seconds for the video.

So, bodies being torn up, limbs broken and turned into insects is okay, but two pieces of wood and a bit of chain isn’t?

It’s ridiculous and laughable, and sums up the idiocy of Fatuous Ferman. Thankfully, once the erstwhile director and all-round dickhead retired, the film had all of the censored footage restored and the certificate LOWERED from an ’18’ to a ’15’. 

Renny Harlin seems to have had a lot of trouble with the censors over the years, on a good number of his films. Maybe he courts it.

Starting with the third film, the series began using a heavy rock soundtrack, as opposed to the spine tingling score of Charles Bernstein. 

As fun as the film is, it would have been great to strip the film back, entirely, removing all the gimmicks and general goofiness, to present a more frightening film than one of ” cool”. 

Director Harlin, could have handled this task easily and with great aplomb, but saddled with the script he has (co-written by future Hollywood heavy, Brian Helgeland), his hands are tied.

Nevertheless, the fourth entry is an enjoyable ride with some pretty good special effects and is a step up from A Nightmare On Elm Street part 3: Dream Warriors.

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