A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master

A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master ★★★½

I... am... eternal.

The Dream Master is the fourth Nightmare movie, made for the MTV generation and not shy about showing it. It's silly at times, but also an entertaining, easy to digest and enjoyable middle-ground outing for the mostly strong horror franchise. With each outing, the franchise moves further away from serious horror and into camp territory, as horror icon Freddy Krueger spends less time lurking in the shadows and more time spitting out great puns. Depending on who you ask, this isn't necessarily a bad thing. Personally, 4 movies in, I don't think the people making these films are going to come close to replicating the eerie, sick and weird magic of the first film again, so they may as well produce something entertaining and fun. This franchise is always at its best during creative nightmare death scenarios. While the plots surrounding these kills have lessened in detail and quality since the original, so far the nightmare death scenarios themselves have remained inventive and fun.

ANoES 4 picks up after the events of the standout third movie, in which a group of "dream warriors" living in a psych ward find the power to fight back against Freddy in his demonic dreamscapes and then team together to temporarily bury Freddy. Three of the characters here are returnees from that group, although there is a jarring actress switch for the Kristen character, one of the leads from the previous film, from an early Patricia Arquette role to Tuesday Knight. Tuesday, while not quite on Arquette's level, does just fine with the performance, but these two look way too dissimilar to sell that it is the same character.

In many ways, this fourth installment is more of the same as that of the third, with a similar type of plot and structure, except that it takes place out in the world and not in the mental hospital and that it falls on a single warrior instead of a group of warriors. It's also not quite as good overall as the third film, which also boasts the same type of creative and fun kills seen here, but has a higher quality of acting than in The Dream Master. This film definitely could have used another Heather Langenkamp appearance, as the most beloved films in the franchise all seem to feature her in an important role. This time, the acting is mostly passable (Lisa Wilcox lends some maturity to the lead role, if a little bland) but there's some subpar acting and bad side characters involved too.

If you are a fan of the franchise films before this one, I'd certainly recommend continuing forward into this installment. While I find it a slight decline from 3, it's really a solid watch for horror fans who don't take things too seriously. The creativity of the kills and Robert Englund's gleefully evil line delivery are enough to recommend this, even if the story starts feeling a little samey and flat about halfway though the movie. I'm hoping the next installment brings something a little different in terms of mixing up the plot framework. P.S. I really love the multiple use of one of the more underrated 80's tracks: "Anything, Anything" by Dramarama. Also, Freddy Krueger raps over the end credits, so yeah.... My rating: 3.5 out of 5 // 7 out of 10 soul pizzas. -KF

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