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

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In 1988 the fourth installment of the Freddy Krueger film series was released. Once more Wes Craven stepped away from the writing of the story as a brand new set of nightmares prevailed.

Starring the survivors of the last film and a whole new cast of Teenagers for Freddy to terrorize this film also managed to become the highest grossing Nightmare on Elm Street film until Freddy vs Jason.

It also stared a doggy called Jason who brought Freddy back from death by peeing on him.

I liked that we started off with the kids from the movie before. That hadn’t actually happened before. Of course Nancy came back in the third film but whether she lived or not was left a mystery at the end of the first film, whether Jesse is alive or not is still a mystery unless I missed something in the last movie. Even though the third film still ended with the similar “are they dreaming still? Is Freddy still a threat?” you were confident that actually YES, yes they were safe and it was nice to actually see that they were living a normal life.

Just that was very short lived as Freddy returns to kill all three before setting his eyes on Kristen’s new friends including her boyfriend Rick and his sister Alice, Alice having inherited Kirsten’s powers as she died.

In one night both Kincaid and Joey die, Joey’s death is one of the ones I always remember, death by water bed. When I was a little kid I always thought a water bed would be cool, not after this movie I didn’t!

Anna said that she preferred Night Warriors because of how the deaths were kind of moulded around the individual. Someone wants to be a TV star so they get killed by a TV, someone else was a drug addict so Freddy gives them a overdose. Well Dream Master takes that and does it even better. This time out the deaths don’t look strange, people die in their sleep and look positively normal on the outside world. Joey has somehow managed to get under his plastic covers to his waterbed and drowned, Sheila has a asthma attack when really Freddy has sucked the life out of her etc etc…

I say that Joey’s death is the one that stands out for me in the whole of the franchise but I think it is Debbie’s that haunts my dreams.

Like Debbie I am terrified of bugs so the metamorphosis stuff has always unnerved me. Seeing her being turned into a huge insect scares me more then anything I could tell you and seeing her die in that form when she was such a strong character really upset me the first time I saw it and carries on to this day to upset me.

I think that is what I like the most about the Nightmare Franchise though. Whereas a lot of Slasher movies you have teens being teens, going to parties and having sex and the rest of it, in the Nightmare Franchise even when you have couples there isn’t this need to have naked, or even half naked, girls running around the place after the boys. All the strongest characters in the franchise are females. They don’t survive because people are trying their best to help them, they don’t have boys falling over themselves to be stabbed instead and I think there was one hint at sex in the whole four movies we’ve seen (the first one and the first murder.)

I felt like I wanted to point this out because no one had before hand. I loved Debbie as a character, she kind of broke all the stereotypes of what a female should be in these movies. She wore normal girly clothes, had the big 80s hair, painted red talons but she worked out and she wasn’t there for the pleasure of the male characters and gave them back as good as they gave. She also cared for other girls no matter what they looked like or what they would have been classed as. TV and films now could do with a few more characters like her.

The Nightmare Franchise works so well though because it always keeps you on the edge of your seat purely with the question “are they sleeping or are they awake?”

This movie still had that element to it but this time because people were dying as Alice slept it was a tiny bit more obvious when one was asleep or awake.

That was the new element this film brought in. Again because of the way Freddy kills his victims each film has been slightly different. In the first one he just stalked their dreams and killed them one by one, in the second he possessed someone and came out of the dreams. The third he was back to stalking their dreams but Kristen was able to call people into her dreams. This one saw Alice being able to do the same after being gifted the gift from a dying Kristen but this time out she had to bring people unconsciously to the party for Freddy to kill them. She didn’t call them into the dream as such.

I think that is why I like the series so much. It always feels that little bit different. Freddy is still the same as ever and was given even more of a playground to haunt his victims with this time out but the story around it and how he’s doing what he’s doing always changes.

For me Dream Master is probably my favourite Freddy movie. It had the best cast, the most unique deaths and just looked like a nightmare. The way it was directed just constantly made me think they were all sharing one long dream. You honestly could never tell what was a dream and what was reality. It was also nicely put together with a kind of coming of age story for Alice who went from being shy and keeping her thoughts to herself to having to absorb (for lack of a better word) her friends as they died and finding herself full of a new confidence and a new beginning.

If I ever watch a Freddy film it is always this one I’ll go to first.

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