Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master movie review

New Line Cinema pumped out the Nightmare on Elm Street movies with stunning regularity during the 80s because frankly, they made money and were the financial engine behind the studio.  It’s surprising, then, that the trailer for A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master has the balls to ask you how long it’s been since you’ve been to Elm Street since the previous installment had come out just the year before.

Let that set the tone for what follows.

See, what happened was writer Brian Helgeland received the following mission statement/threat from New Line Cinema: “Due to the impending writer’s strike, you have 7 days to complete this script. Please make a list of things we haven’t done yet in a Nightmare on Elm Street flick and incorporate them into the flick while making it as much like the third one as possible. Thanks!”  Well, something like that.  There really was a writer’s strike and Helgeland did pitch them the Dream Master idea, so I imagine he and the filmmakers just started rattling things off as once the strike was in gear, no more writing could be done.  Here’s what the came up with:

  • Trapped in a runaway elevator
  • Time loop
  • Turn a kid into a bug, roach motel
  • The beach… we’ve never been there before!  Parody Jaws!!!
  • Inside a giant kaleidoscope that transitions into a church window
  • Dog that pisses fire?!?

It’s clear to me that the folks on set knew what they were doing:  they knew where to put the camera, how to move it, what to do with the lights, how to get the most mileage out of a set by reusing it again and again (and then again, again, and again) and so on.  Director Renny Harlin made the best possible movie he could under the circumstances:  the movie looks good, it flows nicely and dictates to the necessities of the genre.

However, The Dream Master kinda sucks.

The movie has constant lapses in logic; sometimes, there is a real world explanation for why someone died, like an asthma attack; other times, there isn’t, like when someone is found drowned inside a waterbed.  Sometimes the characters bring things out of there dream, but in cases like the previous example, it seems that Freddy has sovereignty over the real world, which makes you wonder why he bothers with stalking the kids in their dreams and doesn’t just ambush them in their beds while they’re sleeping and totally defenseless.

I had a whole laundry list of stuff that could have easily been fixed, but with no writer to fix it, they were stuck.  They could have delayed filming the mov- hahahahahahaha, I couldn’t get through that sentence.  New Line loved their Freddy money, so that wasn’t going to happen, and this is what we got:  a less interesting version of the previous film where Freddy is resurrected from being deader than he’s ever been (Dream Warriors was clearly supposed to be the last film in the series) via a dog pissing fire on his grave.

Still, it’s better than movies where no one gave a shit at all, like Hollow Man.  A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master makes an effort; you like and care about the characters, the visuals are strong (if silly at times) and they made the most of what they had.  If you like the franchise, it’s worth checking out.

For more info on A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master, check out We Minored in Film’s informative post!

About Jamie Insalaco

Jamie Insalaco is the author of, and editor in chief of

Posted on October 3, 2015, in movie review and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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