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Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master

Review by Kelly

When deep sleep falleth on men, fear came upon me and trembling, which made all my bones to shake.” Job IV, 13-14

This is the opening quote to the beginning of my second favorite entry in the Nightmare on Elm Street series, The Dream Master. It’s an excerpt from the King James version of The Book of Job. This quote lends itself nicely to the final battle between Alice and Freddy at the end of the movie. She uses the power of, well, a higher power and the knowledge from an old nursery rhyme about The Dream Master to defeat Freddy and release the souls of all of her friends and the children before them. During sleep we are at our most vulnerable, and dreams can be horrifying which is why I think Freddy is the reigning King of the Slashers!

The movie also opens with the iconic song, “Running from my Nightmare” by actress and singer Tuesday Knight, who also stars in the movie. This movie has been favorite of mine ever since I was a kid! It was released in 1988, only one year after the release of NOES 3: Dream Warriors. I decided to do one of my reviews on this movie because, while I adore it, the vast majority of NOES fans dislike it.

I think NOES 4 has a similar vibe and heart compared to Dream Warriors and was a perfect follow up to that successful, and well loved, film. In Dream Warriors, you are introduced to a bunch of kids that you end up caring about and for me, that continued into Dream Master. You once again have a bunch of interesting characters, and I think, a more charismatic cast with great chemistry. It’s also full of strong female characters - Alice, Deb, Sheila, and Kristen. Joey has turned into a dreamboat and I will forever and always have a crush on Rick, played by Andras Jones. I really enjoyed seeing the survivors post-NOES 3 and how they were dealing with their ordeal. Kincaid and Joey want to move on with their lives but Kristen, dealing with some serious anxiety and PTSD, can’t shake the feeling that Freddy is coming back. Sadly, she was right. I still find the scene between Kristen and her mother before she dies to be so heartbreaking. Kristen says “No Mother, you just murdered me. Take that to your goddamn therapy” and it still shakes me.

In NOES 4, Freddy is scary, maintains his personality, and does a lot of personal killing of the characters. Also, I think this movie has the best Freddy one-liners in the series. For example:

“How's this for a wet dream?”

“Wanna suck face?”

“” (the grim and wonderful truth)

I think the practical effects are fantastic with my favorite being Deb’s death. Seeing those gelatinous arms fall onto the ground and her slowly turning into a cockroach is amazing and exactly what I want from a NOES movie. The soundtrack is bloody wonderful, with most of the songs featured on our Spinsters of Horror 80s playlist (see Jess’ recent blog post for the links!). I also love Joey’s death - once again framed by a pretty woman! My least favorite part is Rick’s death - it’s super lame. I want to see Freddy killing people, always. Another part I disliked, and I adore Alice as a Final Girl, was when she says at the end that she now has something to stay awake for, and it’s related to becoming romantically involved with Dan. Prior to all of this, she had a wonderful group of friends and no one should need validation from a partner to feel valued. I found it incredibly clever to have Alice take on the abilities and special skills of all of her friends to help her defeat Freddy in the end. She also does HAND TO HAND COMBAT with Freddy and that rarely happens! Her transformation from a meek, shy, insecure girl to a strong, clever fighter who takes on Freddy herself is empowering to witness, not to mention her kick ass “getting ready for the fight” montage! FUCKIN A.

Overall, because of the atmosphere, strong female characters, interesting Final Girl, soundtrack, kills, themes and Freddy, The Dream Master will always be my second favorite on the series, behind the original.

I will fight anyone on this so come at me! As Freddy says to Deb, ”No pain, no gain.”

The Dream Master nursery rhyme:

"Now I lay me down to sleep, the master of dreams, my soul I'll keep. In the reflection of my mind's eye, evil will see itself and evil will die."

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