A Nightmare from Friday to Halloween - A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master (1988)
The three most prominent American horror franchises (Halloween, Friday the 13th, and A Nightmare on Elm Street) have influenced American cinema even beyond the horror genre. As of 2021, there are exactly 31 movies across all three franchises, and I am going to attempt to watch all of them, for this Halloween, one per day.
Dream Master is the fourth solid movie in what is quickly becoming my favorite of the three franchises. Almost every movie is miles better than anything in the Friday the 13th franchise, and I hear there are seriously diminishing returns in the Halloween one. I am kind of a fan of director Renny Harlin, and this movie made his career in Hollywood, and what a career that was with movies like Die Hard 2, Cliffhanger, The Long Kiss Goodnight, and, of course, notorious flop Cutthroat Island. Here, he brings a lot of his maximalist sensitivity to some legitimately great scenes and imagery. There’s the grotesquely funny one of the pizza made of souls that Freddy eats, and then later when the souls are torn from Freddy’s body in a truly nightmarish sequence that deservedly gets its own credit, because that’s a movie in and of itself. Also, I have to shout out Robert Englund, who deserves most of the credit for making Freddy Kreuger so memorable and is probably what kept this franchise going for so long. Here, he’s in top form with his grossness and one-liners. We get a real sense of how he enjoys toying with his victims, and because he’s so obnoxious, seeing him get taken down a peg or two. However, Dream Master isn’t without its share of goofiness. There’s the invisible karate scene that reminds me unfavorably of the episode of the Adam West Batman tv series where Batman and Robin fought invisible enemies. Also, there’s the cheesiness of “Are You Ready for Freddy” by the Fat Boys with Englund himself providing the rap. No wonder this has been called the MTV entry of the franchise, between that song and the songs from artists like Sinead O’Connor.