While A Nightmare on Elm Street 4 features a hacky joke about penis envy, that’s the only thing Freudian about it as what made entries first and third so memorable is jettisoned in favor of risible pop culture references and corny montages.
But it didn’t have to be that way.
The Dream Master busts out of the gate with an aesthetic and feel a la the first Nightmare, before disintegrating mid-way and limping to a finale, an argument for making the eternal Freddy rest in peace as far as sequels are concerned.
It’s frustratingly episodic, with wonderful visuals and cool kills interrupted by heaping helpings of stupidity. Like other entries in the series, The Dream Master exploits common fears like going under the knife, taking exams and riding elevators. However, in the case of all three, the pins are set up but director Renny Harling rolls gutter balls. That’s what happens when the guy who brought us The Adventures of Ford Fairlaine helms a classic horror series entry.
Kristen, Kincaid and Joey are back and the former drags the latter two into her subconscious, believing the one-gloved fedora-clad menace has returned. Her fears are well founded as Kincaid is offed in a junkyard and Joey’s wet dream becomes a drowning.
Joey is a ridiculous Karate Kid, with spaghettini arms and feudal warlord “Land of the Rising Sun” headband. Kincaid is Kincaid, the unexceptional African American holdover from Dream Warriors and likewise Kristen, Patty Arquette redux. There’s also an asthmatic nerd, Sheila, and entomophobic Debbie, a crowbarred in fear device solely to create (an admittedly cool, if nonsensical) bug kill.
Many people have commented on the above and the Cronenberg influence of Freddy’s gym equipment-inspired murder. However it makes very little thematic sense to rip out synovial hinge joints in a workout room, and have the character morph into a Kafkaesque bug. It’s not like anyone’s really invested in Debbie to have this be meaningful.
But that’s just one of the film’s many flaws, the largest being Alice’s insane dress-up montage, as asinine as anything ever lensed in the series.
Worth checking out to see the devolution from the near-classic Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors.
**1/2 (out of 5)