04 July 2011


Twelve Things about A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master

12. I knew something was wrong early on in the movie, when the three survivors of the Horror extravaganza that was A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors showed up to open this new chapter, and I felt absolutely no emotional connection to any of them.

First of all, Tuesday Knight just isn't Patricia Arquette. But then again, even Rodney Eastman and Ken Sagoes, reprising their roles as Joey and Kincaid, left me similarly cold. And that's truly odd when all you have to say to get me to love a character is that he's an "Elm Street Kid." (Magic words, I tell you.)

11. As for the "fresh meat" in the cast . . . they were a mixed bag. =/ I don't expect to be deeply invested in characters who are just "Freddy fodder," but I do like feeling that they're regular teens who really are friends. That's not too much of a demand, is it?

10. I did like Brooke Theiss, who plays Debbie, instantly--and not just because she was in 80s sitcom Just the Ten of Us with other NOES alumnae Heather Langenkamp and JoAnn Wilette. She just really stood out.

Yeah, it was partly because of her hair.
(What? You know I love 80s hair!)

9. But it was also because my subconscious has had her roach motel death in its "archives" for almost two decades.

This horrifying, Kafkaesque sequence has such integrity on its own that we don't need to see what Debbie's body looked like when she was finally found. And that's good because we're not shown it at all! =P

8. Speaking of kills, I know that Elm Street Parents (who are as much a "type" as their Elm Street Kids) are supposed to be terribly in denial about what's really going on with their children, who are dropping like flies around them. But I think even the worst mother would know something was up if she found her son drowned inside the still-sealed mattress of his water bed, with the rest of the bedroom totally dry.

I mean, come on!!!

7. And then there's the canine character, who has a significant, if completely insane role in the plot. Kincaid has a dog named . . . Jason.

Yes, that's right: an Elm Street dog is named after Freddy Kreuger's greatest rival for the title of Ultimate 80s Horror Villain. Was this New Line Cinema's way of saying that Jason was Freddy's b****? (LOL!)

6. Still, being raised from the dead when a dog urinates fire on your remains, for all its 80s cheesiness, is nothing next to Jason's hamartia-enabled resurrection in my favourite Friday the 13th installment, Part VI: Jason Lives.


Sorry, New Line Cinema, but your cheap gag has nothing on Paramount Pictures' great writing--which is why it was Jason Lives that got to be Midnight Movie of the Week #76 at The Mike's awesome blog. (You've read my guest post, right?)

Then again, The Dream Master is getting its own Twelve Things post at my also very awesome blog . . . so I guess they come out even. ROFL!!!

5. I don't care for Knight and I love Theiss, but now I'm going to look at Final Girl Alice "Welcome to Wonderland!" Johnson without saying a word about the actress who plays her.

The filmmakers get some points for putting about ten minutes' extra thought into her characterisation. So she's a girl who daydreams a lot and has been dreaming herself into "happy places" at night since she was a child. Dream, dream, dream, blah, blah, blah. But what really makes her different is that her ability to "collect" her dead friends--or at least their strengths and/or unusual powers--that parallels and ultimately enables her to thwart Freddy's collecting of their souls.

It's like Dream Warriors all over again . . . except that we get only one Dream Master. (Yeah, yeah, I get it. That doesn't mean I like it. How would you feel if all the X-men died and a newly introduced character inherited everyone's powers? Exactly.)

4. But I find no fault in the young Alice's nightmare of having a life that goes nowhere, so that she remains a waitress in her small-town diner even into middle age.

What teenager could fail to relate to the horror of it all?

Heck, I think it's my own nightmare these days
--although I haven't been a teen in yonks!
Just substitute "tutor" for "waitress."

3. Have you noticed that I've barely mentioned Freddy? The Dream Master is decidedly not his best vehicle. He just isn't creepy here--evidenced by the fact that he is upstaged by virtually every other member of the cast . . . even while he's killing them!

2. This was so much more impressive when I was ten years old . . . but even then, I don't remember it being very scary. =/

1. And yet it must be said . . . A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master has the best soundtrack of the whole franchise. Several characters get their own 80s New Wave theme songs. How badass is that?

Alice: Don't Be Afraid of Your Dreams (Go West)

Debbie: I Want Your Hands on Me (Sinead O'Connor)

Rick: Anything, Anything (Dramarama)

Joey: Fatal Charm (Billy Idol)

Kristen: Running from This Nightmare (Tuesday Knight--of course!)

Image Sources: a) A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master poster, b) Brooke Theiss as Debbie, c) Debbie in the Roach Motel, d) Joey's "Wet Dream", e) Jason's Fiery Pee, f) Friday the 13th, Part VI: Jason Lives screencap, g) Young Alice and Old Alice


Jenny said...

I haven't seen any of these movies so I can't say much but I found your observations amusing.

The Mike said...

You'd probably be surprised to find out that I've actually only seen this one once. (Hey, at least I've seen it...can't say the same for parts 5 & 6!)

The biggest things that jump out at me at the minute are a) Yes, the roach scene rocks, and b) My inner Dokken defender wants to argue the final point.

Perhaps a return date with Freddy will clarify the rest of my opinions. And, of course, mucha thanks for the shout out!

Oregon Gifts of Comfort and Joy said...

What a great post! I never did watch any of those movies, not because they were scary but because they drove me crazy (nobody ever seemed very smart).

I wouldn't have watched it, but I do appreciate knowing what it was like to watch it, lol.

Thanks for stopping by, C. Hope your week is wonderful!

Kathy M.

Enbrethiliel said...


The Mike -- One song, no matter how epic and no matter how well it could stand as anthem to the whole franchise, does not "Best Soundtrack" make! =P

But yes, I could use a return date with Freddy, too.

Kathy -- Hmmmm. For what it's worth, the first Nightmare on Elm Street has a smart Final Girl. Her dumb boyfriend might still manage to drive you nuts, though. LOL!

Thanks for reading the post, anyway. You might just have inspired to make a Top 5 List dedicated to smart characters in Slashers! Ooooooh! ;-)

Enbrethiliel said...


Jenny -- I'm not sure why your comment went into my spam folder, but I didn't notice it until now. I'm sorry about that!

Thanks for reading. I'm glad to know I was at least amusing. =)

And I just have to add: if you ever decide to watch just one Nightmare on Elm Street movie, you can't go wrong with the first one, studio-strong-armed ending notwithstanding!

Lesa said...

hahhahahhaha--I had that hair!! It was fun at the time but I'm so glad I don't have it now!!

I can't remember if I saw this or not-- the waterbed scene rings a vague bell.

Too much hairspray at the time probably killed a few braincells!

Enbrethiliel said...


LOL!!! The hair makes me wish I had a time machine! =D

Hmmmm. Freddy does a lot of things to beds, so you might be remembering a different Nightmare on Elm Street. But if you remember a girl turning into a roach (which most people say is the most memorable part), then you've seen this movie. =)

Enbrethiliel said...


PS -- Another memorable visual is Freddy's special pizza. =P That should strike horror in the heart of any foodie! Bwhahahahahaha!

Syrin said...

I've only made it up to 3 so far in this series. I keep meaning to call up my friend (who owns them all) and schedule a viewing of 4, but haven't yet. I am not looking forward to the roach scene!

Enbrethiliel said...


Oh, come on! =P The roach scene is the best part! ROFL! Honestly, I'd put it in my Top 5 NOES Deaths list . . . if I ever get to write it. (I haven't seen all of them yet, either.)

Syrin said...

You're probably right.. I'm just horribly afraid of the creepy, crawly, nasty things!

Enbrethiliel said...


And so is Debbie! =P Freddy totally picked the right nightmare for her. LOL!!!

Lesa said...

Yeah, you'd think I'd remember a roach but I don't recall it or the pizza-- maybe I saw the waterbed scene in a clip or something.

Hanging out with you here at Shredded Cheddar has been making me want to revisit the horror genre. Maybe I will rewatch some of these and reread some King-- or should I watch and read new stuff?

Enbrethiliel said...


Well, you can't go wrong with Stephen King, for starters!

But what Horror are you interested in? I have a soft spot for the cheesy stuff (obviously!), but I can recommend titles across "subgenres," too. =)

I don't really have a method to my Horror viewing. I know I should at least be trying harder to hunt down DVD copies of The Creature from the Black Lagoon and The Fly, though, because I did promise to review them on this blog. But I usually take movies as I find them. This one happened to be on at the best possible time the other night, so I watched it again. (Lucky me! LOL!)

lisa :) said...

I've seen a few of the NOES series, but I know for a fact I missed this one. I have a horrid phobia of roaches so any death scene involving them would probably make me lose sleep for a week... month... year... decade... eon. But I did watch the show Just the Ten of Us - and there have been plenty of times when I come across one of the actresses from that show in something else and it takes me forever to figure out why I recognize them!

Great observations and notes as always! Love your Twelve Things posts!

Lesa said...

Did you see the horror article link I sent you on twitter this morning? Thought it might be of interest to you.

With books or movies, I'm still undecided about whether I want any new images in my mind-- maybe sticking with old images is safer.
But please recommend some new movies for when I get my nerve up.
My tv has the Chill channel so I can keep an eye out for them.

I always watched and read all horror-- I'm not even sure what all the subgenres are but I am partial to ghost stories and less fond of slashers. I love all the old monster movies and cheesy horror/sci-fi oldies.

What do you call the horror like Rosemary's Baby? I like that...
and the twilight zone sort of horror and The Lottery sort of horror.

Or those creepy kid ones. I like those-- In fact, I watched part of a Brit one a few months ago but didn't get to finish it and don't remember the name.

I may even watch that stupid Ring again to break through my mental horror block-- that creepy girl climbing out of the tv is what started it!

As for books, I read a good little middle grade ghost story in May- and I've been slowly reading on a victorian ghost story anthology-- tame, I know, but it is a start.

Enbrethiliel said...


Lisa -- Thanks! =) I always recognise Heather Langenkamp instantly, because she is both my favourite Elm Street Kid and favourite Lubbock Babe, but it still took me some time to figure out that Brooke Theiss (who is blonde in Just the Ten of Us) plays Debbie here!

Lesa -- Yes, I saw it! But I was really busy at the time, so I bookmarked it to look at later.

Have you seen Paranormal Activity yet? I find it well put together and wonderfully creepy! Then, since you've mentioned The Ring again, you might want to try The Grudge. The US version is really scary, but the Japanse version just might shock the white back into that eye of yours. ;-)

And as for books, what about Henry James's Turn of the Screw? There's something about the way the pace slowly builds that always makes me scared to turn the lights off at night. It also has a lot of the psychological horror elements that Rosemary's Baby has--except that its ending will take you by surprise in a completely different way!

Silsbee said...

Ah, my youth! Thanks for the walk down memory lane - and the laughs (oh, the HAIR.). ;)

I don't remember this one at all, but I must have seen it because I bought the Vinnie Vincent Invasion album just for the song "Love Kills" from this soundtrack! *g*

And I loved Patricia Arquette in "Dream Warriors", too.

Lesa said...

No but kids at school told me about it though. Just found it in the 'watch instantly' on Netflix so I'll plan to check it out soon. Can you get Netflix? I know they might not mail there but there are thousands of movies to watch for free.

Haha-- I'd rather it shock the vision back into my eye. btw, it just very bloodshot now so not so creepy looking.

I did look for ring and grudge-- there are lots of versions.

Anyway, I dabbled last night on the Chiller channel with The Seamstress. Hmmm-- it was okay-- I survived.

I think I've read Turn of the Screw but maybe not-- I'll look for it at the library.

Enbrethiliel said...


Silsbee -- You're welcome. And someone has to appreciate the hair! ;-)

Love Kills just drips with 1980s "Hair Rock," doesn't it? LOL! It's not my favourite song on the soundtrack album, as I'm a synth girl, but it helps make the case for NOES 4 more than meeting NOES 3's Dokken-set high bar. (Are you reading this, The Mike?)

Lesa -- No, I can't get Netflix streaming in my area. =( I'm sure there will be a lot of legal hurdles to clear before that sort of service becomes available here.

And you have a channel just for Horror, too??? I'm not at all familiar with The Seamstress, though.

Henry James has several ghost stories, but not all of them are really scary. Which is not to put them down: they're interesting in their own way; he was obviously experimenting with the form and trying to produce something else.

Lesa said...

The Seamstress was very generic-- kids wandering around an island at night doing stupid things like splitting up-- a vengeful ghost-- a curse and a serial killer of kids being tortured by a sheriff. It didn't creep me out and was kinda boring-- I'm wondering if I've just used the Ring as an excuse and really just got tired of horror films like I did historical romances.

I've really liked reading the victorian ghost stories-- and like what you said about Henry James-- they aren't scarey by today's standards but are very interesting. I like seeing how it all developed.

Enbrethiliel said...


If that was the case, I think The Ring was a high point on which to end your Horror viewing streak!

But for books, there's always King, right? ;-) And Dean Koontz! =D