A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master

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A Nightmare on Elm Street 4:
The Dream Master
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Renny Harlin
Produced by
Screenplay by
Story by
Based on Characters 
by Wes Craven
Bruce Wagner
Starring Robert Englund
Music by John Easdale
Craig Safan
Cinematography Steven Fierberg
Edited by Michael N. Knue
Jack Turner
Chuck Weiss
Heron Communications
Smart Egg Pictures
Distributed by New Line Cinema
Release dates
  • August 19, 1988 (1988-08-19)
Running time 93 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $13 million[1]
Box office $49,369,899

A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master is a 1988 American slasher fantasy film and the fourth film in the Nightmare on Elm Street series. The film was directed by Renny Harlin, stars Robert Englund, Lisa Wilcox and Danny Hassel. It is the sequel to A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors and is followed by A Nightmare on Elm Street 5: The Dream Child.

The film was released on August 19, 1988 to generally mixed to positive reviews, grossing over $49.3 million domestically, making it the highest grossing horror film at domestic box office released in the 1980s, and the most financially successful film in the franchise until the release of Freddy vs. Jason.


Kristen, Kincaid and Joey have all been released from Westin Hills Hospital and are living as normal teenagers again after their fight with Freddy Krueger in the previous film. Kristen has new friends, including Alice Johnson, a bright girl and daydreamer. Sheila, a genius who is also astmatic. Debbie, a tough girl with a fear of bugs, and her boyfriend Rick, who is also Alice's brother. Kristen begins to sense that Freddy is not dead, and frequently upsets Kincaid and Joey by pulling them into her dreams of Freddy's house. Joey warns Kristen that the dreams might stir him up again, so to keep them from being pulled in, she doesn't sleep the next night. However, Kincaid has a nightmare, awakening in the salvage yard where Freddy's bones were buried. His dog Jason inadvertently causes Freddy's resurrection. Kincaid puts up a good fight, but realizes he's trapped in the nightmare and his calls to Kristen go unheard as Freddy attacks and kills him. Joey has a dream where a model appears within his waterbed, who turns out to be Freddy. He quaffs Joey's dream power by drowning him, then stabs him to death. His body is found within his waterbed the next morning by his mother.

Kincaid and Joey don't show up for class, which concerns Kristen and in her panic she is knocked out. She has a close encounter with Freddy before she is awakened by the school nurse. She takes Alice, Rick and Dan Jordon, a crush of Alice's to Freddy's house and tells them the legend and how he kills people in their dreams. That evening, Kristen's mother Elaine gives her sleeping pills in her drink after noticing she is not sleeping. Kristen falls asleep before she can get help and tries to follow Alice's advice to dream of someplace fun, but the tropical paradise she dreams herself into is quickly ruined by Freddy, who stomps her into the sand and into his house. She makes her way down to the boiler room where Freddy goads her into calling out on one of her new friends; as being the last child from Elm Street, he would be powerless if he killed Kristen without a means to move on to a new group of kids. Kristen calls Alice, who she is unable to awaken and Freddy throws Kristen into his boiler as she burns to death, she sends her powers to Alice as her soul passes into Freddy. After awakening in her bed, Alice and Rick rush to Kristen's house and find her in the midst of a bedroom fire, which devastates them both.

The next day, Alice falls asleep and accidentally pulls Sheila into her nightmare with Freddy. Freddy sucks the oxygen out of Sheila's lungs in a kiss, making it look like a normal asthma attack. Rick begins to believe her due to the deaths, but he has a martial-arts inspired nightmare the following day, he almost gains the upperhand but Freddy cheats and kills him as well. Alice discovers that her personality is changing, and that she is gaining the skills and personalities of her friends as well as their dream powers, and makes a plan with Dan and Debbie to defeat Freddy. But her father, increasingly drunk after Rick's death forces her to stay in and Alice has a nightmare where she gives Debbie to him. Freddy keeps Alice and Dan in a time loop as he stalks Debbie and transforms her into a cockroach before killing her. Alice sees Freddy while driving Dan's truck and runs into him, hitting a tree instead in reality. Injured, Dan is sent to the hospital, while Alice returns home to prepare for a battle with Freddy. Freddy tries to attack Dan when he is put under for surgery and Alice intervenes. After the two of them fall into a church in the nightmare, Dan is awakened by the surgeons and Alice is left to face Freddy alone. He fights her with the strength of his stolen souls, while she fights back with the dream powers of her friends, but his strength and experience is too great and Alice is nearly defeated. Remembering a rhyme entitled the Dream Master, Alice turns Freddy's reflection back on him, causing the souls of the children to revolt and literally tear him apart, releasing themselves from his body as it becomes nothing more than a lifeless husk and falls to the ground.

Sometime later, Alice and Dan are dating and approach a fountain. Dan tells Alice to make a wish, and she thinks she sees Freddy's reflection in the water until Dan's coin strikes it. She tells Dan if she tells him her wish, it won't come true, and the two of them walk off hand in hand.



Box office[edit]

Released on August 19, 1988 on 1,765 theatres in North America, on the first weekend, the film ranked No.1 grossing $12,883,403, this was the highest opening of the franchise until the release of Freddy vs. Jason. On the second weekend, the film still ranked No.1, grossing $6,989,358. It also sat the first place on the third weekend, then sets No.2, No.4 and No.6 in the next three weeks, until it finally dropped out from the Top 10 list as No.11 on the seventh weekend. The film eventually grossed $49,369,899 at domestic box office, it is the 19th highest grossing film of 1988, the highest grossing horror film at domestic box office in 1980s, the highest grossing Nightmare on Elm Street film until Freddy vs. Jason's release in 2003. It is currently the third highest grossing Nightmare on Elm Street film.


A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master received generally mixed reviews from the critics. The review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes reported a 56% approval rating with an average rating of 5.2/10 based on 27 reviews. Lisa Wilcox was praised for her performance of the new primary protagonist Alice Johnson. Robert Englund's portrayal of Freddy Krueger was critically acclaimed, and received a Saturn Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor.

In an interview posted on Nightmare on Elm Street Companion, Lisa Wilcox gave the film a positive review: "...It had a great story, funny Freddy lines, not too gruesome and a cast that worked really well together." Wes Craven, the creator of the franchise and the director of the first film, also give the film a positive comment in the documentary Never Sleep Again: The Elm Street Legacy, he says: "...I think Renny Harlin is a gifted director, he did so much that the other directors cannot do..."


1990 Saturn Awards
Fantasporto Awards 1989
  • International Fantasy Film Award for Best Film – Renny Harlin (Nomination)
9th Golden Raspberry Awards
Catalonian International Film Festival
  • Best Special Effects (Won)
  • Best Film (Nomination)
Young Artist Awards
  • Teenage Choice for Best Horror Motion Picture (Won)
  • Best Young Actor in a Horror or Mystery Motion Picture – Rodney Eastman (Nomination)
  • Best Young Actor in a Horror or Mystery Motion Picture – Andras Jones (Nomination)
  • Best Young Actress in a Horror or Mystery Motion Picture – Brooke Theiss (Nomination)


A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master
Soundtrack album by Various artists
Released 1988
Genre Rock, New Wave, synthpop
Label Chrysalis
Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 4/5 stars[2]
  1. "Nightmare" – Tuesday Knight (Played at the opening credits)
  2. "Love Kills" – Vinnie Vincent Invasion (Played in the jukebox, after hearing about Joey and Kincaid's death)
  3. "Angel" – Love/Hate
  4. "Don't Be Afraid of Your Dreams" – Go West (Played over the end credits. A sped up, more rock-like instrumental version is heard playing when Alice prepares for her final battle with Freddy)
  5. "Back to the Wall" – Divinyls (Played while Kristen is driving to Rick and Alice's house)
  6. "Anything, Anything (I'll Give You)" – Dramarama (Played during Rick and later Alice's martial arts training montages)
  7. "Are You Ready for Freddy" – The Fat Boys (Played over the end credits)
  8. "Fatal Charm" – Billy Idol (Played during Joey's final nightmare)
  9. "Pride and Joy" – Joe Lamont (Played on the jukebox while Debbie serves Dan)
  10. "Rebuilding the Big House" – Nick Gilder
  11. "Therapist" – Vigil
  12. "Under the Night Stars" – Sea Hags
  13. "Standing Over You" – The Angels
  14. "I Want Your (Hands on Me)" – Sinéad O'Connor (Played during Debbie's death & end credits)
  15. "In the Flesh" – Blondie (Played on the jukebox when Dan comes to the diner to talk to Alice about Freddy)
  16. "Baila Baila" - Girl Talk (Played during Debbie's arrival at school)
Music score by Craig Safan
  1. "Kirsten's Haunted Dream"
  2. "Freddy's Back"
  3. "Kincaid Killed in Junkyard"
  4. "Joey's Wet Dream"
  5. "Drugged to Death"
  6. "Alice Lured Into Dream"
  7. "Rick's Kung-Fu Death"
  8. "Freddy's Pizza Restaurant"
  9. "Debbie Checks In/Time Circles"
  10. "Sheila Sucks Face"
  11. "Theater Madness"
  12. "Freddy's Calliope"
  13. "Alice Battles Freddy"
  14. "Corpus Krueger"

Music videos[edit]

With the popularity of the Nightmare on Elm Street series, many songs on the soundtrack had music videos:

  • The Fat Boys featuring Robert Englund performing "Are You Ready for Freddy" showing one of the Fat Boys inheriting the Elm Street house and staying the night in order to complete the inheritance, even including Freddy rapping and audio of Heather Langenkamp's famous line "don't fall asleep" from the original film. This video can be found on bonus disc, The Nightmare Series Encyclopedia, from the The Nightmare on Elm Street Collection, released by New Line Platinum Series, on September 21, 1999.
  • Vinnie Vincent Invasion performing "Love Kills", a music video featuring scenes from The Dream Master. It is not featured on any DVD release, possibly due to rights issues, and the music clip played in the film almost seems to be turned down, as it is extremely quiet.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master". the-numbers.com. Archived from the original on 11 June 2011. Retrieved 2011-07-22. 
  2. ^ link

External links[edit]