A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master

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A Nightmare on Elm Street 4:
The Dream Master
A Nightmare on Elm Street 4 - The Dream Master (1988) theatrical poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster by Matthew Peak[1]
Directed byRenny Harlin
Produced by
Screenplay by
Story by
Based onCharacters
by Wes Craven
Bruce Wagner
StarringRobert Englund
Music by
CinematographySteven Fierberg
Edited by
  • Michael N. Knue
  • Jack Turner
  • Chuck Weiss
Distributed byNew Line Cinema
Release date
  • August 19, 1988 (1988-08-19)
Running time
93 minutes
CountryUnited States
Budget$13 million[2]
Box office$49.4 million[2]

A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master is a 1988 American slasher film[3] and the fourth film in the Nightmare on Elm Street series. The film was directed by Renny Harlin and stars Robert Englund, Lisa Wilcox and Danny Hassel. Following the death of Nancy Thompson, Freddy Krueger begins to reappear in the dreams of Kristen Parker, Joey Crusel, and Roland Kincaid and uses Kristen's best friend, Alice Johnson, to gain access to new victims. The film is a sequel to A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors (1987) and is followed by A Nightmare on Elm Street 5: The Dream Child (1989).

The film was released on August 19, 1988, to generally mixed reviews, grossing over $49.3 million in the US, making it the highest-grossing film in the franchise until the release of Freddy vs. Jason.


Since the events of the previous film, Kristen, Kincaid, and Joey have been released from Westin Hills and are back living with their families as normal teenagers. However, Kristen believes Freddy is coming back and continues to summon Joey and Kincaid into her dreams. This dream brings her to Freddy’s old boiler where she instantly calls her two friends to help her. Kincaid and Joey are upset that she is reverting to her old ways back when they were at Westin Hills. To keep her calm, they take her to the boiler and show her that it is ice cold. Kristen also brought in Kincaid’s dog Jason into the dream, he jumps out of the boiler biting her, waking all three of them up in their rooms. The next day, Kristen meets up with her boyfriend, martial arts enthusiast Rick Johnson (Andras Jones), and their friends: Rick's sister Alice (Lisa Wilcox); Sheila (Toy Newkirk), an asthmatic genius; and Debbie (Brooke Theiss), a tough girl who doesn't like bugs. Kincaid and Joey confront Kristen at school about the dream in the boiler room and tell her to let it go and that their days of fighting in their dreams are over. Kristen is seen as popular and Kincaid and Joey are seen as outcasts which causes a rift between the three of them. Rick doesn’t care for Kincaid or Joey and calls them freaks but Kristen tells him she’s a freak too.

That night, Kristen stays awake to keep from dreaming, but Kincaid falls asleep and awakens in a junkyard, where Freddy is accidentally resurrected. Kincaid puts up a good fight against Freddy, but Freddy overpowers him. Kincaid screams for Kristen but Freddy reaches him and kills him. Joey is watching MTV and listening to music in his room. He begins falling asleep where he discovers a model is swimming in his waterbed. Freddy then jumps out of the waterbed, attempting to drown Joey. Joey screams for Kristen to help him but Freddy stabs and kills him. At school, Kristen panics when she notices Joey and Kincaid are missing and is knocked out. She is nearly attacked by Freddy when the school nurse wakes her up. Kristen learns Kincaid and Joey were found dead which she feels guilty for staying up the night before. She later tells Rick, Alice, and Alice's crush Dan Jordan (Danny Hassel) about Freddy. She vows revenge on Freddy for killing Kincaid and Joey.

At dinner, Kristen notices her mother Elaine had slipped her sleeping pills, and she falls asleep. In her dream, Freddy overcomes Kristen's attempts to repel him and forces her back to his home. Being the last of the Elm Street children, Freddy goads Kristen into calling on one of her friends, so that his fun can begin anew. She calls Alice into her dream, and Freddy throws Kristen into his boiler but before she dies, Kristen gives Alice her dream power. Waking up and sensing something wrong, Alice takes Rick to Kristen's house, only to see her burning to death in her bedroom.

Later, Alice falls asleep during class and inadvertently brings Sheila into her dream. Freddy kills Sheila and makes it look like an asthma attack. Rick starts to believe Alice, but the following day, he has a dream and is killed. With each death, Alice begins to change, gaining the abilities and personalities of her lost friends. She plans with Debbie and Dan to fight and kill Freddy together, but when her father Dennis keeps her in, Alice falls asleep. Through her, Freddy selects and stalks Debbie, transforming her into a cockroach and crushing her in a roach motel. Using Debbie's temper, Alice tries to ram Freddy but collides with a tree in reality. As Dan is rushed into surgery, Alice returns home and readies herself to join him and face Freddy.

Alice rescues Dan, and the two find themselves in an old church in their dream. Dan's injuries in the dream prompt his surgeons to wake him up, leaving Alice alone to face Freddy. He has the upper hand due to his experience, but she uses her friends' dream powers against him. When he is about to be victorious, she remembers a nursery rhyme called "The Dream Master" and forces Freddy to face his own reflection, causing the souls within him to revolt. The strain tears Freddy apart, releasing all of Alice's friends' spirits and leaving him a hollow husk. Months later, Dan and Alice have begun dating, and as they approach a fountain, Dan tosses a coin in. For a moment, Alice sees Freddy's reflection in the water, but she ignores it. Dan asks her what she wished for, but Alice does not tell him as they walk away from the fountain.



This film features the return of the car junkyard set from A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors. This set was conceptualized by production designer Mick Strawn, who worked as art director and handled effects on the previous film.[4] Strawn also came up with the "truck crash" scene and the "kaleidoscope hallway." The junkyard set also holds the distinction of being filmed at the same location for both films. The set was built and filmed at a landfill in Pacoima, California.[5]


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;[6] this was the highest opening of the franchise until the release of Freddy vs. Jason.[7] 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 the U.S. box office, making it the 19th-highest-grossing film of 1988,[6] and the highest-grossing Nightmare on Elm Street film until Freddy vs. Jason's release in 2003. It is currently the third-highest-grossing A Nightmare on Elm Street film.[7]


The review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes reports a 57% approval rating and an average rating of 5.2/10 based on 28 reviews.[8] Upon its release, critic Kevin Thomas of Los Angeles Times praised the storyline, performances, and special effects, writing that the film "is by far the best of the series, a superior horror picture that balances wit and gore with imagination and intelligence. It very effectively mirrors the anxieties of the teen-age audience for which it is primarily intended." Thomas then went on to commend Wilcox's portrayal of Alice, stating: "It matters not to Freddy that these kids' parents had nothing to do with his torching. In essence, however, the film is about how a shy, lovely teen-ager named Alice (Lisa Wilcox) with a widowed alcoholic father gradually gathers the courage to assert herself in taking on Freddy — and in the process wins the love of the handsomest boy (Danny Hassel) in her school. If the nightmare sequences are impressive with their Inferno-like images, the film's young cast is no less so. "Nightmare 4" provides Wilcox with an exceptionally challenging screen debut."[9] While criticizing the plot for being derivative of the previous films, critic John H. Richardson of Los Angeles Daily News eulogized the film's special effects, writing: "They are downright brilliant, matching and even improving on the amazing effects in A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors."[10]


1990 Saturn Awards
Best Director – Renny Harlin (Nomination)
Best Horror Film (Nomination)
Best Supporting Actor – Robert Englund (Nomination)
Fantasporto Awards 1989
International Fantasy Film Award for Best Film – Renny Harlin (Nomination)
9th Golden Raspberry Awards
Razzie Award for Worst Original SongVigil for the song "Therapist" (Nomination)
Sitges - Catalan 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
GenreRock, New Wave, synthpop
Professional ratings
Review scores
Allmusic4/5 stars[11]

The music score was composed by Craig Safan.


  1. Sea Hags – "Under the Night Stars"
  2. The Angels – "Standing Over You"
  3. Go West – "Don't Be Afraid of Your Dreams" (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)
  4. Divinyls – "Back to the Wall" (Played while Kristen is driving to Rick and Alice's house)
  5. Jimmy Davis & Junction – "My Way Or The Highway"
  6. Vinnie Vincent Invasion – "Love Kills" (Played in the jukebox, after hearing about Joey and Kincaid's death)
  7. Vigil – "Therapist"
  8. Blondie – "Rip Her To Shreds"
  9. Love/Hate – "Angel"
  10. Craig Safan – "Resurrection"

Additional tracks (credited and played during movie but not on official soundtrack):

  1. Tuesday Knight – "Nightmare" (Played at the opening credits)
  2. Dramarama – "Anything, Anything (I'll Give You)" (Played during Rick and later Alice's martial arts training montages)
  3. The Fat Boys – "Are You Ready for Freddy" (Played over the end credits)
  4. Billy Idol – "Fatal Charm" (Played during Joey's final nightmare)
  5. Joe Lamont – "Pride and Joy" (Played on the jukebox while Debbie serves Dan)
  6. Nick Gilder – "Rebuilding the Big House"
  7. Sinéad O'Connor – "I Want Your (Hands on Me)" (Played during Debbie's death & end credits)
  8. Blondie – "In the Flesh" (Played on the jukebox when Dan comes to the diner to talk to Alice about Freddy)
  9. Girl Talk – "Baila Baila" (Played during Debbie's arrival at school)

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 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. ^ http://www.impawards.com/1988/nightmare_on_elm_street_four.html
  2. ^ a b "A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master". the-numbers.com. Archived from the original on 11 June 2011. Retrieved 2011-07-22.
  3. ^ Fujishima, Kenji (2016-01-14). "Revisiting all 8 of Freddy's nightmares, the richest of the slasher franchises". The A.V. Club. Retrieved 2017-04-01.
  4. ^ "'A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors.'". Variety. Retrieved 2017-01-10.
  5. ^ Englund, Robert (2009). Hollywood Monster.
  6. ^ a b "A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 2016-06-05.
  7. ^ a b "Nightmare on Elm Street". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved June 5, 2016.
  8. ^ "A Nightmare on Elm Street 4 – The Dream Master (1988)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 2015-07-27.
  9. ^ Thomas, Kevin (August 19, 1988). "Imaginative Balance of Wit, Gore in 'Nightmare on Elm Street 4'". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved August 18, 2018.
  10. ^ Richardson, John H. (August 19, 1988). "Technical wizardry in 'Nightmare 4' is surreal eye-opener". Los Angeles Daily News. Retrieved August 18, 2018.
  11. ^ Allmusic

External links[edit]