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
Cinematography Steven Fierberg
Edited by
  • Michael N. Knue
  • Jack Turner
  • Chuck Weiss
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 $49.3 million[1]

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 reviews, grossing over $49.3 million in the US, 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.


Some time has passed since the events of the previous film, Kristen, Kincaid and Joey have been released from Westin Hills and are living lives as normal teenagers. When Kristen, believing Freddy is coming back, summons Joey and Kincaid into her dreams, she angers them and they warn her that dreaming of Freddy might actually cause his return. The next day, Kristen picks up her boyfriend, martial arts enthusiast Rick Johnson, and his sister and Kristen's best friend, Alice. Going to school she meets with her other friends: Sheila, a genius and asthmatic; and Debbie, a tough girl who doesn't like bugs. Alice daydreams of her crush Dan Jordan recognizing her, but she snaps out of it when Rick teases he can introduce them.

That night, Kristen stays awake to keep from dreaming, but Kincaid falls asleep and awakens in a junkyard where his dog Jason innocently resurrects Freddy from his grave. Trapped, Kincaid tries to fight off Freddy with his strength, but Freddy rebounds and kills him instead. He then tricks Joey into thinking a model is swimming in his waterbed but Freddy attacks him, drowning out his dream power and stabbing him for his mother to find the next morning. At school, Kristen panics when she notices Joey and Kincaid missing and is knocked out. She is nearly attacked by Freddy when the school nurse wakes her up. Kristen tells Rick, Alice and Dan about Freddy's legacy before her mother Elaine shoos the three of them away from the run down Krueger house. At dinner, Kristen notices her mother had slipped her sleeping pills, and she falls asleep before calling Alice. Taking her advice on dreaming, Kristen tries to dream of someplace fun, but Freddy invades and forces Kristen 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 kills Kristen by throwing her into his boiler. 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 sucks the air from Sheila's lungs, making it look like an asthma attack. Rick starts to believe her, but the following day he has a martial arts inspired dream and is killed when Freddy cheats in one-on-one combat. 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 and lives her worst fear that she will work as a waitress into her old age. Freddy forces Alice to give her another soul and he goes after Debbie. Keeping Alice and Dan in a time loop, he stalks Debbie, transforms her into a cockroach and crushes her in a roach motel. With 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 are sent flying into 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 upperhand due to his experience, but she proves resilient, using her friends' dream powers against him. When he is about to be victorious, however, she remembers a nursery rhyme called "The Dream Master" and forces Freddy to face his own reflection, causing the souls within him to revolt suddenly. 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.



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.


The review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes reports a 56% approval rating and an average rating of 5.2/10 based on 27 reviews.[2] Robert Englund received a Saturn Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor.[citation needed]

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
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)
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[3]

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 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 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. 
  2. ^ "A Nightmare on Elm Street 4 - The Dream Master (1988)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 2015-07-27. 
  3. ^ Allmusic

External links[edit]