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New Line Home Cinema presents
A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master (1988)

"Wanna suck face?"
- Freddy Krueger (Robert Englund)

Review By: Dan Lopez   
Published: September 16, 2000

Stars: Robert Englund, Tuesday Knight, Lisa Wilcox
Other Stars: Ken Sagoes, Rodney Eastman, Brooke Theiss
Director: Renny Harlin

Manufacturer: WAMO
MPAA Rating: R for (violence, language, sex)
Release Date: August 22, 2000
UPC: 794043501920
Genre: horror

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer
B- D+A-B+ C+

DVD Review

The first thing that popped into my head when Elm Street 4 hit theatres was, "Hey wait! They killed Freddy already!" Well, who needs a storyline to continue a lucrative franchise like Elm Street? The pitch for this film must have sounded something like: "OK...Freddy comes back, and he kills kids!!" No, wait, that was the script, actually. "I'm SOLD!!!!", exclaims the studio and so we enter the world of Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master.

The film starts shortly after the conclusion of part 3, with Kristen (now being played by Tuesday Knight, which sounds like a porn star name if ever I've heard one!), Kincaid, and Joey all enjoying a reasonably normal life in high school. Then they all start having strange dreams that make Kristen suspect that Freddy might be returning to the dream world (even though all the requirements were met to destroy him in part 3). Without any explanation, he is indeed resurrected and proceeds to instantly kill the 3 kids. Even though their deaths mark the last of the Elm Street kids, Freddy proceeds to start killing off just about every kid at the high school that's being paid to act in the film. Kristen's friend Julie, who is usually shy and withdrawn, decides to get some guts and go back into dreamland to kick Krueger's butt for good.

Yep, that's the plot. Not much to it, is there? Seemingly filmed on a much higher budget than previous Elm Street movies, the whole film feels like a Beverly Hills 90210 episode where everyone gets killed in some elaborate, gory way. To keep it simple, this series should have ended with part 3. Regardless of the elaborate special effects and impressive style, there's nothing to see here that hasn't been done to death, no pun intended. The usual element of a "weak" character finally getting some courage and facing Krueger on his own turf creates the conclusion but, once again, we know this will not be the end. All I really would have asked from this film is that it come up with a good story to explain the resurrection of Freddy after Part 3, or at least why Freddy goes on killing non-Elm Street kids, but it doesn't really deliver.

As you may have already noticed, we have here an early film by director Renny Harlin, who would later hit the bigtime with Die Hard 2. Here you can witness the genesis of the filmmaking ma"stro who brought us The Adventures of Ford Fairlane and, more recently, Deep Blue Sea. Actually, to be serious, Elm Street 4 shows he has some talent. His next film, the dark horror film Prison, was actually much better (many consider it Harlin's only honest film), and showed promise yet unfulfilled—but somehow I doubt we'll be seeing that low-budget gem hit DVD any time soon.

Rating for Style: B-
Rating for Substance: D+


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.85:1 - Widescreen1.33:1 - Full Frame
Original Aspect Ratioyesno

Image Transfer Review: Image clarity here seems to be of the usual quality from New Line. The transfer is free of compression artifacts, pixelization, very clean. The source print is a bit dated with a few minor moments of grain and slight haze, but overall in good condition for a film of the age. Black level is impressively sharp and clean, and all the smoky cinematography is represented well without lots of shimmer or edge enhancement. A good fullscreen version is also presented on the disc. Comparisons seem to reveal that the 1:85:1 has a bit more image composition, so I'd have to recommend the widescreen version.

Image Transfer Grade: A-


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Englishyes
Dolby Digital

Audio Transfer Review: The disc features the original 2.0 Dolby Surround audio as well as a new Dolby Digital 5.1 mix. Other than the natural improvements in sound clarity that come with a Dolby Digital 5.1 mix, there really aren't many differences in the tracks. Both contain similar information and use surrounds in about the same way; I only recall maybe one or two split surround effects in the 5.1 version. Directionality is slightly more enhanced in the 5.1 version (like cars driving by) and the front channel audio seems much more theatrical. Both tracks have good center channel information and dialogue balance. My opinion is to go with the new 5.1 mix.

Audio Transfer Grade: B+


Disc Extras

Animated menu with music
Scene Access with 27 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English with remote access
Cast and Crew Biographies
Cast and Crew Filmographies
1 Original Trailer(s)
Packaging: Snapper
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: dual

Extra Extras:
  1. DVD-ROM Weblinks
  2. DVD-ROM Script Access
  3. DVD-ROM Trivia Game
  4. "Jump To a Nightmare" scene selection
Extras Review: The usual batch of DVD-ROM stuff is featured on the disc (like other Nightmare releases) with a trailer and some cast/crew bios. The menus are extremely well designed, with creative, spooky styling. Otherwise, there's not much to look at. The "Jump to a nightmare" feature is merely a way of directly selecting dream sequences in the film. I'm not too sure what else could have been done here. A Renny Harlin commentary? How about a Tuesday Knight commentary? Oh yeah....I could see that: "This scene was really hard to do because I actually HAD to kiss the creepy, annoying, Christian Slater-esque guy."

Extras Grade: C+


Final Comments

As a demo reel for the FX technology of the day, Nightmare on Elm Street 4 works great. Otherwise, there's no movie here. A few memorable scenes, like the girl turning into a cockroach, are maybe worth the price of a rental, but very little else. My advice is to skip Elm Streets 4 and 5 and head directly to the strange, black-comedy styled part 6, Freddy's Dead, which makes fun of the stupidity of the series with a host of cameos and a ridiculous third act filmed entirely in 3-D.


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