Every day Robert Saucedo shines a spotlight on a movie either so bad it’s good or just downright terrible. Today: Welcome to Wonderland, Alice!
At 3:30 AM, I began the next film in my Nightmarathon: A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master.
Directed by future action film bridesmaid Renny Harlin, Dream Master picks up from where the third film left off — with dream warriors Kristen, Joey and Kincaid attending high school together and living a relatively normal life.
Kristen, not quite the sociopath Patricia Arquette’s performance in Dream Warriors may have led you to believe, has adjusted quite well to life outside of a mental asylum — making friends and even snagging herself a boyfriend. She’s also gone and got herself a new face.
The role of Kristen was recast with Tuesday Knight stepping into the shoes previously worn by Arquette. While Knight may be a bit easier on the eyes than David’s big sister, she doesn’t quite have the same acting chops as her predecessor.
This doesn’t really matter, though, because Freddy Krueger, presumably defeated in the last film after his bones were sanctified with holy water, is once again back from the dead and he’s after some good old fashioned revenge — systematically laying waste one by one to the dream warriors that had previously vexed him so.
Dream Master is not a movie about Kristen and her dream warrior pals — they are merely the link in a horror movie chain letter, passing the baton onto a new group of teenagers ripe for the killing.
Through the use of some horribly confusing gobbledygook involving dream masters and supernatural subconscious conduits, Kristen’s pal Alice is left changed after witnessing her friend’s gruesome death at the hands of Freddy Krueger. Now, Alice finds herself with the powers previously held by Kristen — mainly, the ability to drag others into her dreams.
Freddy Krueger, always one to seize an opportunity, uses Alice as a key to unleashing his killer appetite for innocent souls onto a new generation of kids — those who had no connection to the Elm Street gang of vigilante parents who murdered him all those years ago.
Dream Master, under Harlin’s watchful eye, ramps up the special effects considerably. The death scenes Freddy lays out in the nightmares of his victims are leaps and bounds more remarkable then the ones that came before in already impressive Dream Warriors.
Between transforming a bodybuilding bimbo into a cockroach and drowning a horny teenage boy in his own waterbed, writers Brian Helgeland and Scott Pierce dreamed up some pretty gruesome endings for the film’s central cast of walking teenage targets — played by a variety of actors including Danny Hassel, Toy Newkirk and Brooke Theiss.
The writers also got pretty silly too — leading the way for the future of the franchise as a slapstick slasher series. Freddy Krueger is resurrected after a dog named Jason urinates a trail of fire and unearths Krueger’s bones. At one point, Freddy Krueger chows down on a pizza sprinkled with the screaming souls of his victims, remarking that he loves him some “soul food.” It gets pretty ridiculous at times.
Harlin’s future as an action film director is practically shouted from every corner of the film — especially in the scene in which Alice, having absorbed the essences of Freddy’s victims, suits up for her final confrontation with the boogeyman by strapping on various bits of her friend’s clothing. It’s like a scene literally ripped from a super hero movie. All that was missing was Alice donning a domino mask and sliding down a utility pole.
In the end, though, the movie suffers from a weak climax that involves the series’ absolute worst method for killing Freddy Krueger. I’m not going to spoil it but let’s just say it involves the definition of deux ex machina — or should I say duex ex mirror?
Don’t get me wrong, there were plenty of cool scenes — like the growth of angry Kuatos that grow out of Freddy Krueger’s chest or the return of Brooke Bundy as Kristen’s mother — a lady with an annoying habit of shouting “¡Arriba!”
In the end, the thing I took away most from Dream Master is that if I ever want to make a ton of money, I’m going to start a business on Elm Street that specializes in constructing teenage-size coffins.
To be continued…
Robert doesn’t work out for hours everyday to let some nightstalker beat him! Follow Robert on Twitter @robsaucedo2500.
Robert Saucedo is an avid movie watcher with seriously poor sleeping habits. The Mikey from Life cereal of film fans, Robert will watch just about anything — good, bad or ugly. He has written about film for newspapers, radio and online for the last 10 years. This has taken a toll on his sanity — of that you can be sure. Follow him on Twitter at @robsaucedo2500.