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A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master

Oh! Renny Harlin! He’s a Finnish director who made a surprising career in Hollywood (FSVO), and I found him interesting at the time. He married Geena Davis (who’s great) and made a number of slightly off-kilter action movies before disappearing… Well, I don’t know that he disappeared, but I haven’t seen that name in decades.

I guess he never did disappear. I think the last movie of his I’ve seen is the 1996 Long Kiss Goodnight, which I think famously bombed…

I like Harlin. He did these oddball shots that nobody else would do, because they’re too artificial.

Best. Hairdo. Ever.

Is Harlin expressing all their personalities solely through their hairdos? I think he is!

What a kind-looking nurse.

Anyway, this isn’t as good as I’d hoped. The “Scare Scenes” are really inventive and fun, but then when they have to do the connecting scenes (to get irrelevancies like plot and stuff out of the way), tension just dissipates.


It’s a pretty fun horror movie — but it’s not actually scary at all. It’s also uneven in tone… so what’s the story behind this movie?

In an interview with Midnight’s Edge, director Tom McLoughlin said that after completing Jason Lives: Friday the 13th Part VI, New Line offered him the job on The Dream Master. His one caveat was that he wanted creative control. The studio could not adhere to the demand, specifically because they had already begun filming without any director. McLoughlin said,

“When I finished Friday, I was offered Nightmare 4 and went to New Line, met with them, and I said, ‘I love Freddy, I would love to do one of these, but I really want to do what I just did, where I had creative control’,” he explained. “And they go, ‘Well, we’re already shooting.’ ‘What?’ ‘Yeah, we’re already shooting, we’re shooting like two different units for the visual effects’ and something else, puppets or something. And I said, ‘Without a director?’ ‘Yeah, we kind of know how we’re going to make these things.’ And I went, ‘That’s not the way I work.’ So I turned it down, which of course made (Nightmare 4 director) Renny Harlin’s career.”

Heh heh.

I’m now watching these excellent extras on this box set — they’re not the typical “one sentence from one guy and one sentence from another guy about how wonderful everything was” puff pieces. They’re very forthright and talking about how much they hated the other guy’s ideas, and so on. Like:

High praise indeed!

But is this a good movie? Nah.

A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master. Renny Harlin. 1988.

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