A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master | Chicago Reader

A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master

Robert Englund is back as Freddy Krueger in this 1988 installment of the popular horror series; erstwhile Finnish filmmaker Renny Harlin directed from a story by William Kotzwinkle and Brian Helgeland. Having missed the three previous installments in the cycle, I found much of the story only semicomprehensible—even after a few explanatory plot points were thrown my way about 40 minutes into the film—but it's hard to think of many other movies where narrative is so thoroughly beside the point. This is a series of extravagant visual set pieces, one right after the other, drawing upon such sources as Keaton's Sherlock Jr. and Through the Looking Glass, with the usual collection of Silly Putty special effects that one expects from 80s horror films. Harlin's arsenal of conceits and visual effects—pirouetting overhead angles, dancing trigonometry formulas, a pizza flavored with tiny human heads, a lot of fancy play with a water bed, and much, much more—keeps it consistently watchable and inventive. With Lisa Wilcox, Andras Jones, Tuesday Knight, Ken Sagoes, Danny Hassel, and Toy Newkirk, and the combined special effects talents of Steve Johnson, John Buechler, Kevin Yagher, and Screaming Mad George. R, 92 min.

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