Thursday, October 27, 2011

30 Days of Fright - 26: A Nightmare on Elm St. Pt4: The Dream Master

If you've ever had a lucid dream (a dream where you are aware that you're dreaming and as a result have an element of control) you know what an amazing experience that is. It can also be something of an addictive experience as if you've had such a dream and can remember it you'll want to have another, and another, and so on. There are some techniques that can allegedly induce a lucid dreaming state and I've experimented with them once or twice, but to no avail; instead of an immersive dreaming experience where I was master of my environment, all I got was a crick in my neck.

Though it takes a couple of minutes before you realise it, A Nightmare on Elm Street Part 4: Dream Master picks up the story of the children of Elm Street after the events in the third instalment of the series. Now home from the psychiatric hospital where they were being treated for various sleep disorders they are living back in the old neighbourhood and are living more or less normal lives. Kristen still has the power to draw people into her dreams which she tends to do on a semi-regular basis, especially if she’s having a nightmare. Kristen isn’t so sure that they’ve seen the last of Freddy Kruger and when she draws the others into her nightmares she tries to convince them that they’re still in danger.

At school, the Elm Streets have made new friends and settled into the social structures reasonably well. Among their new friends are a brother and sister, Rick and Alice, a geeky kid who’s asthmatic and good at the old book learnin’, and the usual collection of jocks and the like.

Sure enough, good old Freddy does manage to return, his bones joining back together and the flesh growing back (though still terribly disfigured) during one young lads nightmare. He then proceeds to murder all round him, focusing his efforts on the two kids who with Kristen, had defeated him last time out. With these two dispatched, Freddy then attacks Kristen, using her power to draw others into the dream world for him to kill and, in some way that’s not made all that clear, use their souls to grow more powerful.

Kirsten draws her friend Alice into the dream realm and before she’s killed she passes her power to Alice. Now, as Freddy ups the body count, Alice is imbued with the strengths of the person he has killed, which Alice uses to prepare herself to face Freddy...

Hey Freddy, did you go bald when those parents set your ass on fire?
 No, Bitch....

I got a Kru-cut!

Part three of the hugely successful Nightmare on Elm Street franchise set things up nicely for the next movie and I was looking forward to seeing how the story would develop and whether the ghost of Fred’s mum would show up again and curse at people. Part 4 didn’t continue the story as much as it simply carried on the story, by which I mean, unfortunately, that it’s really just more of the same.

The idea behind the Nightmare series is a good one and the previous film had added in a couple of new angles, with the idea that lucid dreamers could do some good in the dream world, that the dream world itself is more than just something in our heads, and that Freddy is a deeper and more complex character then you’d think due to his background and the fact that his mum is a ghost. Most of this was ignored for the fourth film so that Freddy could have some lines that were meant to be funny (but weren’t) and so that the film makers could show off a wide variety of special effects that they had available to them.

The effects in Nightmare 4 are, for the most part, excellent. I really liked the waterbed and the landshark scene sticks in my head too, but nearly all of the effects were well executed (except the bit where Freddy got a hole blown in his chest, the animation for that sucked!) The story is so weak, however, that it’s hardly worth talking about which then leads to good effects being used in places where you just don’t care. A bunch of teens get killed off in this film and none of their deaths really resonate. None of them seem as painful or horrific as those in the earlier films did, and as so many characters are new there’s a strong sense of lambs to the slaughter, so when one of them does bite it you’ve nothing invested. And while the effects are technically well done, they’re not shocking enough to make you sit up and take notice.

There are some things that you can't help but notice in Nightmare 4. The most obvious one is that Patricia Arquette was replaced as Kristen by, and I swear I'm not making this up, Tuesday Knight (that's her name, not sure if she's any relation to Michael or not). One other thing is the way the character of Freddy moves more and more towards comedy as opposed to horror which is a crying shame for a little humour in these films went a long way; in Nightmare 4 the comedy gets in the way of the whole point of the movie.

Two Thumbs Down for A Nightmare on Elm St. Pt4

A Linkmare on Url Street:

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