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For other projects of the same name, see A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master (disambiguation).

A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master is a 1988 horror-fantasy film, and the sequel to A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors. The film is directed by Renny Harlin, starring Robert Englund, Lisa Wilcox and Danny Hassel.

The film was a financial success, grossing over $49.9 million in domestic box office; and received mixed reviews from critics. It is regarded as one of the fan favorite A Nightmare on Elm Street films of the series.


A year after the events of A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors, Kristen, Joey and Kincaid have all been released from Westin Hills Psychiatric Hospital and are back in school.

The film starts with a little girl clearing dirt off the first square of the path to front door of the house at 1428 Elm Street and then starts drawing a chalk drawing of the house, with the sun in the sky, a tree next to the house, and a fence in front of the house, on the first square of the path to the house. At first the roof of the house in the drawing points towards the left side of the front of the house. Kristen is shown to walk up to the path to the front door of the house on the sidewalk from the left. When the drawing is shown again, the roof in the drawing is pointing towards the right side of the front of the house. The girl is then covering up the window to the left of the front door on the drawing with her left hand, and when she removes it, Freddy Krueger is revealed.

The girl disappears and it suddenly shifts from broad daylight to nighttime, and a familiar tricycle, which wasn't there a second ago, can be seen to the right of the front door. Kristen goes inside the house.

Five children are in front of the house, three playing jump rope. And two tossing a ball to each other. 1419 Elm Street can be seen across the street.

Kristen closes the front door.

Disturbed by what she sees in the boiler room, Kristen pulls Joey Crusel and Roland Kincaid into her dream. Both boys are annoyed by this and tried to convince Kristen that Freddy is dead and not returning. Kincaid's dog Jason flies up through a pipe and bites Kristen on the arm, waking them all up. Kristen has a terrible wound on her arm from the dog bite. When Kincaid wakes up, he sees blood dripping from Jason's mouth.

Kristen has managed to make some new friends: Alice Johnson, a young, bright girl and a frequent daydreamer, Sheila Kopecky, a brainy, quiet girl with asthma, and Debbie Stevens, a tough girl who hates bugs. She has also found herself a boyfriend, Rick Johnson, a martial arts enthusiast who is also Alice's brother.

The day after the dream, Kristen goes to Alice and Rick's house before going to school. Their father, Dennis Johnson is an alcoholic that Alice has trouble asserting herself against. As her waking life is less than desirable, she instead daydreams about the way she wishes she was. Her dreams include standing up to her father and having the nerve to ask Dan Jordan out.

In school, Kincaid and Joey confront Kristen about pulling them into the dream. When she insists that Freddy is coming back, Joey suggests that Kristen is constantly going into Freddy's dream world and may eventually bring him back. That evening, Dennis Johnson comes home and berates Alice for the vegetable meal that she prepared for him. Alice turns on him, breaks his bowl and yells at him for drinking himself to death every day, but this turns out to be another of her daydreams. Later on, Rick tries to help his timid sister learn to stand up for herself.

Meanwhile, Kincaid falls asleep and finds himself locked in the trunk of an old junked car. When he opens the hood, he realizes that he is in Penny Bros. Auto Salvage, the same salvage yard that Freddy's body was buried in. Kincaid spies his dog, Jason, digging and urinating fire in the ground nearby, which causes the ground to split open, revealing Freddy Krueger's bones. The remains then suddenly began to automatically rearranged themselves and regain their flesh and muscle, causing Jason to immediately leave while whimpering in fright. Freddy then resurrects from the ground. Jason whimpers and runs away, while Kincaid stays. (Apparently, Kincaid's dog is smarter than he is.) Kincaid knocks a pile of junked cars down on Freddy. Freddy quickly recoups and attacks Kincaid by stabbing him through his abdomen. Though Kincaid received four fatal wounds to his stomach, he defiantly utters "I'll see you in hell". Freddy stabs him in the abdomen much deeper for three more times to finish the job.

Later that night, Joey is attacked and killed by Freddy on his waterbed after being tricked into seeing a naked woman swimming within it. The following day at school, Kristen is concerned when her friends fail to show up for class. She confides to Alice about her nightmares. After she learns of the deaths of Kincaid and Joey, Kristen goes to the actual Elm Street house, with Rick, Dan, and Alice. Rick tells Dan the story of Freddy, and Alice reveals a part of a rhyme by the name of The Dream Master. Alice suggests to Kristen that she is in control of her own dreams. However, Alice also looks down at the ground and sees something, a sidewalk chalk drawing of the house, that only Kristen was able to see. This time, the roof of the house points toward the actual house. Clearly, she senses something.

At Kristen's house, her mother puts sleeping pills into her drink so she will get some sleep. Angry, Kristen tells her mother that she just murdered her, runs upstairs and falls asleep. Remembering Alice's advice, she tries to convert nightmares into pleasant dreams. At first this works, and she proceeds to dream about a sandy beach. There she meets a child named Alice creating a sand castle. Freddy appears and ruins her dream, eventually taking Kristen to his boiler room. It is explained that Kristen is the last child from Elm Street, and Freddy needs her help to get more children. Freddy taunts her long enough to make her scream for Alice. Alice suddenly appears in the boiler room. Kristen tries to get her to wake up but to no avail and apologizes to her. Krueger attempts to kill Kristen's friend in front of her, but she jumps in front of Alice. Freddy throws Kristen into a furnace and collects her soul along with the other Dream Warriors. Before Kristen dies, she sends her power to pull people into her dreams to Alice but first it passes through Freddy. This allows him to imprint a part of himself onto Alice.

Alice awakens immediately and realizes that Kristen is in danger. She and Rick both quickly make their way to Kristen's house. Outside, they see flames coming from Kristen's room, and they are too late to save her. As Alice tries to understand what has happened, and who Freddy is, her friends begin to die.

The next day at school, Alice talks to Sheila in the bathroom. Sheila hadn't slept either, although her sleeplessness was caused by cramming for a physics test. When Sheila leaves, Alice puts a cigarette in her mouth and is about to light it when she realizes that she doesn't smoke. Kristen did, however.

While taking the test, Alice falls asleep in class and accidentally pulls Sheila into her dream where Freddy is waiting. He traps Alice in her desk chair so she cannot help her friend and taunts Sheila before sucking all the air out of her lungs through her mouth. Alice awakens, only to discover Sheila having an asthma attack. Sheila then dies after her inhaler fails to provide her with the air she needs. Rick begins to believe there might be some truth in the Freddy story.

Later, Rick falls asleep in a bathroom stall and finds himself fighting an invisible Freddy. Rick holds his own, even going as far as to knock Freddy's glove off his hand. The glove stirs and soon launches at Rick and stabs him in the chest. At Rick's funeral, Alice at first daydreams that Rick is still alive. However, she realizes that she can't daydream her way through life and she has to face reality. However, she finds that she has picked up traits from all of her friends when they died. She received Kristen's powers and part of her personality, Sheila's ingenuity and Rick's assertiveness and martial arts ability.

In the Dream World, Alice goes to the Rialto Theatre. It is playing two movies: Lost Burning Youth and Reefer Madness. Alice goes in to watch Reefer Madness.

Together with Dan, Alice tries to get to Debbie, their last surviving friend, before Freddy finds her. Unbeknown to the two teens, Freddy is able to control their movements. Trapping Alice and Dan in a time loop, Freddy is able to reach Debbie and kill her by transforming her into a cockroach and trapping her inside a roach motel and then crushing her before Alice and Dan intervene. Following a car accident, where Dan is injured and rushed to the hospital, he is placed under sedation. Alice returns home to prepare for one final battle with Freddy and to help Dan before Freddy can kill him. As Alice and Dan search for Freddy, Dan is injured. Dan is awoken from sedation and pulled from the Dream World by the Doctors trying to help him in the real world. Alice, facing Freddy alone, attempts to use all of her newly absorbed abilities against him.

The fight is relatively equal, with Alice dealing blows that slow Freddy down. Ultimately, his immortality is an advantage that proves nearly too great to overcome. He declares that he has been guarding his gate for too long to be taken down by her. But just as he is preparing to kill her, she recalls the final verse of the Dream Master rhyme. For the first time, someone defeats Freddy by using the power to make him see the evil that is inside. Using her power as guardian of the gate of good dreams, Alice releases the tortured souls that Freddy imprisoned into the gates of good dreams where he can no longer harm them. Krueger's clothes fall lifelessly to the floor and Alice kicks his glove. The film ends with Dan and Alice at a fountain some time later. Dan tosses a coin into a fountain and before the coin falls into the water, she briefly sees the reflection of Freddy. Alice brushes this off and she and Dan continue to walk through the park.


Box Office Performance

The film was released on August 19, 1988 on 1,765 theatres in North America. During its first weekend, the film grossed $12,883,403 and was the highest grossing film of that week. This is also the highest opening of the whole franchise until Freddy vs. Jason released in 2003. On the second weekend, the film still ranked No.1 with a box office of $6,989,359. It remained in first place on the third weekend, moving down the chart from No.2 to No.4 and finally No.6 spot over the next three weeks. The film finally dropped out from the Top 10 list as No.11 on the seventh weekend. The film ended up with a domestic total of $49,369,899. The film ranked No.19 of the 1988's Top 50 highest domestic grossing films and also the highest grossing horror-slasher film of that year. This made it the highest grossing Nightmare on Elm Street film until the release of Freddy vs. Jason in 2003. It is currently the third highest grossing film in the franchise.

Critical Response

A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master received mixed reviews from critics, despite mostly positive comments by the audiences. Lisa Wilcox was praised for her performance of the new primary protagonist Alice Johnson and her inspiring character arc of which she transforms from a hopeless daydreamer to a strong and independent heroine. Robert Englund's portrayal of Freddy Krueger was critically acclaimed, and received a Saturn Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor.

In the book Hollywood Monster, Robert Englund considered the film is his personal favorite film of the franchise. Lisa Wilcox has spoken positively about the film in an interview: “…It had a great story, funny Freddy lines, not too gruesome and a cast that worked really well together.” Wes Craven, the creator of the franchise also give the film a positive comment in the documentary Never Sleep Again: The Elm Street Legacy: "...I think Renny Harlin is a gifted director, he did so much that the other directors cannot do..."

The film was criticized by critics for its comedic style. It finally holds a mixed rating of 53% on Rotten Tomatoes, based on 27 critical reviews. The film is regarded a fan favorite, and is considered by many to be the MTV film of the franchise.

Film Awards

  • Saturn Awards Best Director – Renny Harlin (Nomination)
  • Saturn Awards Best Horror Film (Nomination)
  • Saturn Awards Best Supporting Actor – Robert Englund (Nomination)
  • Fantasporto Awards International Fantasy Film Award for Best Film – Renny Harlin (Nomination)
  • Razzie Award for Worst Original Song – Vigil for the song "Therapist" (Nomination)
  • Catalonian International Film Festival Best Special Effects (Won)/Best Film (Nomination)
  • Teenage Choice for Best Horror Motion Picture (Won)
  • Best Young Actor in a Horror or Mystery Motion Picture – Rodney Eastman (Nomination)
  • Best Young Actor in a Horror or Mystery Motion Picture – Andras Jones (Nomination)
  • Best Young Actress in a Horror or Mystery Motion Picture – Brooke Theiss (Nomination)


  • "Nightmare" – Tuesday Knight
  • "Love Kills" – Vinnie Vincent Invasion
  • "Angel" – Love/Hate
  • "Don't Be Afraid of Your Dreams" – Go West
  • "Back to the Wall" – Divinyls
  • "Anything, Anything (I'll Give You)" -Dramarama
  • "Are You Ready for Freddy" – The Fat Boys
  • "Fatal Charm" – Billy Idol
  • "Pride and Joy" – Joe Lamont
  • "Rebuilding the Big House" – Nick Gilder
  • "Therapist" – Vigil
  • "Under the Night Stars" – Sea Hags
  • "Standing Over You" – The Angels
  • "I Want Your (Hands on Me)" – Sinéad O'Connor

Music Videos

With the popularity of the Nightmare on Elm Street series, many songs on the soundtrack had music videos:

  • The Fat Boys featuring Robert Englund performing "Are You Ready for Freddy" showing one of the Fat Boys inheriting the Elm Street House and staying the night in order to complete the inheritance, even including Freddy rapping and audio of Heather Langenkamp's famous line "don't fall asleep" from the original film. This video can be found on bonus disc, The Nightmare Series Encyclopedia, from the The Nightmare on Elm Street Collection, released by New Line Platinum Series, on September 21, 1999.
  • Vinnie Vincent Invasion performing "Love Kills", a music video featuring scenes from The Dream Master. It is not featured on any DVD release.


  • This was the highest grossest slasher film of the 1980s.
  • Patricia Arquette was unable to reprise her role as Kristen Parker due to pregnancy.
  • It is the second film where Robert Englund has a second role without Freddy's makeup. In this case, the school nurse.
  • This fourth movie was filmed from 4th April to May 1988.
  • This was the first film in the series that was directed by a non-American (the first until the next film). Renny Harlin, the only European (as a Finn) who directed a film of the series.
  • The writer, Scott Pearce, is really a pen name. No such author existed.
  • This film had the most merchandise at the time.
  • Until Freddy vs. Jason, this film had the highest box office.

External links