A Nightmare A Day: Day 4 (A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master)

Directed by: Renny Harlin (other credits include Die Hard 2 and Deep Blue Sea)

Budget: $13million

US Box Office: $49.3million

  • The last film started with an Edgar Allen Poe quote, this one; the Bible “When deep sleep falleth on men, fear came upon me, and trembling, which made all my bones to shake”. I prefer the Poe.
  • Odd song for opening credits.
  • Last film started with arts and crafts and paper mache, this one starts with chalk drawings. The Nightmare On Elm Street Films obviously have a “take your daughter to work” day on set every film.
  • Agin this film opens on daylight. Cannot say how much I love that.
  • Patricia Arquette’s character has magically transformed into Tuesday Knight. Notable as they look absolutely nothing a like besides being white and having blonde hair.
  • This series hates tricycles
  • And here comes the black guy from the third movie, obviously here to rectify not dying in the third one, as is horror tradition.
  • Oh, and the the guy Freddy kissed into a coma is here too. This is the most sequel sequel of the sequels so far.
  • “you’re going out dressed like that?” dude, she’s in a jacket and a full length dress, it would be difficult for her to be covering any more skin. Unless you want her to be more nude, in which case, dude, she’s your daughter.
  • Discount Christian Slater.
  • Discount Christian Slater is reading “Soviet Psychiatry”,  I’m not sure “killing your poor by implementing a poorly thought out five year plan which starves millions” is an effective psychiatric tool.
  • “Asthma is an inherited condition”. I learned something today.
  • “hey, you’re sucking on the wrong nozzle”. Hah, it’s funny because she’s got asthma and your response is to be a dickhole
  • “lighten up, no-one died”. Erm, yes they did.
  • 80’s karate montage!
  • The black guys dog pisses fire onto Freddy’s corpse which awakens him. No, seriously, that happened. I’m not pleased I had to type that sentence either.
  • The guy uses his super strength to push a car onto freddy. I guess this movie’s over now then, right?
  • Time of first death: 19 minutes. Freddy remembers he’s in a horror film, and as per tradition, has to kill the black guy first.
  • So, coma guy from last film is dreaming of a naked woman seducing him. Considering the last time this happened he got put in a coma you’d think he’d be somewhat cautious.
  • Time of second death: 21 minutes. Freddy pulls coma guy into a water bed and drowns him. But not before saying “how’s this for a wet dream?” Which, if I could kill people in their dreams, that’s exactly what I would say too. Oh, more boobs by the way. I’ve seen this guy dream of boobs twice, and both times he’s been harmed, there’s a moral behind this, but I can’t figure out what it is.
  • “how do you know about dreams?” “well when it’s all you have you kind of become an expert”. Don’t be silly you also have lovely long hair and a nice cardigan.
  • Not-Patricia Arquette freaks out when Roland and Joey aren’t in class. For all she knows they could just be late, or in prison, but nope, she assumes dead. She’d have felt mighty foolish if she was wrong.
  • Robert Englund in drag as a nurse. Yup, that happens.
  • So her mother has been slipping her sleeping pills. That’s all kinds of disturbing.
  • Also, what the hell kind of sleeping pills is she on that she is forced asleep within 5 minutes? One’s I’ve had has taken at least half hour and even then you had to put effort in.
  • “just dream of somewhere nice” is useless advice, pretty much the equivalent of “if you’re depressed, just cheer up” (if you’ve ever said that to someone, go impale yourself on a stick, not even joking).
  • As if to prove my point, Freddy “Jaws” his way onto a beach and pushes her under the sand. Instead of this killing her through suffocation etc, she goes to a boiler room.
  • “why don’t you reach out and touch someone?” I dunno, I got in trouble for doing that on the train one time.
  • Time of third death: 37 minutes. (couldn’t find a decent video for it, is pretty much the second fatality in that video). And in only two minutes more than it took to get to the first death in the second film, we’ve killed off the remaining cast from the previous film.
  • It’s so nice of the families that all the victims got buried next to each other. Is that how cemeteries in the US are organised, not by family or anything, but by cause of death?
  • Okay, so now all the previous cast are dead, this is like a new start. Which of the cast is next to die, Alice, the girl who can lucid dream? Discount Christian Slater? Debbie who hates bugs? Or Sheila, the black girl? I’ll give you a clue, it’s not the first three.
  • Time of fourth death: 44 minutes. Freddy kisses a school girl to death. I think he was originally written as a child molester but for some reason the studio wouldn’t allow it so he was just made a child killer (which is totally fine for some reason) but they still slipped in a few implications of molestation in there. Such as this scene. Anyway, as Freddie kisses her all the air goes from her lungs and she dies. Basic kissing mistake number one there: try not to kill the other person.
  • “i saw it, it was my dream”. Dude, phrasing, that makes it sound like you wanted it to happen.
  • Side note: the girl who plays Sheila, her real name is Toy Newkirk.
  • “how you going to fight me without your weapon Freddy?” Yeah, all he’s got now are his dream powers. You’re an idiot, discount Christian Slater.
  • Time of fifth death: 56 minutes. Rick tries to beat a serial killer who has magic powers with karate. This goes about as well as you’d expect.
  • “for Rick was in his prime, beloved by all” I dunno, I thought he was kind of a tool.
  • “Every day she changes”, yeah, for some reason she’s effected by her close friends and family dying, what a weirdo.
  • Karate montage! (set to the same song as earlier)
  • Okay, she seems to get her friends traits and abilities when they die. Luckily she only gets useful ones, she doesn’t like develop asthma or broken bones, that would suck.
  • Oddly brilliant scene here. Alice is at cinema and falls asleep. She gets dragged into the screen into a black and white movie. She looks through the screen to the audience and it’s her dead friends applauding the screen, and the body building-bug hating girl asleep.
  • They could have done more with the movie-allusion. They barely did anything with it, no references to old films or tropes. Colour me disappointed.
  • Alice dreams she works at the diner for the rest of her life. And oddly adult fear.
  • Freddy’s victims heads are now meatballs on pizza, he goes to eat the black guys head “I love soul food”. That’s racist!
  • Time of sixth death: 68 minutes. How crap this death, this death, holy crap. It’s almost Cronenberg-esque in execution and content. Pure body horror as she’s turned into a cockroach killed.
  • Alice and Dan get caught in a time loop so are unable to stop the cockroach death. When they finally get out of the loop they drive into a tree. Lesson one of driving: don’t drive into trees. Dan gets put in a coma, Alice goes home.
  • Alice tools up. Alice is badass. I like Alice.
  • “get away from him you son of a bitch” soooo close to an Alien reference.
  • Dan gets woken up and leaves Alice alone in the dream world. Oh no, however will a lucid dreamer who knows martial arts be able to survive without a football player helping her?
  • “welcome to wonderland, Alice” Did the writers call her Alice just for that? If so, well played.
  • “I am eternal”, yeah but only when dogs piss fire on you. And that surely only happens like once a week or so. What happens when we bury you at sea or behind a vacuum cleaner.
  • Alice stops Freddy with a mirror and a nursery rhyme. Richard III died the same way.
  • “I have more reasons to stay awake now” Oh, I’m sorry, was “not dying” enough of a reason?
  • We end with something truly terrifying: Sinead O Connor.

A Nightmare A Day: Day 3 (A Nightmare On Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors)

Director: Chuck Russell. (Other credits include The Mask and The Scorpion King)

Budget: $4.5million

US Box Office: $44.7million

  • Ooooo, new New Line logo. This one looks less like the intro to a Commodore 64 game. Huge improvement.
  • Edgar Allen Poe quote “Sleep. Those little slices of death. How I loathe them”. This film gets points for reminding me that Eternal Darkness exists. Oh, and it’s a clever use of Poe.
  • Hey, Heather’s back.
  • This film’s so old they spell it Larry Fishburne.
  • The opening of this film seems to be a woman making pancakes. Yet through the use of music and clever angles it’s still creepier than Annabelle.
  • Oh wait, not pancakes, gluing newspaper pieces onto walls and doing other arts and crafts. Point still stands, f*ck Annabelle.
  • Mouthful of coffee grounds and swig of coke. Disgusting.
  • Wooo, heavy metal music. (Into the fire: dokken)
  • Has Patricia Arquette aged at all?
  • Dead bodies hung from the ceiling in an abandoned house. Well this film is just going to start off creepy isn’t it?
  • Wait, are they doing the first death this early?
  • Nope, she wakes up, just with slit wrists.
  • Hey kids, it’s Larry Fishburne, before he looked like a black Charlie Brooker, talking to someone who’s not entirely unlike Judge Reinhold.
  • Who’s the girl in the flannel? Looks like Kristen Stewart but 80’s.
  • Oh, guess she was just an extra.
  • Yay, Nancy/Heather’s back. I love recurring characters. Especially when they make sense. In the time between her last experience she’s actually done research into dreams etc, that makes a lot of sense and is good characterisation.
  • “kid last week sliced off his own eyelids so he could stay awake”. Holy hell that’s disturbing, I have to use that.
  • In a film, I should clarify.
  • A bike comes in, trailing three bits of blood along the floor then it kind of collapses into the floor. The real nightmare is shoddy workmanship at bike factories.
  • First death: 31 minutes. Seriously? I thought it was about 15. I suppose they’ve had to introduce a lot of new characters here so it doesn’t feel as long as it’s actually been. As big a fan as I am of the second film (especially since the rewatch yesterday), the opening act does drag a bit, although it’s worth it once it reaches it, like a two-legged dog playing fetch. This death always makes me wince and is definitely my favourite so far. Philip, who we’ve seen as being a puppet maker is being used by Freddy as some sort of marionette puppet, with his veins/arteries etc for strings. He’s then led up to the top of a tower and the strings are cut. Everyone who see’s him thinks he’s sleepwalking, which begs the question: if someone is sleepwalking through to an open window of a tall building, why would you not keep an eye on them? The security here is ridiculously bad. Yet another horror-movie death which could have been stopped by health and safety regulations.
  • Hey, flannel girl is more than an extra. Is odd as she was speaking in a previous scene and I didn’t recognise her not dressed like a lumberjack.
  • “then it was suicide, Philip quit, he gave up” Dude, not cool!
  • “he killed himself. Now, that’s a cowardly thing. That’s an empty thing” Dude, stop right there. I feel if you say anything else I’m going to wish harm upon you as a character.
  • “He let himself down. He let all of us down” I hope you get your penis caught in a combine harvester.
  • Time of second death: 38 minutes. Jennifer. Shame, I liked her, she seemed like a mix between Jennifer Tilly and Patricia Arquette. Probably the most famous death in this film due to Sassy Freddy. It’s the “welcome to prime time, bitch!” death.
  • “what faith do you follow?” “science”. How did I not remember that line is in this film? That’s brilliant.
  • Now we have the scene where everyone shows off their special dream powers, hence the “Dream Warriors” of the title. These films have been weird but every one has been unique and had it’s own purpose, they haven’t repeated themselves much. One can walk (and is a wizard), one is strong, and Taryn (the flannel girl) has knives and punk rock hotness.
  • And we have tits. Which is horror movie shorthand for “we don’t have much confidence in this, so we’re using nudity so that horny teenage boys will want to watch it”. I’m not against nudity in film, but in a lot of cases (sadly, it does have to be said, particularly in horror), it’s ridiculously exhibitionist and serves no purpose. I’m going to say this just the once: if you’ve ever watched a horror film just to see nudity, you’re an idiot. You know there are some films available online (and in certain shops) which contain nothing but nudity, right? And some even racier stuff, like kissing and hugging. If you want tits, buy tits, admit it, don’t watch a hour and a half film just for the 2 seconds of nudity, that’s idiotic, uneconomical, and just a little bit sad.
  • So Freddy pretended to be a woman, kissed this guy and then put him in a coma. There’s a myriad of different ways he could have put him in a coma. But for some reason he chose to use the method which required him kissing a teenage boy and tying him to a bed (with his tongue).
  • And here we have the origin story. Freddy’s mother was locked in an asylum and raped hundred of times, hence the nickname for Freddy “the bastard son of a hundred maniacs”. A few issues I have with this, 1) the age old myth of “all mental patients are dangerous maniacs” which was remarkably prevalent in horror before the 2000’s (seriously, count how many scary stories involve “an escaped mental patient”, not just films or books, but urban legends too). 2) “the bastard son of a hundred maniacs”. I guess we’re just ignoring the theory of mendelian genetics then? At most he’s the son of a singular maniac who’s sperm was strong enough to kill the sperm of the others.
  • Now we have another character from the first film return. It seems like they should have swapped this and the second one around.
  • So the bones must be buried in hallowed ground? Christian mythology is rife in horror films, so the next time someone says hollywood is scared of promoting Christianity, kick them in the temple.
  • Time of third death: 71 minutes. Lovely Taryn is injected with drugs as Freddy channels his inner Road Warrior. Why does everyone I love die? Oddly enough this scene is responsible for the film being banned in Australia as it was seen to promote drug use. Because obviously the first thing impressionable children think when they see someone die of a drug overdose is “drugs are awesome!”
  • Time of fourth death: 73 minutes. The guy in a wheelchair dies, because of course he does.
  • Harryhausen-esque skeleton now. Odd.
  • “I killed you once before you son of a bitch”, famous last words.
  • Time of fifth death: 82 minutes. The guy said the line in the previous note. Kind of a dull death for a returning character.
  • Time of sixth death: 86 minutes. And there goes Nancy. Normally when people return for horror film sequels they either survive or die in the opening scene. Here she’s the last death. Sad times. She had a semi-heroic death I guess but shame such an iconic character almost went out with a whimper.
  • The nun from earlier was Freddy’s mum? No, just no.
  • And the film ends with……a light turning on.

This film seems like it should have been swapped with the second. It’s a more direct sequel to the first film, seems to completely ignore the second film entirely. The series has to be commended for doing something different at least. All three films have been completely different stories. The second one was about possession, this one’s more about groups fighting back. This was the first Nightmare On Elm Street film I ever watched as my family had it on VHS back in the day. I don’t know where my family got it from, or why this was the only one they had. I guess some questions are just not meant to be answered, questions like “why are there so many songs about rainbows?”