Greatest Movie Series
Nightmare on Elm Street Films
A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984) | A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy's Revenge (1985)
A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors (1987) | A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master (1988)
A Nightmare on Elm Street 5: The Dream Child (1989) | Freddy's Dead: The Final Nightmare (1991)
(Wes Craven's) New Nightmare (1994) | Freddy vs. Jason (2003) | A Nightmare on Elm Street (2010)
|A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master (1988)
d. Renny Harlin, 99 minutes
Film Plot Summary
Under the credits, a child's hand made a colored chalk drawing of a two-story house on gray concrete. As the camera pulled away, it revealed a young girl (Kristen Clayton) [later introduced as the teenaged character of Alice Johnson] in a white dress. She was drawing on a sidewalk on a residential street - Elm Street, in front of the ruined remains of Nancy Thompson's (Freddy's) house.
A blonde teenager named Kristen Parker (Tuesday Knight, previously portrayed in the third film by Patricia Arquette) walked toward her and asked: "Do you live here?...Where's Freddy?" The young girl answered, giggling: "He's not home" - although she had drawn an image of serial killer Freddy Krueger (Robert Englund) in one of the windows of the chalk drawing.
A sudden rainstorm (with darkness) washed away the colored chalk, blending the colors into a bloody red mess, and the little girl disappeared. Kristen turned toward a squeaking noise - the front door of the house opening, and was drawn to it. Turning around to view the sidewalk in front of the house from the inside of the house, she saw a group of children in white clothing skipping rope and singing the "Freddy" rhyme: "One, two, Freddy's coming for you, Three, four, better lock your door..." When she tried to flee outside, she found herself trapped inside the locked, dilapidated house with a duplicate entrance hallway. She saw a shadow of a hand on the wall (a reflection of a tree branch), when a blast of thunder tossed her across the room.
She was transported into Freddy's boiler room, with dripping water and heavy rusted chain links hanging from the ceiling. Hearing a scraping noise (metal against metal), she cried out: "Joey! Kincaid! Help me!"
She told the two boys: "It's Freddy, he's here. I heard him." Kincaid differed with her: "Freddy is dead - buried and consecrated. We won - remember?" She was worried Freddy had come back for them. Joey tried to prove to her that Freddy was "history" - he showed her that the pipes, furnace and boiler were cold. Suddenly, Kincaid's dog Jason lept through the furnace opening and grabbed Kristen's arm - and then all three individuals woke up in their respective bedrooms. Kristen's arm was bloodied by the dog bite, and she wrapped the wound.
The next day, Kristen drove in her VW convertible to a neighbor's house - the Johnsons, where she picked up two Springwood High School friends:
There were other student teens in the school parking lot:
At her locker, Kristen was confronted by Joey and Kincaid who reprimanded her for bringing them into her dreams, from their normal lives: "You got this freako talent to bring folks into your dreams, but we don't need it anymore. Time to start living like regular people." They were worried that she might stir up Freddy again: "We all have better things to dream about."
In a short scene at the Johnson home, Rick practiced martial arts kickboxing and spins in the garage, while Alice was in the kitchen. Both were waiting for their alcoholic father Dennis (Nicholas Mele) who was late to return from work. When he sat down for dinner and complained about the food, Alice experienced a daydream of angrily responding to him: "I can think of how sick I am of watching you drink your life away and taking it out on me."
In his bedroom, Kincaid fell asleep, and began to suffer from his own lethal nightmare (the dream was a continuation of the conclusion of the previous film):
In the next scene, Kristen was in her bedroom when she became startled, at the moment of Kincaid's death, by a tinkling noise from her wind-chime mobile at her open window.
In Joey's bedroom (where he had a "Sweet Dreams" poster of a bikinied Pin Up Girl (Hope Marie Carlton) above his TV), he was stretched out on his waterbed watching MTV (with headphones plugged into his stereo) and also reading Rolling Stone Magazine. As his eyes shut, he entered deadly dreamland:
In her bedroom, Alice fed the pet fish in her aquarium tank, and then spoke to her brother Rick, who mentioned that her vanity mirror wasn't serving much of a purpose since it was covered with a collage of photographs of friends from happier times. She wasn't interested in seeing her reflection. They spoke about their alcoholic, single father's treatment of them, and he offered her advice: to stand up for herself and fight back. He taught her how to kick, part of his own martial arts routine.
The next day at school, Kristen anxiously spoke to Alice about her concern over her missing friends, Joey and Kincaid. They spoke about how they both experienced nightmares. Kristen said that she hated dreaming, although Alison disagreed: "I love to dream. I just hate the ones about my dad." Considering herself an expert on daydreaming, Alice explained how she handled or controlled her nightmares, something taught to her by her mother when she was little: "Did you ever hear of the dream master?...It's a rhyme. Just have to dream about someplace fun. Remember, you're in control."
In her next class, Kristen cried out that Freddy had killed Joey and Kincaid when she saw their empty seats. When her boyfriend Rick tried to calm her down, she lost her balance and struck her head against the classroom wall - and was knocked unconscious. Kristen entered a dream state:
Suddenly, Kristen was awakened again by the real-world nurse (Joanna Lipari), who asked: "Feeling better now?"
After school, some of the teens (including cute Dan Jordan) ate at a local diner, named CRAVE INN [a reference/homage to the series' creator Wes Craven], where both Debbie and Alice worked as waitresses. With Kristen, Rick burst in to tell his sister Alice that Joey and Kincaid died the previous night. Kristen blamed herself for letting Freddy kill them: "And after all we've been through together, how could I let him get to them? We were a team. I'm gonna get that son of a bitch...before it's too late."
Rick, Dan, Alice, and Kristen drove to the boarded up, run-down Elm Street "haunted" house, where Kristen told them it was Freddy's "home" -- "He's waiting in there for me to dream." She further explained: "This isn't a normal nightmare. I'm history." Rick explained the legend of Freddy to Dan:
Alice remembered the first part of the dream master rhyme and told Kristen about how one can control one's own dreams: "Now I lay me down to sleep. The master of dreams, my soul I'll keep." Across the street, Kristen's mother Elaine (Brooke Bundy) honked her car horn and ordered her daughter to get away from the house. As the other teens left the house, Alice momentarily saw the chalk drawing of the house on the sidewalk.
At dinner that night, Kristen's mother secretly put a sedative in her distraught daughter's drink to force her to sleep. Realizing she had been drugged, an angry Kristen was aware that her mother was one of the parents who years earlier had "torched" Fred Krueger - and now the reincarnated killer was after her: "In case you haven't been keeping score, it's his f--king banquet and I'm the last course." She was accusatory toward her mother: "You just murdered me. Take that to your god-damned therapy." She staggered disorientedly up the stairs to her bedroom, and attempted to call Alice, but fell down. As she drifted off and her eyes shut, Kristen told herself: "Dream someplace fun" - words of advice she had heard from Alice. During Kristen's dream:
Alice immediately awakened and bolted upright in her own bed. She noticed that a picture on her mirror's collage was of Freddy holding Kristen in his arms in the boiler room, with the caption: "Greetings From Hell!" As she removed and held the photograph, it caught fire. She sensed that Kristen was in danger, and hurried with her brother Rick to Kristen's two-story brick house. From outside the home, they saw that her upstairs bedroom was on fire, but were too late to save her from a fiery death (# 3 death).
At the cemetery, the camera panned past two new gravestones: Roland Kincaid and Kristen Parker [behind them were grave markers for Nancy Thompson and Donald Thompson, deceased characters from previous installments]. Following Kristen's death, Alice insisted to Rick that her horrible fate was no accident, or suicide, and that it couldn't be prevented: "I saw it happen in my dream. There was this horrible man...I could smell the smoke. I could feel the heat from the fire. It wasn't a dream." She admitted that she felt "different" - "Something happened in the dream. And now it's like part of her is with me." And at school, Alice began to adopt some of Kristen's behaviors and sayings; for instance, she noticed exhausted Sheila's 'bags' under her eyes (as Kristen had said to her earlier): "We have matching luggage...You didn't sleep last night?" She also lit a cigarette, as Kristen often did, although she was a non-smoker.
During a physics class exam, Alice was sleeping and dreaming. Seated next to her was Sheila, who was accidentally pulled into Alice's nightmare:
Alice 'awoke' and noticed Sheila having trouble during their shared nightmare:
Alice tried to convince her classmates and teacher of Freddy's presence: "Didn't you see it? He was here," although everyone looked at her strangely. As Sheila's body was taken away and her friends watched, Debbie doubted the cause of death: "What 17-year-old has fatal asthma?" Alice explained: "It was Freddy...I saw it. It was my dream. I brought Sheila in," but no one believed how she had adopted Kristen's troubling power to bring people into her dreams. Alice mourned: "I gave Sheila to him. And now she's dead."
In Alice's bedroom that night, she studied Sheila's invention - a mechanical bug-zapper. She removed a picture of the two of them on her vanity mirror, opening up more of the mirror to her own reflection. At her diner-waitress job, she told Dan (who was skeptical of her story) that she was working double-shifts because she couldn't sleep and hadn't slept in a few days. She feared: "Someone might die." He asked why Freddy was after her -- she answered:
The next day in the school locker-room during practice, Rick told Dan that Alice blamed herself for the death of Sheila, and then admitted his own guilt about Kristen's death: "Maybe I could have stopped it if I'd have listened." He explained that due to the town's history, "it's not exactly a safe place to be a teenager."
In a classroom, Alice and fellow students were lectured on dream philosophy by their teacher (Robert Shaye, New Line Cinema CEO and series producer):
Alice struggled to stay awake during the droning, monotone lecture, but dozed off. In another area of the school, in the locker room's toilet stall, Rick also nodded off, and his dream became deadly:
At the moment of Rick's death, Alice was jolted awake in the classroom. She pounded her fist into her desktop, and loudly screamed: "Nooo!", causing the windows to violently shatter.
At Rick's funeral, Alice (clutching her brother's oriental bandana in her hand) had a day-dream hallucination:
Afterwards, Alice told Dan: "I guess this is my own war." She told Debbie that Freddy wasn't a "night-stalker," and that it would take "more than bench presses to beat him." Alice vowed to devise a plan with her friends that night to defeat Freddy: "Mind over matter." [Alice was acquiring the abilities, powers, sayings, and talents of those who were murdered by Freddy, and was planning to use them against him.] Debbie recalled: "Sheila used to say that. God, every day, she changes." Dan corrected her - "It's after every death."
In her bedroom, Alice again removed a picture of Rick from her vanity mirror, revealing more of her own reflection in the open space of the mirror. She hung Rick's oriental bandana on the mirror next to Sheila's gadget, and then practiced with Rick's nun-chuck sticks, surprising herself with her newfound ability: "What's happening to me?" Her drunken father prohibited her from leaving the house ("I don't want to lose you. We're all we have") to meet her friends, and she was unable to rendezvous as planned.
Outside the diner, Dan waited for Alice, musing: "All the towns in America and I gotta move to the Bermuda Triangle." Alice fell asleep in her bedroom, and experienced an hallucinatory dream, set in the movie theatre and diner:
Alice jerked awake in her bedroom and sat up, realizing she had to save Debbie before Freddy got to her. Debbie was Freddy's next prospective victim, who was working out with bench-pressing weights in her attic, and presumably dozed off.
Again, Alice ran to the diner where she met Dan, and they drove together to Debbie's place. However, as she raced to Debbie's house, she was at first unaware that their movements were controlled by Freddy, who had trapped them in a repeating, circular deja-vu time-loop. They were delayed because they had to repeat their same actions three times - they were back at the diner again where they had started.
Meanwhile, Debbie's nightmare led to her crushing death:
At the moment of Debbie's death as Dan and Alice were again driving to the house, Alice was violently jolted - she knew instinctively: "Debbie, she's gone. I've collected her, like the others."
The two were blinded by bright car lights and then saw Freddy defiantly standing in the middle of the road. Alice attempted to ram into him, but he vanished and the truck appeared to crash into an invisible wall. The truck was totaled when it crumpled from the collision, actually striking a tree across from Debbie's house.
Alice revived from the accident, realizing that Dan was seriously injured, and required hospitalization. In the paramedic ambulance, Alice refused to have Dan sedated, and then whispered to him: "Don't let them put you to sleep. We have to get ready for him." Dan was scheduled for surgery in fifteen minutes - and Alice feared she wouldn't have enough time to finally vanquish Freddy - she feared Dan would be next if he was put under: "They're gonna kill him."
As Dan was prepared for the operating table and administered gas, Alice sped off in her father's station wagon to her home where she took sleeping pills to fall asleep. Strong and confident in the mirror reflection (after removing most of the pictures and clearing her dresser), she prepared herself to battle Freddy by carrying or wearing tokens or mementos of power from her friends:
She saw herself as the 'dream master' who could harness others' abilities - reveling in her new power: "F--kin' A" (a phrase spoken earlier by Kincaid).
Under anesthesia and in a dreamworld, Dan began to hallucinate:
Alice willed Dan to reawaken in the real-world by regaining consciousness, as he vanished from the dreamworld next to her. Now, she faced Freddy alone in the deserted church:
In the final scene weeks later, recovered boyfriend/girlfriend Dan and Alice were walking hand-in-hand together in a park, where they came to a fountain. She told him she still couldn't sleep very well, although she wanted to be awake for different reasons: "I have more reasons to stay awake now."
He flipped a coin into the water to make a wish - Alice saw Freddy's image briefly reflected in the ripples caused by the coin. He asked: "What'd you wish for?" She replied: "If I tell you, it won't come true" before they walked away.
Film Notables (Awards, Facts, etc.)
With a production budget of $13 million, and box-office gross receipts of $49 million (domestic). This was the highest-grossing film of the entire Elm Street series, not counting Freddy vs. Jason (2003).
This was the last film in the Nightmare series to officially have a number attached to its title.
Body Count: 6 (all killed by Freddy), followed by Freddy's demise (temporary).
Series-Introduction - Index to All Films | Series-Box Office