Sunday, August 23, 2009

The Unseen #5: Nightmare On Elm Street 4: The Dream Master

Why’d I Buy It ? : Came On The Nightmare On Elm Street Four Pack I picked up.

Why Haven’t I Watched It ? : Many consider it to be the worst of The Nightmare On Elm Street Series. I might add that there’s no shortage of contenders for that title.

How Was It?: To say Nightmare On Elm Street 4 has a bad reputation would suggest that people care enough about it to give it a reputation. Even among the most forgiving slasher junkies Part 4 has a terrible reputation. It’s where the series officially gave up even trying to make Freddy Kruger remotely scary, turning him instead to a sort of sociopathic Down Town Julie Brown, becoming pop cultures most beloved pedophile until Michael Jackson (too soon?). It’s the entry where Freddy got defeated by Kung Fu (What is it with Horror Icons meeting their demise through Kung Fu in their later films?). It’s the entry directed by Renny “I Made Mindhunters and 12 Rounds” Harlin. It’s the entry where, in one of the most refreshing moments of cinematic honesty I can think of, Freddy is resurrected by having a dog piss on his grave.

I will repeat.

It’s the entry where Freddy is resurrected by having a dog piss on his grave.

No. Seriously.

And I kind of enjoyed it in an unassuming way.

The film also just looks good, polished to a high eighties sheen, the dream world scenes are well designed and are truly imaginative. The scope of the sets are truly impressive, even if they no longer bear any resemblance to actual dreams, which made the original’s excursions into the subconscious so creepy. To give the devil his due, Harlin makes the most of what he has. Like I said, It’s all shot through a thick layer of eighties gloss; remember this is back when Renny Harlin was still the cheap John McTieran not the expensive Uwe Boll. This is also the last time in the series where some money has obviously been put on screen. The practical effects are probably more impressive now in the age of CGI the they where at the time of the films release avoiding the chintzy cheap look the series would adopt after this one. The fact is the film looks good.

While the characters and story aren’t exactly groundbreaking, they’re appealingly stereotypical, in their slasher movie comfort food way. Much of the credit must go to the great hardboiled Brian Helgeland, who goes the extra mile to make the characters likable, if not believable, and make some of the nightmare’s as truly troubling as the first movie.

I don’t mean to over praise the movie. It’s not a classic by any means. It has a lot to answer for, since it more or less ruined the Nightmare series (say what you will for the first couple of sequels, they where ambitious, not good, but ambitious). It’s the movie where Robert Englund just kind of gave up. It has a scene where a cheerleader gets turned into a giant cockroach. And once again, Kruger is resurrected by a dog pissing on his grave.

It’s not a good movie, but it’s not a bad one. Especially for genre fans, it goes on the list with Friday The 13th Part 3-D, and House Of 1000 Corpses. Bad movies that go down easy, and are genuinely entertaining. Sure that’s about as faint as praise gets, but hey, sometimes you just need to see Robert Englund making bad puns.

No comments: