Monday, April 26, 2010

Long Week On Elm St.: Part 4 Nightmare On Elm Street The Dream Warriors

I was just as surprised as anyone when I ended up giving Nightmare On Elm Street 4 a positive review. After all this is the installment that is not without reason often blamed for ruining the entire series. Call it massive head trauma if you must but taken without the baggage of the series surrounding it. Nightmare On Elm Street 4: The Dream Master, remains a fun, if stoopid, big budget eighties horror movie. Its not what you would call good, but its good enough to qualify as my favorite Renny Harlin movie.

Lets see if it can keep its title.

0:00:20: Well that’s how you throw down the gautlent. “Hey Dream Warriors you think your Edgar Allen Poe quote is high falutin? Well we’re taking our intro quote from the fucking BIBLE!!!” The difference of course being while the Poe quote worked as a statement of purpose, the passage from Job is so out of place that it’s a prime example of cognitive dissonance.

0:02:30: Oh hi “Not Patricia Arquette” I never really got the recast here. In what universe is Patricia Arquette too expensive?

0:02:46: NO NOT CHALK!!! Man even when he was the poor man’s Ridley Scott rather then the expensive man’s Uwe Boll Harlin couldn’t establish tone to save his life.

0:03:55: If the Dream Warriors pioneered the concept of utterly undreamlike dreams, The Dream Master embraces it. To give credit where its due, though Harlin earns his keep here as a stylist. I’d teach this film as an example of eighties film stock at its best. Everything is polished to a high sheen, the light is warm. It’s a look that bothers the shit out of some people, I’ve always liked this vintage of stock. Especially when you compare it to the desaturation and blue tint vogue that held sway in the nineties.

0:04:22: Lets hear it for Brian Hegeland! Whooo! I don’t think you can accuse Dream Master of genuinely trying to push its characters past fodder the way that Warriors does. But at least it makes all its characters unique and likable enough that I’m normally genuinely sorry to see them die. Most of the credit for which I’ll give to Hegeland, not Harlan.

0:05:44: I don’t know why I have a soft spot for direct horror sequels. Especially since all they usually mean is that the characters I liked who survived the first one are now going to die (I’m looking at you Danielle Harris in Halloween II). But I do. Seeing Kinkaid getting brought back into things is just outright bizarre. Also, one thing I didn’t mention in my warriors review, whats with the weird “being pulled back on a wire thing” they do whenever someone enters someone elses dream? Its just such a weird effect. Could they really not think of a better way to show this?

0:06:01: Its an odd horror movie where the skeptics are right. Had Kristen just left well enough alone Freddy would have been stuck in limbo. Epic Fail, as the kids say.

0:07:08: OK serious question is Kinkaid’s dog the biggest canine asshole in cinema history? Between savaging our heroine for no reason and bringing Krueger back to life with his magic urine (not a joke), I can’t think of another Dog on film who has ever been potrayed as so manifestly not man’s best friend.

I guess Harlin is a cat person.

0:08:08: Another question, what does the Elm Street series have against fathers? I mean horror movie parents in general are clueless, if they’re present at all. But in The Nightmare series they always seem to be particular assholes when they’re played by people not named John Saxon. Mr. Johnson is appropriately enough a giant cock.

0:08:37: Alcholics too. I don’t know if there is an entry in the series where an alcoholic parent isn’t present. I don’t know if there’s anything deep to this. But considering how many different people have helmed these movies its an odd coincidence.

0:09:06: EIGHTEIS HAIR. Another sign of the eighties? The boyfriend is played by a Christian Slater wannabe. Bringing to light the disturbing fact that there was a time when people WANTED to be like Christian Slater.

10:16: Oh Shelia, you African American, Moped riding, nerd hottie. If Arbogast ever does The One You Might Have Saved again, you better believe I will choose you. She’s the perfect example of what The script does right without ever being exceptional. Every inch a cliché sure, but an appealing well acted cliché. "Dynasty Again?"

0:12:18: Dramarama and white people Karate. How can you not like this movie a little?

0:16:03: Oh the asshole dog’s name is Jason that explains it.

0:16:24: No matter how many times I see that dog resurrect Freddy with a flaming stream of urine, I can never quite believe it. I mean Jesus. Jesus Christ. Has there ever been a surer sign in any franchise ever, that the people involved just didn’t give a fuck? Had the word’s “WE REALLY COULDN’T GIVE A SHIT!!!” Flashed across the screen in neon the effect would have been the same. And it probably would have been more honest.

0:16:55: I love how the dog goes to all this trouble to resurrect Freddy and then gets all scared and pissed and starts barking. THIS IS YOUR DOING ASSHOLE!!!

0:17:05: Once again though the effects are GOOD. Freddy’s resurrection (dog piss aside) has a wet organic feel. It’s the height of eighties practical. I’d love to know what the budget was on this one. If it was the most expensive I wouldn’t be surprised. Then again for all his many many… MANY directorial sins one thing Harlin has always been good at is making less look like more. So maybe not.

0:17:26: Oh sure dog. Walk away.

0:19:05: Kinkaid why are you so fucking dumb. You where there in Dream Warriors and you know what it takes to kill Freddy. And a falling car ain’t it.

0:21:45: I know it’s a cliché but man do remember when MTV used to play music? That was weird.

0:22:24: Oh shit now we’re back in Freddy’s Revenge territory. This is of course doubly ironic given that this is a movie where in Freddy actually is getting revenge rather then just hassling some random dudes.

0:23:00: Oh shit! Looks like we got a metaphor!

0:24:30: In another example of the movies “nothing special, but nice enough” style. Most horror movie’s figure that mentioning that two characters are siblings is enough. Dream Masters goes the extra mile to actually sketch some semblance of a relationship between the two. Which is nice.

0:25:00: (Brother That Shit Ain’t Canonical Pt. 1) Having Joey sealed in the waterbed makes no sense. The whole idea, with the series is that what happens in the dream world crosses over into the physical world. But not to the point where it ALTERS REALITY. What Did Freddy come out of the dream world with a sodering iron so he could reseal the water bed? Its stupid.

Now some would suggest that I am thinking far too much about something like The Nightmare On Elm Street series in this case. And they would be absolutely correct. I have no rebuttal. I'm deeply ashamed of myself now.

0:27:30: When you think about it Freddy’s character has gotten even weirder in this one. Sure he was doing these weird transformations in the last two movies, but it was either to play on their fears, or lull them into a false sense of security. In Part 4 he starts doing it just cause? Why does he show up in Drag and go through a long conversation before attempting to murder “Not Patricia Arquette” Why!?!

0:33:33: I take back what I said about Fathers. There’s never been a decent adult in the Elm Street series.

0:36:00: Yes and the first "post giving a fuck" nightmare devolves into a Jaws Parody. Because seriously, the filmmakers don’t want to scare you. At all.

And also because they like boobs.

0:36:15: Yes. Yes Freddy Krueger did just don sunglasses. No. No they really don't care anymore.

0:38:44: Goodbye “Not Patricia Arquette” even though you have doomed mankind in ways that aren’t exactly clear (Wait so since one person was pulled into the dreams Freddy can kill anyone now? And wait a second who said that Freddy was limited to killing the Elm Street Kidz in the first place? He was doing just fine on Jesse) You will be missed. Well not really. Enjoy your tenure as one of Freddy’s chest faces.

0:44:09: Whelp goodbye Shelia. Her death is one of the most grisly creative in the film, and maybe even the series, even if its not remotely scary and makes absolutely no fucking sense (Hello Random Robot Hand from another dimension) even in the internal logic of the dreamworld. Like I said, I’ll see you in the next The One You Would Have Saved.

0:50:00: That’s right expostion keep telling yourself that and one day it might be true.

0:50:20: I kind of mentioned this in part one. But has anyone else noticed that Nightmare On Elm Street has a weird fifties fixation? These kid’s social lives revolve around malt shops, drive ins, and letterman’s jackets. Isn’t it just a little odd?

0:54:40: Remember how dumb it was when Busta Rhymes beat up Michael Myers with Kung Fu? Well I’m not saying this is dumber. But its pretty damn close.

0:59:27: “I know Kung FU!”

1:01:00: Another good example of the film at least going for two dimensional stereotypes rather then one, with Tina’s Alkie dad.

1:02:44: Holy shit. Had Renny Harlin seen Messiah Of Evil?? The theater sequence seriously seems to think so. I’m trying to wrap my head around that and its not working.

This dream sequence is a great example of what Harlin does right, and what the series did wrong. Simply put the scene looks good, and the scale is impressive. Not so simply put, the idea of such a specific dream makes it ludicrous and completely unrelatable. The only person this dream is scary to is Tina. If the series was still interested in being frightening this might be a problem.

1:06:35: “I love soul food” Wah Waaahhh Waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah

1:08:21: Man a clever idea that plays on something that actually happens in dreams and actually builds suspense. Why its just like the old days… No musn’t think about the old days. It’ll just make the next two days hurt all the more.

1:08:40: Freddy is kind of like Jesus that way. (I bet you didn’t expect to read that sentence today).

1:09:20: The Roach Motel has got to be one of the weirdest, most contrived, nonsensical dreams in the series. Which is, if you’ve been paying attention, really saying a lot.

1:15:49: Yes that’s an eighties montage set to hair metal. I may have ascended to a higher plain of consciousness.

1:16:39: OH SHIT! Looks like that metaphor is complete.

1:17:10: GET AWAY FROM HIM YOU BITCH!!! Oops wrong movie.

1:19:44: Man remember how dumb Kung Fu against Freddy looked. Now it looks even dumber with obvious stunt doubles and an actress who in no way knows Kung Fu.

1:22:18: Wait what the fuck? What’s this new bullshit extra verse to the rhyme? You mean all anyone had to do to beat Krueger was show him a mirror? That bullshit logic wouldn’t fly in a Dario Argento movie.

Hey filmmakers remember how in the last movie Krueger was possessing the mirrors? No of course you don’t. Because as has been established. You just plain don’t give a fuck.

1:24:16: I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. The practical effects in this movie are fucking awesome.

1:24:55: Uh… I don’t think hell is known as a particularly restful place.

Like I said despite the fact that its not, you know, any good I stubbornly kind of like The Dream Master. Like The Burning and Friday The 13th Part 2 it’s a movie that seems to personify the appeal and tropes of its own red headed stepchild place in the sub genre. It may not have the ambition of Part 1 and 3, but it delivers the goods. ;


deadlydolls said...

Debbie's death= amazing, and watch your tongue in criticizing it!

I enjoy this one, but's rather insane. I still prefer it to 80% of the F13 series, but I suppose it does fully embrace the cycle of one-note characters dying via their note and painful Freddy one liners designed for Trapper Keepers.

As for 'good adults,' there's some sympathetic stuff going on with Lisa's dad in Part V. Of course that's after his son dies a bizarre death, so maybe that's what every grownup needs in teh Freddyverse?

Great recap by the way!

Bryce Wilson said...

Thanks Em!

Though less I get Spider Babied, I have to point out that I wasn't criticizing Debbie's death as being bad, the effects work is awesome. I was just pointing out that by this point in time they just truly don't care about mimicking real dreams anymore.

I'm with you on the trapper keepers/

Franco Macabro said...

The reason for the parents being evil in this series is because these films have always been about the young ones paying for the sins of their parents.

Freddy was an evil parent himself at one point.

Freddy's father was an evil bastard as well...but what can you expect when your father is Alice Cooper??!!

So the whole series always focuses on the effects of bad parenting. Plus its a way to get teenagers on your side when marketing a film thats aimed at teenagers.

I mean, wasnt it the thing to hate parents during the 80s? I remember, every other movie was a parent hating movie.

Marcus said...

Even though Part 1 is my fav of the series, this was, believe it or not, the film that popped my Freddy cherry for me, so Part 4 definitely has a special place in my heart. I loved the play by play, wish you did that for one and three.

Erik said...

Epic review,some parts had me rolling.

deadlydolls said...

Ha Bryce, you know I love you and your occasionally not joyous opinions. But seriously-you never had a dream you got transformed into a cockroach while bench pressing?

Bryce Wilson said...

@ FC: That's a fantastic point. Never really thought of it in that way before.

@ Marcus: Thanks. Well you never know, if I ever have a reason to revisit Elm Street on the blog maybe I will. Maybe during 31 Days Of Horror...

@ Erik: Thanks man, much appriciated.

@ Emily: Aw shucks Em thanks. But No of course not... I was doing squats at the time.

AK said...

This one is the one where I started to not care at all about anyone in these movies. It has it's moments but the "not Patricia Arquette" (too funny!)didn't even look like a real girl, more like an underage porn-starlet (and with all the acting ability of one), and I didn't care about any of the others, either. BTW "Not good, but good enough to qualify as my favorite Renny Harlin movie" is hilarious! Sums up the whole thing...How many more until "New Nightmare"? Rob

Bryce Wilson said...

@ Rob: Thanks alot! I've got two before New. And then I'll be doing Freddy V. Jason as well.

Cat said...

I read somewhere that Patricia Arquette was unavailable because she was pregnant. But would she have returned if she wasn't?

Anonymous said...

Amazingly epic.

Bryce Wilson said...

@ Cat: Huh I hadn't heard that before but It would certainly explain alot. Who knows if she would have come back, I suppose a lot would have to do with if she ended up getting "Marion Craned" in the script before or after the recast.

@POT: Thanks Man.