BOLD HORROR STATEMENT: The Dream Master is Better than Dream Warriors
On Twitter, I made a comment that A Nightmare on Elm Street 4 was better than A Nightmare on Elm Street 3. I know, I know. Shock Waves would say that's a BOLD HORROR STATEMENT. I’m going to get a lot of heat for this. Hell, two people have already given me the side-eye on Twitter! But it’s true. The Dream Master is better than Dream Warriors. And here's why.
It Has a Better Theme Song and Soundtrack
I mean, take a listen to this gem. Sure, it's like stunt casting to have the New Kristen played by the singer of the song. And yeah, it doesn't name check the movie like Dokken's song, but who cares! When I was kid, I knew all the words and sang along to it constantly. It's catchy. It's thematically important. The rest of the soundtrack is amazing, too.
The Characters are more likable
Alice is a much more interesting protagonist than Kristen. No matter how much I like Patricia Arquette, this character is nothing more than a spoiled rich kid with an annoying family. And what does she learn through the movie? How to not be killed by Freddy? Alice's brother, Rick? Badass punk kid, who tries to teach his sister his sweet fighting moves. Sheila's a brainiac whose smartness saves Alice in the end. Debbie's a HBIC, with glorious 80s hair, but a heart of gold. Even the good characters from Dream Warriors show up.
What does Dream Warriors have? A wizard?
Has a better final girl
Alice was a day-dreamer. She was stuck in a life where she was put in charge of a family and faced with the ugly reality that her life was never going to go anywhere. Shy. Introverted. No spine. She’d daydream about the day she could stand up to her alcoholic father. Where she could be seen by the high school jock. It taps into the outsider feeling of being a teenager so well. Contrast this with Kristen. Entitled little rich kid Kristin. She probably never had to daydream about a date. Then you see Alice, who gains confidence in herself as the film progresses. She gains her backbone. Hell, she goes through a She’s All That makeover! And she becomes a punk chick who can kick ass. She gets pushed to the breaking point and ends up fighting back and becoming a better person.
There’s a little moment in the film that stuck with me. When Alice is stuck in a dream, she sees what she really fears: working at the same restaurant, in the same waitress outfit. Rundown and old, now. And the look of shock on her face as she realizes this. I think it ties into fears that everyone has, particularly younger people. They don’t want to be stuck in their dead end job for the rest of their life. It felt like a real moment in this fantastical movie.
The dudes are hot
Even the returning
dudes got hot.
The entire ending
sequence, where Alice
frees the souls.
This moment of amazing practical effects.
The special effects were great. Admittedly, the Freddy-conda from Dream Warriors was pretty badass and Freddy the puppeteer is legitimately the best kill of the sequels. But otherwise, the filmmaking was just more solid in The Dream Master.
It doesn’t have wizards
And, finally, the real reason
When you’re a kid growing up in the 80s, you get your hands on whatever horror related goodness you can get. Especially when you grow up in a more rural area, like Alaska. We had a local video store and I wasn’t brave enough to even try to get an R-rated movie on my own. A Nightmare on Elm Street was my favorite movie. It still is pretty much to this day. But I ended up watching the sequels out of order, due to availability. To this day, I still remember getting The Dream Master. The video store was liquidating some of their copies of movies. And on that liquidation shelf was a VHS case for The Dream Master. The tape inside was Beta. That’s how janky it was. It didn’t even have its original sized casing. It was relegated to the larger VHS box. But I scooped it up since I had a Beta player.
It was the first (and for the longest time) only Nightmare on Elm Street movie I owned. I could quote this movie to you. I reenacted the fight scenes and choreography. And I watched it so much it eventually wore out. I didn't know it at the time, of course, but I saw myself in that movie. As a gay kid (who wouldn't realize it for some time), growing up in the 80s, I felt separated from the world. I spent a lot of time in my head. I was maybe nine or ten when I got this movie and didn't understand why I found Rick and Dan oddly attractive. I knew enough not to tell anyone these thoughts. I was already the weird kid.
Alice was the first character I related to, implicitly. She was shy. She was introverted. She didn't fit in. She spent most of her time in her head. Yeah, my family life was better than hers, but I still felt alone in the world. I related to her. Strongly. I was her and she was me. And if she could become a badass, get noticed and grow a spine. If she could look at herself in the mirror, finally. If she could have the popular boy and eventually kill her demons, then maybe so could I.
And that, my dear reader, is why The Dream Master is better than Dream Warriors.