Although this latest installment in the series broke the box-office record set by the previous "Nightmare" entry ($12,833,403 for the first three days--the most successful opening weekend of any independently released film), it seems that with Part 4, Freddy Krueger has just about run
out of gas.
Getting further and further away from creator Wes Craven's original concept, the series has declined into a plotless series of special-effects set pieces featuring Freddy slicing and dicing a variety of teenagers in their dreams. What the films lack in narrative, however, they make up for with
pure cinematic panache, and the latest installment is no exception. Finnish director Renny Harlin (PRISON) contributes what may be the best-directed "Nightmare" picture since Craven's. Picking up where NIGHTMARE 3 left off, we see the three surviving teenage Dream Warriors suddenly being plagued
in their dreams by the supposedly dead and buried Freddy (Robert Englund), who is now moving into new territory and invading the dreams of mousy teen Alice (Lisa Wilcox). What the child-killer doesn't anticipate, however, is that Alice begins taking on the strongest characteristics of her friends
and soon becomes a complete Dream Warrior blessed with impressive athletic prowess, physical strength, and intelligence. In the original A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET, Freddy Krueger was the embodiment of pure evil. Since then, his appearance and behavior have been softened to make him more of a
cartoon figure--still very lethal, but less threatening and more playful. What was once the ultimate, unforgiving horror is now the real hero of the series, the guy teens love to hate. Which brings us to the basic problem of the "Nightmare" series: it has become an extremely lucrative,
money-making industry and as such is the glue that holds New Line Cinema together. Therefore, it must become more middle-of-the-road, tamer, more able to reach across genre barriers and attract people who don't necessarily like horror movies. And that is why, with each entry, the films become more
removed from their source. Freddy just isn't scary anymore.
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