Well, here we are. The Nightmare on Elm Street series has officially turned into the Goosebumps series, but full of dated pop culture references and rap songs about Freddy Krueger by The Fat Boys. Why did this happen? How did this happen? Is this the Nightmare we want? Is it the one we deserve? Yeesh. YEESH I SAY.
While I say yeesh, however, I will also say that The Dream Master is not a terrible way to extend the series, if, you know, the series really needed to be extended. It picks up not too long after the events of Dream Warriors with our three plucky survivors having returned to the hell of high school. Kincaid is still ornery, Patricia Arquette is nowhere to be seen and so we are stuck with a Designer Imposter Kristen, and Joey has somehow morphed into Neve Campbell.
Despite the "Get over it, girl!"s from her pals, Kristen is unconvinced that Freddy Krueger is well and truly dead. Of course he's not dead! We have like five more movies to get through!
Freddy wastes no time in wasting these last three Elm Street children (Kincaid may have demolished horror stereotypes by surviving until the end of NoES 3, but he builds them right back up by dying first in NoES 4), but before she dies, Kristen manages to give her special dream powers to her mousy pal Alice. Freddy then uses Alice as a sort of gateway to lure any ol' kid into dreamland where he can kill them. Both he and Alice absorb a part of the kids' souls; who oh who will be the Dream Master? Will the souls remain in the purgatory of...umm...Freddy's bare chest, or will they be set free?
See? Not bad! Not bad at all! It's kind of sweet, when you think about it, that Alice gains strength by essentially remembering and paying tribute to her dead friends. Even if no one is actually affected much by the death of loved ones in this movie...hey, that's a series staple! We've also got some other Elm Street series staples such as the clueless, alcoholic, mentally abusive parents and the cast chock full of mismatched misfits that are somehow charming enough that you find yourself rooting for them. I mean, who doesn't adore the weird friendship between bad girl/fitness nut Debbie and super nerdy Sheila? Only jerks, that's who.
I'm not going to be some big lying liar and say that my nostalgia senses didn't tingle when any 80s "cool" stuff showed up on the screen, like when Alice gets tough by wrapping a studded belt around her boot and a Japanese "Rising Sun" bandana around her hand. I heartily cringe-smiled, I swear! But as opposed to Dream Warriors, the corniness of The Dream Master doesn't feel like corniness I can completely get on board with. It's somewhat akin to looking at old pictures of yourself: some of them you want to share, and some of them give you a jolt of "I know I liked that at the time but what the hell was I thinking?" Basically, I can live with a dream warrior blasting green movie lightning from his fingers, but I don't particularly want to live with a dream master seeing her brother turned into a meatball on a pizza. And you guys know how I feel about pizza, so that's really saying something.