A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master
Freddy Krueger is dead, buried and consecrated. He’s history. You can go back to sleep now. Right? Wrong… Dead wrong!
Published in Fright, Issue 3.
Unfortunately, for the terrified teenagers of Elm Street, Freddy Krueger is very much alive. This time it’s “A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master,” New Line Cinema’s latest installment in the highly successful series that has gone on to break box office records and make Freddy Krueger a phenomenon throughout the world.
Directed by Renny Harlin, “Nightmare 4” once again finds Freddy Krueger, complete with trademark red and green sweater and razor-tipped hand, set to take on what remains of the Elm Street gang. And this time, he’s not stopping until he’s finished them off. What Freddy doesn’t know is that this time he’s about to go up against someone very special—someone who just might have what it takes to destroy him—The Dream Master.
“A Nightmare on Elm Street 4” also stars, in alphabetical order, Rodney Eastman, Danny Hassel, Andras Jones, Tuesday Knight, Toy Newkirk, Ken Sagoes, Brooke Theiss and Lisa Wilcox. Written by William Kotzwinkle, the film is produced by New Line Cinema President Robert Shaye and Rachel Talalay.
Unlike many sequels, which seem to fade into oblivion, each chapter in the “Nightmare” series has gone on to become a box office record-breaker and New Line’s Robert Shaye feels the reason is a six letter word Freddy. “Freddy Krueger is the man audiences love to hate,” he explained. “He’s become a great anti-hero. The world was ready for a character like him. He struck a chord in a large number of people.” A large number of people is right. Box office receipts for “A Nightmare on Elm Street” totaled $23 million in 1984, with the second installment grossing $30 million. The third chapter brought in even more as the phenomenon grew.
According to Robert Englund, the actor behind the horrifying make-up and who has seen the character of Freddy Krueger grow to become a worldwide phenomenon, the reason for the films’ enormous popularity is simple. “The Freddy character is frightening and audiences enjoy a film where they know what is going to frighten them,” explains Englund. “Freddy’s become a familiar face. Audiences can’t wait for him to appear in a scene. They know that’s when the thrills really begin.”
Though he jumped at the chance to play Freddy again, Englund does admit that doing a sequel presents challenges. “Every time you do another sequel, you’ve got to come up with things that are better than the last film,” says Englund. “It gets harder and harder to keep topping yourself, but with this film, we’ve succeeded.” Director Harlin, who also directed this summer’s horror thriller “Prison,” agrees. “To make a great sequel, you’ve got to do everything a little better and with more originality,” Harlin explained. “For this film, I wanted to develop stronger characters and relationships. A film can have all the special effects, but if the audience doesn’t care about the characters, you lose. Great films need great characters.”
Harlin is convinced that he has that in the character of Alice—played by Lisa Wilcox. In the latest film, Alice, a shy and introverted teenager watches as all of her friends are, one by one, destroyed by Freddy. Realizing that she has the ability to control her dreams, Alice begins taking on many of her friend’s good qualities and uses them to do battle with the ultimate villain, Freddy Krueger.
Principal photography on “Nightmare 4” began April 27 in Los Angeles. In addition to locations throughout the city, which include an auto junkyard, a graveyard and a specially-built Elm Street house, many of the film’s interiors, special effects and stunts are being filmed on stages in Valencia, north of Los Angeles. Production designers Mick Strawn and his sister C.J. Strawn, both of whom worked on the previous “Nightmare” film, knew they would have to outdo their previous efforts for this film. Some of the sets they created include the giant Roach Motel, the Elm Street House, Freddy’s Boiler Room and the Crave-Inn.
No “Nightmare on Elm Street” film would be complete without the complicated special effects and the latest installment is no exception. The special effects artists involved in “A Nightmare on Elm Street” are:
- Kevin Yagher, who designed and created Robert Englund’s elaborate Freddy make-up, which takes almost four hours to apply. Raised in Ohio, Yagher is one of the most successful makeup effects artist in the film industry. His other credits include “A Nightmare on Elm Street 2,” “A Nightmare on Elm Street 3,” “Dreamscape,” “The Last Starfighter,” “Cocoon,” “Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter,” “Aliens” and “Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure.”
- Screaming Mad George, the special effects make-up artist, supervising the roach transformation scene. For these scenes he has designed a roach costume in addition to a three foot puppet roach, operated by mechanical wires. His credits include “Poltergeist II,” “Big Trouble Little China” and “Arena.”
- Steve Johnson is in charge of 16 different special effects including Freddy’s climactic death and the escape of the children’s souls from Freddy’s body. Much of this will be accomplished using a 15 foot Freddy puppet, which he designed. Johnson started his career working for Rick Baker on numerous films, including “American Werewolf in London” and “Greystoke.” He also worked with Rob Botin on ”The Howling” and ”The Fog” and was in charge of the creature shop on “Ghostbusters” and “Fright Night.” His other credits include “Poltergeist II,” “Dead Heat” and “Night Angel.”
- Chris Biggs is in charge of the key make-up effects, which include Freddy’s resurrection. He has worked for Rick Baker on numerous films and his other credits include “Critters,” “Critters 2,” “Galaxy of Terror,” “Teen Wolf” and “Goonies.”
- John Buechler is also responsible for make-up effects, including the scenes where the souls of the children escape from Freddy’s body. This will be accomplished with complicated radio controlled transmitters rigged to Robert Englund. In addition to designing special effects for numerous films including “Prison” and “Arena,” Buechler has also directed several motion pictures, including “Troll,” “Dungeonmaster,” “Cellar Dweller” and most recently, “Friday the 13th, Part 7.”
- Peter Chesney and Lou Carlucci of Image Engineering are responsible for all of the film’s mechanical effects. These include a water shark, land shark and quicksand. Other effects include car crashes and the waterbed sequence where Freddy rips his way out. Other films they have worked on include “Serpent and the Rainbow,” “Friday the 13th, Part7” and “Honey, I Shrunk the Kids.”
- Keith Shardle, Michael Bigelow and Justin Klarenbeck of Dreamquest are responsible for the film’s optical effects, which include Kincaid being pulled through a wall, the maze in the junkyard, Kristen burning, Sheila being attacked by a mechanical hand and Alice being pulled into a movie screen. Other films they have worked on include “Big Business,” “Short Circuit,” “Short Circuit 2,” “Scrooge,” “Gremlins,” “The Lost Boys” and ‘The Fly.”
About the Filmmakers…
- Renny Harlin (Director) was born in Riihimaki, Finland in 1959. He and his family moved to Helsinki when he was five years old and it was here that he took to various creative outlets, including writing, painting and theatre. While a student at the University of Helsinki, where he studied filmmaking, he started making documentaries, industrial films and commercials. At the age of 21, he was hired to direct nine one hour television shows. In 1984, he decided to risk it all and put all his time and savings into “Born American,” a feature film he wrote and directed. After the release of “Born American,” Harlin’s next project was the horror-thriller “Prison,” which was released last summer.
- Robert Shaye (Producer) is currently New Line Cinema’s president and chief executive officer. Before forming New Line Cinema in 1967, Shaye wrote, produced, directed and edited a number of short films, trailers and TV commercials. He was the producer /director of two award-winning short films, “Image” and “On Fighting Witches,” both of which were acquired for the permanent collections of the Museum of Modern Art and the British Film Institute. Since founding New Line, Shaye has overseen the acquisition, sales and production of more than 150 feature films for New Line. At the same time Shaye has acted as producer or executive producer on several other films, including “Stunts,” “Alone in the Dark,” “The First Time,” “Polyester,” and all of the “Nightmare on Elm Street” movies. His acquisitions for New Line Cinema include “Get Out Your Handkerchiefs,” winner of the 1978 Best Foreign Film Oscar,” Lina Wertmuller’s “The Seduction of Mimi” and the box office smash by Tobe Hooper, ‘The Texas Chainsaw Massacre.” He received a B.B.A from the University of Michigan School of Business Administration and an L.L. B. from Columbia Law School. Shaye was also selected as a Fulbright Scholar in the field of copyright Jaw and is presently a member of the New York Bar.
- Rachel Talalay (Producer), is currently vice president of production at New Line Cinema, and has worked in various capabilities in the film industry, including production assistant, accountant, assistant director, location manager and unit production manger. Talalay has been associated with all of the “Nightmare on Elm Street” films, starting out as a production accountant and location manager on “Nightmare 1,” serving as unit production manager on “Nightmare 2” and going on to produce “Nightmare 3.” In addition to producing John Waters’ smash-hit “Hairspray,” she recently supervised the production of another New Line film, “Prince of Pennsylvania.”
- Sara Risher (Executive Producer) began her career in the film industry working for Jack Valenti at the Motion Picture Association of America and later was assistant to producerIdirector Peter Yates. In 1974, she joined New Line Cinema and since then has been involved in the production of all the company’s films, including “Stunts,” ‘The First Time,” “Alone in the Dark,” all of the “Nightmare on Elm Street” films, and “Critters.” She is currently President of New Line Cinema Corp.
- Stephen Diener (Executive Producer) is president and chief executive officer of Heron Communications, Inc., the entertainment arm of Heron International. He also serves as chairman of Media Home Entertainment, a Heron Communications, Inc. company. With more than 15 years worldwide entertainment industry experience, he has also served as president of CBS/Fox Video International. Prior to his video industry experience, Diener was a senior executive in the recording industry, serving as president of CBS Records International and president of ABC Records.
- Steve Fierberg (Director of Photography) has worked on “Throwback,” ”Walker,” “Real Trouble” and ‘The First Time.” His television credits include “Sharing Richard” and “Little Miss Perfect.” He has also worked as a second unit director on ”Walker” and ”My Demon Lover.”
About the Actors…
- Robert Englund (Freddy Krueger) has managed to carve out a successful career in films, television and on stage, while at the same time, helping to make the Freddy Krueger character become a worldwide phenomenon. Before appearing as the ultimate villain, he appeared in numerous films, including “Last of the Cowboys,” “A Star is Born,” “Hustle,” “Bloodbrothers,” “Stay Hungry,” and “Big Wednesday.” On television, he starred as Willie in the popular series “V,” in addition to starring roles in “Hobson’s Choice,” ”Young Joe, the Forgotten Kennedy,” “I Want to Live” and ‘The Fighter.” Onstage, Englund has appeared in over 40 professional productions, ranging from Shakespeare to Shaw, Pirandello to Pinter, Miller to Mamet. He recently finished directing his first feature film, “976-EVIL.”
- Rodney Eastman (Joey) was born in Montreal in 1967 and moved with his family to Los Angeles when he was five. After graduating from high school, he continued studying acting and eventually got his first job as an extra in the television movie “Have You Tried Talking to Patty?” In 1986, he got his first starring role in the television movie,” Children of Times Square” and followed that with appearances in other television productions, including ”The Judge,” “Superior Court,” “Highway to Heaven,” “Starman,” The Bronx Zoo” and the television movie “Broken Angel.” In addition, he recently starred in the feature film, “Deadly Weapon.”
- Danny Hassel (Dan) is making his feature film debut. Raised in Red Bluff, California, he considered playing professional baseball, until deciding on an acting career. He has appeared in commercials for Bank of America, Ryder Truck Rentals and Wendy’s and the television series, “Houston Knights” and “The New Gidget.”
- Andras Jones (Rick) was raised in Olympia, Washington and went to high school in Boston at the Cambridge School of Weston, where he appeared in numerous theatre productions. He eventually moved to Los Angeles, where he was cast in the feature film, “Sorority Babes.” In addition, he has appeared in commercials, rock videos and television shows, including ”The New Leave it to Beaver.”
- Tuesday Knight (Kristen) has appeared in numerous films, including “Mad About You” and the television movies, “Promised a Miracle” and “Shattered Spirits,” in addition to appearances on the television series “General Hospital” and “Fame.” An accomplished singer and songwriter, her album “Out of Control,” was recently released by CBS Records.
- Toy Newkirk (Sheila) began her performing career at the age of five years old when she appeared in a Tide Commercial. While she continued acting, she also ice-skated competitively. At the age of 13, she gave up skating to devote all her time to acting. Her first television appearance was in ”The Bionic Woman.” Other television appearances include ”Different Strokes” and “Bustin’ Loose.” She also appeared in a Michael Jackson Pepsi commercial.
- Ken Sagoes (Kincaid) was raised in Atlanta and moved to Los Angeles, where he pursued his dream of becoming an actor. He went to work as a security guard at Universal Studios, which afforded him the opportunity to observe actors at work. He continued his acting pursuit, writing his own material to perform at talent showcases. An agent liked his writing so much that he was able to get him a staff writing position on the “Laverne and Shirley” television series. His first professional role as an actor was in the feature film, “Say Yes.” Other film appearances include “The Twilight Zone” and ”Project X.” He currently has a starring role on the television series, “What’s Happening Now?” and has appeared on numerous other shows, including “Airwolf” and the television movie, ”The George McKenna Story.” As a stand-up comic, Sagoes has appeared at the Comedy Store, Laugh Factory, Catch a Rising Star and the Comedy Strip.
- Brooke Theiss (Debbie), who is currently a student at the New York University School of Performing Arts, was raised in Palos Verdes, California and decided to become an actress at the age of 12. After studying drama for four years, she got her first acting job, an appearance in a Coca-Cola commercial. After several more commercials, she appeared on the television series, “Growing Pains,” and will star in “Just the Ten of Us,” a spin-off of the show. Her other film appearances include “Little Nikita.”
- Lisa Wilcox (Alice) is making her debut in a feature film. Raised in Missouri, she is a graduate of the Theatre Arts department of UCLA and made her professional stage debut in a Los Angeles production of “Hot L Baltimore.” Her other stage appearances include “Picnic,” “Last Summer at Bluefish Cove,” “Stage Door,” “Buried Child” and “Country Girl.” On television Wilcox has appeared on episodes of ”Valerie’s Family,” “Mr. Belvedere,” “It’s A Living,” “McGyver” and “Hotel,” in addition to the television movie, “Bring Me the Head of Dobie Gillis.” She also has a recurring role on “General Hospital.”