A Nightmare on Elm Street is one of the wackier horror franchises to emerge from the 1980’s, with an emphasis on dream logic that led the series into the realm of metafiction by later entries. In a recent interview with Slash Film, A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master director Renny Harlin discussed his approach to helming the horror sequel, explaining how he fought for a shift in tone to make Freddy Krueger into the “James Bond of Horror.”
“I said, ‘This is the fourth movie of the franchise… We can’t really pretend that [the] audience doesn’t really know what’s going on. It’s so much a part of the culture already, so we have to twist it,” Harlin said. “‘[So] let’s make Freddy the James Bond of horror…’ He had to be bigger than life, kind of like a hero even though he’s the bad guy. We have to introduce humor and wink at the audience, like, ‘We know you know, so let’s go and have fun.’”
Harlin added that his vision for The Dream Master was met with trepidation by producers on the film, who feared that slanting the tone towards comedy would sabotage the franchise’s brand.
“At that point, this was New Line’s big franchise,” Harlin said. “[New Line Cinema founder] Bob Shaye never spoke to me during the whole making of the movie. He’d just be on the set and look really angry and frustrated in the background. I was scared. I felt like I was pretending I knew what I was doing, although I thought I knew what I was doing. Still, I thought one of these days they’ll say, ‘He’s just a kid from Finland. What does he know?’”
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Harlin’s tonal gamble paid off when A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master went on to become the highest-grossing film of the franchise at that point, netting $49.4 million against a $6.5 production budget. The film is now fondly remembered by horror fans for its stylized nightmare sequences and nasty sense of humor. Harlin fought to be hired for the production and remains proud of the product and its warm reception.
Harlin’s latest movie The Misfits released in the United States earlier this month. The film is currently playing in theaters and is available for rental on digital and video-on-demand stores.
For more A Nightmare on Elm Street, read our ranking of all the movies in the series.
J. Kim Murphy is a freelance entertainment writer.
(Photo by New Line Cinema/IMDb)