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Trivia / A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master

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  • Breakthrough Hit: For Renny Harlin.
  • Magnum Opus Dissonance: Not so much a Magnum Opus per say, but Wes Craven has said on the Never Sleep Again documentary that this was his favorite of the sequels, citing it mostly for its creative imagery. The fandom, however, is more divisive on it.
  • The Other Darrin: Patricia Arquette, who played Kristen in the previous film, gets replaced by Tuesday Knight in this one. Depending on who you ask, either Arquette was pregnant, she asked for too much money, or director Renny Harlin just didn't like her.
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  • Promoted Fanboy: Renny Harlin was a big fan of the series.
  • Troubled Production:
    • For unspecified reasons, Patricia Arquette decided not to return. To this day, nobody knows why. This led to Tuesday Knight being cast in her role. Problem was, nobody knew who she was, and weren't fans of her acting style. This is why when Kirsten, Kincade, and Joey all reunite in the film's opening nightmare scene, the emotion isn't quite as palpable as it should be (and even Dull Surprise reactions can be seen from the actors).
    • Renny Harlin, then an unknown director from Finland, was incredibly enthusiastic about directing and wanted the job so badly- mainly because he was so impoverished and had a hard time adjusting to life in the US, but also because he was a huge fan of the series. Bob Shaye, on the other hand, didn't want him directing, and was also iffy about a Finnish director getting the job. This may seem like petty xenophobia, but when you consider the first movie was banned in Finland for a number of years, this was more reasonable than one would think.
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    • This led to a war of the minds between Shaye and Harlin. Harlin was so passionate that he absolutely refused to take no for an answer. He went so far as to show up to New Line's office every day and chill with a number of employees just to annoy him into letting him direct. This worked, but considering Shaye had a number of people he wanted to direct the film over Harlin, he let him begrudgingly.
    • Getting a screenplay proved a big challenge for various reasons. William Kotzwinkle was the first writer to try his hand, but only managed to turn in a rough story outline before being forced to bow out for personal reasons, resulting in Shaye turning instead to future Oscar-winning screenwriter Brian Helgeland, who had a very short deadline to avoid an impending writer's strike. Against all odds, the inexperienced Helgeland managed to get a completed script submitted the day before the strike began... and then Shaye and Harlin found themselves in the nightmare scenario of having a script that, while workable story-wise, would have been far too expensive to produce on the budget typically afforded to the series. Because the writer's strike effectively precluded them from hiring any professional writers, Shaye, Harlin, co-producer Rachel Talalay and damn near everyone else at New Line had a part in throwing the script together, with the end product being credited to Helgeland and the fictitious "Scott Pierce".
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    • Shooting was mostly smooth, but the tensions between the two did complicate things. Shaye was more heavily involved in shooting than he was on previous films in the series. He would show up to set every day to make sure Harlin wasn't fucking the movie up too much. Harlin was extremely stressed because of this - he showed up to set every day basically "expecting to get fired at any given moment". When it came time to film Shaye's obligatory Creator Cameo, the two were barely even speaking to each other, thus making a small few seconds of film extremely difficult to shoot.
    • Fortunately, things did get easier during post-production. Shaye liked what he saw during editing and relented his control over the final product. Additionally, when he saw the final product, he liked it enough to admit he was wrong. The two have since made up and are on good terms. The film itself was well received by many film critics and went on to become the highest grossing entry in the franchise until Freddy vs. Jason took the spot in 2003 and helped launch Harlin's career in the US, even earning him the job of directing Die Hard 2.
  • What Could Have Been:
    • One of the early concepts for the film was something involving "traveling through dreams".
    • Tibor Takács (The Gate) was offered to direct the film.
    • Ellie Cornel (who played Rachel in Halloween 4 and 5) auditioned for the role of Alice.
    • In one of the earlier drafts of the film, Rick and Alice were twins, and Rick was supposed to live.

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