Nightmare On Elm Street 4 Almost Avoided Its Worst Death Twice

While Nightmare On Elm Street 4: The Dream Master featured one of the silliest deaths in the slasher series, the worst scene in the sequel was almost avoided twice in the movie’s process. It is not unusual for a horror franchise to run out of creative death scenes as the series wears on. While the earliest Freddy Krueger appearance, 1984’s A Nightmare On Elm Street, was filled with terrifying, undeniably original death sequences, the set pieces of the franchise grew goofier as the sequels became lighter in tone.


Although Robert Englund’s Freddy Krueger was still an effective antagonist in Nightmare On Elm Street 4: The Dream Master, the Renny Harlin-directed effort left critics frustrated when it came to its death scenes. Harlin infamously wanted to make Freddy funnier and easier for viewers to root for, which could have been seen as a contributing factor to some of the sequel’s un-scary deaths. However, there is another, less artistically-inclined reason for Nightmare On Elm Street 4’s most comical demise.

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In the Never Sleep Again: The Elm Street Legacy documentary, it's revealed that Nightmare On Elm Street 4: The Dream Master ran out of money during production and ended up replacing one of its most ambitious death scenes with a far sillier alternative as a result. The sequel features an infamous sequence in a karate dojo where Ricky Johnson essentially fights with no one while an invisible Freddy beats him senseless. Like a lot of Freddy’s weirdest moments, the death is silly, corny, and unintentionally funny, but what is surprising is that it was avoided in not one, but two early drafts of the movie.

How Ricky’s Nightmare On Elm Street 4 Dojo Death Was Cut Twice

Freddy Kreuger Nightmare on elm street dream master Rick Johnson

In the early drafts of Nightmare On Elm Street 4: The Dream Master, Ricky survived, a twist that would have been surprising and would have avoided the dojo farrago. In later drafts of the sequel, he had a spectacular death that saw an elevator fall apart and open up a yawning chasm into Hell — but the budget was spent at this stage and the jarring death in the dojo was written as a result. While Nightmare On Elm Street 4: The Dream Master’s original plan changed quite a bit during production, this might have been the most unfortunate switch that the filmmakers made.

While replacing Ricky’s death with something less elaborate that would be quicker to shoot and easier to stage made economic sense, it is tough to defend the scene when the option of simply letting Ricky live had been available since the sequel’s inception. If the death was necessary for the Nightmare On Elm Street sequel’s plot, then the dojo sequence would be unfortunate but understandable. However, the fact that Nightmare On Elm Street 4: The Dream Master had already been written without Ricky’s death made his ridiculous end a lot harder to justify.