'Alice and Dan walk to his truck, open the doors, and get in, and then.....the sequence repeats and repeats and repeats in a time-disorientating, continuous loop. The repeating exit was the most hypnotic, disturbing, and accurate depiction of a dream I'd ever seen. It is my favorite sequence in the entire franchise'. Those words belong to Robert Englund who of course played the diabolical Freddy Krueger in the Nightmare on Elm Street franchise. The scene he is describing is from the smash hit of 1988, A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master, one of the characters in question, who also is the only female actress to have survived two Elm Street movies is Alice played by Lisa Wilcox. I recently had the chance to interview Wilcox who was one of the fans' favorite survivors from the series. "Alice was me growing up," says Wilcox who had been an actress on television for four years prior to making her feature debut. "As a youngster I read books constantly, Dracula, ghost stories,fantasy, Nancy Drew. I'd go as far as to finish reading a book with an electric blanket light under the covers till 4am. Books and day dreaming were my world."
The similarities don't stop there between the Alice we witness in the first half of The Dream Master and Wilcox's childhood. "I was shy and insecure," confirms Wilcox. "What I had to wear each day to school was embarassing. The area my family lived in was affluent, so I chose another world to live in."
In A Nightmare on Elm Street Part 4, Wilcox's character would turn out to be the guardian of dreams or to better put it 'The Dream Master', but first Wilcox had to audition for the part of Alice Johnson. "There had been hundreds of actresses audition for the role of Alice. My manager at the time submitted my resume and an 8x10 picture, that is how it was done at the time to get an audition, but they didn't call me in. In hindsight I understood, the problem is that my 'look' was very blond, bright and bubbly, you could say cheerleader like. From what I understand, casting went through their 'disregard/reject' pile." Then a dream occured for Wilcox. "I got called in, I remember it was a Friday afternoon. I read the script and I loved it, the character arcs were superb, I had visionized Alice, and went into the audition. There I was with no make up, flat dirty hair and wearing my worst color, light yellow. I had one call back on tape with three people, the director Renny Harlin, cinematographer Steve Fierberg and Tuesday Knight who had already been cast to play Kirsten."
Wilcox has only the fondest memories of Renny Harlin who would be directing only his third movie. Such was his success on the film the Finnish director's next project was with Bruce Willis in Die Hard 2. "When we were shooting he always came up to me and said 'do you like how this scene works'. He always listened and always wanted your response and contribuation. Many directors I worked with before the movie wouldn't even say 'hi'."
Two days after auditioning Wilcox was married and had a honeymoon to remember when she got the call that she had won the part to play Alice in one of the most successful horror franchises of all time. "I was thrilled," remembers Wilcox. "I couldn't wait to play the part, I was actually a fan of the series myself, maybe I should have been freaking out? But it never occured to me to feel any pressure due to the success of A Nightmare on Elm Street 3." Freddy's third installment was indeed a success generating $44m at the North American box office alone, and putting the Krueger legend into full swing.
Wilcox's nemesis was of course Freddy and their duels were to go down in 80s horror history. "The first day I worked with him he was in full make up I couldn't look at him, I just had to go, ugh! You have to erase your imagination and say 'oh this is real, don't think about it'." The combination of super effects, a solid script and a whole production team on top of their game would make The Dream Master the most successful Elm Street venture of the lot, only outdone 14 years later with Freddy v Jason. However once you compare budgets to profit, Part 4 remains the highest grossing by difference.