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A Nightmare on Elm Street Part 2 - Freddy's Revenge
Tonight's Feature Presentation

A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET PART 2: FREDDY'S REVENGE (1985)

Starring: Mark Patton, Kim Myers, Robet Rusler, Robert Englund, Clu Gulager, Hope Lange, Marshall Bell

Written By: David Chaskin Directed By: Jack Sholder

The Short Version

When people say that slasher sequels stink, they mean this one.

Wes Craven wanted nothing to do with it, either.

Even franchise fans tend to pretend this one never happened.

It’s also less about Freddy than it is about something else, and it plays poorly.

In case you haven’t guessed, feel free to skip Freddy’s Revenge.


The Long Version

What Kind Of Cheese Is It?

E-Z CHEEZ.

Generic processed crap in a spray can that isn’t real and that no one with any sense would be caught dead having in his or her kitchen.


Pairs Well With...

SCHAEFER.

No real brewery touched this flick; all the cans say “beer.”  That said, Schaefer is the cheap crap undergrads got loaded on in 1985.  The slogan called it “The one to have when you’re having more than one,” but the real reason the slogan was true was that it was cheaper than soda pop.

“So, to review.   The solid waste – those nutrients not absorbed by the lining of the stomach, the large intestine, the small intestine, and the alimentary canal – are passed out through the colon.”


You’ve heard of Montezuma’s Revenge, right? 

Basically, it’s really nasty diarrhea.

You’ll notice that they chose to give A Nightmare on Elm Street Part 2 the subtitle of Freddy’s Revenge.

Basically, it’s really nasty d- well, I think you can make the connection.

Wes Craven, Freddy’s creator and the writer/director of the original A Nightmare on Elm Street the year before, wanted absolutely nothing to do with this flick.  He never meant for his movie to have a sequel in the first place; indeed, he was already angry that the studio made him change his original ending to that first film, which was supposed to be closed-ended and happy.  When presented with a script that involved Freddy taking possession of someone else, Craven walked away in disgust.

Considering that New Line is The House That Freddy Built, and that A Nightmare on Elm Street had literally saved it from going under the year before, you’d think that New Line would have taken the hint, or at least had a little more respect.

Ha ha.  No.

Nor did the studio stop there.  When the guy other than Craven who made the first film a success, Robert Englund – you know, Freddy – asked for a raise, the studio tried to replace him with a bit player.  That lasted about two weeks, at which point the producers came to the same conclusion that Craven had a year earlier, namely, that Freddy needed to be played by a real actor.  And so, Englund got his raise and was brought on board, but the message from the studio had been made clear.  Quality wasn’t going to be a major concern with this flick.  They knew the math, and box office audiences proved them right.

Silly audiences.

Here’s our story, such as it is.  It’s five years after the events of A Nightmare on Elm Street.  The heroine of that story, we learn, “went crazy,” and the family home was abandoned.  Now it’s the Walsh family’s turn to live there, and from the very first night, the teenage son, Jesse (Mark Patton), begins to have nightmares about a burned maniac with knives coming out of the fingers of his glove.  What’s worse, that maniac seems to want to take control of Jesse’s mind, and turn him into a killer…

In theory, the story of A Nightmare on Elm Street Part 2: Freddy’s Revenge is about Freddy trying to take possession of Jesse’s body so that Freddy can once again have a presence in the real world.  But really, it’s about something else entirely.  It’s about Jesse being gay.

Horror has always presented an odd dichotomy with how it’s treated any sexuality other than heterosexuality.  In horror films with lesbian (or just as often, female bisexual) characters, those characters have no issues with their own sexuality, and are quite open and often even brazen with it.  Not so with male homosexuality.  In the much rarer horror films with male homoerotic overtones, the sexuality almost invariably involves the closet.  Why hello there, Jesse Walsh!

Screenwriter David Chaskin has admitted that the homoerotic overtones in the script are real and deliberate.  Director Jack Sholder claims to have been oblivious.  Jack Sholder is either lying or he’s the most clueless man on the planet, because those overtones aren’t just in the writing: they’re also in the shots.  The shirtless and open-shirt guys who are usually soaking wet at the time, the two guys getting into a fight on the baseball field and actually tearing each other’s clothes off, the men’s shower whipping scene… oh, yeah.  They’re there.  (Even the character of Jesse’s friend Grady, in an extremely rare move for any mainstream film in the 1980s, calls Jesse out aloud.)  And you know, folks?  That’s perfectly fine.  In a genre dominated by female shower scenes and topless girls, there’s nothing wrong with a little equal time.  Indeed, if not for one very big technicality, discussed below, I’d be applauding this movie for it.

No, the problem isn’t the fact that Jesse is very obviously gay.  The problem is that A Nightmare on Elm Street Part 2: Freddy’s Revenge directly equates being gay with being an evil homicidal maniac (whose particular favorite target, by the way, is children), and just to make the Far Right even happier, the only way to save Jesse is with the pure love of a good-hearted woman.  That equation is just plain offensive.  Let’s look at some of it.  Jesse has the urge to be Freddy (be gay).  He goes into his young sister’s bedroom intending to kill her (ridiculous child safety stereotype).  The “real” Jesse regains control for a moment, and he stops himself.  Jesse again feels the presence of Freddy (being gay) during the parakeet sequence.  His response is to run outside in the pouring rain and go to a gay leather bar.  There he runs into his gym coach, who “punishes him for drinking beer” by taking him back to school and making him run laps in the middle of the night (picking him up and taking him somewhere for some S&M activity).  While in the shower (we won’t even mention the choice of phallic showerheads), Jesse can no longer contain his inner Freddy (gayness), and the coach (lover) is suddenly tied up, stripped naked, and whipped bloody (S&M), after which the coach is stabbed dead (penetrated).  Still later, Jesse tries to make out with his incredibly hot girlfriend, but thanks to his inner Freddy (gayness), he finds he just can’t do it, and runs away screaming… to the bedroom of his shirtless male friend, Grady, whom Jesse for some reason (attraction) feels is the only one who can help him.  As mentioned, Grady actually suggests out loud that Jesse’s real secret isn’t that he’s possessed by a killer, but that he’s gay.  Jesse does not deny this.  He does, however, literally “come out” as Freddy while standing in front of a closet: Freddy peels away Jesse’s body from the inside and steps out (Jesse comes out as gay).  When this scene’s mayhem in form of the death of Grady (Jesse’s desired lover being penetrated) is over, Jesse, back to himself, looks at his own reflection and sees Freddy (his gayness)… in a closet mirror.  But, of course, the loving kiss of the pure and virtuous woman will, in the end, save Jesse from the possession of Freddy (his gayness).  Got the hang of the symbolism here yet?

Again, Jesse being gay isn’t the problem.  Being gay being made unquestionably equivalent to being a child killing monster is.  Shame on everyone who thought that was good idea.

And on everyone who thought pretty much anything about this movie other than giving Robert Englund a raise and casting Kim Myers was a good idea, for that matter.  For incredibly, even without all of the homoerotic overtones and their offensive symbolism (or even if the homoerotic overtones were well done and made completely inoffensive), A Nightmare on Elm Street Part 2: Freddy’s Revenge would still suck. 

The pacing is wretched.  The horror scenes are overall pretty lousy; even the fan favorite “pool party” is tempered by Freddy seeming to prefer knocking things over for noisemaking value over getting down to what’s supposed to be his real business.  (And how do all the swimmers survive the boiling pool water, anyway, without so much as reddened skin?)  What could have been an interesting “is Freddy real or is Jesse crazy” plot is tossed aside without a second thought.  With the exception of Kim Myers, who really deserves a much better movie than this, most of the acting barely can be considered low mediocre; indeed, most of it is just plain bad.  Even Robert Englund doesn’t seem into it, though after how he was treated by the studio at first and given the script he has to follow, I can’t blame him, and still think he earned the raise.  Of course, one could argue that all of the actors are in the same boat with the lousy script, but there’s no way I’m giving a pass to Clu Gulager as Jesse’s father.

Nor, in the end, will I give a pass to this movie.  When the only nice things one can think of to say about a movie are that two members of the cast deserved better and that jobs were created by the production, it’s time to just throw in the towel and call it a day.

Bottom line, when people say that slasher sequels suck, A Nightmare on Elm Street Part 2: Freddy’s Revenge is the first movie they’re thinking about.  It’s not even worthwhile for franchise fans, since the rest of the series, wisely, essentially pretends that this one never happened.  So move along, folks.  The only real horror here is that if you do watch it, you’ll never get those 87 minutes of your life back.

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- Reviewed by Ziggy Berkeley, October, 2011


You can email Ziggy at ziggy@cinemaontherocks.com. You can also find us on Facebook.


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