A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy's Revenge (1985)

While A Nightmare on Elm Street may have been a big hit Wes Craven was more than happy to let New Line take it over, even though he wasn't exactly happy with the results of his decision.  There were never meant to be any sequels, and the ending to the first with Nancy's friends getting whisked away in the Freddy Krueger-mobile while her mother got pulled through the window was added last minute.  The whole part where Nancy walks out of the house and into the sun, realizing the terror was over, was supposed to be the ending. 

We learn in this movie what really happened to both of them - Nancy got put into an mental hospital while her mother killed herself - but it still doesn't explain the silly ending to what was otherwise a classic film.  The reason the ending happened, of course, is because New Line was sure that Nightmare was going to be a hit and wanted to prepare for the sequel making process.  After abandoning the idea of Freddy inhabiting someone's womb New Line eventually went with David Chaskin's script which involved the crispy dream killer possessing a young boy to do his bidding.

Jesse (Mark Patton) and his family are new to Springwood, having moved into Nancy's old home on Elm Street.  He is trying hard to fit in, dating a girl from a well-off family named Lisa (Kim Myers) and eventually bonding with a fellow jock named Grady (Ron Rusler) over their mutual hatred of their coach (Marshall Bell).  However, from the time that they move into the home, Jesse is plagued by vivid nightmares centered around a burnt man with claws on one hand, who of course turns out to be Fred Krueger (Robert Englund).

Krueger, not satisfied with haunting teenagers' dreams, wants to use Jesse as his vessel to the outside world where he can have the power to kill anyone he wants.  While Jesse, with the help of Lisa, learns more about who Krueger his, the killer becomes stronger, making his presence known throughout Springwood. 

This has always been one of my least liked movies in the series.  It's still better than Freddy's Dead: The Final Nightmare, but there is a reason that of all the Nightmare on Elm Street films that this is one I am least familiar with.  I've grown more interested in seeing it again in recent years due to the fact that it has come out that the script had a heavily homoerotic subtext, something that completely went over my head when I saw it originally.  At that time I just thought it was a disappointment after the first and third movies when I finally got around to watching it.  Freddy was too different and, other than the bus scene at the beginning, there were no major dream sequences that stood out.

Rewatching it after all this time the gay stuff is pretty obvious, although I think Jesse having a Probe game in his closet was about as low-hanging fruit for a joke one could get.  The reason I missed all this the first time is obvious, since, other than the leather bar, a lot of the queer references were aimed at a queer audience.  Heterosexual audiences may get it more now, but back when this came out, and even in the late '80s when I first saw it, homosexuality was such an "other" thing that it could easily slip by most people in a horror film.  Because of this it is now one of the more talked-about films in queer cinema.

Problem is, even if appreciated as a campy cult film by certain audiences, it still is not that good of a movie.  The opening is great and everything prior to the killings is pretty good but, strangely for a horror film, once those begin the movie falls apart.  A lot of scenes that I'm sure someone thought would look cool, like the exploding parakeet, are unintentionally funny rather than frightening, as is Clu Gallagher's (playing Jesse's father) reaction to it.  Even worse is when Freddy shows up to literally wreck a party, jumping around like a 10-year-old on a sugar high and breaking pool furniture, with the results being much less than director Jack Sholder probably intended.

Still, the movie made money and put New Line on secure financial footing.  Luckily for them, and the continued viability of the series, they listened to fans of the first film when it came time to make A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors, bringing Nancy back and putting Freddy back in our nightmares where he belongs. 

A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy's Revenge (1985)
Time: 87 minutes
Starring: Mark Patton, Kim Myers, Robert Englund
Director: Jack Sholder



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