Film Review: A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy's Revenge
In 1985, Jack Sholder released A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge, the second film in the Nightmare on Elm Street series. Starring Mark Patton, Kim Myers, Robert Englund, Robert Rusler, Clu Gulager, Hope Lange, Christie Clark, Marchall Bell, Melinda O. Fee, Tom McFadden, and Sydney Walsh, the film grossed $29.9 million at the box office and was nominated for the Saturn Award for Best Horror Film.
The Walsh family has just moved onto Elm Street, taking up residence in the house once owned by the Thompsons. Their oldest child, Jesse, has trouble sleeping as his dreams are haunted by Freddy Krueger. However, Freddy isn’t content to just kill via nightmares anymore and has decided to use Jesse as his vessel into the real world by possessing him.
While not necessarily a bad film in and of itself, A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge is a pretty mediocre sequel to the first film in the franchise. The story that it presents to the audience is great, with a teenager being approached in nightmares by a creepy individual who has plans to use the boy as his vessel into the real world. This particular individual is Freddy and at various points, this he actually is able to take over and possess him so he can cause deaths in the real world. There’s a friend of Jesse’s in this film named Lisa and the way she defeats Freddy by declaring her love for Jesse and kissing him while his body is inhabited by Freddy is a decent enough usage of the power of love. At its core, this is a plot that could work out to be a great film if allowed to develop on its own.
That’s the problem though. This film is using the popularity of the franchise and the Freddy Krueger character to coast by as a film that knows what it’s trying to be, but can’t see that vision fully realized. It tries to further maintain continuity with the first film by Lisa finding Nancy’s diary and having the two characters be at Freddy’s old factory. However, apart from that, the film breaks all the rules that it established in the first film, such as Freddy being able to possess a person so he can come into the real world to kill. The whole point of the first film was the fact that he could kill people in their own nightmares and bend the real world to become the nightmares he creates at his will. Not one character is killed within a dream here and instead all the killings are after Freddy is fully able to possess Jesse. It might have been better had Freddy had a solid reason for wanting to be a part of the real world other than killing, since he had that power in the first film, but there isn’t one.
There’s also the simple fact that the title isn’t even accurate. It’s called Freddy’s Revenge, but there’s no one to enact revenge on in this film. Nancy’s doesn’t even have a part and none of the parents are indicated as being part of the vigilante mob that killed him in the first place, especially since Jesse’s parents just recently moved in. This only furthers the idea that this film really should have been something else entirely but took the name and character to ride the coattails of popularity.
The film has quite a bit of homoerotic subtext throughout that just seems oddly placed as well. At one point, Jesse finds himself wandering the streets at night after waking up from a dream and enters a gay leather bar where he runs into his gym teacher, Coach Schneider who punishes him by making the boy run laps. After this punishment, Schneider is attacked by sporting equipment, bound by a jump rope, stripped and whipped with towels before Freddy takes over Jesse and kills the man. The sequence goes on for quite a bit of time and gets more and more bizarre as it rolls on. The subtext comes up again after Jesse flees for his friend’s house after attempts to make out with Lisa are interrupted by Freddy. The entire film could be seen as Jesse’s struggle with whether or not to come out of the closet and having his desires manifested by Freddy, but that would mean the character becomes a sexual manifestation rather than one of pure terror.