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

A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge

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Some five years after Nancy seemingly sends Freddy back to the depths of hell where he belongs, the Walshes move into Nancy’s old home. But of course things are never what they seem to be on old Elm Street, and it’s not long before the Walshes teenage son, Jesse, starts having eerily similar dreams to the ones that Nancy and her friends had. Yup, Freddy’s back, and not only has he somehow managed to make it back from Hell, but he’s also seemingly managed to make himself more powerful. Not content to simply limit himself to the dream world, Freddy’s machinations now start seeping over into our reality. It starts with small things happening around the house, but to Jesse’s horror, he soon realizes what Freddy’s ultimate goal is: To take over Jesse’s body so he can take up permanent residence in the real world. So now it’s up to a very confused Jesse and his new girlfriend to try to put a stop to Freddy for good before his evil takes over more than just their dreams.

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Ah yes, poor Freddy’s Revenge, the much maligned sophomore outing of the film series. It was probably inevitable that this film wasn’t going to do too well. The movie had lost it’s original director and writer, and it got rushed through production, releasing less than a year after the last film, so that it could capitalize on the success of the first. At this point in the franchise, Freddy hasn’t yet turned into Mr. One-liner and is still pretty scary for the most part, with only mild moments of goofiness sprinkled throughout. But all the scares, disturbing imagery and creepiness in the world still can’t help deal with the film’s muddled plot and dull/sappy characters. What’s really jarring is that the excellent dynamic that consisted of the thin line between the dream world and the real world is pretty much non-existent in this sequel, essentially killing much of the premise of the first film. So no, this film is definitely not the fan favorite of the series. Hell, even the poster kinda sucks. The Thai poster is better. At least in that one Freddy looks like Freddy, and not some weird, googly-eyed skeleton.

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Part of the movie’s problem, is that while it kept a lot of the same elements of the first film, instead of focusing more directly on the scary imagery, they went a little overboard with the whole ‘dream’ aspect, and as a result a lot of the scenes end up feeling more campy then they really need to. The filmmakers just seemed to have decided to go full-tilt on into Weirdsville with this one, as opposed to the horror route, and that was clearly not the direction they needed to go. So instead of just focusing on the popular, but menacing dream-demon creature, you end up with strange scenes where gym teachers are inexplicably attacked by gym equipment (in other words he’s pummeled with balls), stripped naked, and then basically whipped in the ass to death with wet towels. Yeah, it’s that kind of horror movie.

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But really, thanks to a lot of curious decisions, the whole movie seems to be “that kind of movie.” The film has become notorious for much of it’s subject matter and it’s homoerotic themes and undertones. At the time, the filmmakers claimed they weren’t intentional, but with so many scenes of Jesse and the rest of the young male population frequently walking around drenched in sweat, shirtless, wearing short-shorts, or standing around naked in awkwardly long shower scenes, the signs are kind of hard to miss, and subsequent interviews with the cast and crew in later years basically cop to the the film’s not so subtle intentions. It also doesn’t help that Jesse (played by Mark Patton) has absolutely no chemistry whatsoever with his supposed girlfriend, Lisa. Right in the middle of making out with her he freaks out, runs off to his best friend’s house, rushes into the dude’s room while he’s sleeping, wakes his shirtless friend up while he’s wearing his 70’s style short-shorts, and demands that he let him stay there for the night. Talk about a crushing blow to poor Lisa’s self-esteem. But that’s not even the only scene. At one point Jesse gets hit on by his leather-clad gym teacher at a fetish bar, and in another he’s surrounded by phallic shaped candles that are dripping wax all over him. So yeah, way to be subtle there, writers. You guys clearly knew what the hell you were doing. It’s no wonder the film has been interpreted as a very creepy metaphor for Jesse’s repressed sexuality.

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Other than that, the film is much the same as the first. Freddy torments people, disturbing things happen, blood is spilled, and much of it is presented and executed in a very similar style to the first film. Though I did notice that this time around Freddy seemed to be cloaked in a lot more shadow then he was before. In the first film you eventually get a clearer picture of him as the movie progresses. But in this movie his features are almost constantly obscured, even right up until the end.

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In a film where a supernatural serial killer is trying to take over the body of a sexually repressed teen, this may be the most frightening scene in the whole movie.

Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge is a highly flawed, but fascinating horror film. For a movie centered around a crazed killer who stalks and kills you in your nightmares, the most interesting thing about the film may actually be how it got made and why. At one point in time, Cracked.com actually listed it as it’s number one pick for “Most Unintentionally Gay Horror Films”, but simply watching it makes it hard to believe that there was anything “Unintentionally” about it. Director Jack Sholder has said that the movie was meant to be about “repressed sexual angst”, but denied that he intentionally brought any homosexual themes to the forefront while filming. But in a few subsequent interviews with the film’s writer, David Chaskin, even he finally admitted, after years of denial, that the interpretation was 100% genuine. So, there you have it, I guess. Freddy’s Revenge: The Most Unintentionally Intentional Gay Horror Film. What a strange world.

Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge is available on a variety of streaming services.

Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge is also available on DVD and Bluray.

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Michi

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