Retro Review: In A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET 2, Freddy Is the Man of Your Dreams

By Mark Arson, Contributing Writer

Splatter Cinema Presents NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET 2: FREDDY’S REVENGE (1985); Dir: Jack Sholder; Starring Robert Englund, Mark Patton, Kim Myers; Tues. April 10;  9:30 pm; Plaza Theatre; $10. Trailer here.

Ah, Poor NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET 2. Essentially retconned out of the mythology, given a redundant subtitle (FREDDY’S REVENGE, as if every single other Elm St. movie wasn’t about Freddy getting revenge), it has Freddy on screen for less time than any other film from the series and is infamous for its homoerotic subtext. Of course, I hadn’t seen the movie for about 20 years, and I wondered if the Internet had maybe exaggerated the gay thing. Well, the answer is no. Holy crap, no. The entertainment value for those immature enough to laugh at such things (that includes me, by the way) is through the roof. Unfortunately it doesn’t work so well as a NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET movie, for most of the film anyway.

The plot of the film is as follows: Jesse (Mark Patton) and his family have just moved into their new home on Elm St. You guessed it, the same house where Nancy and her family lived in the first NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET. Things are starting to heat up romantically between Jesse and his neighbor Lisa (Kim Myers), but something keeps getting in the way. That something is Freddy Krueger trying to get into Jesse’s body to make him commit murders. The struggle for Jesse’s body ensues.

One of the things that makes this film stand out from the others is that Freddy is trying to get one teen to kill others, rather than trying to kill several of them in their dreams. This change might not seem to make much sense in the context of the other films, but you have to remember that this was only the first sequel; you have to kind of admire the filmmakers for trying something different. The premise doesn’t always work, but later on we are treated to Freddy menacing a group of confused and terrified teens at a pool party, a scene which couldn’t have happened in the other films (attacking in dreams means that Freddy usually has to isolate victims to pick them off)

As for the homoerotic undertones, the screenwriter claims that they were intentional, the director says they weren’t. The hardest part of it to ignore is when the gym coach (who frequents an S&M club) is dragged into a locker room, has his pants pulled down, and is whipped with a towel, all by an invisible force (or perhaps by Jesse, it’s never made clear, but it’s obviously Freddy pulling the…er….strings). It’s hilariously uncomfortable to watch. Is it supposed to be funny? Scary? One generation’s subtle is the next generation’s obvious, and this film is a classic example of that. I suppose that possession is a good enough metaphor for repressed sexual urges, but it seems kind of trite to tie such serious matters to a slasher film, and that’s a big part of what makes the whole thing so silly and funny.

It seems that the reason the other Elm St. films were more similar to each other than to this one is that a body count that slowly builds up in full view of everyone is scarier than the fear of one kid that Freddy’s creeping up on. However, once Freddy finally appears in this film, things start to pick up. The transformation effects are great, and it’s fun to watch him run rampant in the real world. Eventually the film takes us to Freddy’s boiler room (of course) for the big finale.  SPOILER ALERT: (hetero) love conquers all. Except it doesn’t, because Freddy’s still lurking. Maybe those metaphors weren’t that far off after all.

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