Thursday, July 21, 2011

A Nightmare on Elm Street 2 (1985)

The phenomenal success of A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET could only mean one thing: a sequel was eminent. And who better to helm it than Jack Sholder, the man responsible for the criminally underrated Slasher ALONE IN THE DARK? Unfortunately for him, he could have no idea what he was getting himself into with this rushed and routine script that completely betrays all that Wes Craven had laid out in the original screenplay. Despite being one of the worst Slasher sequels of all time, FREDDY'S REVENGE would achieve a much deeper significance within the genre, whether the filmmakers meant it to or not.

Jesse moves into the old Thompson house with his family, but it isn't long before he begins experiencing nightmares of his own. Freddy Kruger is back, and he is using Jesse as a vessel to continue carrying out his bloody revenge. Jesse and his girlfriend Lisa struggle to stop Freddy before he can escape into reality!

Within seconds, screenwriter David Chaskin manages to make his first awful mistake. The main character in his script isn't one of the Elm Street kids! Why, then, would Freddy have any power over him, or even want to kill him to begin with? In the end, it is true love that rids Freddy of his power rather than simple disbelief. Freddy and Jesse trade places with no rhyme or reason, there are never any rules developed. Worst of all, Freddy is allowed to run amok in the real world after finally breaking free from Jesse's body. No thought has been put into the development of the plot, and it is abundantly clear that producer Bob Shaye was only looking to exploit the popularity of the first film in order to make some quick cash with no consideration given to the continuity of the story or the longevity of the series. Mark Patton and Kim Myers are weak, pathetic leads that constantly mope about while crying to everyone. They are the antithesis of the strong and self-confident characters in the original. Even the special effects are poorly planned and executed. The technical promise that Sholder lends to the picture is wasted on the flaccid script and cheap scares.

So what good could possibly have come from such a terrible sequel? FREDDY'S REVENGE is extremely daring in the sense that it is one of the first major film franchises to not only address homosexuality in a positive light, but to use a young man's budding homosexuality as the central driving force of the plot. Only NIGHT WARNING and PHANTASM had really attempted this so openly in the past. The entire film should be looked at as an extended metaphor for Jesse's "coming out." Jesse is an extremely effeminate male, playing the role of the victim that is typically reserved for females in distress. He is awkward and uncomfortable around his gal pal Lisa, and much more at home wrestling around with the high school jock, Brady. Jesse's gym teacher, Coach Schneider, is openly gay, and known for ogling the boys in his classes. Jesse finds him at a gay S and M club, and after, Coach Schneider is tied up and stripped in the boys' showers before being whipped to death in a highly-eroticized scene. The script makes no attempt to hide the film's underlying message, with conspicuous phrasing and innuendo constantly lining the dialog. Freddy personifies Jesse's inner struggle with his own sexuality, as he tries (and fails) to suppress his true feelings. Jesse is really in love with Brady, and after spending the night at his house, he is no longer able to control his urges, and the "monster" within is finally unleashed.

There is nothing Freudian about this interpretation; the signs are far too clear to ignore. It is only a shame that no one involved in the film's making is willing to step forward to accept the credit for taking such a bold stance in the way of gay rights. Outside of this surprising social significance, A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET 2 is just a really terrible sequel with poorly constructed characters and an unforgivable plot that stabs fans of the original in the back.

Rating: 5/10.

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