Nancy Thompson’s Elm Street house is now occupied by a teenager, Jesse Walsh (Mark Patton, Anna to the Infinite Power), and his family. Jesse immediately begins having strange nightmares about a disfigured madman. After Jesse and his girlfriend Lisa (Kim Myers, Illegally Yours) find Nancy’s old diary, they learn the story of child-killer Freddy Krueger (Robert Englund, Eaten Alive). They also realize that Krueger is trying to take over Jesse’s body so he can continue his campaign of terror.
Reaction & Thoughts:
“Fred Krueger! He’s inside me, and he wants to take me again!”
Sequels are a difficult hat-trick to pull off. The idea is to stay true to an established formula without looking like you are being lazy. This follow-up to Wes Craven’s sleeper hit A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984) manages to do just that — brand new elements are placed alongside old ones in an effective manner.
Directed by Jack Sholder (Alone in the Dark and The Hidden) from a script by David Chaskin, A Nightmare on Elm Street Part 2: Freddy’s Revenge substitutes the “final girl” with a young guy. At first glance, it seems like an inconsequential change, but the gender switch makes all the difference.
For starters, having a male teenager at the center of the story creates a homoerotic subtext that wouldn’t have existed otherwise. God knows, I don’t know the real motivations of writer Chaskin and director Sholder, but the whole thing comes across as a bizarre and surreal coming-of-age gay melodrama.
Sex has always been an important part of Krueger’s identity — more like perverted sexuality, since it is pretty clear that he was a child molester — but here he seems more of a manifestation of repressed sexuality than an agent of malevolence. The film seems to suggest that Krueger is a disease created by the conservative Reagan-era suburbia. It’s a pretty gutsy idea for a low-budget horror flick.
The cast is pretty good. Mark Patton is terrific as the tortured hero. Meryl Streep-lookalike Kim Myers is good too. The cast also includes veterans Clu Gulager (Return of the Living Dead) and Hope Lange (Peyton Place) as Patton’s parents. And, of course, Robert Englund is scary as hell as the malevolent Freddy Krueger.
Conclusions & Final Thoughts:
A Nightmare on Elm Street Part 2: Freddy’s Revenge has very few fans. I’ve always liked it and never understood why it was greeted with so much disdain. It isn’t as good as the first film, but it is much better than some of the sequels. It’s still one of the most interesting films in the franchise — it’s weird in a good way. Color, 87 minutes, Rated R.
Followed by A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors (1987)