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:
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 A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984) manages to do just that — brand new elements are placed alongside old ones.
A Nightmare on Elm Street Part 2 – Freddy’s Revenge, directed by Jack Sholder, substitutes the “final girl” with a young guy. At first glance, it seems like an inconsequential changeling, 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 David Chaskin and director Sholder, but the whole thing comes across as a 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 a manifestation of repressed sexual feelings than an agent of malevolence. The film argues that Krueger is nothing but a disease created by conservative Reagan-era suburbia. The new angle challenges you to rethink the idea that the town’s residents are mere victims of evil. That’s a pretty gutsy idea for a low-budget horror flick.
The surprisingly strong cast includes Clu Gulager (The Initiation and Return of the Living Dead) and Hope Lange (Peyton Place and Death Wish).
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 is greeted with so much disdain. I think it is still one of the most interesting films in the franchise. Color, 87 minutes, Rated R.
Followed by A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors (1987)