Review by J.T. Johnson
ORIGINAL RELEASE DATE: November 1, 1985
DIRECTOR: Jack Sholder
CINEMATOGRAPHY: Jacques Haitkin, Christopher Tufty
WRITER: David Chaskin
MUSIC: Christopher Young
I hate that “A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge” actually has some good visual moments in it because it is without a doubt the worst sequel in the “Nightmare” series. You can tell that the writers didn’t know what to do with Wes Craven’s original idea and without the creator around to help establish the rules, the film suffered for it. This time the movie follows a young kid named Jesse (Mark Patton) and Freddy (Robert Englund) is trying to use the kid in order to return to the real world.
Jesse needs to figure out how to stop the demented dream stalker before he can harm Jesse’s friends and family, namely his love interest Lisa (Kim Myers) and his best friend Ron (Robert Rusler). The movie’s possession storyline highlights the first problem I have with the movie. In all other films, Freddy loves being the monster that haunts your dreams so here, it feels out of place that he is trying to escape a world where he has ultimate domain over those who enter.
Granted, I can’t really blame the filmmakers for this on a certain level because it is the second film and as director Jack Sholder once said, they didn’t follow the rules because they’re weren’t any just yet. However, despite that leniency, I would also say that they should have taken more time to develop the script as the film was released just shy of one year after the original film.
The movie is not all bad as it does contain a few good moments that still standout in the series. There is a famous moment where Jesse heads over to Ron’s house in order to have Ron watch over him while he sleeps. Then, Jesse suddenly wakes up and Freddy literally starts ripping himself out of Jesse’s body and the practical effects used to make this happen are pretty damn good.
Despite the few good moments, though, the film’s problems eventually rear their ugly heads once again. Not only is the plot pretty lame, the movie also has plenty of unintentionally humorous moments, generally caused by Jesse’s dad played by Clu Gulager. There is one scene where a bird suddenly loses its shit and flies about attacking the family before bursting into flames. Jesse’s father blames the bird seed they’ve been buying… No, I’m not joking and yes, it is as silly as it sounds.
Before we go, I do want to take a moment to address the homoerotic tones found in the movie. Now, in today’s world, this is nowhere near as “scandalous” as it was when people first pointed it out back as far as when the film was released. However, it is there and I just want to give the history to those who may not know.
Plenty of people have pointed out that the movie could be about Jesse coming out of the closet. There is a scene where he visits a gay bar and he’s always talking about something inside of him that he doesn’t quite understand. Sholder has always maintained that he never meant to add any homoerotic elements to the plot. However, in the years since the movie’s release, writer David Chaskin finally admitted that those elements were added by him at the time because of the AIDS epidemic that was happening.
Again, for me, these elements don’t impact the film in any way good or bad. I just wanted to comment on it because it is a part of this film’s history.
Ultimately, this was the film that New Line made just to keep the train moving. It was a lesson about what not to do for them and they would definitely pick things back up with the next sequel. Therefore, if you find yourself revisiting the “Nightmare” films but you don’t necessarily want to watch all of them, I would say that you could definitely skip this entry in the long-running franchise.