Logline: The serial killer Freddy Krueger takes possession of a teenage boy’s body so he can continue his killing in the real world.
Review: After A Nightmare on Elm Street was a success upon its release in 1984, a sequel became inevitable. In less than a year’s time, A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge was released. It is an inferior sequel but enjoyable nonetheless. The film is often regarded as the gayest horror movie ever made and for good reason.
Wes Craven wanted no part in helming the sequel to his classic original, A Nightmare on Elm Street. The previous film’s female lead, Heather Langenkamp was not asked to reprise her role as Nancy Thompson. In order to save money, an extra was hired to play Freddy Krueger instead of Robert Englund. However, the actor was not effective and director Jack Sholder insisted that Englund be recast in the part. I cannot imagine anyone else playing Freddy in these films besides Englund. He is so great in the role and is an essential part of what makes them enjoyable. Director Sholder and writer David Chaskin ignore a lot of the central concepts in the first film. Instead, they take an entirely different approach, one in which Freddy possesses someone in the real world. Despite its ignorance of its predecessor, Freddy’s Revenge still has a certain charm to it. For all intents and purposes, I actually enjoy the film even though it is considered by many as the worst film in the franchise. Part of the film’s intrigue is its homosexual themes, which have been confirmed by Chaskin.
Jesse (Mark Patton) is struggling with his own sexuality. There are many examples throughout the film, such as a scene in which Jesse suggestively dances in his room to Fonda Rae’s Touch Me, the scene in which Jesse goes to a gay S&M bar where he runs into his gym teacher, and the scene in which Jesse confronts his friend, Grady in his room claiming, “Something is trying to get inside my body.” Jesse’s fight to remain in control of his own body over Freddy can be viewed as a metaphor for the teen’s struggle with his sexuality. Jesse’s closeted self makes him an easy target for Freddy, who exploits the fears and anxieties of his victims. Jesse’s own anxieties about his sexuality manifest themselves as Freddy. This subtext adds an interesting layer to the film.
The film stars Mark Patton, a gay actor, who is very good as Jesse. Slasher films traditionally have a central female character, the so-called scream queen, but Freddy’s Revenge changes this dynamic with a male lead who happens to be a closeted gay. Brad Pitt, Christian Slater, and John Stamos all auditioned for this role. Michael J. Fox was considered but was unavailable due to his work on Back to the Future and Teen Wolf. Patton stars alongside a young Meryl Streep…I mean Kim Myers. The actress has a striking resemblance to the Oscar winning actress and was the reason she was cast in the role. She gives a solid performance. Robert Englund is great as always as Freddy. Even though Englund only has about thirteen minutes of screen time, he steals every scene in which he appears. The film also gives us some of Freddy’s most memorable lines such as, “You’ve got the body…I’ve got the brain,” “You are all my children now,” and “Help yourself, fucker.” Freddy is still a dark and menacing figure, not yet the full-on comedic character he would become in subsequent sequels. Even though it lacks the classic Elm Street theme, the soundtrack composed by Christopher Young is excellent. Sholder’s direction is strong and there many memorable shots throughout the film.
Despite these strengths, the film has more than a few flaws. There are some silly elements in the film, particularly the exploding parakeet, which seems ridiculous and out of place. In fact, I have decided to delete this scene and proceed to skip it when I watch the film now. The ending, obviously a set up for more sequels, feels gimmicky. The first film suffered from this as well though. The screenplay has obvious weaknesses, such as some poorly developed supporting characters.
Despite its flaws, Freddy’s Revenge is a fun and underrated slasher flick with one of horror cinema’s most enduring characters, Freddy Krueger. The film has interesting visuals and ideas but does not always execute them well. It is one of the better Elm Street sequels, though and worth a look for horror fans. After watching it, you will have a hard time disagreeing with its distinction as the gayest horror movie ever made.
Rating (out of ****): ***