Monday, October 20, 2008

A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge Review

Freddy's Revenge Poster

Here we go, another classic that shaped my youth and many others. A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge is sometimes referred to as the “gay” Freddy movie, and although many arguments have been made towards that direction, I fail to really see it on a bigger scale. Sure there are some homoerotic pieces, but nothing so extreme as to call the whole movie a gay movie at all. More on that later in this review.

The story follows a new family, moving into the old house that was featured in the first film, and things start to go bad immediately. Jesse Walsh starts having bad dreams featuring none other than our favorite antihero Freddy Krueger! The film follows his steady decline into a full fledged serial killer puppet, controlled solely by Krueger and his dreams.

There is a couple of intertwining side stories, but the major events that unfold all revolve around Jesse and his fight to not allow Freddy to control him completely.

The movie is plotted really slow, and it’s not too unlike the pacing found in Sleepaway Camp, with the first have showing very little action. The action really doesn’t develop until the third and fourth act of this movie. Initially, we only get a lot of forced dialogue between the characters, and a lot of speculation as to what is going on. Jesse seems to be dimwitted in a lot of this movie, and no one in the town seems to fear that the events that occurred in the first film could be happening again. The town is so stupid that no one seems to be in an uproar over any of the murders that occur in the film! This really bugs me, and as a kid I never noticed this sort of flawed logic, however, now that I’m older I see through the very thin plot points and see a vapid film.

Freddy 2

As for the big underlying gay tone, I don’t really think about it. I grew up watching professional wrestling and I never figured that it was homoerotic, nor that there was anything gay about it. Not until I went to college and some teacher told me that professional wrestling was inherently gay, which is ludicrous to me, but whatever. People like to compare the death scene of the coach, and the party that happens in this film with gay underground culture, and for the 80’s it does seem a little gay, however, I don’t think that calling this movie gay is a proper category for it. Apparently people really didn’t have this sort of problem with Sleepaway Camp, or the kink and S&M references that Clive Barker’s Hellraiser has. Furthermore, even if there are small, subtle, gay undertones, they are only put there by a society struggling to fit gay fascination and culture in movies that never were intended to have anything to do with that lifestyle. So no, A Nightmare on Elm Street 2 is NOT gay, nor should people categorize it as the “Gay” Freddy Krueger film, and if they do, than I don’t really believe that they are looking at this movie with the proper lens. However, that is just one man’s opinion on this subject, and not everyone’s. Apparently the director, Jack Sholder, even claimed that there was a gay subtext in the film, so maybe I’m just an idiot.

Nightmare 2 Poster

Why A Nightmare on Elm Street 2 is scary: The scariest part of this film is not so much that the main character is going insane and no one believes anything he has to say about his dreams, it’s the fact that he is killing his friends and doesn’t even realize he’s awake. What’s worse is the fact that Freddy is the puppet master here and Jesse can’t control his own dreams. Furthermore, it’s scary to think that parents are so out of the loop that they miss what could be a chance to help their son by writing off the events that helped them get a house for so cheap.

Skepticism is easily found in today’s society, and these films are prime examples of a greater culture that is quick to dismiss psychosis on many levels, simply because they are occurring only in someone’s head and not manifesting themselves into real life. However, this film tries to change that by having Freddy seem real and appear to lots of different people, including the Father who grabs a shotgun in the third act and attempts to shoot his own son, who now has the appearance of Freddy!

It’s also scary to think that a super villain can be easily defeated by “love” and “kindness” an overtone that is not mirrored in real life at all. We do not hear of exorcisms being completed with love and kindness. Even pop culture like “Constantine” doesn’t have “love” as a vocal point in the matter of salvation of a loved one who is trapped by evil. This is scary for many reasons. We are often times told that love conquers all, and movies like “The Notebook” seem to project that image to many people and it really doesn’t always work to that effort. One might argue that this is only a movie and that love and romance films that portray the same sort of attitude are really just entertainment, but I would argue that these archetypes are to blame for a lot of different factions of our society’s marital problems, relationship problems, and many other social inconsistencies.

I know, I’m trying to draw in a huge emotional connection based on the ending of a horror film, but come on, consider how many people believe the notion that all you need is love. Think about how many love songs there are, how many romance novels, movies, and drama’s have been broadcast and permeated through the minds and eyes of people of all ages, and then think about how this film ends, with a girl’s love and admiration saving the main character, and defeating Freddy.

Some might argue that I’m reaching way too far, but if we are to consider horror films on a deeper level, than that is what I personally get from this film’s defeatist attitude towards Freddy. Freddy is dominant, but not when a young girl casts him out by loving Jesse? Sure, there is a major twist afterwards, and a jump scene to take us home and into a third film, but this sappy kind of final battle really makes me cringe. A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge is scary. The dogs with faces on them are reminiscent to the dogs that are inside out in “Resident Evil”, and if you’re scared of jump scenes this one has many for you to jump at.

I recommend this film to fans of the series, however, many people will find this plot to be laughable, the ending to be stupid, and the jump scenes just hokey at best. This film might have scared a lot more people in 1985, especially with the conservatives in clear power of our nation, however, today it doesn’t hold up as well. While this film is scary if you think about it, it is not something that you’re going to have nightmares about. For a real nightmare inducing piece of entertainment, I suggest “Hell House” by Richard Matheson. Otherwise, check out A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge as a fitting sequel to a better initial film, as it usually is in horror cinema. This one shouldn’t be viewed with such thought provoking questions as I did here, so just get some popcorn and sit back and relax. I looked into this film way too much simply for the sake of this blog’s format, but it’s hard to really take any of this seriously, as the film isn’t exactly the most serious entry in the Nightmare on Elm Street series.

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  1. Great review.
    I always find it more interesting to pick out the subtexts and themes in films more than just reviewing them as well.
    It is one of the things that I really enjoy about watching and writing about movies.

  2. The "gay" Freddy movie?!? I never heard that one! :-)
    While not as good as 1 or 3, it is still watchable. . .

    Great Review!

  3. I wouldn't say the gay references in Freddy's Revenge are subtle - do you really think so?? A gym coach in leather vest with a penchant for "pretty boys", Grady and Jesse's poster collection (Kate Bush, Limahl, Tina Turner, David Bowie), constant references to "something inside me wanting to come out", the "closet" . . . and the oh-so-coincidental fact Jesse has a game in his closet called "Probe"?! If you're aware of gay culture, the references in Elm St 2 are anything but subtle even though - as with any good horror - it also works on more basic levels.


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A writer first, cat lover second, and some other stuff too. Human, with lots of faults, and terrible communication.
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