Saturday, November 15, 2014

#1,552. A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy's Revenge (1985)

Directed By: Jack Sholder

Starring: Robert Englund, Mark Patton, Kim Myers

Tag line: "The Man of Your Dreams Is Back"

Trivia: Freddy appears in only 13 of this film's 87 minutes

In most horror movie franchises, the second film in the series, while not as good as the original, is usually an entertaining effort. Halloween 2 carried the story of Michael Myers to its next logical point, while Friday the 13th Part 2 established Jason Voorhees (who SPOILER ALERT: only makes a cameo appearance in the first movie) as the killer. There are a number of examples to support this "2nd movie" theory: Scream 2 was a lot of fun, as was Hellbound: Hellraiser 2, and even Child’s Play 2 had its moments. Naturally, there are exceptions; Exorcist II the Heretic was awful, as was 1989’s The Fly 2. But for me, the worst direct sequel to a classic horror film is 1985’s Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge, a picture that took everything that worked about its predecessor and tossed it out the window.

Teenager Jesse Walsh (Mark Patton) and his family, which includes his father Ken (Clu Galager); mom Cheryl (Hope Lange) and little sister Angela (Christie Clark), have just moved into the house on Elm St. that once belonged to the Thompsons, who, years earlier, were tormented by Freddy Krueger (Robert Englund), a sadistic killer who attacked his victims while they slept, invading their dreams and turning them into nightmares. Now, with a new family to torment, Freddy focuses his attention on Jesse, visiting him in the night and telling the young man he plans to “use” him to commit more murders. Unable to discuss this horrific dilemma with his parents (with whom he has a tenuous relationship), Jesse turns to his new girlfriend Lisa (Kim Myers) and school chum Ron (Robert Rusler) for help. But to no avail; Freddy Krueger sdoes eventually take control of Jesse’s body, and in so doing brings his unique brand of terror to the real world.

Therein lies the chief problem with Nightmare on Elm Street 2. In the first movie, Freddy Krueger slaughtered people when they were at their most vulnerable (i.e. asleep), giving him the edge in every single encounter (A permanent resident of the world of dreams, he knew how to manipulate images and situations, using them to his advantage). By allowing Freddy to leave the dream world, the movie strips him of his key power, turning the notorious killer into just another madman on a murder spree (and not a frightening one, either; a late scene where he attacks a group of teens at a pool party doesn’t feature a single memorable kill). To add insult to injury, the filmmakers never explain Freddy's reasons for changing his modus operandi, leaving us scratching our heads and wondering why he’d mess with a good thing.

The movie has other issues as well. For one, there are scenes so remarkably bad that they’re almost laughable (one sequence involving a couple of parakeets was particularly inept). On top of that, we’re treated to a handful of moments that are creepy for all the wrong reasons, like when Jesse, during one of his sleepwalking episodes, visits an S&M gay bar and, while there, runs into his gym teacher, Coach Schnieder (Marshall Bell), who promptly drags Jesse back to the school auditorium (after hours, no less) and punishes the underage teen for trying to order a beer. Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge definitely has homoerotic overtones (aside from the fact lead actor Mark Patton had, by the time he made the movie, already come out of the closet, there’s the relationship between Jesse and Ron, which felt as if it was more than just friendship). In many ways, it's the first openly gay slasher film, but even still, this scene with the teacher was too weird for words.

Believing 1984’s A Nightmare on Elm Street should stand on its own, that film’s writer / director, Wes Craven, refused to have anything to do with this sequel, and after seeing the final product I can’t say I blame him. Devoid of thrills, A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge is a dismal horror movie.

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