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

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Freddy Kruger possesses a teenage boy in order to take revenge for his own murder.

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Jack Sholder, 1985

Five years after the events of the first film, Jesse Walsh (Mark Patton) has been having nightmares. His dreams have been haunted by the creepy, scarred figure of Freddy Kruger (Robert Englund), a child murderer who was burned to death by the parents of his victims. The stress and sleeplessness starts to affect Jesse’s life, from his friendships to his school work. Jesse finds out he’s missing chunks of time, and wonders if he’s going crazy. Along with his girlfriend Lisa Webber (Kim Myers), Jesse starts looking into Freddy and discovers the diary of Nancy, the hero from the first movie. He realises that not only is he dreaming about Freddy, but the killer is actually taking over Jesse’s body so that he can kill in the real world again. Jesse and Lisa try to figure out how they can prevent Freddy from using Jesse to kill any more people.

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I figured I’d give this a shot, since I liked the first one so much, but in a hardly shocking twist it’s nowhere near as good. The concept of Freddy possessing people to kill isn’t a terrible one, but the actual exposition of what’s going on is completely inadequate. It’s never really explained why Freddy even needs to possess Jesse in order to commit these murders; we know he’s capable of killing people in their dreams, so why does he need Jesse’s body? He can SUCK PEOPLE INTO BEDS AND EXPLODE THEM. Although admittedly he does get to cause some rather bloody mayhem at the film’s climax, which takes place at Lisa’s house during a party. Lisa is a bit of a spitfire, in direct opposition to Mark Patton in the lead, who’s a wet blanket. He spends pretty much all his time wide-eyed and sweating. He’s never remotely convincing as a threat, not even in the vaguely creepy scene where he strokes his sister’s face with Freddy’s hand while she sleeps. (Ew.)

I wasn’t aware of this going into the film, but Nightmare 2 is famous for its extensive homoerotic subtext. Jesse tracks his teacher down to an S&M bar, and said teacher is stripped down and whipped before being killed (yeah, I know. It was almost worth watching the whole film for that scene). The film can easily be read as a metaphor for Jesse coming out, as well. The leads have less than no chemistry, so their sex scenes are incredibly awkward, while Jesse has more chemistry with his best friend. Robert Englund gets to have a couple of fun scenes as Freddy, but I feel like he’s underused; he isn’t quite the creeping presence of the first film, nor is he the campy killer of the later films. The film also lacks properly imaginative deaths, apart from the aforementioned gay BDSM-themed moment mentioned earlier. It has its moments (an exploding bird is also a weird highlight), but it’s not the best film in the Nightmare canon.

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

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