Monday, June 2, 2008

A Nightmare On Elm Street 2: Freddy's Revenge (1985)

Freddy Kreuger is so gay in this picture that I had to check the credits to make sure Clive Barker didn't pen the screenplay. Not that there would be anything wrong with that. There's plenty of room in the world for a gay Freddy Kreuger. At least as much room as there would be for a straight pinhead. It doesn't help that Freddy's chosen victim is an effeminate teen named Jesse (Mark Patton) who is constantly waking up from his nightmares screaming like a little girl. Also, there's a scene where Jesse follows his gym teacher into an S&M club. Not that there's anything wrong with that. Also, I don't mean to imply that S&M is, in any way, necessarily gay.

As a kid, I always preferred this one to the original. What was I thinking?? I didn't really remember all the homoerotic content or, more likely, I simply didn't understand it at the time. It didn't register. What I did remember were the three magnificent set pieces (a little more on those later) that make this, otherwise piece of crap, worth watching. A few years after the events of the original film, a new family (The Walshes) move into the house on Elm Street once occupied by Nancy (Heather Langenkamp) and company. Jesse stays in Nancy's old room and finds her diary which details her encounters with Freddy Kreuger, the infamous burnt to a crisp child murderer. Freddy starts communicating with Jesse and asks if he would mind killing for him. Jesse says no, so Freddy just plants his seed inside him instead (i.e. he can just possess him whenever he feels like it, apparently). Finally, he doesn't have to wait for "his children" to fall asleep to slaughter them. Jesse can do it for him. Based on the mythology of the first movie, this makes very little sense, but I guess it doesn't have to. It is a shitty horror movie after all. Except for Clu Gulager as Jesse's dad. He's still cool.

The director of this picture is the underrated Jack Sholder (The Hidden). To me, it doesn't really matter that Craven had nothing to do with the script since for every The Hills Have Eyes and the original Nightmare there's also a Hills Have Eyes 2 and a Vampire in Brooklyn. Unfortunately, the guy they got to write this sequel, David Chaskin wrote absolutely nothing else of note. It shows. The story is awful. I think he, or more likely someone else, came up with three good set pieces and then Chaskin connected the dots. This is, by far, the least scary of all the Nightmares. Not one god damned ounce of tension. Robert Englund, as Freddy, is a non factor. He has a few lines here and there, but was a lot scarier in the first one where he rarely talked at all. My favorite character was Marshall Bell (Starship Troopers) as Coach Schneider, who, after being caught by Jesse in an S&M club takes him back to the gym, forces him to run laps, and then tells him to "hit the showers" (all while dressed in his leather club outfit!).

The movie opens in spectacular fashion when Jesse is riding the school bus home (set piece #1). Instead of making the stop at his home, the driver floors it and takes the kids off road and into the desert where after finally stopping, the ground crumbles around the bus leaving them balanced upon a precipice (a scene later echoed in the brilliant South Park episode called "City on the Edge of Forever"). It's clear that besides working in a power plant during his life, Kreuger was also a pretty accomplished school bus driver (easy access to children). He's still got it and I enjoyed the quick cut to him working that stick.

The second set piece involves Jesse's best friend, Grady (Robert Rusler) keeping an eye on Jesse in case Freddy decides to take him over again. The plan being that Grady will prevent Jesse from killing anyone. Of course, they lack a contingency plan for what happens if Freddy possesses Jesse and decides to make Grady his victim. The moment when Freddy slices his way out of Jesse's body is as good as any scene in the series. It's hard to tell if this occurs in Grady's dream or in reality, since moments after Grady is dead, Jesse is staring at Freddy in the mirror as Grady's parents attempt to break down the door. Finally (3rd set piece), Freddy makes an uninvited appearence at a late night pool party, but drops the ball when he neglects to boil "his children" as they swim.

Unfortunately, the rest of this picture (all 80 minutes or so) is garbage. Clu Gulager's (Jesse's dad, remember) motivation for staying in the house (after his son is driven insane, things randomly catch on fire, the average temperature is 97 degrees, previous murders from the first film, and so on) is that he got a great deal on the place. That's it. Fuck the well being of his family, he's got shutters to paint. Jesse is clearly on drugs (actually, he does chug coca-cola while popping speed to stay awake, not that it matters because I think Freddy can jump into his body regardless). Jesse, himself, is a whiny little bitch although his girlfriend is a cute fire bush, so there is that. Kudos to Jesse. Way to live a lie, buddy. The dream sequences, what little there are, lack any of the nonsensical tension of the first picture. Still, the film's main failing lies in the portrayal of Freddy Kreuger who exudes almost no menace when he tells his possessee, "I need you Jesse". Kreuger, let me direct you to the co-dependancy section at your local bookstore, you fucking pussy.


elmo said...

Wow! I never thought I'd see you review a movie I know so well. I got the box set back when you could either buy DVDs or stay in college(I think we know who won that battle).

And yeah, this is so overtly gay I can hardly believe my dad let me watch it as a new arrival on HBO. The scene where Jesse dives on Grady and lingers until the ripped jock protests (barely) is fucking brilliant.

Also, at the very beginning, that dance Jesse does in his room with the "sliding wooden thing" still makes me shit myself.

brian said...

Yeah, the wrestling match on the softball field is a wonder to behold, especially after realizing that Grady and Jesse are, in fact, "best buds" and not mortal enemies.

Someday (hopefully soon) I'll go back and revisit the rest of this series. Besides this, the only one I've seen recently is "New Nightmare" which I really like.

Did you ever see the TV show?

brian said...

Also, I feel like this was the film that gave birth to the whole "wise cracking slasher" genre. Chucky, the Leprechaun, and Jack Frost all swim around in its afterbirth.

Freddy only has one line here that could be construed as a wisecrack when he tells the pacifist by the pool: "Help yourself, motherfucker". Still, the seed was planted.

Beepy said...

Ah, crap. Of course Netflix doesn't offer this one as a "watch instantly" option. I'm impatient and I want to see this dance to which Elmo refers.

Plus, I'm dying to know how "normal" teen males interact. I was stuck with two clearly heterosexual brothers who did nothing but work on their cars and say "shit" a lot. Not even an ass-slap after football.

elmo said...

Not to worry Peepy, I'LL bring it in for you.

As for the rest of the series, Freddy's Dead stands far above as having the most levels going at once: tongue-in-cheek, creepy, sadistic.