Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Thursday, August 18, 2016


Kim Myers and Mark Patton
A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET 2: FREDDY'S REVENGE (1985). Director: Jack Sholder.

A Nightmare on Elm Street was such a big hit that a sequel was inevitable, and one was quickly cobbled together for maximum profit. Jesse Walsh and his family have moved into the same house once occupied by the protagonist of the first film, and he begins to have weird dreams. Freddy Krueger (Robert Englund) not only haunts Jesse's nightmares, but tries to take over his mind and torturously enters the real world through Jesse's body. Freddy can affect events in the real world much more than he could in the first film, and he spends more time in the real world, where virtually everyone can see him (such as an attack at a pool party where he is seen by dozens of wide-awake teens) than ever before. To say this kind of shatters the whole mystique of the character as a dream demon is an understatement, but worse, the movie has absolutely no scares and zero atmosphere. There are ludicrous scenes such as an attack on Jesse's family by a crazed parrot, although, to be fair, there are a few effective moments as well, mostly due to the generally well-done FX work. Mark Patton does fairly nice work as the tormented Jesse, and he and Kim Myers as concerned gal pal Lisa make an appealing couple. Hope Lange [That Certain Summer] and Clu Gulager [From a Whisper to a Scream] do the best they can as Jesse's parents, the mother worried and the father clueless. Robert Rusler makes an impression as Jesse's hunky friend, Ron Grady, as does Marshall Bell as Coach Schneider who meets up with Jesse in a kind of S and M bar and gets sliced by Freddy/Jesse in a shower.

You would think that I would have picked up on the supposed gay sub-text of this movie -- which some consider the "gayest horror film of all time" or something like that -- but I think this has more to do with star Mark Patton being openly gay (he and screenwriter David Chaskin later said they conceived of Jesse as a closeted gay man all along). The S and M bar is not a gay bar, as there seem to be as many women in the place as men; Coach Schneider never comes on to Jesse; and when Jesse asks Ron if he can spend the night it is more because he is terrified of being alone (what with Freddy on the loose and all) than any obvious lust on the former's part, Ron's sex appeal notwithstanding. But people can read into it whatever they want. Myers, Rusler and Bell have had numerous credits since this film came out, but Patton's career was derailed for decades due to hypocritical Hollywood homophobia; even today openly gay actors have a tough time of it.

Verdict: Too schlocky, clumsy and contrived by half but fun in a limited way. **1/2.


angelman66 said...

Thank you, Bill, for feeling the same way I did about the supposed "gay subtext" which I don't see at all either.

Saw this film when it came out, never remembered anything overtly homeoerotic, but then very recently a friend told me to watch this because of all the gay subtext. The fact that some of the filmmakers were gay doesn't translate into subtext for me, either.

There would be too many films that REALLY dealt honestly about the subject right around the corner, Parting Glances and Maurice and Prick Up Your Ears...this is a conventional slasher film, a lot of fun and a little sexy, but nothing more...

William said...

I'm glad I'm not the only one who feels this way about the movie. Frankly, the film engendered more homophobic reactions than anything else, with some critics citing the main character's "queeniness" because he "screeches like a girl" and so on. The lead character may not have been super-macho, but so what?

And you're absolutely right that it's silly to see this as a "gay" movie but so many honestly gay movies were, as you say, just around the corner.