Sunday, January 10, 2016

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


Director: Jack Sholder
Cast: Mark Patton, Kim Myers, Robert Rusler, Clu Gulager, Hope Lange, Robert Englund
Series: A Nightmare on Elm Street
MPAA Rating: R
Length: 85 minutes

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(Spoilers for A Nightmare on Elm Street are below).

Hoping to capitalize on the success of A Nightmare on Elm Street, a sequel A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge, was quickly put into production soon after. Wes Craven, the original director and writer opted out of this movie because he originally wanted Elm Street to be a standalone. Jack Sholder took over as director. Along with the switch in direction and writing, and none of the original cast returning except for Robert Englund, this film begins with little promise. By its end it had lived up to its underwhelming expectations.

Five years after Nancy supposedly defeated Freddy Krueger, a new family – the Walshes – has moved into the former Thompson residence.  Shortly after, the Walshes son Jesse (Mark Patton) begins to have nightmares with Freddy (Robert Englund) in them.  As the nightmares intensify Freddy looks to turn Jesse into a killer, just like him.

There are a lot of things wrong with this sequel, mainly the changes in Freddy’s motivation to kill people, resulting in a movie that feels like another ordinary slasher rather than one that belongs in the Elm Street universe.  The movie’s plot is Freddy taking control of Jesse’s body and turning him into a killer.  It’s a classic amnesia horror scenario, where someone’s killing everyone and that someone doesn’t realize it.  Freddy is often pulled into the real world, which takes out a lot of the dream elements – or the elements that made the last movie so damn cool.

A Nightmare on Elm Street explored some underlying issues about the illusion of safety in the suburbs.  This film takes issue exploring in a completely different direction when it tackles homosexuality.  Jesse is involved in a number of homoerotic scenes that feel really out of place.

These scenes include Jesse wrestling in the mud with his friend Ron (Robert Rusler); Jesse cleaning his room and trying to look cool while listening to 80’s club music; Jesse dreaming about his gym coach (Marshall Bell) in a gay leather bar; Jesse leaving his girlfriend Lisa Webber (Kim Myers ) right as they’re about to have sex to go seek out Ron, and worst of all Jesse screaming and squealing like a god damned dieing pig at everything.

These are only a few of the examples, but it feels like the movie is hitting you over the head with homosexuality.   What’s stupid about this, is the film never directly engages the issue, like it’s too taboo or something to have a somewhat serious discussion about.  It makes a lot of the above mentioned scenes seem real ignorant, too.  Is this what the filmmakers think all gay people act like?

There a number of other just generally dumb moments, too.  In one scene Jesse lets the family bird out of its cage and it attacks the family while they’re sitting in their living room before it just spontaneously combusts in mid air. A few scenes later Jesse comes down to breakfast and the toaster catches on fire, and the dad remarks: “now that’s the strangest thing I’ve ever seen.”

The toaster catching fire is stranger then watching your beloved pet go ape-shit before exploding all over your family?

Not only is the movie exceedingly dumb, there aren’t any great horror moments. Everything feels substandard, and I was really disappointed to see that there’s nothing that tops the Johnny Depp and Amanda Wyss’ death scenes in the last film.

The only area A Nightmare on Elm Street 2 manages to improve upon is with its film score.  Charles Bernstein is out the door, and while the sequel doesn’t have any memorable music, the cheesy synth-effects have at least been minimized in favor of some more traditional sounding classical music. An improved film score does not equal an improved movie, and only a diehard Freddy fan – if such a thing exists – should ever consider watching it.

Score: 3.2

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