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A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge

Technically Freddy already got his revenge in part 1 by going after the children of the people who burned him alive. In this one he’s just messing with a new kid who moves into the same house. It really is not revenge when you do it to a stranger who never did anything to you before and is not related to anyone who did anything to you before. Not to be pedantic but, come on dude, titles are important. Make ’em count.

I always thought FREDDY’S REVENGE was the worst of the ELM STREET pictures, a pretty common view. They ended up figuring out the sequel formula in part 3 and they stuck with that for a while so part 2 is now kind of the odd man out when you look back at it.

A Nightmare on Elm Street Part 2: Freddy's RevengeBut watching it again now I realize that’s a good thing. Freddy had not yet become a comedian, so although he’s probaly on screen a little more than in part 1 he’s still pretty scary and mysterious. At the end of part 1 Nancy had dis-believed him out of existence (at least before the shock-ending – we never really know what happened with that) so now his way to come back is through this kid who lives in Nancy’s house (although it sure doesn’t look like the same house) and found her diary (that we never saw her writing in before).

The different twist is that instead of attacking this kid Jesse in his dreams and hurting him for real Jesse has dreams about Freddy attacking other people, then all the sudden realizes that it’s him wearing the glove. Watching it this time I realize this is actually a really clever idea for the sequel because it makes it a different type of psychological horror – the fear of what you could do to others instead of the fear of what others could do to you. He’s afraid that he is murdering people without realizing it. And it’s playing off of his deep felt hatred of people like his asshole gym teacher. Alot of people have some violent anger in them at that age, that’s why you get all these school shootings. So I think it’s a good spin on the concept of the original.

Another idea they use that’s not in the other movies is that Freddy sort of haunts the place by making everything hot, like his boiler room or like him when he was on fire. The house is constantly too hot, things melt, things catch on fire. Unfortunately this climaxes at a pool party so the flame imagery gets pretty silly – the pool boils, some hot dogs catch on fire, 25-30 year olds playing high school kids run around screaming. Instead of just bad dreams there are weird things that happen in reality, like one of their pet birds kills the other one, then it gets out and flies around angrily until it explodes into flames.

There’s some really surreal imagery, especially when Jesse’s girlfriend Lisa goes to Freddy’s boiler room. I can’t believe I don’t remember this because it’s probaly the coolest thing in the movie, but she gets confronted by two dobermans with some sort of human (possibly baby) faces. Creepy as shit. And they don’t attack her, they just growl like tigers. There’s also a monstrous rat that gets eaten by a monstrous cat. She has a cut on her leg that’s suddenly infested with ants, and then it isn’t. I like the constant changes like this – first Jesse is watching Freddy doing something, then all the sudden it’s him doing it himself. That’s like my dreams because dreams are stream-of-consciousness, they don’t have continuity to them. They don’t make sense.

The Freddy effects are excellent. I always liked the part where he peels the top of his head off to reveal his brain. Very realistic assuming he doesn’t have a skull. I bet he doesn’t. It would be just like Freddy to be going around without a skull. There’s another even better sequence, most likely inspired by AN AMERICAN WEREWOLF IN LONDON’s transformation, where Freddy tears out from inside Jesse. First the blades of his glove burst out of the fingertips, then his eye can be seen in Jesse’s throat, and then he just sheds Jesse’s body like a snake shedding his skin. Pretty disgusting. Using this trick he ends up coming into reality.

And this is one of the areas where they kind of blew it. Robert Englund says that bringing him into reality goes against the rules of the first movie, which threw me off since in the first movie he was also brought into reality at the end. I guess only now do I realize that maybe that whole section of part 1 up until the shock ending is supposed to also be a dream, even though you don’t realize it at the time. Which would mean the same for JASON VS. FREDDY. Man, this is getting confusing. Anyway I don’t have a problem with bringing him into reality, just don’t bring him into reality at a pool party. That’s kind of dumb. I mean it’s kind of funny to see everybody screaming and Freddy flying out of the pool like he’s wearing a jet pack. And there’s a pretty hilarious line where a guy tries to play it cool and talk Freddy down, saying very softly, “Hey, what is it you want? I’m here to help you.” That doesn’t work.

I think alot of what doesn’t work in the movie is the stuff like the pool party where they’re trying to be a typical ’80s teen movie instead of an atmospheric and psychological horror movie. They have all the adults playing teens talking about getting laid, playing crappy ’80s music. There’s one particularly ridiculous montage where Jesse dresses up in wacky sunglasses and hat and dances around his room making sexual gestures. I mean it’s pretty cheesy. He’s not all that relatable and doesn’t have much charisma either. He’s not a good replacement for Nancy.

Clu Gulager from RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD is a good choice to play the dad, though. You gotta have somebody decent to fill in for John Saxon. And the girlfriend isn’t bad. She kind of reminds me of that ’80s singer Tiffany. That’d be funnier if they got the real Tiffany.

Here’s some faint praise: this has the best end credits of the series. I’m serious, I care about this. They play Gene Austin performing the Bing Crosby song “Did You Ever See a Dream Walking?” I don’t know why but I’m a sucker for the horror movies ironically playing oldies at the end. Nothing can top the goofy happy tune at the end of the first EVIL DEAD, but this type of harmless-but-with-lyrics-tied-into-the-theme-of-the-movie approach is fun too. Part 1 has scary horror scoring and if I remember right most of them from now on will have some shitty heavy metal assholes or, in one case, the Fat Boys. So that’s one reason this one stands out. Class and wit. Also, great old school logo at the end, not the same NIGHTMARE logo they use on most of the posters and merchandise and shit.

It has been pointed out – and even the director admits it – that the movie ended up seeming pretty homoerotic. So that’s the other thing that makes it stand out from the other ones. Jesse goes to a leather bar, he ties his gym teacher up naked with jump ropes in the locker room shower and slashes him. There’s alot of intentionally phallic hot dog imagery, even exploding, ejaculatory beer cans. The gayest scene is probaly when he’s about to screw his girlfriend when suddenly he gets freaked out and runs away to a male friend’s bedroom where he asks if he can stay over, and complains that something is “trying to get inside of” him. His friend says “Yeah, it’s female, and it’s waiting for you in the cabana, and you want to sleep with me.” None of this was intentional but since ELM STREET movies are all about dreams these must’ve been in the writer or the director’s subconscious. So it’s fair to interpret it like a dream. Plus, they say one out of ten people is gay, so it’s only fair that one of these would be gay. I wonder which one of the FRIDAY THE 13THs is gay? There’s been ten of those. And holy shit, there’s gotta be two gay James Bonds by now too. This is interesting.

Anyway, don’t judge FREDDY’S REVENGE on its sexuality. It didn’t ask to be born gay. Judge it on its own merits and I think you can see that, like most people, it has its good points and its bad. But since it was way better than I remembered it being I’m gonna give it some credit. Good job on your “revenge,” Freddy. Keep it up in part 3.

This entry was posted on Sunday, February 24th, 2008 at 10:24 am and is filed under Horror, Reviews. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

30 Responses to “A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge”

  1. CordwainerBirdIII

    August 12th, 2009 at 7:24 pm

    I remember seeing this in High School, and thinking the female lead could play Meryl Streeps little sister becausr of her nose. Years later I saw her in something, she’d had her nose fixed. If only I’d been an agent at 16.

  2. CordwainerBirdIII – You’re right! Holy shit.

    Yeah this is the redheaded stepchild of the series, but you know what? I like it. Its a mess, but its a mess with intriguing concepts and scenes, and you know what? IT FUCKING TRIES. I can’t say the same for oh I don’t know, part 4 or 5 or FREDDY’S DEAD (aka HAHA JUST KIDDING!)

    Plus the same director later shot the pretty cool little sci-fi actioneer THE HIDDEN. That kicks ass.

  3. I always thought I hated this one, but I rewatched my copy of it recently and realized that I like it. Perhaps when I was younger and less mature, the homoeroticism struck me as off-putting? Now I see it is an interesting, distinguishing factor.

  4. Dan Prestwich – Maybe your less adventurous, more conformist younger self (which describes most of us at one point or another) was pissed he didn’t get the slasher movie as he expected or was wanting?

    That was my original problem with #2. Then again when I saw it, I didn’t notice the gay stuff. Unless that late night USA Up All Night cable edit deleted all that fascinating stuff.

  5. I think Part 5, for all its faults, does “try”, at least in comparison to Part 4. The plot is less of a rehash and there is some impressively surreal production design. It’s not a great movie but I think I like it more than most of the other sequels, none of which I outright dislike.

  6. Holy shit! I just watched The Hidden (by Nightmare on Elm Street 2 director Jack Sholder) and it’s fucking great!

  7. Yeah THE HIDDEN was pretty fucking good. I remember Ebert’s review (sure you can find it on his website archives) where he makes a snide surprise comment that Sholder previously shot NIGHTMARE 2. Then again, director of the most ridiculed franchise entry also making quite a thriller?

    Mr. Sublety might have been the one who said of THE HIDDEN: “Best John Carpenter movie that he didn’t direct.”

  8. That’s a pretty good way to describe it. It’s got that They Live vibe. Except it seems to anticipate Grand Theft Auto more than They Live. I wonder if Stephen King is a fan, there are a lot of similarities between this and Desperation, or this and Dreamcatcher. Although The Hidden is better than both of those movies combined. Anyway, this makes me want to go back and watch Nightmare on Elm Street 2. I also remember liking elements of it but being kind of annoyed that Freddy was just arbitrarily given a new possession power (a recurring theme with Sholder, interesting!) and finding all the homosexual subtext a bit weird. But years have gone by since I watched it, maybe I’ll come around on it like Mr. Prestwich.

  9. Hi!I think this blog is good!I found it on Google,I will surely come back! :D

  10. You know who else likes six pack abs? A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET PART 2.

  11. This one is pretty righteous, really. The pool scene is corny, but it does have the line “You are all my children now” that comes off as unbelievably satanic, which was cool. On the vhs reissue from the early 2000s, there’s an interview with Jack Sholder. Dude gives one of the most boring interviews of all time. His stories are super flat, and he’s feebly trying to make them funny, but they go nowhere. I think we watched that more than the actual movie back when. Anyway, turns he also made the Hidden (very good) and Wishmaster 2 (in my opinion, a DTV sequel that surpasses its original), so the guy is actually pretty cool, just the worst storyteller ever

  12. Never really thought much about this one. I don’t thoroughly hate it or anything but it’s no DREAM WARRIORS or DREAM MASTER either. One thing I always did like about it though besides the social commentary is that it has the creepiest Freddy makeup of them all.

  13. THE HIDDEN is a hidden gem of a movie. It’s the best body-shock-alien-horror-action film Paul has never seen. Sholder might be a dull storyteller in interviews, but he sure makes up for it with a camera.

  14. I’d say the fifth one is the gay FRIDAY THE 13TH.

  15. caruso_stalker217

    October 29th, 2015 at 9:30 am

    Just rewatched this for a second time after many years. I absolutely loved it. In fact, I think it’s a better film than the original NIGHTMARE. Better acting, awesome special effects (Freddy tearing out of the kid’s torso was amazing) and the lady protagonist is extremely cute in a young Meryl Streep way.

    The pool party scene is completely absurd, but it’s worth it for the Do-Gooder scene and Freddy’s “Help yourself, fucker!” and really is it any more ridiculous than the HOME ALONE ending in the first film?

    I’m not sure how anyone could call the gay stuff “subtext” since it’s so blatantly in your face. The kid is caught red-handed cleaning his room in about the gayest way possible. He has a Probe board game in his closet for Christ’s sake!

    I see this film essentially as “slaying the gay away.” Jesse/Freddy only kills males throughout the entire film, until the obligatory shock ending. When Jesse tries to make it with Meryl he grows a long monster tongue and immediately runs to his handsome shirtless friend and asks to stay the night.

    Plus, you know, he goes to that gay S&M club.

    The whole third act is all about Meryl curing Jesse of the gay. Not the most enlightened or progressive kind of attitude, but it makes for good interesting horror.

    I’m glad this film exists. I’m glad it’s seriously-scary pre-trickster Freddy, who I feel is much scarier this time around than in the first film (pool party Freddy aside). This is a legitimately great (GREAT) sequel and film in general.

    I’m not sure how the exploding parrot fits into all of this, but I love Clu Gulager’s reaction to it which is basically to berate his son for no reason.

  16. Re: music at the end of Elm Street films, my UK Warners VHS copy has different music playing over the end credits! Instead of ‘Did You Ever See a Dream Walking?’ we get the opening title theme again, which I must say I do prefer. That music is just so creepy (Christopher Young’s on top form)! BTW, the first film didn’t have a horror score over its credits, it had the song ‘Nightmare’ by the obscure band 213, which wins points for the back-and-forth of its chorus where the backing singers try and reassure the singer that ‘it’s just a dream’, to which he retorts ‘no, it’s a nightmare!’ over and over again. Great review of an underrated sequel.

  17. Man, the NOES series is 2 for 2 in unexpectedly great female protagonists. Lisa is warm, caring, and never gives up – she’s sympathetic and tough and proactive without being a carbon copy of Nancy, and yes, her striking resemblance to Meryl Streep probably gives her a little more onscreen presence and gravitas she might not normally have. And the movie surrounding her isn’t that bad either! Yes, it doesn’t seem to have much to do with Part 1 and pretty much jettisons all the rules. It’s actually ALOT like Blair Witch 2, another much derided sequel I loved where the “villain” of the first one is mostly absent, all the intricate mythology is forgotten, and the story instead revolves around our new protagonists being “possessed” while random weird hallucinatory skits pad the runtime. (I’m wondering if the “Freddy melts candles and makes shit catch on fire” motif ever happens again in this series)

    The ending completely drops the ball again like the first one (by the way, does the main character drive to school or does he ride the bus? Because it seems to alternate throughout the movie), but I’ll go to bat to defend the Pool Party sequence. Yes, it may seem silly and out of character (especially for a guy who’s supposed to be haunting people in their dreams), but in the age of mass shootings, there’s something nasty and shocking about a killer just locking everyone in an enclosed area and killing randomly and indiscriminately, while everyone cowers and begs for their lives. It’s made even more uncomfortable by the guy billed on the credits as “Do-Gooder” trying to talk Freddy down and tell him “everything’s going to be OK, I’m here to help you”….and then getting comically dispatched. (Even though I have to admit I laughed really hard at the “Help Yourself, Fucker!” line). I don’t ever recall another slasher movie scene like this; it’s one of the many reasons this movie’s kind of special even though it’s not particularly good.

  18. Jesse wouldn’t be shit without Lisa truth be told. So I agree. She is the movie’s MVP.

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    A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy's Revenge – Vern's Reviews on the Films of Cinema Vern's Reviews on the Films of Cinema

  20. As will become my new mantra, I am going somewhere with this…

    Since metoo, I’ve been a little ambivalent about the sex appeal aspects of these movies, which is why, nowadways, when I mention an attractive woman in these films or an attraction type feeling response to said woman, or I use an expression like “eye candy” or whatever, it feels gross or at least like it will be perceived as gross.

    But at the same time, I don’t think it should be gross, because, like the book says, Everybody Poops. Who are you kidding self-censoring certain feelings when talking about the finer ins and outs of what you love about a movie or your relationship to a franchise,etc.

    I feel like a lot of the stereotypes about male sexuality are substantially true: not always and totally true for each and every man who has ever lived, and not never a bit true for any woman who has ever lived, but true of a lot of men a lot of the time. And even as a liberal and person of great learnedness and whatnot, I have never been even remotely persuaded by the cultural deconstruction approaches that would have you believe that this behavior is all nurture. This is not to say that the civilizing effects of nurture can’t be brought to bear in restraining the expression/sublimation of crazy apeman wish fulfillment Freudian instincts, only to say that certain responses happen at a primal and preconscious level, then they hit you at the conscious level, and then, if you’re a person of some conscientiousness, you stop and be like, “Hey, stop staring at that person, you’re being a creeper, dude,” and then you snap out of it and remember that a she’s a person and not an object. Base creeper instincts + civilizing conditioning and higher-order values = effective impulse control.

    So, the thing is, a significant part of my relationship to these slasher films is coming of age from a young pup to a teenager, wrestling with a lot of emotions and hormones and whatnot, and the attraction to the lovely ladies of these films is a major part of that relationship.

    Maybe for you, depending on your own interests or relationship to these films, you maybe feel that Rod Lane or Jesse is eye candy to you and is a major part of the appeal of the film for you. I think you should be able to express that if that’s a factor in your relationship to the film. I mean, be tasteful and restrained about it and stuff. Don’t try to find Joey’s house or send Kincaid your ear or shoot an unwanted nude pic to Larry (ence) Fishburne or something.

    So, what I am trying to say is that Lisa from Part 2 is insanely hot, and her hotness is a huge plus for this film, probably the personal highlight, and she is also an awesome badass of a tough broad. But I’m not going to whitewash my history and relationship to this film and sidestep the fact that her hotness is a big part of my relationship to the film and a major plus in any rewatch. I felt like I needed to say all of that upfront just to be able to say this last paragraph.

    Your honor, the state rests.

  21. There’s a woman in NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET 2? Since when?

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  24. Some spambot program really loves this movie. Trying to post on it every day.

  25. That’s no spambot, that’s Freddy, trying to get into our world!

  26. “You’ve got the niche action-horror-oriented film criticism blog, I’ve got the brain.”

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