Tuesday, September 6, 2016

My 5 favorite things about... A Nightmare On Elm Street 2: Freddy's Revenge

A Nightmare On Elm Street is one of the most well-known, classic horror movies of the '80s, and even of all time. Freddy Krueger has gone on to be considered one of the scariest and most iconic villains ever, and it's largely due to his presence in the first film of the series. His impact here led to a half-dozen sequels, a crossover with Jason Voorhees, a reboot, and yet another rumored reboot still in the works -- and this isn't even including the countless other appearances and parodies of this character that have been in film and TV over the past 30 years.

So, apart from the obvious success of the first one that led us down this path, what else is there this film series has to offer? Let's take a look, shall we?


Taking place 5 years after the events of Elm Street 1, a new family have moved into the house once occupied by the main characters from the first film. The main character is named Jesse, and the movie is all about his struggles with Freddy, who is trying to possess him, allowing him to take physical form in the real world.

Haven't seen it yet? If you aren't afraid of some spoilers, maybe reading this will help you decide if it's worth your time. And if you have seen it, maybe this will at least give you something to think about if you aren't quite sure how you felt about it. So here we go.

5. The fate of Coach Schneider

Fairly early in the movie this guy is established as a villain, or at least a generally crappy person who enjoys punishing kids. And about a half hour into the movie, he gets his own punishment. By that, I mean he gets tied up with some jumpropes by an invisible force, dragged into school showers, stripped naked, and whipped with wet towels until his ass is all bloody (which probably didn't bother him, considering it's told earlier in the film that he's into S&M). Freddy comes out and slashes him after, but until then, this scene is just weirdly hilarious. It's one of the moments in this movie that works simply because it was too funny to be bad.

4. Mark Patton's performance as Jesse

There's a certain amount of skill required to pull off an emotionally exhausted, psychological performance like this, and though I've never really heard much of anything positive about his acting here from anyone, I actually think he did a solid job here. It looked and felt like he was slowly losing his mind. It was a good transition, and Patton managed the layers to his role quite well. No, this isn't Oscar material, but it didn't need to be.

3. Attack of the killer lovebird

Even more than the naked whipping scene, this is one that comes out of nowhere and is absolutely hilarious in so many ways. In the moments leading up to it, the family are sitting around complaining about how hot their house is, and then out of the blue, their pet lovebird starts freaking out and proceeds to fly around the room attacking the family. The music swells up, at which time it's made obvious that they felt this would be a big scary scene. And to make it even better, after it's done there's a brief moment where the father is trying to blame his son for lighting firecrackers and making the bird go crazy (..?), and then it's never mentioned again. For some reason they felt the need to include this in the movie, and thank the heavens for that, because it is a wonderful scene.

2. The overt homosexual themes

Often donned the "gay Elm Street movie", there are so many things about this whole thing that make you wish it wasn't even trying to be this way, but just the most funny coincidence ever. Though I'm fairly certain this was intentional, it almost doesn't matter, because the result is something that only gives the movie even more to dig into. Jesse is going through some mental turmoil that he doesn't want anyone to know about, Freddy wants to literally be inside him, he has a strained relationship with his father who judges him and blames him for things that he doesn't understand, he breaks off hooking up with a girl he likes to go spend the night with his guy friend when glimpses of Freddy emerge, and never once does the movie even attempt to draw attention to the fact that every one of these things works as a double meaning. With the AIDS scare of the 1980s, this was a huge topic. It's all too clever to be a mistake, even down to the placement of the game titled "Probe" that can be seen in Jesse's closet. Huh. I just now realized it was in his closet, of all places. Yeah, that had to be intentional.

1. The body horror/transformation element

Instead of focusing on the dreamworld/fantasy side of the Elm Street movies, this movie took a distinctly different approach. There are a few dream sequences here, but much of what the movie went for with this was more rooted on the psychological side of things. Jesse's transformations, both literal and mentally, were grueling, shocking, and actually made his character much more interesting to watch than most other leading protagonists in horror films. The best part of the body horror aspect of this movie was a particular scene late in the movie where he fully transforms into Freddy, An American Werewolf In London-style. The effects in that scene were incredible for the time, and still hold up as being better than most movies made within the past several decades. In another 30 years, these effects are still going to look good, and all these CG movies we've been seeing since the mid-'90s will age very, very poorly. Hell, most of them already have.

It's hard to decide just how "good" this movie is, but in more ways than not, I truly feel this is an inventive and effective horror film. It's not very scary, but it has a few creepy moments. The more funny side of Freddy's character isn't seen here as much as in the first, but several other hilarious moments are found elsewhere. The effects are pretty great for the most part, and isn't a carbon copy of the original (as most lousy sequels aim to be). It may not have stayed true to the nature of the first film, but thanks to a few things already mentioned earlier, gives the viewers more to look into and examine than you might have expected. It may not be on par with the original, but I would still recommend it to people who don't need to take things too seriously.

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