31 Fright Nights: Halloween 2017, Night #14 – ANOES 2: Freddy’s Revenge (1985)

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Director: Jack Sholder

Writer(s): David Chaskin

Studio/Distributor: New Line Cinema

Budget: $3m

Box Office: $29.9m

Release Date: 1 November, 1985

IMDb Rating: 5.4/10

Rotten Tomatoes: 40%

UK Blu Ray release? Part of a box set

Cast

Mark Patton – Jesse Walsh

Kim Myers – Lisa Webber

Robert Rusler – Ron Grady

Marshall Bell – Coach Schneider

Robert Englund – Freddy Krueger

Trailer

Plot According to IMDb

A teenage boy is haunted in his dreams by Freddy Krueger, who is out to possess him in order to continue his murder spree in the real world.

Inertia’s Insight

In exploring sequels so far, we’ve seen it all: farcical phallic-wielding chainsaws, higher body counts and more blood, guts, gore and screen time for the loveable anti-heroes. The inevitability of a sequel to A Nightmare On Elm Street opened the door for a number of possibilities, and with A Nightmare On Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge, that door just happened to be the closet.

The slasher killer with a difference – he can kill you in your sleep, the one thing everyone needs the most – has been defeated, his power reduced as the kids of Elm Street have forgotten all about him, the memory faded like a dream after the first moments of lucidity.

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Living in Nancy Thompson’s house, the remnants of her battles with Freddy still evident by the bars on the windows and the diary hidden at the back of the wardrobe, young Jesse Walsh is plagued by dreams of a murderous man in a hideous sweater, his bedroom as hot as Freddy’s boiler room.

Jesse faces the same problems that a normal teenager faces: the pursuit of girls, the high school bully and making it through PE; all with the added pressure of a psychotic Wade Wilson with knives for fingers persuading him to kill for him. That, and the homoerotic subtext.

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I’m not going to dwell on it too much. Film critics and historians have waxed on this since its release, with even a Kickstarter campaign aimed at raising funds for a documentary called Scream, Queen!, exploring Jesse’s homosexuality. Despite the filmmakers’ initial reticence in acknowledging the subtext, there’s no doubt that it’s rife. Writer David Chaskin commented that homophobia was rife in the 80’s, and the film’s target audience – adolescent boys – were either the bully or the victim, and so the film sought to educate them on the fears of sexuality. And you know what? It is genius.

The role reserved for the virginal girl is reversed, the Final Girl becoming the Final Boy. The imagery is startlingly obvious: from Coach Schneider in a gay bar to him getting whipped in the locker room by Freddy; the dripping wax from the phallus candles and Jesse fleeing to his friends house after an awkward sexual encounter with Lisa – it’s all there, with intention.

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Jesse’s transformation into Freddy Krueger has echoes of An American Werewolf in London, as Krueger bursts through his skin and takes him over. It’s an effective scene in an otherwise bland entry. It seems odd to pitch the sequel as a film that has Freddy attempting to break through into the real world (it never worked out for him before!). It also kind of defeats his power. Freddy is terrifying because of his ability to get you where you’re most vulnerable; in the real world, he’s a bit of a joke.

The ending is also a bit disappointing. Freddy is defeated – these things are obvious by now. The problem is the way he’s dispatched: by love. It’s a bit weak, and though he makes it back at the end (with no explanation how),  paving the way for a slew of sequels, it all feels like a naff payoff for a film that had so much more subtext to give.

Inertia’s Ideal Score ( out of 5)

★★

Trivia

  • Brad Pitt, John Stamos and Christian Slater all auditioned for the role of Jesse
  • David Chaskin deliberately wrote his screenplay to contain homoerotic subtext
  • Freddy is only onscreen for 13 minutes of the films’ 87 minute run time
  • This is the only film in the series not to use Charlie Bernstein’s original theme

Quotes

FREDDY: I need you, Jesse. We got special work to do here, you and me.


Tomorrow: Night #15 – ABC’s of Death 2 (2014)

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