And “classic” is the definition of the late Wes Craven’s “A Nightmare on Elm Street” (rest in peace, Wes Craven, you wonderful man). Though not the first horror film to leave a mark on its audience, the film still stands as one of the genre’s greatest contenders. The same cannot be said for its successor, “A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge.” Directed by Jack Sholder, this sequel did more than just separate from its creator—Freddy shares little more than his name with the antagonist of the original film.
“A Nightmare on Elm Street” tackles the premise of a murderer who resides in his victims’ dreams. Nancy Thompson (Heather Lagenkamp), a high school student, begins losing her close friends as each of them is tracked down in their dreams and killed by a man (Robert Englund) with badly burnt skin and a bladed glove. Once Nancy learns that the man is Fred Krueger—a child murderer who died at the hands of the victims’ parents in a fire—she must take matters into her own hands to free herself of the dead man’s grasp. With supporting roles by Amanda Wyss, Johnny Depp and Jsu Garcia, “Nightmare” instilled insomnia in the hearts of moviegoers across the globe.
“Freddy’s Revenge” picks up five years down the line, when Jesse Walsh (Mark Patton) and his family move into Nancy’s old house. Jesse becomes haunted by nightmares and soon finds himself the victim of Freddy’s possession—he wants Jesse to kill on his behalf. Since he only seems to be possessed when he falls asleep, Jesse tries his hardest to stay awake, having about as much luck as Nancy did in the first film.
It is very difficult to find more than a loose connection between the two stories in terms of character development. Sure, “Freddy’s Revenge” makes some effort, drawing on the original story in mention and in Freddy’s likeness, but Freddy just doesn’t seem like himself.
In the first film, he is a child murderer who haunts people’s dreams, making his victims safe only when they are awake. In the second, his actions become aimless, and his schemes fall closer to those of a poltergeist and demonic possessor. Freddy is able to do things outside of the dreamworld, constantly setting objects on fire and boiling nearby water (all heat/fire-related things—at least it’s consistent in that respect). The only real connection to the original story is that Jesse doesn’t want to fall asleep. But it’s not because he’s afraid of his dream world; it’s because he’s afraid his sleeping body will become possessed.
This almost makes me wish that the film had been created completely separate from the Freddy franchise. If the movie weren’t such a blatant botch-up of the original concept, I might be more forgiving. After all, it hails from a realm of cheesy ‘80s horror flicks. Given an original antagonist, it may have been more enjoyable, albeit forgettable.
There is, however, one redeeming feature in “Freddy’s Revenge.” There seems to be a homoerotic theme throughout the film that the writer, David Chaskin, slipped in there, which apparently went completely over Sholder’s head. Whether it was the wrestling sequence between Jesse and his friend, Grady (Robert Rusler), or the naked shower scene with Jesse and his gym teacher (just to name a couple of scenes), watching the film through this lens has created quite the cult following for “Freddy’s Revenge,” regardless of its disregard of the original premise.
Homoeroticism or not, “Freddy’s Revenge” just doesn’t hold a candle to the original “A Nightmare On Elm Street.” Wes Craven stole many peaceful nights of sleep from all who have seen that movie. There was even an attempt to remake the masterpiece that occurred on that fateful street in 2011, which was great in its own way but, still, no cigar.
Midtown Cinema will host a double feature of “A Nightmare on Elm Street 1” and “2” on Oct. 3. Be sure to catch Wes Craven’s finest, as well as the rest of the October lineup for scary films.
“Heart Like a Hand Grenade”
Thursday, Oct. 15, 8pm
“My Fair Lady”
Sunday, Oct. 18, 6pm
“Rocky Horror Picture Show”
Saturday, Oct. 31, 8:30pm & 10pm
“Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge”
Saturday, Oct. 3, 11:55pm
(Optional Double Feature!)
Digital Theatre Series
“Of Mice and Men”
Sunday, Oct. 4, 6pm
Classic Film Series
“House on Haunted Hill”
Sunday, Oct. 11, 6pm
Down in Front!
“Manos: The Hands of Fate”
Friday, Oct. 9, 9:30pm
“Scared to Death”
Friday, Oct. 23, 9:30pm
“Fiend Without A Face”
Friday, Oct. 30, 9:30pm
“Nightmare on Elm Street”
Saturday, Oct. 3, 10pm
(Optional Double Feature with Midnight Matinee!)
Saturday, Oct. 10, 10pm
Saturday, Oct. 17, 10pm
Saturday, Oct. 24, 10pm
Saturday, Oct. 31, 8:30pm & 10pm
“Hocus Pocus” Weekend
Friday, Oct. 16, 9:30pm (3rd in the Burg)
Saturday, Oct. 17, 12pm
Sunday, Oct. 18, 2pm