Every day Robert Saucedo shines a spotlight on a movie either so bad it’s good or just downright terrible. Today: Freddy Krueger as a gay allegory — not that there’s anything wrong with that.
Continuing on my back-to-back eight-film Nightmare on Elm Street marathon, I began watching A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge at midnight.
To be honest, I’m not quite sure what Freddy Krueger still needed revenge for — he seemed to have done a pretty good job of thinning the herd of teenagers on Elm Street in the last movie. I guess he’s just like most DVD collectors — a completist at heart.
Released a scant year after the original A Nightmare on Elm Street, neither Wes Craven nor Heather Langenkamp returned for Freddy’s Revenge. Instead, the movie featured what appears to be an extended metaphor for a young man coming out of the closet.
Mark Patton stars as Jesse Walsh, a quiet kid who has just moved into Nancy Thompson’s old house. It’s been five years since Nancy defeated Freddy Krueger — or did she? The original film’s twist ending is kind of vague. Either way, the ghost of Freddy Krueger haunts the halls of Jesse’s new home — invading the young boy’s dreams and attempting to possess his body.
While Jesse’s girlfriend, Lisa, searches for answers into the paranormal activity that haunts Jesse by snooping into the town’s local history — even finding Nancy’s old diary — Jesse finds himself growing more and more prone to the influence of Freddy Krueger.
After a fight with his parents, Jesse storms out of the house and into an S&M gay bar where he encounters his bully of a gym teacher, played by Marshall Bell (famous, in my mind, for his appearance as the Kuato host in Total Recall). After being caught by his coach trying to order beer at a bar, he is punished by being forced to run after school hours laps around the school gym and then shower off with the coach in attendance.
This perfectly normal punishment from a school’s authority figure proves to be the catalyst that lets Freddy Krueger make his first kill — via Jesse’s hand. The coach, still dressed in a leather vest, is pelted by a variety of balls, stripped naked, bound with jumping rope and whipped with a wet towel — further cementing the very gay undertones present in Freddy’s Revenge.
After Jesse realizes that Krueger is trying to possess him, he spurns his girlfriend’s plea to let her help him and instead goes breaking into the room of a meathead jock he befriended recently — asking him to watch Jesse sleep and make sure nothing bad happens.
Before you begin to think you are watching a Gus Van Sant movie rather than a Nightmare on Elm Street flick, let me also say this: there’s more to the film then allegories for sexual awakening.
How about spontaneously combusting killer parakeets, dogs with human faces and proof that attempting to reason with Freddy Krueger only leads to the child murderer calling you names and disemboweling you.
While A Nightmare on Elm Street 2 has gotten a bad rep from fans of the series, there are some pretty cool scenes in the movie — for example, a scene in which a very angry Freddy Krueger literally bursts out of Jesse’s skin is a transformation scene that comes close to rivaling those from An American Werewolf in London.
There’s also a great bit that made the Saved by the Bell geek in me smile when Jesse, after popping an ungodly amount of caffeine pills, breaks down into sobs, crying out that he’s “so scared.”
While Freddy’s Revenge may not have been a perfect sequel and the story dropped a lot of the rules about Freddy Krueger’s powers set forth in the original film, I found myself enjoying the sequel quite a bit.
It’s a silly example of how to cash in on a name brand but some truly memorable special effects make Freddy’s Revenge a film that ends up being not half as bad as I’d always heard it was. Plus, it carried forth the original’s theme to have twist endings involving poorly chosen days to catch a ride.
To be continued…
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Robert Saucedo is an avid movie watcher with seriously poor sleeping habits. The Mikey from Life cereal of film fans, Robert will watch just about anything — good, bad or ugly. He has written about film for newspapers, radio and online for the last 10 years. This has taken a toll on his sanity — of that you can be sure. Follow him on Twitter at @robsaucedo2500.