A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge (1985)

A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge is a 1985 American slasher film directed by Jack Sholder and the second installment in the A Nightmare on Elm Street film series. David Chaskin wrote the screenplay. It stars Mark Patton, Kim Myers, Robert Rusler and Robert Englund as Freddy Krueger. Patton plays Jesse Walsh, a teenager who, after moving into the home of Nancy Thompson, begins to have recurring nightmares about Freddy Krueger who is out to possess him in order to kill in the real world. It is the sequel to A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984) and is followed by A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors (1987). The film grossed $30 million at the North American box office.

Five years after Freddy Krueger’s apparent defeat, the Walshes have moved into the Thompsons’ former home. Their teenage son, Jesse, has a nightmare about being stalked by a killer driving a school bus. He wakes up and attributes the dream to the unusual heat in the room. Jesse goes to school with his friend Lisa, whom he is interested in romantically, but is too shy to flirt with her. After getting into a fight with a boy named Grady during gym class, Coach Schneider has them stay after class and they become friends. Lisa comes to visit Jesse after school and they discover a diary from Nancy Thompson detailing her nightmares, which are strikingly similar to Jesse’s. Small fires happen around the house, which culminates in the spontaneous combustion of their pet birds. Jesse’s father accuses him of sabotage.

The following night, Jesse has a nightmare where he encounters Freddy, who tells him to kill for him. The dreams grow more intense and Jesse unsuccessfully attempts different measures to keep himself awake. He eventually begins wandering the streets at night. One night, he is caught by Schneider ordering a drink and is made to run laps at school as punishment. After sending Jesse to the showers, Schneider is attacked by an unseen force that drags him to the showers. Jesse vanishes into the steam and Freddy emerges, killing Schneider by slashing his back. Later, Jesse is horrified to see the glove on his hand. He is escorted home by police after being found wandering the streets naked, and his parents begin to suspect that Jesse may be on drugs or mentally disturbed. Lisa takes Jesse to an abandoned factory where Freddy Krueger worked, but they find nothing there.

The following night, Jesse goes to Lisa’s pool party and kisses her in the cabana. Afterwards, his body begins to change and he leaves in a panic. He goes to Grady’s house, confesses to killing Schneider, and instructs Grady to watch him as he sleeps and to stop him if he tries to leave. When Grady eventually falls asleep, Freddy emerges from Jesse’s body and kills Grady. Freddy then changes back to Jesse, who finds himself looking at Freddy’s laughing reflection in Grady’s mirror. He flees before Grady’s parents enter the room.

Returning to Lisa’s house, Jesse tells her what is going on. Lisa realizes that Jesse’s terror is giving Freddy his strength, but he cannot stop fearing him and transforms again. He locks her parents in their bedroom and attacks Lisa, but realizes he cannot harm her due to Jesse’s influence. He goes outside where he begins to slaughter the partygoers. Lisa’s father emerges with a shotgun, but Lisa stops him from shooting Freddy, who escapes in a ball of flame. She drives to the factory, facing sudden nightmares and having to control her fear before confronting Freddy. She pleads with Jesse to fight Freddy, but Freddy’s hold is too strong. When Lisa confesses her love for Jesse and kisses Freddy, Jesse begins to fight back. Freddy combusts and turns to ash, from which Jesse emerges.

Later, as Jesse, Lisa, and Lisa’s friend Kerry are taking the bus to school, Jesse begins to notice similarities to his original nightmare and panics. After Lisa calms Jesse down, Kerry says that it is all over just before Freddy’s clawed arm bursts through her chest. Freddy laughs as the bus drives into the field, just as in Jesse’s first nightmare.

Cast

  • Mark Patton as Jesse Walsh
  • Kim Myers as Lisa Webber
  • Robert Englund as Freddy Krueger/Bus Driver
  • Robert Rusler as Ron Grady
  • Clu Gulager as Ken Walsh
  • Hope Lange as Cheryl Walsh
  • Christie Clark as Angela Walsh
  • Marshall Bell as Coach Schneider
  • Melinda O. Fee as Mrs. Webber
  • Tom McFadden as Eddie Webber
  • Sydney Walsh as Kerry

The film’s special effects were headed by Kevin Yagher, who handled Freddy’s design, and Mark Shostrom, who was responsible for the transformation effects wherein Freddy comes out of Jesse’s body. In a later interview, Yagher expressed disappointment and confusion regarding the ending of the film.

In 1985, the film opened in 614 theaters, making $2.9 million in its opening weekend, coming in fourth place. In the US, the film made $30 million on a budget of $3 million.

Film commentators have often remarked on the film’s perceived homoerotic theme, claiming its subtext suggests Jesse is a repressed homosexual (never clarified in the movie). They note, in particular, the scenes where he encounters his gym teacher at a gay bar, and his flight to a male friend’s house after he attempts to make out with his girlfriend at her pool party. Further, actor Mark Patton, who plays Jesse, played a role so often written as female in the subgenre (such as in the first film) that it has become known as the “final girl”. At the time of its release, one publication referred to it as “the gayest horror film ever”. In the 21st century, it has become a cult film for gay audiences.

Patton has claimed the film’s gay subtext was increasingly emphasised through script rewrites as production progressed. “It just became undeniable” he told BuzzFeed in 2016. “I’m lying in bed and I’m a pietà and the candles are dripping and they’re bending like phalluses and white wax is dripping all over. It’s like I’m the center of a […] bukkake video.” He has felt betrayed since he knew the filmmakers were aware he was gay, but closeted. They had considerable leverage over him in having him perform a role that, combined with his performance as a gay teen in Come Back to the Five and Dime, Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean the year before, led to him being typecast as gay. The role called attention to what he was trying to avoid discussing and would have forestalled him getting any significant roles in 1980s Hollywood.

The film’s score was composed by Christopher Young. The song “Have You Ever Seen a Dream Walking” performed by Bing Crosby plays over the film’s end credits. The songs “Touch Me (All Night Long)” by Fonda Rae, “Whisper to a Scream” by Bobby Orlando, “On the Air Tonight” by Willy Finlayson, “Moving in the Night” by Skagerack, and “Terror in My Heart” by The Reds are also featured in the film.

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