Film: A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge (1985)
Director: Jack Sholder
Starring: Robert Englund, Mark Patton, Clu Gulager
Written by: David Chaskin
In discussions about the Nightmare on Elm Street series, this gem invariably gets brought up and described as the queer one. That label is absolutely correct. Even the creators of the film have gone on record to marvel at how they ended up making a gay Freddy movie. I don’t know how all the blatant gay innuendo in Freddy’s Revenge got past them, though; there’s so much that the viewer starts seeing such metaphors and subtext that might not exist. Look! That clock on the stairway is rather phallic! The teacher’s giving a lecture on the colon! There’s a cardboard box in the guy’s closet that says Probe! Uh huh huh huh huh.
Beyond all those grasping connections, however, is a lot of very real manly subtext. Our hero Jesse has an awesome dance number to the sultry tune of “Touch Me (All Night Long)” in which he prances about in gold lightning bolt shades, closes a dresser drawer with his swiveling, supple ass, and gyrates around with some wooden popgun thing thrusting from his crotch. He also ends up shirtless and sweaty a whole lot, with the film offering many loving shots of his bird chest and tighty whities. He finds his best friend after the other doofus depantses him during a game of baseball and the two roll around the diamond locked in buttcrack mortal combat.
The issue of Jesse being possessed by a mass murdering child killer always seems to be mentioned in the most pervy ways possible. “Something is trying to get inside my body,” our hero moans to his doofus buddy as he pleads for Doofus to watch over him as he sleeps. Doofus, being obliviously awesome, responds: “Yeah, and she’s female, and she’s waiting for you in the cabana, and you wanna sleep with me.” Said female, a Meryl Streep-looking ginger who serves as the film’s real hero, usually comes off as kind of a beard in the midst of all this machismo.
Yet the easiest thing to bring up is the sadistic gym teacher who hangs out at “queer s&m joints downtown” and operates as the Casey Affleck-meets-Mark Hamill-looking hero’s authority figure nemesis. Oh, and the film makes it pretty clear that Teach plans to rape our hero as well. Yeah.
Following one of our hero’s midnight freakouts, he heads to the local queer bar in question ‒ which is really more of a punker bar for freaks of all orientations. He’s looking for a beer but finds the leather-clad gym teacher, who busts him with an unwholesome gleam in his eye. Teach drags Jesse to the gym in the dead of night and makes him run laps, after which our hero is pushed into a stack of folding chairs and told to hit the showers. While Jesse is gamboling around naked and weepy in the dark, steamy shower room, our heroic gym teacher lurks in his office, amassing physical education paraphernalia by which he obviously plans to tie up our hero and have his way with him.
Unfortunately, Teach runs afoul of a Freddy Krueger poltergeist, who hurls all the balls in the office at his face (uh huh huh huh huh). After this, Teach finds his bondage jump ropes turned against him, and he is dragged into the shower room and tied splaying to a pair of faucets. After that, he’s stripped naked, and then the Freddy poltergeist grabs a towel and whips that gym teacher’s ass till it’s lobster red. After all this degradation, the real Freddy emerges from the shower room steam and gives Teach a few razor-claw swipes, but at this point the quick death feels a bit anticlimactic.
Like most of the franchise films which followed the original Nightmare on Elm Street, Freddy’s Revenge runs the risk of losing all its horror cred and becoming a campy, Adam West’s Batman sort of slasher film. This flick is certainly in the running to be named the main offender of the bunch, but coupled with all the dude on dude silliness are some pretty sweet horror moments.
It’s clear that the creators of this film didn’t quite have the Freddy Krueger formula down yet. Besides looking like more of a shadowy, melting Hindu instead of the stock bright burned hawk he’d later become, Freddy isn’t his usual wisecracking ghost of the subconscious who murders people in their dreams. In fact, he doesn’t kill anyone who isn’t fully awake, and he’s not much for quips here. Instead, he becomes a rampaging real-world monster who has real-world supernatural powers, and when he Caesarian Sections himself out of Jesse and busts up a pool party with claws and fire, he actually gets pretty terrifying.
There was one moment, however, which makes no sense. Bookending the rest of the film are two scenes featuring Jesse on a haunted schoolbus that goes off the rails. Watching the film, I blankly accepted these scenes, but my girlfriend saw the flaw in the logic. “Doesn’t he drive a car?” she asked. “Why would he be on a bus?” Why, indeed; our hero drives a beaten up old clunker known as the Deadly Dinosaur, rendering mass transit unnecessary. Sure, you don’t know that at the beginning of the film, but you do at the end. Maybe Freddy’s just an idiot.