Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge, A (1985)
Release Date: November 1st, 1985 MPAA Rating: R
Director: Jack Sholder Actors: Mark Patton, Kim Myers, Robert Rusler, Clu Gulager, Hope Lange, Marshall Bell, Melinda O. Fee, Thom McFadden, Sydney Walsh, Christie Clark, Robert Englund
ith only one year having transpired between films, it’s clear that the major star of this franchise is the villain, not the hero (or, at least, that’s what the filmmakers assumed). Considering that Heather Langenkamp wasn’t acquired for this follow-up, “A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge” isn’t even trying to convince viewers that teenaged human characters are supposed to be the ones audiences root for. But, frankly, Freddy Krueger is so visually petrifying and innovative as a dark fantasy baddie that no one will be all that concerned at the emptiness of the protagonists or the absence of the former heroine.
The film starts as one might expect – inside a dream. Jesse Walsh (Mark Patton) apparently doesn’t wake up like everyone else. He’s routinely plagued by night terrors, which cause him to awake in a screaming, panicky, sweating state. His latest dream, however, features a horribly disfigured man (Robert Englund) wearing a glove with lengthy blades attached to the fingers. And it’s the kind of nightmare that, despite following a rogue bus that takes a trio of kids into a lightning-storm-filled abyss in the middle of the desert, has an unshakable realism to it.
When Jesse realizes that his parents have purchased a cursed house on Elm Street (1428 to be exact, and they got a great deal on it), wherein a girl previously went crazy, his twilight visions start to make sense. And when he finds a diary from the house’s former inhabitant, his suspicions are confirmed. But that doesn’t save him from the continual visits from the vicious phantasm every time he closes his eyes. Nor does it save his girlfriend Lisa (Kim Myers) or his various classmates from becoming targets for the metal-clawed murderer.
The special makeup effects are still amusing, particularly with Freddy’s slimy skin (in one scene, he peels his scalp back to reveal a pulsating brain), the outrageously bloody gore, and prosthetics usage, while Englund still musters an ominous presence with more than just his costuming and looks. The man definitely knows how to be creepy. And, of course, with adults predictably ignoring the warning signs and the mysterious deaths, the film puts a juvenile perspective on the occurrences. Things are always a bit more terrifying when control is unattainable and the accrual of fellow believers/commiserators is all but impossible.
The plot is also still a mystery (though nothing really gets solved), pieced together by each trip back to the underground boiler room where Krueger dwells, or to various locations that are so strange in the context of the film that it’s regularly unfeasible to tell which scenes are dreams and which are reality. But there’s also a lot of high-school-oriented comedy and general insincerity (the young actors certainly don’t exhibit notable talent, while the dialogue is generic at best), which would work if it were in small doses as relief from graphic violence. But instead, the silliness seems to crop up far too often, taking away from the effectiveness of the scares.
And, unfortunately, those scares are already less effective than before, especially when they’re derived from something as goofy as a spontaneous bird combustion or revenge against the browbeating gym teacher – by whipping his rear with towels in the shower. As compensation, Freddy does get to slaughter a bunch of cowering adolescents, but his inability to be a stealthy killer (he tends to stumble about or move slowly when convenient, which, throughout the series, becomes something of a trademark) foils the amusement of his victims having to require any intelligence to defeat him. And then there’s that ridiculous twist ending …
– Mike Massie