A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy's Revenge
A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy's Revenge is a 1985 American slasher film directed by Jack Sholder and starring Mark Patton, Kim Myers, Robert Englund, and Robert Rusler. It is the second film in the A Nightmare on Elm Street series, and a sequel to the 1984 film A Nightmare on Elm Street. Patton portrays Jesse Walsh, a teenager who begins to have recurring nightmares about Freddy Krueger after moving into the former home of Nancy Thompson.
|A Nightmare on Elm Street 2:|
Theatrical release poster by Matthew Peak
|Directed by||Jack Sholder|
|Produced by||Robert Shaye|
|Written by||David Chaskin|
by Wes Craven
|Music by||Christopher Young|
|Distributed by||New Line Cinema|
|Box office||$30 million|
Freddy's Revenge was theatrically released on November 1, 1985, and grossed $30 million at the box office on a budget of $3 million. It was distributed by New Line Cinema and received mixed reviews upon its initial release, but has enjoyed later success as a cult classic, with critics having reassessed the film's homoerotic themes and subject material. The film was followed by A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors.
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.
- 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
- “My concept was a homage to Rosemary's Baby. I came up with a plot that had a new family move into the house, a teenage boy, his pregnant mother and a stepfather the boy didn't get along with. It was a real bloody, scary idea, much more physical and realistic because the dream reality stuff was less central to these movies then. My story was more of a possession scenario with Freddy getting inside the mother's womb, controlling the fetus. But New Line passed on it because [executive] Sara Risher was pregnant at the time, and I understand the idea upset her. So they went with David Chaskin's concept instead.”
Though both films ended up using the spirit possession concept, the pregnancy idea would eventually be used in the sequel A Nightmare on Elm Street 5: The Dream Child, which Bohem would write the script for.
The intro scene with Jesse's nightmare of Freddy driving the bus was carried over from the previous film; Wes Craven was vehemently against Freddy appearing in person as the driver of the car in the epilogue scene, as he felt the storyline for Nancy, Tina, Rod and Glen should be a self-contained entity in the first film instead of being left open for interpretation. The compromise between him and Robert Shaye was therefore to use the idea of Freddy driving the vehicle for the sequel, but not for any characters from Craven's film. The character of Lisa Webber was named Lisa Poletti in the script. On Wes Craven's suggestions, Chaskin put more emphasis on Lisa in the film than he originally intended; he explains that Craven "suggested that we shift the focus from Jesse the male lead. In the script the focus was on Jesse for 90% of the film, then suddenly it shifted to Lisa, his girlfriend. I pretty much added some focus on Lisa, and now it's like 50-50."
New Line Cinema originally thought to save money by simply using an unnamed extra in a rubber mask to play Freddy - as had been the case for masked, mute, impersonal killers like Jason Voorhees and Michael Myers - but reconsidered when they realized that the man had the gait and posture of "a dimestore monster" or "Frankenstein's monster" as opposed to Robert Englund's classically trained physical acting. The extra as Freddy still remained in one scene left in the film, during coach Schneider's death scene in the shower, though obscured by excessive water steam. Realizing their mistake, the producers quickly brought back Englund for the rest of the film and series.
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.
Critical reaction of the film was mixed upon release, with some criticism in comparison to its predecessor. Janet Maslin of The New York Times praised the film, saying that it has "clever special effects, a good leading performance and a villain so chatty he practically makes this a human-interest story". The review also gave the lead performances positive reviews, noting, "Mr. Patton and Miss Myers make likable teen-age heroes, and Mr. Englund actually turns Freddy into a welcome presence. Clu Gulager and Hope Lange have some good moments as Jesse's parents, and Marshall Bell scowls ferociously as the coach who calls his charges dirtballs and who is eventually attacked by a demonic towel." Variety gave the film a positive review saying, "Episodic treatment is punched up by an imaginative series of special effects. The standout is a grisly chest-burster setpiece." In a negative review, People called the film a "tedious, humorless mess".
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.
The book Welcome to Our Nightmares: Behind the Scene with Today's Horror Actors elaborates on the film's homoerotic subtext, stating that
- "The film suggested an undertone of homosexuality, starting with the protagonist's gender-neutral name. Jesse's rarely fully clothed. He and a tormentor have a sweaty wrestling match. His coach, clad in leather, basically hits on him in a gay bar, then gets killed by Freddy, including a bare-ass spanking. Freddy emerges from Jesse's stomach in the same forced-birth technique that made the Alien films legendary."
Mark 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.
In particular, Patton blames Chaskin, who he says claimed the subtext arose from how Patton played the part. "I love when [he] uses the word 'subtext,'" he complained. "Did you actually go to a freshman English course in high school? This is not subtext." In 2016 he said Chaskin "sabotage[d]" him. "Nobody ever affected my confidence—the boys that threw rocks at me, nobody—but this man did." Chaskin denied for years that there was a gay subtext in his screenplay. Instead, at one point, he told a reporter that Patton had simply played the part "too gay". The emotional stress of the film led Patton to leave acting shortly afterwards for a career in interior decorating.
While Chaskin has tried to reach out and apologize to Patton over the years, with limited success, he maintains that Patton's "interpretations of Jesse were choices that he made ... I have to believe that he 'got it' and that was how he decided to play it." In 2010, Chaskin finally admitted it was a deliberate choice on his part. "Homophobia was skyrocketing and I began to think about our core audience—adolescent boys—and how all of this stuff might be trickling down into their psyches," he explained. "My thought was that tapping into that angst would give an extra edge to the horror."
One scene that would have made the gay subtext more apparent, however, was toned down. Englund was actually prepared to insert one of his hand's knife blades into Jessie's mouth instead of merely caressing his lips with it as he does in the finished film, but Patton did not feel comfortable with it. The film's makeup artist suggested to Patton that he not do the scene that way to protect his image.
In a February 2010 interview with Attitude magazine, Englund said "... the second Nightmare on Elm Street is obviously intended as a bisexual themed film. It was early '80s, pre-AIDS paranoia. Jesse's wrestling with whether to come out or not and his own sexual desires was manifested by Freddy. His friend is the object of his affection. That's all there in that film. We did it subtly but the casting of Mark Patton was intentional too, because Mark was out and had done Come Back to the Five and Dime, Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean."
In an article written by Brent Hartinger for AfterElton.com, he notes that a "frequent debate in gay pop culture circles is this: Just how 'gay' was 1985's A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy's Revenge (the first Elm Street sequel)? The imagery in the movie makes it seem unmistakably gay — but the filmmakers have all along denied that that was their intention." During his interview segment for the 2010 documentary film Never Sleep Again: The Elm Street Legacy, David Chaskin admitted that the gay themes were intentional, something he had denied until that point.
The rest of the cast and crew have said that they were unaware of any such themes at the time they made the film, but that a series of creative decisions on the part of director Jack Sholder unintentionally brought Chaskin's themes to the forefront. In an interview Sholder said, "I simply didn't have the self-awareness to realize that any of this might be interpreted as gay". Now-out Mark Patton said, "I don't think that [the character] Jesse was originally written as a gay character. I think it's something that happened along the line by serendipity". Patton also wrote Jesse's Lost Journal about Jesse's life after the film and dealing with his homosexuality.
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|A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy's Revenge (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)|
|Soundtrack album by|
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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