A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy's Revenge (1985)
A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET 2: FREDDY'S REVENGE
WRITER: David Chaskin
DIRECTOR: Jack Sholder
STARRING: Mark Patton as Jesse Walsh
Kim Myers as Lisa Webber
Robert Rusler as Ron Grady
Clu Gulager as Mr. Walsh
Hope Lange as Mrs. Walsh
Marshall Bell as Coach Schneider
Sydney Walsh as Kerry
Robert Englund as Freddy Krueger
QUICK CUT: Things are nice and quiet on Elm Street, until a new family moves into the now-empty home of Nancy from the first movie. That's when Fred rears his VERY ugly head once again, and has a plan to get back into the world.
Freddy - The man with the Christmas sweater and leading the fedora movement is back, despite having won and survived the first movie. He's still not very nice, he's still got a mad on for everyone on Elm Street, and nothing, not even being an undead dream entity is going to stop him.
Jesse - The new kid on the block that's moved into the Thompson house, and been discovered by Freddy. He's a bit of a dork, a bit of a loner, save for a girl he's met, and the only interest anyone is showing in him comes from Freddy himself. Oh, that can't be good.
Lisa - The brains of the operation, and Jesse's love interest. Kinda. I'll get into that later. She does most of the figuring out, and ends up having a larger role than you might expect.
Ron - A kinda frenemy of Jesse's. They are often at odds, but also oddly friendly towards each other. Competition keeps them apart, but they seem like they could be friends, under the right conditions. A guy invading their nightmares is not gonna help that.
Coach - Your typical hard-ass high school coach who will gladly make you do 100 pushups for sneezing funny, but he's got a thing for leather bars, and a heavy implication of young boys.
THE GUTS:Ahh, here we are, back in Fredbruary, with the next installment of the Nightmare on Elm Street series, Freddy's Revenge. Which does beg the question I just asked, yes?
I mean, with how the first movie ended, Nancy THOUGHT she won, but then there was that final nightmare. So just what is Mister Krueger revenging? I'm sure we'll find out!
And see? Not all Full Moon movies!
We get things rolling innocently enough, with a school bus driving around and letting kids off, until there's three left. Then the bus picks up speed and nyooms off into the sunset.
If you hadn't guessed by now, surprise! It's a nightmare! This becomes ever more clear as the sky darkens, and when the bus finally stops, sinkholes begin to appear around them.
Oh, and Freddy's driving. You would think that would be your first sign to stay off the bus and walk to school that day, right?
The ground keeps falling away until the bus is only teetering atop a giant stone pillar, and Freddy closes in on the kids at the back of the bus.
While this is not as bizarrely out there as some of the dream imagery from the first movie, it's still pretty good. The original movie really nailed it, and is a high benchmark to even come close to.
And the slashing wakes up Jesse with a scream, which apparently seems to be a thing about him. His sister asks why he can't wake up like a normal kid. Trust me, once you're deep into a week of finals, waking up screaming IS normal.
I wouldn't normally get THIS into minutiae, but this is absolutely worth noting on two counts. When Jesse shows up for breakfast, his sister is digging through a box of cereal to get the prize. That cereal is FU MAN CHEWS. That's...really really terrible and racist, but I can't stop laughing. I am a terrible person, I'm sorry.
And secondly, the prize is a set of long fingernails that look *oddly* familiar...
Jesse heads off to school with his new friend Lisa, and oh. There's a familiar red door at the front of his house. They've moved into Nancy's old place, haven't they? That explains a lot, without saying a word.
If you didn't catch it though, they have some jock spell it out for Jesse, with a real world version of the events of the first movie; that Nancy was locked up by her mom, went crazy, and watched her boyfriend get killed across the street.
That night, Jesse has a nightmare, and it's kinda fun seeing familiar sets, from Nancy's house, to the trellis in the back, and heck even the garbage cans. It's a nice sense of familiarity for returning viewers, but also doesn't shove it in your face for the newbies.
Oh, and Freddy's down in the basement burning some stuff.
Jesse stupidly peeks down into the basement, and tries calling for his dad when he sees Freddy's shadow moving around. But when he turns around, SURPRISE! he's right there. Ahh, dream logic.
Freddy isn't here to kill Jesse though, and tells him he needs the kid, and peels off the top of his head, telling Jesse he has the body, but Freddy's got the brains. I guess he's tired of sticking to the world of dreams and wants to go for a nice walk down Elm Street.
Someone showing off their brains is enough to wake anyone up, and Jesse is no different. And it's no surprise that because of his lack of sleep, he starts dozing off in class the next day.
A snake appears out of nowhere, as they do, and starts to wrap itself around Jesse, until he screams. Again. Okay, I get the movie's trope is nightmares, but the gimmick is getting a bit repetitively redundant now.
But wait! The twist here is, the snake was *real*, from a tank in the class, and one of the kids let it out to prank Jesse. Okay, I like the twist of that being real, but still. Should I even ask how they knew it would go for Jesse and not any of the other 20 kids?
After a long day of no sleep, nightmares, and snakes, Jesse tries to escape for a bit with Lisa, but his dad stops him and makes him go upstairs and unpack.
Oh yes, there is an unpacking montage, complete with music from the 80s. This is the true horror.
Fortunately, Lisa comes over to spare us from too much of Jesse's terrible dancing and collection of silly glasses.
While cleaning, Lisa finds Nancy's old diary, and wonders what it is, before they open it up and invade the privacy of a girl who they don't even know!
It starts off like any innocent schoolgirl's diary, about Glenn, and her crush, but it doesn't take more than a few page flips and they get the other side of the story for the first movie, involving Freddy.
Of course, it all sounds very familiar to Jesse, and not just because of hearing about Glenn being killed already.
But enough of the backstory, it's time for another nightmare! Because it's been a whole five minutes since we had one!
Jesse wakes up in a sweat, everything in his room melting, like Salvador Dali came along to redecorate in his sleep. But Jesse is not that lucky, is he?
He wanders around the house and ends up back in the basement, and finds Freddy's iconic glove in the furnace. A furnace which bursts into life, filled with flames, and signalling Fred's arrival.
Freddy wants Jesse to try the glove on, see how it fits, because hey, he doesn't want to inhabit a body that can't play with his toys, right? Oh, and there's some urging Jesse to kill people, but that's not gonna happen...right?
Jesse trips over his own feet and wakes up, still in the basement, and with the glove still sitting there, waiting for Jesse to check out the size. And all Nancy got was a lousy hat!
After more high school drama, largely to set up a massacre...er party, and more scenes of the coach being a dick, Jesse heads home where there is still a furnace problem.
Their parakeet freaks out escapes its cage, buzzing all over the place, until it bursts into flames, ending the torment not seen on this site since Birdemic.
After the birdsplosion, Papa Walsh tries to blame it on Jesse using firecrackers, and the kid storms out. Cuing us up for yep! Another nightmare!
Not content to have birds explode, lightning hits some dishes and explodes them into flames too. Jesse is fed up with everything around him going kaboom, so goes for a walk in the rain.
At least if anything explodes now, the rain will put out the flames!
He finds himself at a leather bar, where he runs into his coach, and they're immediately back at the school and the kid's doing laps. That's just real enough that you're not sure, and the jumps made through editing work so perfectly for dream logic. In any other movie, they would naturally cut right from being caught, to the school, but here, it's that perfect moment of everything changing in an instant like a dream.
And actually, if it is a dream, it looks like the coach may have been dragged in with Jesse. Gotta love that you're never quite sure what's real and what isn't.
But whatever, the coach starts to get attacked by his own sports equipment, while he waits for Jesse to get out of the showers after his laps. Now we have Chekov's tennis racket...
Some jump ropes grab the coach and drag him off, stringing him up in the showers, while unseen hands whip him with towels. Uhhh, from what we've been told, that's NOT a nightmare of the coach's. He's probably enjoying that.
There is a GREAT bit, with the fog getting so thick that you lose sight of Jesse, and then Freddy steps out from the same place, and slashes up the coach. The fog fades away again, and Jesse's standing there, wearing the glove, and it's almost perfectly edited to show Krueger taking control.
Jesse sees the glove, freaks out, and we next see him being dropped off at home by the cops, after finding him walking naked in the rain.
After finding out the next day that oops, that all actually happened and the coach is dead, Jesse has another quick nightmare where the glove is moving on its own. With bonus finding a girl jump roping and chanting the familiar nursery rhyme about Freddy.
The next day, Jesse tries to confront his dad about the truth behind the house, and the other murders, and everything he's learned so far. That goes over well, but fortunately they get distracted when the toaster bursts into flames.
Now it's the *toaster*. Is anything in this house NOT flammable? Hard to top the parakeet though...
Jesse escapes the House of Exploding Everything, and Lisa takes him to the power plant where Freddy worked, to see if he feels anything, thinking he's got some weird psychic mojo going on. And they give a number to Fred's atrocity, saying he kidnapped 20 kids. TWENTY KIDS. That's pretty terrible by almost every serial killer standard.
After finding nothing but rats, we get a cool moment of the furnace at Jesse's coming back to life, and going first person POV as the spirit of Freddy floats through the house and checks in on the kid sister.
But when it cuts to the person she's being woken up by, it's Jesse, and he's wearing the glove. I kinda love using the glove as a possession artifact, some real world connection to Freddy's spirit, allowing him to take hold of anyone foolish enough to wear it. Not QUITE where they're going here, but that would've been a good take too.
After seeing Jesse getting increasingly grumpy and distant and shouty at school, we finally get to the long-discussed party at Lisa's. Where he's still being grumpy.
Jesse tries to bail on the party, even though we've only just arrived. He confides in Lisa, telling her how he can't sleep, he can't stay awake, he's freaking out, and how he should just go. Which naturally leads to them making out.
But Freddy wants to play too, so while they're making out, a gigantic tongue flops out of Jesse's mouth, and starts to lick the girl, before our hero sucks it back in. Aww, Freddy wishes that he had Jesse's girl.
After that, Jesse runs off, and wakes up his friend and rival Grady, to try and spend the night there. Which makes sense; if you're gonna kill someone, might as well be the jerk.
Before spilling Ron's guts, Jesse spills his own about everything that's been going on, and even killing the coach. That...that might have been too much of a confession, Jess.
So, we end up with much the same plan as the first movie, where Jesse decides to nap, with Ron making sure he doesn't do anything killy, and even the warning to not fall asleep. Hey, it's a sensible play, even if it's redone.
While Lisa leaves the party to try and find her boyfriend, Grady is watching over him until he falls asleep, and flipping through public domain flicks.
But the instant Jesse is curled up and drooling on an armrest, Grady says enough of this, and decides to fall asleep himself.
The instant he does that, Jesse shoots awake, saying how it's happening again, with sweat dripping off him, and his body clearly wracked with pain.
I gotta say, those blades bursting out of the fingers, and the skin around Jesse's hand and arm, revealing familiar Freddy trappings underneath is definitely up there for some of my favourite effects work.
Not only is it a great way to show Freddy starting to shed away the outer shell of Jesse, but it's just such a great visual and so well done. I especially love seeing Fred's *sweater* underneath bare flesh. There's so much wrong about that visual, that it's chilling.
But oh, it gets worse. Well, the effects get a little cheaper, but it gets worse for Jesse. Freddy's head starts pushing out of the kid's stomach, and it gets slashed open, letting Fred crawl right out of the lower intestines.
Ron's been freaking out watching all this, and he's already been ramped up to a full 10. Once Freddy's standing there, he by all rights should go even larger with his freaking out, but he sadly has nowhere else to go. Instead, Ron gets quiet, and while that's a choice, I wish the actor had played it a LITTLE less previously.
His parents have come at all the yelling, but the door won't open. It's only a few minutes later, and Ron is sliced and diced by the reborn Krueger.
But then Freddy's gone, taunting a restored Jesse from a mirror, as he stands there covered in his friend's blood, and wearing the murder weapon. Yeah, that's not gonna go over well with the cops.
He returns to Lisa's before she even gets out the door, and tells her everything, and she seems to take it well. Not to mention Jesse being covered in blood.
Outside, the pool starts to heat up, and the hot dogs explode into flames. If there's one running theme of this movie, it's that shit bursts into fire regularly. I am never moving to California.
Lisa tries to calm him down, by reading from Nancy's diary, and telling Jesse she wasn't crazy, it really happened...and I'm not sure that makes things *better*. Oh, you're not crazy! You REALLY ARE possessed by an ethereal dream demon!
Jesse tries to fight the possession as it overtakes him once more. And continuing our exploding objects count, add to that an exploding tv, and Chinese lanterns catching fire.
Freddy's back in control, and I just realised that the bad guy's now running around, and the hero is effectively gone, kaput, out of the picture. That's...an interesting place to stick your narrative.
Krueger chases Lisa around, and Jesse manages to plead for her to kill him once she grabs a carving knife. She stabs at Fred repeatedly, but it does nothing.
You can see a bit of a struggle on Freddy's face, and I'd imagine it would've been more effective if Robert Englund wasn't buried in makeup.
But he runs off, not wanting to kill Lisa, yet, and smashes through a doorway, disappearing. Well. I guess that's a thing...
Just when you think it's safe to go back in the pool though, Fred bursts out of the filtration system and goes on a rampage. Pool party massacre!
Which leads to the POOL ITSELF BURSTING INTO FLAMES. Even the water is burning in this movie. That's a great culmination to your ongoing theme there, Fred.
As Lisa's dad gets a shotgun, some poor schmuck tries to talk Freddy down. I'd say this kid has a future in hostage negotiations...until he's gashed in the chest.
Lisa's dad shows up with the gun, and tries shooting at Fred and misses. So much for that. Either way, the killer of Elm Street decides to head out, not wanting to kill anyone else right now.
He takes his leave by walking through the ivy covered wall surrounding the pool area. Can you guess what it does? Yep! MORE FIRE!
Lisa vrooms off to the power plant, for no particular reason, just because we're in the final act now. When she arrives there, she gets confronted by dogs that have baby faces for heads. Now see, movie, that's the kinda weird mindfuck imagery I want.
She walks past them, using the 'show know fear' mantra of dealing with dreams...and dogs, incidentally.
The movie continues with the dreamlike logic and weirdness as Lisa creeps through the boiler room. I'm aching for the finale at this point, and at least the weirdness and jumps keep her lengthy meandering interesting.
Lisa pleads to the inner Jesse, saying she loves him, urging him to fight. I'm pretty sure this trope was old even when this movie was made, and now there's another 30 years behind it.
It is a nice addition of not being afraid of him too, though. Which Lisa shows when she gets real close and kisses Fred. Aww, all he needed was love!
Fred's weakened, on the ropes, and that's when the pipes and railings of the power plant burst into flames. Because what's a little more fire at this point in the proceedings? Once the freakin' water is burning, sure. Sure the cold metal pipes can burn too.
The irony, it burns. ...No, really. Fire.
Freddy burns and melts like he's an action figure in the microwave, and I sure hope Jesse isn't inside there, or he's gonna feel like a baked potato.
The body sits up and peels off the crispy, chocolatey outer shell, revealing that yep! Jesse is indeed alive and well, and I presume a half-human, half-Minbari hybrid now.
It's quite something that they took our main character out of play for the final act, utterly replaced by the villain, literally, and it was down to the girlfriend stepping up and saving the day. It's a nice take on the final girl scenario, and throws both of the characters into unexpected roles from where they started the film at. You expect to follow Jesse's heroic journey, and he LITERALLY becomes the bad guy, while Lisa steps up into the hero's role.
So the movie wraps up right where it started, with Jesse heading to school, where the wheels on the bus come full circle. Including a trip into the desert. Because we had to have one last nightmare, and end it the same Pyrrhic way as the first movie.
Video: It looks pretty solid, with good colours across the board. Maybe a little dull, but that's largely just how things looked back then.
Audio: I listened to the 5.1 track, and that was great. Horror movies with good surround tracks are always a treat, and nightmares all the more fun because of it.
Sound Bite: "Animals just don't explode into flames for no reason!" Not with THAT attitude they don't...
And psychos do not explode when sunlight hits them!!
Body Count: After Bad Channel's constant fake outs and undoings, it is good to have a movie that delivers quite a few bodies.
1 - One of the girls dies on the bus at Freddie's hand, and six minutes in.
2 - And takes her friend with her, shortly afterwards.
3 - The coach dies in the showers, naked and whipped, as Freddy/Jesse slashes him in the back.
4 - Ron Grady watches Freddy claw his way back to reality, and then gets stabbed and killed.
5 - Random kid #1 gets slashed in the face at the pool party.
6 - I gotta say at least one kid dies in that boiling pool when it then catches fire.
7 - Random kid #2 gets trampled to death as kids try and escape the chaos.
8 - Freddy stabs Random kid #3 in the gut.
9 - Random kid #4 gets slashed and tossed around as the negotiations go poorly.
10 - Freddy dies thanks to the power of love. And fire. Mostly fire.
Best Corpse: Even though we know he's Not Really Dead, can I say Freddy? The melting and crispy outer shell was quite well done.
Blood Type - A: There may not be a geyser of blood from a bed, and many of the deaths may be quick and tossed aside, but there's still some nice, bloody bits to all this. And the movie makes up for it and gains major bonus points for the metamorphosis of Jesse
Sex Appeal: Little peeks here and there...
Drink Up! It may be the death of you, but take a drink every damned time something catches fire. Drink responsibly!
Sights and Sounds: The way I've been gushing over it, it should be no surprise that this movie's video clip is the amazing transformation of Jesse as Freddy tears his way out of him. I was going to cut this a little earlier, but if you're showing Freddy's triumphant rebirth, you gotta wait until he puts the hat on, right?
Movie Review: Oh, I could actually gush over this. It doesn't quite nail the dream imagery of the original. It lacks some of that Wes Craven flair for capturing midwestern life, but it's still a great movie. Well, it never explains what the "Revenge" is, but I guess Freddy just wants to be real to kill more, so I'll let that slide. The story is rock solid, as Freddy tries to corrupt Jesse in large and small ways. I love love love that the movie completely removes whom you expect to be the hero, and the love interest has to step up. The movie looks good, it's a good story, and is an absolutely worthy sequel to the original. It gets a bit too heavy with the constant LOOK NIGHTMARES! because they knew what worked about the movie, but hey. It's called NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET, so you expect that. Freddy's Revenge is a true classic, and it holds up today. Four out of five exploding parakeets.
Entertainment Value: It's weird that Freddy is still not the wisecracker he would become known for. He's actually quiet for a large chunk of his screentime, relying on his lurking creepiness, and the effectiveness of dream imagery. But Englund sells the creepy, and still has that great feel of a hunter toying with his prey. And no one knows how to use that glove like he does. On top of all that, this movie has the unending immolation of EVERYTHING. If it's capable of burning, it burns. If it's INCAPABLE of burning, IT STILL BURNS. They pile on the nightmares, and this is a rare instance of them seeing what was popular about the first movie, and piling it on, and it somehow worked. Also, there's some great homosexual subtext between Jesse and Ron that works well on them just being friends and rivals, but also on that subtextual level, giving the narrative multiple levels of story and allegory. On top of all that, there's still silliness and bad acting aplenty, so this movie is enjoyable on almost every level Trisk wants. Five out of five burning swimming pools.
And as a bonus, I now understand a LOT more of the references in DJ Jazzy Jeff & the Fresh Prince's "Nightmare on My Street".