A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge
Director(s): Jack Sholder
Writer(s): David Chaskin, Wes Craven (characters)
Starring: Mark Patton, Robert Englund, Kim Myers, Robert Rusler
It’s interesting when a film from your past resurfaces under a new light. In today’s social climate where scenes that used to make you laugh now make you cringe (or at least that’s what is encouraged) or characters that you looked up to now seem at odds with the world around you. It seemed that the horror genre was exempt from that kind of scrutiny; it may be because it’s a genre that society as a whole doesn’t take seriously in the first place so elements that seem inappropriate now wouldn’t really matter since the premise of most horror flicks is firmly planted ridiculously macabre fantasy.
Recently, I was able to enjoy a documentary called Scream Queen! My Nightmare on Elm Street which was a documentary that centered around the homoerotic legacy of A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge and its effect on the talent involved, most notably, the main lead Mark Patton. It was a fascinating dive into a movie that I enjoyed as a kid but now seen through the eyes of an adult FearTastic Vault Keeper.
So what do I remember about the second film in a legendary franchise about the evil creature that terrorizes you in your dreams? As a kid, I remember thinking that this version of Freddy was less mysterious and much more maniacal which I LOVED. I remember thinking that since the first flick established Freddy Krueger as some sort of nightmare demon, it made sense to me that his goal was to break into the real world in the sequel. It also made total sense that he’d be manipulating a teenager to get back to a world full of teenagers to murder. I remember he was much more sinister than the previous movie as he would taunt his victims with much more glee than he did in the first movie and I definitely remember the pool scene where it almost seemed out of place as he went on a full frenzy of murderous mayhem.
The LAST thing I thought of was the obvious homoerotic tone and foundation that this movie clearly radiates throughout the run time! Yes, I was a child who just enjoyed his evil buddy terrorizing teenagers, oh the naïveté of a child! Although I didn’t expect my child-self to be a professor in LGBTQ studies, I was aware of gay men at a young age and it just didn’t click with me because again, the horror genre was never really about subtlety, especially with my then limited capacity for thoughts outside of blood splatters and monster makeup (some would argue not much has changed). It was really amusing to watch the documentary about the second entry in the Nightmare series that has become quite divisive over the years in the sense that for those who look at it with a more open eye, its blatant displays of homoeroticism makes the film quite brilliant in my opinion. I was never in the camp when people trashed this flick as being the worst in the series because again, as a child to me, the plot made perfect sense.
Freddy Krueger wants out of dream world and decides to start possessing young Jesse Walsh and horrific antics ensue. It was a movie about a man who was slowly succumbing to demonic possession and like I said, it made sense to me that Freddy would use a teenager to get out in the real world since you know, he wasn’t a fan of the whiney punks in the first place. NOW…having said that, watching it again recently after checking out the documentary that focused on its roots with the LGBTQ community was such a treat because now I can appreciate why this particular horror flick was such a hit with individuals who felt connected to a movie that didn’t come out as a proud advocate until decades later.
Watching the movie now is so much more entertaining knowing that the actors all had a subtle nod to the fact that they were making a GAY movie, there was no doubt in their minds. The controversy however as that people working on the movie would tell you different but to me, if the actors interpret the script and make it their own to bring the words to life, then yes, they define the damn characters and tone. It would be ridiculous to think famous roles like Forrest Gump or hell, Freddy Krueger did not have artist input in how to portray the character so if the actors decided this film was totally gay based on the material that was given to them, then that’s the way it’s going to play to the audience.
Scenes like Mark Patton’s now infamous scream that would rival Jamie Lee Curtis’ or Freddy gently caressing the main character’s face with his sharp…long…knives makes me feel connected to folks who have a genuine love for a movie in the same playfully obsessive way that I do because no matter what your reasons; whether it be blood, guts, kills or simply feeling that a movie was made for you, we are all freaks in the FearTastic Vault. Welcome…and don’t mind the things that go bump in the night.
Life is FAR more interesting when we take interest in things that scare us.