A Nightmare on Elm Street Part 2: Freddy's Revenge (1985) / Horror
MPAA Rated: R for gore, disturbing images, nudity and violence
Running Time: 87 min.
Cast: Mark Patton, Kim Myers, Robert Englund, Robert Rusler, Clu Gulager, Hope Lange, Marshall Bell
Director: Jack Sholder
Screenplay: David Chaskin
Although the budget is higher and the acting a tad better, Freddy's Revenge lacks the imagination and better horror direction of the original A Nightmare on Elm Street. Obviously, much of the reason stems from the lack of involvement by Elm Street creator Wes Craven, here replaced by relative newcomer director Sholder (The Hidden, Wishmaster 2) and screenwriter first-time Chaskin (I Madman, The Curse). Although it is a sequel to the first movie, taking place in the same house that Nancy lived in and incorporating her diary, the entire set of characters (save for Fred Krueger) is different this time around. As such, and because none of the future entries in the series refer back to Freddy's Revenge, some fans of the series consider this to be more of a spin-off than a sequel, and usually don't bother lumping it with the others in terms of continuity. It also is much lighter in tone (almost a comedy), with vibrant color schemes and an entirely different score than the others (it is the only entry in the series to not use Charles Bernstein's theme music in the score).
Although this film came out only a year after the original in theaters, the setting is five years after the events in A Nightmare on Elm Street. No one has taken residence in the barred-up house that was the home of the Thompson's since the mother (reportedly) killed herself and the daughter went crazy. The new family to move in there are the Walshes, Ken (Gulager, The Return of the Living Dead) and Cheryl (Lange, Blue Velvet), and their teenage son, Jesse. It doesn't take long before Jesse starts having some terrifying nightmares, all of them involving a strange scarred up character named Fred Krueger. Krueger doesn't seem out to kill him, but rather, he wants to use Jesse to do his dirty work, requesting to take over his body and kill others for him. Try as Jesse Might to fight it, Freddy's powers overwhelm him, and people start dying. Jesse has no one to turn to but the girl that he has been seeing, Lisa (Myers, Hellraiser: Bloodline), who knows that Jesse is a good person that just has to be stronger than Freddy to stop the madness.
While Freddy's Revenge isn't really in keeping with the first film in the nature of Freddy, whose powers seem to now come with the house, it still has an interesting premise and at least takes a direction that makes it less of a rehash of the first film than other slasher film sequels have been. As different as it is from Craven's vision, it is still marred by being derivative of other horror films, especially in The Amityville Horror, The Exorcist and Carrie. At its core, it is still the same demonic possession movie we've seen before and know quite well, and by instead of moving forward in the genre like the first entry, the series takes a step back to old school tactics and the film just has a feel that's too familiar to drum up high entertainment.
By today's standards, Freddy's Revenge is also the most dated of the series, stemming firmly in the style of filmmaking that ran rampant in teen films of the 1980s, with feathered hair, bright colored collared shirts, tight blue jeans, lip-synching musical interludes, homoeroticism, and dumb schoolhouse humor. It is probably the only film in the series that deliberately appeals only to those that like teen films and horror flicks, instead of just the latter, so the result feels much more juvenile and less scary.
Al in all, the film still doesn't really become bad until Freddy is finally unleashed, becoming a cheap slasher movie that makes little sense. Although it has been established that Freddy is a master of the dream domain, somehow those powers seem to come with him to the "real world". As bad as these scenes are, they are still far better than the film's climax where Jesse's girlfriend Lisa assumes the role of the hero by using love to thwart Freddy's rampage and try to strengthen Jesse's resolve to fight him.
Freddy's Revenge isn't the worst of the Elm Street films, but it is the least necessary. You can skip it altogether and it wouldn't make a bit of difference, so unless you're rabid for all things Freddy Krueger, there's really not much reason to watch it. Think of this more as a "What If" film than as canon and perhaps you will be able to overlook the fact that this has very little association with the others.
-- Followed in the series by six films, completely which ignore this entry altogether: A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors, A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master, A Nightmare on Elm Street: The Dream Child, Freddy's Dead: The Final Nightmare, Wes Craven's New Nightmare, and Freddy Vs. Jason.
©2005 Vince Leo