‘Freddy’s Revenge’: First Nightmare Sequel Tarnishes Original’s Legacy

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Franchise Friday continues with a look at the 1985 ‘Elm Street’ sequel, Jack Sholder’s ‘A Nightmare on ‘Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge.’ Welcome back Dreamers.

‘Freddy’s Revenge’ – Courtesy of New Line Cinema
THE PLOT:

Relocating can be scary. There’re different roads to navigate, new people to meet, and the macabre work of a dream demon to see to fruition.

When Jesse’s family moves into the now-vacant Thompson house, he begins having strange and terrifying dreams featuring the fedora-wearing fear fiend. Only these aren’t just dreams, they’re nocturnal mission. Freddy is somehow gaining the ability to puppeteer a living person from the confines of the dream world. With Jesse as his vessel, Freddy has free range to kill in both the dream world and the land of the living.

With Freddy getting closer to his loved ones with each successive night, Jesse must fight to control his own body and rid Elm Street of the Springwood Slasher once and for all. But the boiler-room boogeyman isn’t going down without a bloody battle. Jesse’s in for the fight of his life. If unsuccessful, no one will be left to wake him. Welcome to A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge.

THE INTRO:

When I was young, the only thing I wanted to do was watch horror films. I didn’t have many friends — my only real companions being Little Debbie, Ben, and his main-man Jerry. It was around this time that a new boxed set of the Springwood-Slasher saga was about to be released. I didn’t have a DVD player at the time, so the VHS version was what I got. I put the set on layaway at my local Suncoast and eventually paid it off.

When I finally got those films home, I devoured them like chicken after church. I remember not being that impressed with the first sequel in the series, but still enjoying it nonetheless. Sadly, nothing stays the same, and we must all face our horror history lessons eventually.

So let’s all move into that scary vacant house down the street, do a little marionette action with a confused teen, and get uncomfortable revenge on our coach as I review the Jack Sholder’s 1985 scarily stupid sequel, A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge.

THE REVIEW:

Jack Sholder’s ‘A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge – Courtesy of New Line

THE DIRECTION:

Jack Sholder directs Freddy’s Revenge with little drive and few remarkable shots to showcase. The film isn’t overly choppy and some aspects work on a level I believe the director intended, but unfortunately, a lot of the film is bland and completely lacks in well-spoken cinematic language. In fact, the first half of the film is tamely directed. It’s a lot of textbook, film school-taught shots, and camera composition.

The direction isn’t all bad and stilted though. Sholder, who also directed Donald Pleasence in the 1982 thriller, Alone in the Dark, and the 1999 satisfactory horrific sequel Wishmaster 2: Evil Never Dies, does display some competency in the film.

Well-executed direction in the film include a medium pull back in a scene set in the classroom where Jesse falls asleep and gets intimate with a snake, a scene with the camera tilting down as Jesse enters the frame outside of the mysterious gay bar, some good composition in the parent- argument scene the morning after Jesse is picked up by the cops, and a long held rotating shot as Jesse is punished by his hateful coach. Among these, there’s also a sequence that was really disciplined and one that deserved my attention.

The sequence begins as Freddy is possessing Jesse and attempts to use the teen to kill his own sister. What makes the scene so fantastic is Sholder’s insistence in hiding the cuts, creating a scene that is seamless. The sequence is entirely in first person and involves three different cuts. The camera moves from Jesse’s room to his sister’s and each time the camera gets to a door, there’s a cut. The amazing Alfred Hitchcock employed this technique to perfection in his underrated 1948 picture Rope. Here, with direction by Sholder, the pieced together sequence is very effective and adds a small amount of atmosphere to the film. This is extremely needed, because the film basically lacks atmosphere everywhere else.

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