A Nightmare on Elm Street 2 is one of the most polarizing sequels in all of horror. But above all it’s shortcomings, one thing kills the sequel.
Freddy Krueger’s revenge on Elm Street could have been a whole lot better….
Freddy’s Awkward Revenge
Debuting in the fall 1985, A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge is a weirdly terrible sequel to say the least. While some of the film works — mainly Robert Englund’s underrated performance — most of the movie misses the mark. If you’ve seen the flick, you’ll instantly be conjuring up images of Coach Schneider being spanked with towels in one of the most awkward moments in horror history.
But I’m not here to talk about that. For all it’s homoerotic undertones, that doesn’t bother me. While not homosexual, I’ve always been, and always will be, a live and let live kind of guy — everyone deserves happiness. And quite frankly, I think the plot being a metaphor for closeted homosexuality is quite smart and thematically interesting. No, I’m here to talk about the infamous pool scene and Freddy emerging in the real world inexplicably.
— Courtesy of New Line Cinema
Nocturnal Pool Party
In the series’ first sequel, Freddy is battling Jesse in an attempt to use his body for killing. With the murder of Grady — one of the franchise’s best deaths — the movie begins playing with our perceptions. After a stellar sequence of Freddy literally (but metaphorically) clawing his way out of Jesse, we think one thing but then a reveal of Jesse with the glove on tells another. This is a ahead-of-its-time technique mostly foreign to US cinema of the era. But then the pool scene happens.
Distraught and covered in Grady’s blood, Jesse comes to Lisa’s ongoing pool party. With Lisa reading from Nancy’s diary, she’s trying to get Jesse to understand he’s not helpless in this internal battle. After Jesse seemingly loses control, Freddy emerges (although still using Jesse with the Jack Sholder mistakenly not cutting back to reveal its still Jesse on the outside). While this seems like a fun exercise, it breaks the franchise’s biggest rule.
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While playing with audience’s perception is one thing, you can’t have Freddy in the real world unless pulled out of a dream. In the Grady sequence, Jesse begs Grady not to let him fall asleep. So when Freddy shows up, it’s really Freddy using sleeping Jesse’s body. While possession is a new concept, it’s through a dream and follows logic. I mean, people sleepwalk right?
But once we’re at the pool party, Freddy emerges when Jesse isn’t asleep in a cheap bait-and-switch. On top of that, there’s so much supernatural stuff happening to the party attendees and Lisa’s parents. Are we to believe Freddy has powers in the real world? That the people are experiencing his power while awake? If that’s remotely so, doesn’t that rob the series of it’s genius. That we all sleep and staying awake is the only way to create distance between yourself and Freddy’s almighty power? It’s this that makes Freddy’s Revenge truly lame.
Ultimately, Wes Craven, who’s on record discussing the same problem in Freddy’s Revenge, created rules to follow. Without following rules, you’ll lose your audience and storytelling credibility fast. And with the pool party fiasco, the sequel becomes just another horror film while drastically diminishing the luster of Craven’s original concept.
This has been another edition of Freddy Friday. We’ll see you sleepers next week in Springwood.
Fan of the A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge? Agree on the film’s big mistake? Let the other dreamers know what you think in the comment section below.