In 1985 when A Nightmare on Elm Street 2 hit theaters, it was just another mainstream horror film. At the time, it was only the world’s second encounter with Freddy Krueger. The film starred mostly unknown actors and ended up performing very well by box office standards. However, almost 30 years later, most fans of the A Nightmare on Elm Street franchise consider Part 2 to be one of the worse, if not the worst, of the series. Still, bad does not necessarily equal boring; and if you Google search the film, you do not need to dig very deep to find one interesting accusation. Many accuse A Nightmare on Elm Street 2 of being littered with blatant, homosexual themes and not so subtle undertones. So today, Gentle Reader, I would like to not only review this film, but to explore the question ‘Is this the gayest horror movie ever made?’
Full Title & Vital Stats:
A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge (1985)
Directed by Jack Sholder who also directed Wishmaster 2 (1999) and Alone in the Dark (1982)
Notable Actors: Robert Englund, Mark Patton, Robert Rusler, Kim Myers
Five years after the events of the first film, teenager Jesse Walsh and his family move into 1428 Elm Street. Jesse begins having nightmares and soon discovers that Freddy still exists in Nancy’s old house, and wants to escape the dream world by possessing Jesse’s body. Now Jesse, and his girlfriend Lisa, must figure out a way to stop Freddy’s evil plan and send him back to hell.
Be warned, if you have never seen this film, plot spoilers are included in this review.
Jesse Walsh – A Man Possessed:
The opening scene of this film shows our protagonist Jesse riding on a school bus. Jesse sits alone; obviously uncomfortable, awkward and different from the other more relaxed and carefree teenagers. Two pretty, blond schoolgirls even being making fun of him, and this becomes our first impression of our leading man.
By pure coincidence, the character of Jesse Walsh was played by the then closeted, gay actor Mark Patton. Patton plays Jesse as whiny and distant, with a constant, wannabe pensive look on his face. Though Jesse’s road in this film is noticeably stressful, with the psychotic Freddy Krueger constantly taunting him, I still found his character to be very unlikeable. Jesse snaps at his friends constantly when they are simply trying to be helpful and kind, and yet he does nothing personally progressive to solve his own Freddy problem. He just spends the film complaining and screaming like a whiny coward.
Mark Patton is not typical leading man material, thus you have to question this film’s casting. Jesse is a character of contradictions. He appears to be an unlikeable dork, yet his best friend is a handsome jock and a popular, beautiful girl is actively pursuing him (though he continuously rebuffs her advances). So why would the director cast a physically awkward actor with no screen presence for such an important role? Is this director an idiot or was he insightfully trying to relay a message through Jesse as Freddy’s chosen victim? Perhaps a character such as Grady (who is more typical leading man material) would not have been as easily susceptible to Freddy’s influence. Does the blatancy of Jesse and Grady’s differences make a powerful statement about this leading man? If Jesse is a closeted gay character, lusting after a masculine, physical specimen like Robert Rusler would make sense.
Lisa Webber a.k.a. The Beard:
Lisa is probably my favorite character in this film. She is the most rational and intelligent. Annoyingly, the character of Lisa does all the grunt work and research on how to destroy Freddy while Jesse just stands around whining. Her character is the only one with any real sense.
Kim Myers plays Lisa as sweet, patient, and likable. I give Kim further props because she does the best work possible here with a weak script, novice dialogue, and a less than impressive male lead. A male lead who she can muster no sexual chemistry with. Does this lack of sexual chemistry contribute to the Internet dubbing this film the gayest horror film ever? I would say yes. In many ways, Jesse could not be less interested in Lisa. So, who does Jesse seem to have his eyes on?
Ron Grady – Best Friend or True Love?:
Jesse and Ron Grady’s relationship is homoerotic right from the start. Jesse seems smitten with Grady from the first time Grady teasingly caresses Jesse’s face during a baseball game. The two begin pushing each other and fighting exactly like when a little boy pulls the pigtails of a little girl because he secretly has a crush on her. In Grady’s case, he pulls down Jesse’s pants right in front of their entire gym class, exposing his pasty, white butt to the world.
For some unknown reason, Grady even seems to be slightly more enthralled with Jesse than Jesse is with him. Why is everyone so hung up on this odd kid? Grady could do so much better. But, Grady constantly wants to spend time with Jesse. He seems to have no other friends to hang with since this new kid moved into town. He even plays pranks on Jesse to get his attention if Jesse is paying him no mind.
Their relationship literally seems to be a budding romance, and to be honest, I find their flirting sort of adorable. Jesse obviously wants Grady’s admiration and Grady seems to be intrigued by how different Jesse is from himself. It’s just a shame that their love never stands a chance. In 1985, no mainstream horror film would ever have integrated gay, teenage love and self-discovery directly into its plot. These star-crossed lovers were doomed from the start, though the moment where Jesse shows up in Grady’s bedroom is still very exciting.
So do the gay relationship undertones stop there? As if this film didn’t already sound gay enough, there is Jesse’s relationship with Freddy Krueger to consider.
Jesse & His Sugar Daddy Freddy:
At one point Jesse describes Freddy’s tormenting him with the sentence, “Something is trying to get inside my body!” Nuff said.
Let’s take a look at some additional Adam film statistics…
The Film’s Most Annoying/Worst Character:
In my opinion, this film has plenty of annoying characters to choose from, including Jesse himself. But this award must go to the character who is the most offensive to watch every time he or she is on screen. So my vote goes to Angela: Jesse’s annoying little sister. The little girl portraying Angela is a horrendous actress and I cringe whenever her character needs to recite a line.
The Film’s Best Moment:
My vote goes to the killing of another extremely homosexual character, the gym teacher: Coach Schneider. Could this film be any more explicitly gay? Freddy attacks the coach with his own balls (tennis balls, basketballs, etc.), strips him naked out of the leather S&M outfit he was wearing, and repeatedly slaps his bare ass with wet towels till it bleeds. This is after the coach finds Jesse in a late-night, gay, leather bar, forces him to get sweaty by running laps, and then physically pushes him towards the school showers. I mean come on! Anyone else picking up on some not so subtle hints?
The Film’s Worst Moment:
There is nothing I hate more in a movie than when characters do and say unrealistic things solely to serve shitty screenplays. Well, Gentle Reader, this screenplay is pretty shitty indeed and the characters have no idea what they are doing. This plot has more holes in it than a block of Swiss cheese, which I think we can safely blame on its’ writer David Chaskin. But blame must also be placed on this film’s moronic director, Jack Sholder, for completely misunderstanding his source material, for unconditionally disrespecting the character of Freddy Krueger, and for creating some of the most uninspired and boring scenes of any major horror franchise.
All of this being said, my vote for the worst scene in this film is a toss up between the horrendous dance routine that Mark Patton performs when he is supposed to be cleaning his bedroom (How could no one have known that this actor was gay during filming?), and the backyard scene where Freddy leaves the dream world and literally breaks up a teenage pool party.
Wes Craven has been quoted expressing his total disgust at director Sholder’s decision to pull back the curtain and publically display his ‘wizard’. There is nothing scary about Freddy Kruger throwing lawn chairs at teenagers or about hot dogs exploding on a grill. Why is this monster hopping around in a yard filled with 50 young adult film extras? This scene was a horrible directorial decision and Freddy’s threat is reduced to popping lights, boiling water and malfunctioning circuitry. Throughout this film Sholder continuously brings Krueger’s hijinks out of the dream world and into the waking reality, which is confusing and feels sloppy.
Honorable Mention goes to the ridiculous and laughable scene featuring a possessed parrot from hell. Whose idea was that catastrophe? I only wish that the demon parrot had finished off Angela.
How are the film’s special effects & gore?
At one point Freddy scares the crap out of Jesse in the middle of the night and rips the top layer of skin off his head, exposing a detailed and pulsating brain underneath. That was pretty awesome. But Freddy tearing out of Jesse’s body and discarding it in Grady’s room is by far the best special effect in the film. The way Freddy tosses the empty shell of Jesse aside is priceless.
There are some cool special effects in this film, and some pretty huge misses (like the demon dogs with cabbage patch kids’ faces). Unfortunately the successes’ impacts are lessened by the director’s inability to decide if the world we are watching is a dream or reality. In the hands of a more talented filmmaker this blurring of the two worlds could be scary and effective, but here the direction is boring and the special effects end up feeling like brief glimmers of hope in an otherwise barren landscape.
Male Eye Candy: In my opinion, Robert Rusler is the real eye candy of this film. We get a shirtless Mr. Rusler in two locker room scenes and we get a scene of him running, sweaty in a wife beater. Later in Grady’s bedroom we get a glistening, tanned and shirtless Mr. Rusler wearing only a tiny pair of green, running shorts. If, for some reason, you prefer the bumbling Mark Patton, he is shirtless and sweaty in several scenes. We are gifted with Mark’s bare behind at one point. There are also numerous shirtless men in bathing suits visible at Lisa’s pool party
Female Eye Candy: We get one scene of Kim Myers beautifully filling out a one-piece bathing suit while she is dripping wet. There is also one very odd and awkward scene where Jesse is licking the skin between her breasts, but we see no actual boob action. There are also several pretty girls wearing swimsuits at the pool party.
After all of this, do I recommend the film?
I do. Mind you, not as a worthwhile horror film to scare you, but because the film’s ridiculousness is so fantastic! In this film, Freddy Kruger’s scare factor is drastically handicapped. The character of Lisa is in no way threatening or physically strong, yet somehow she manages to overpower the supernatural Freddy in a mild scuffle on the floor. Then later, she kills him simply with her love for her homosexual boyfriend Jesse. In fact the creepiest thing in this film may be Lisa’s twisted love for Jesse even after he has apparently murdered at least two people: a fact which is completely ignored in the ending of this film. And speaking of the ending to this film, it is clumsy, confusing, and without resolution. If you can get past all these things, and even find the humor within them, then you will have a great time with this movie.
Is A Nightmare on Elm Street 2 the gayest horror movie ever made?
I will leave the ultimate decision up to you, Gentle Reader. I have presented the facts as I see them. As a final note, perhaps the original poster’s tagline will help you decide. “The Man of Your Dreams is Back.” The man of whose dreams? Jesse’s? Sounds pretty gay to me.