A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge

When discussing my love for Wes Craven’s A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984), which I reviewed here, I was constantly warned by people that I should not bother with the sequels. They told me to either steer clear completely, or to focus on a couple of specific ones that were decent, generally those that Craven returned to direct. But I thought it would be fun to check them all out and track the evolution of the series, beginning with A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge (1985).

Elm 2 poster

Craven chose not to return for this sequel, passing on the film after reading the script. Some of his concerns that came through in the film include the trashing of the mythology around the character of Freddy Krueger that had been built in the first film. In the first film, Krueger can really only cause damage inside dreams, but in this second entry he seems to have attained the ability to leave the dream world and hit up pool parties at will. It is a frustrating dilution of part of what made the first entry such an original horror story. Missteps such as that are even more annoying because there are some very good ideas contained in the script. Much of it concerns Freddy attempting to recruit a the main character Jesse, through intimidation and trickery, into murdering on his behalf. As the deaths start piling up, so does Jesse’s mental instability as he becomes more and more convinced that he is the one doing the deeds.

Elm 2freddy jesseThe action starts out rather originally with a set piece involving a school bus and a bus driver who turns out to Mr Krueger himself. I was pretty hopeful at that point, but most of the film from there on out is content to just hit the same notes as the first film – falling asleep in class, a gory death or two, doubt over who is doing the killing, boiler room showdowns and so on. When the film does try and do something more original, it does not do it very well. I have already mentioned Krueger being able to escape dreams in the film, which just confuses his menace. Add to that the film’s most bizarre sequence where the teenage protagonist Jesse goes to a leather bar, sees his bully of a gym teacher and then gets invited back to the school. Whilst he is having a shower, Freddy Krueger appears and kills his teacher in a really homoerotic fashion. It is totally absurd. I am not sure if there was meant to be a little commentary in there, but it definitely did not come through clearly. Also, I really hope that every film in the series is not going to finish with the same lame little coda/epilogue style sequence. I don’t mind some ambiguity or sequel bait, but the first two films both end in cheap little scenes that add nothing to the film and just serve to undermine the satisfactory (sort of) resolution of the main narrative.

There is something pretty timeless about the first film in this series. In comparison though, A Nightmare on Elm Street 2 is beset by 80s-ness. The wooden performance from Mark Patton as Jesse definitely plays into that. Luckily though both Robert Rusler as Ron and Kim Myers as Jesse’s love interest Lisa are much more comfortable and mitigate the bad acting somewhat. Actually the most surprising bit about this film for me was that the teen romance sub-plot between the two main characters was actually pretty decent. A shame it is wasted in this film. More disappointing than the poor acting is the change in genre. The first film was a really innovative mixture of supernatural horror and the slasher film. This film dumps all of that I think for what is basically a straight up supernatural film, with a few teen film subplots going on as well. Aside from a couple of moments, the stark and horrifying imagery that was all through the first film is also lessened a great deal here. Freddy still looks very cool and the scene where he bursts out of an old dude’s chest is satisfyingly gruesome. But there is nothing that really matches a couple of the great and gory kills that take place in the first film in the series. Especially not dogs with baby masks on. What the hell was that?

elm 2 freddy fire

A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge has some really interesting ideas that if done right would have made this a worthy follow up to a true horror classic. Unfortunately though the film is not done properly and a combination of poor acting, the rubbishing of some of what made Krueger such a great villain and tamer kills make this pretty weak. Which is such a bummer, because the convergence of the characters of Freddy and Jesse is an idea that deserved to be pulled off much better.

Verdict: Schooner of Carlton Draught

I’m going to be reviewing one of the Nightmare on Elm Street films every week for the next little bit. So I hope you enjoy reading the reviews and looking forward to hearing your thoughts on all of these films if you have seen them.  

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21 responses

  1. This one is the worst of the series and also the most homoerotic film ever made! I think you’ll really like the third film, its ridiculous but very entertaining

    1. I disagree! This is the darkest the series gets. A great sequel, even though parts of its story don’t make the most sense.

      But yeah, it’s probably the gayest movie ever made.

      1. I did like some of the darkness, especially with Freddie trying to I guess brainwash one of the kids into doing his killing. The execution was just a little poor for me. Some of the ideas were ace.

      2. No question, it’s the gayest movie ever made. As a horror movie, it’s not that great. As a coming of age/coming out drama it’s…..adequate?

      3. Adequate is probably right. Only just though.

    2. Thankyou sir. Yep, have watched and enjoyed the third one now. Will sit down and write the review tomorrow. Any others in the series that stand out as particularly good or terrible?

      1. They kind of go downhill from there. The later films become like a spoof of the first one. But the last one which is called The New Nightmare is great. Its the one Wes Craven did before Scream and you can see the similarities. Its great

      2. Awesome, I have heard from other people that New Nightmare is really good. Worried about trawling through all the others to get there though. I have literally heard not one good thing about any of the others leading up to New…

  2. Haven’t seen any of these (including the first), even though they were released as I was growing up. Your review raises plenty of valid points, though. I think I will likely stay away.

    1. I think the first is an absolute classic, highly original. If you have any interest in the horror genre whatsoever, I would definitely recommend.

  3. I love these films but, ugh – 2 was the worst! I actually really like the third one – I think it’s the second best one (can’t beat the first one, obviously). I look forward to all the reviews! : )

    1. Yeah the first one was a classic and I have watched the third now and really liked it. Any others in the series you particularly like?

      1. Well, obviously the 1st is the best by FAR but the third was my second favorite. I think 4 & 5 are very solid entries but do mix the two up in my mind – I found the lesser characters so similar in those two. I actually like 6, Freddy’s Dead, A LOT but I seem to be alone in thinking that! Maybe it’s because it’s the first one I was able to go to in the cinema. New Nightmare was a very unique take on the story. Um… I’m losing track now! Lol. Oh, Freddy Vs Jason? Barely remember it. The horrible remake of the first one?! AWFUL! AVOID if you’ve not seen it! Wow – I want to re-watch these all again. I know 1 & 3 the best but not watched the rest in a while. That may be a Hallloween project. : ) I’ve finally got you linked in blogs I follow (sorry – I’m slow! Been trying to update that recently) so I don’t miss any of your Nightmare reviews. : )

      2. Yeah I don’t think I am going to bother with the remake or Freddy vs Jason. Just the original run and probably the docos on the series as well. Was not a fan of #4 which I have just reviewed. So hopefully I enjoy #5 a little more. Looking forward to A New Nightmare which a bunch of people seem to like.

        And glad to hear you are now following along. Always great to have your input.

  4. I really don’t think 2 was the worst either, certain scenes I really liked. The School bus scene, the pool scene (I thought it was awesome though it did change the mythology), and the scene where Freddy rips out of Jesse’s torso. I also liked that for most of this film they still kept Freddy’s face partially shaded and dark which adds to the mystique and scariness. After this one his face is in clear view and full lighting, showing all its rubbery details. I did like the 3rd one better which goes into almost a Fantasy film genre. But you’re right, all of the sequels (up until New Nightmare) are generally stuck in the 80’s with the same cliches and feel of that era.

    1. Cheers for commenting. I like a lot of those things that you mention (with the possible exception of the pool scene). And it is a really good point about the shading of Freddy’s face. I hadn’t thought about that before actually. I guess all those good points didn’t quite gel into an enjoyable whole for me.

  5. ” A Nightmare on Elm Street 2 is beset by 80s-ness.” – that is exactly what it was!

    I will definitely be reading them, I am a Freddy Krueger fan!

    This was not really a particularly grand entry, though it was not completely dreadful. It didn’t sit completely well that the mythos were messed with a bit and changed about. Looking forward to how the series fares from here on out for you!

    I actually watched A Nightmare On Elm Street (1984) again on Christmas day… should really watch the rest of them again!

    1. Not particularly grand and not completely dreadful is pretty much it.

      I love the first one. Quite the strange Christmas day choice though. I’m more of a Muppets Christmas Carol/Home Alone man.

      1. Yeah, it was just average.

        Not bad picks. I don’t know, by the time the afternoon rolled around all I wanted was some original Elm Street!

  6. […] Next week I will be checking out the fourth entry in the series. Check out my reviews of the classic first film and A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge.  […]

  7. […] you have missed any of my earlier reviews, be sure to check them out: The classic first film,  A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge and A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream […]

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