... aka: Morderisk mareridt 2 (Murderous Nightmare 2)
... aka: Nightmare 2
... aka: Nightmare 2 - Die Rache (Nightmare 2: The Revenge)
... aka: Nightmare 2 - La rivincita (Nightmare 2: The Revenge)
... aka: Nightmare - Mörderische Träume (Nightmare - Murderous Dreams)
... aka: Nightmare on Elm Street II: Freddy's Revenge
... aka: Pesadilla en la calle del infierno (Nightmare on Hell Street 2)
... aka: Terror på Elm Street 2: Freddys hämnd (Terror on Elm Street 2: Freddy's Revenge)
"Isn't that the gay one?" It seems so much attention has been drawn to the gay content in this film in recent years that people just ignore the entire rest of the movie as if there aren't other things to discuss. It's even been called "the gayest horror film ever made" by people who apparently haven't explored the filmographies of Bruce La Bruce or David DeCoteau. So we'll go right ahead and address the elephant in the room. Yes, there is indeed a lot of gay stuff going on here. Some of it is subtle. Some of it is (rather surprisingly for the time) right out in the open. The grappling with same sex attraction theme does not in any way make this a bad film, nor does it necessarily make it a good one. It does however make this stand out as unique in the 80s slasher canon and that's never a bad thing.
Even though pretty much everyone who worked on this film denied the gay content was intentional (or were just completely unaware while filming), writer David Chaskin eventually came forward and said that, yes, he had all of this in mind when he wrote the script. Robert Englund apparently was able to read between the lines and has stated he always interpreted this as being about a teenage boy struggling with his sexuality. The actor even went so far as to try to ad lib something blatantly homoerotic during one scene, which was rejected by producers. Director Sholder said he was completely unaware of any gay subtext due to his own naivety at the time and how busy he was during the entire shoot. Listening to the various cast and crew members discussing this over the years is nearly as interesting as the content itself.
Jesse Walsh (Mark Patton) has just moved to Springwood, Ohio with his parents Ken (Clu Gulager) and Cheryl (Hope Lange) and his kid sister Angela (Christie Clark)... and they also happen to move right into Nancy Thompson's former home on Elm Street, which still has the bars over all the windows. Even though he's the new kid in town, Jesse has already made a female friend named Lisa (Kim Myers), but he's more interested in palling around with a popular, immature jock named Grady (Robert Rusler). Grady tells him about what went down in his home five years earlier and about how Nancy went crazy after seeing her boyfriend butchered in the house across the street. He also warns him to stay away from their drill instructor-like gym teacher Coach Schneider (Marshall Bell) because he "hangs out at queer S&M joints downtown" and "likes pretty boys like you."
Like Nancy and her ill-fated friends before him, Jesse is plagued by nightmares of Freddy, only this time Freddy isn't exactly out to kill him. He makes his intentions known caressing Jesse's face with his glove and then ripping back the skin on his head: "You've got the body. I've got the brains." This time out, Freddy wants to possess a human so that he may return to life and do his thing. Breaking with the format of the original in a big way, the Thompson home is now basically viewed as a haunted house and Freddy is the ghost inhabiting it. The original's premise, with Freddy out for revenge against the people who torched him by going after their kids, is dropped altogether. Jesse is, after all, an innocent bystander who just happens to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Jesse's body is eventually taken over by Freddy to the point where he can control him and force him to do his dirty work ("Kill for me!"). First up is the mean coach. After Jesse goes to the gay club in the middle of the night, the coach drags him back to the school and forces him to run laps. He's then pummeled with balls and sporting equipment, dragged to the shower room by jump ropes, has his clothes stripped off and then gets his ass whipped bloody with towels before Freddy slashes him to death.
Afterward, Jesse is found naked, disoriented and wandering the highway by police. While his mother immediately wants to put him in therapy, his hard-assed dad thinks he's on drugs and needs "a good god damn kick in the butt!" But that doesn't explain the strange occurrences in the home either. It always feels 100 degrees inside, an unplugged toaster catches fire and a parakeet goes crazy, attacks everyone and then explodes! After Jesse completely loses his battle to contain Freddy, more deaths follow, culminating in an attack at a pool party at Lisa's home and then a visit to Freddy's former stomping grounds at the power plant.
Viewing Freddy as symbolic of the confused lead's repressed homosexual urges really does make this a much more interesting watch than it otherwise would have been; certainly more conceptually interesting than most of the other sequels. When Jesse starts getting intimate with Lisa and feels "him [Freddy] coming," he immediately flees to Grady's house, sneaks in his window and jumps into bed with him, right on top of him, prompting a startled "You want to sleep with me?!" from his friend.
I've seen numerous viewers claim this film is actually homophobic but those sharing that opinion seem to think the filmmakers are trying to equate being gay with being evil. However, it's important to note that Jesse's personal interpretation of his own urges at a time when said urges wouldn't be socially acceptable is just that: a character's interpretation. There's probably nothing scarier to most teens than knowing being their true self would make them an outcast and a target for ridicule within their peer group. Thus the Jesse character viewing these differences as a "monster" that must be contained is more about self-preservation than anything else. Jesse ultimately being saved by Lisa's love for him is also used by those crying homophobia but they also fail to point out the ending, which, if anything, implies Lisa was only a temporary fix. "Freddy" still hasn't gone away.
It was not only unusual to have a male protagonist in one of these things instead of the virginal final girl trope, but it was also unusual for that lead male to give such a full-blown dramatic performance when depictions of quiet male composure even in the most horrifying of circumstances were typically the norm in horror. Patton gives it his all and is on 10 in the hysterics department much of the time, though considering what's actually happening to his character that was pretty much the only way to go. I'd even dare to say that Patton's performance is clearly the best lead performance in any of the Elm Street films. Being gay himself, the actor appreciates that the film eventually found a cult following but has mostly negative things to say about what the film did to his career. He's even made a documentary about this and Hollywood homophobia called Scream, Queen: My Nightmare on Elm Street, which hasn't been released yet.
The subtext in Freddy's Revenge wasn't really examined thoroughly until recent years so it had no bearing on the film's reception and box office back in 1985. This was critically more or less viewed as you standard lesser sequel upon release. The reviews weren't good but it was financially successful and made more money than the original during its theatrical run. In fact, if one discounts the werewolf comedy Teen Wolf, it was the top-grossing horror film of 1985, outperforming the likes of Fright Night (another film frequently called out for its homoerotic content), THE RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD and the fifth Friday the 13th installment.
Also in the cast are Melinda O. Fee and Tom McFadden as Lisa's parents, Sydney Walsh (To Die For), Lyman Ward (Ferris Bueller's dad), Allison Barron (NIGHT OF THE DEMONS), JoAnn Willette (who co-starred with Heather Langenkamp on the TV series Just the Ten of Us), Kerry Remsen (Pumpkinhead), Brian Wimmer and Steve Eastin. Producer Robert Shaye also has an uncredited cameo as a bartender in the S&M club. The score was by Christopher Young and this also features some fun special effects by Kevin Yagher, Mark Shostrom, Bart Mixon and others, including a great bit where Freddy rips out of Jesse's body. Rachel Talalay (who went on to direct Freddy's Dead) was the production manager.