Friday, September 11, 2015

Franchises: A Nightmare on Elm Street. A Nightmare on Elm Street Part 2: Freddy's Revenge (1985)

Once I saw the original Nightmare on Elm Street from beginning to end for the first time, I was initially content to leave it at that and not worry about the sequels, which I knew there were a lot of. I think it was because I enjoyed the original movie so much that I didn't want to see a bunch of other movies mess it up, which seemed to be the case since I read how many felt that Freddy became too silly in the later movies. But, the next time I went shopping for movies and came across the VHS's for both this and the fourth movie, I decided, "What the heck?" and picked them up (this was at the beginning of 2003, making these some of the last VHS's I ever bought). I had heard a lot of negative things about Nightmare 2 in particular, that it was a major step down from the original and that it was looked upon as the black sheep of the franchise, so when I finally sat down to watch it, my expectations were pretty low. And, as had been the case when I saw Psycho II for the first time the previous year, this was one of those movies that really taught me the lesson of reserving judgement for something until after you've actually seen it because my reaction when I got into it was, "What is everyone talking about? This movie is awesome!" It may not be flawless, and I do think the original and some of the later films are better all-around, but this is a very worthy entry in the series regardless. I like that it tried a new angle on Freddy rather than just copying what had been done in the original, making it feel like its own movie, it's certainly one of the darkest installments, especially when compared to many of the later movies (I think this is the darkest portrayal of Freddy, period), and there are some really great sequences, very well-done special effects, and some memorable characters like the first movie. Again, it does have some issues, as we'll get into, but, like Halloween III: Season of the Witch and Friday the 13th Part V: A New Beginning, I think it deserves a reevaluation and a devoted cult fanbase like those films because it really is a lot better than people give it credit for even to this day.

Jesse Walsh, a teenager whose family has moved into the house where Nancy Thompson lived with her mother five years previously, has a frightening nightmare where he and two teenage girls are stranded on a schoolbus that becomes suspended over a hellish pit in the middle of the desert and are then attacked by a certain killer wearing a glove with knives on the fingers. Despite the nightmare and the house, especially his upstairs bedroom, being unusually hot, Jesse is adjusting well, giving a wealthy, local girl named Lisa rides to school every day and making friends with Ron Grady, another student whom he initially gets into a fight with. However, he continues to have nightmares about the same frightening man, who tells him that the two of them have "special work" to do and, in another nightmare, tells him to try on his glove after finding it and tells him, "Kill for me!" Jesse becomes afraid that they may be more than mere dreams when he and Lisa come across Nancy's diary while unpacking his room, where she describes the nightmares she's been having about Fred Krueger, whose description is exactly like that of the man Jesse is dreaming about, a feeling that is compounded when he remembers how Grady told him that the person who used to live in the house saw her boyfriend get butchered across the street. As time goes on, more strange things happen in the house, including more instances of extreme heat, the family's parakeet kills its mate and attacks them before suddenly bursting into flames, and the toaster catching on fire when it wasn't even plugged in. In addition, Jesse's dreams become more intense and real, to the point where he feels like he's sleepwalking while doing so, and after his gym teacher is brutally murdered, which he feels he saw in his "dream," Jesse becomes more frightened about what's happening to him and is now afraid to go to sleep, while his parents feel that he's either on drugs or insane. The night of a pool party at Lisa's house, Jesse's body begins to physically change at points, with Freddy now using him as a means to enter the real world and continue his murderous rampage there. Lisa, having studied Nancy's diary, tries to help Jesse fight Freddy off by telling him not to fear him and give him power, but when Jesse finally succumbs and allows Freddy to escape, even she may not be able to save him or her friends from the supernatural killer.

Since Wes Craven had no intentions of A Nightmare on Elm Street being a series, and when he looked at David Chaskin's script for the sequel, he didn't think it was at all good, he begged off directing this film, going on to do other things. In his place, New Line Cinema put Jack Sholder, who had been an editor for a long time, having edited trailers for them, as well as having edited The Burning for the Weinsteins, and also directed the first film New Line actually produced, Alone in the Dark, where he worked with Jack Palance, Martin Landau, and Donald Pleasence. He's always said that he was never a big fan of the original film, which he had some very minor involvement with, and never felt any motivation to follow what Craven had established with it, which explains why this film is so different from the original. When he once talked about his favorite films, Freddy's Revenge wasn't among them, and he's also said that he personally doesn't think it's the best entry in the series either, so it feels like this was a job he took simply for the opportunity and did it the way he saw fit with no emotional attachment to the outcome. In addition, he's also admitted that he's never been a fan of slasher movies either, so you get the impression that, like Craven, even though he's directed a number of genre films, they're not what he set out to specialize in (Sholder has said that his filmmaking influence is Jean Renoir). He's had an interesting career in the years since Freddy's Revenge, which was only his second film as director. The highlight for me is The Hidden, which is a really good, well-made sci-fi action flick and one that he, deservingly so, considers one of his best films. The only other film of his I've seen is Wishmaster 2: Evil Never Dies, which I remember being just kind of there and nothing special. According to his Wikipedia page, he says that Alone in the Dark (which I've never seen, sadly), By Dawn's Early Light, a 1990 HBO original movie about World War III, and 12:01, another TV movie, this one being science fiction, are his favorites along with The Hidden. In contrast, he says that his least favorite movie is a 2001, killer spider flick called Arachnid. He's also directed a fair amount of television, including an episode of Tales from the Crypt and the short-lived Tremors TV series, as well as the infamous Omen pilot movie that NBC only played once. He's apparently retired from directing, with his last movie having been a 2004 TV movie called 12 Days of Terror, and now teaches film at the Western Carolina University, although according to IMDB, he's currently attached to something called The Chronicles of Young Washington as director.

It's always nice in a horror film, or any film, for that matter, to have a lead who is relatable and likable and Mark Patton (whom I have met and is a great guy) nails that to a T in his performance here as Jesse Walsh. Jesse is an ordinary guy, a tad awkward and geeky, whose family has recently moved to Elm Street (which is actually mentioned here, unlike the original movie) and is trying to fit in to his new neighborhood and school. He's already managed to make a friend in local rich girl Lisa, whom you can tell he has a genuine affection for and it's the same the other way around as well, but they're both a little too shy to admit it, and, even though they get off on the wrong foot, he eventually becomes quite friendly with Ron Grady, another student. But, things quickly go from strange to terrifying in Jesse's home life, with how abnormally hot his bedroom is, making it hard to sleep, and the nightmares and hallucinations he begins having, which drive him to the point where he becomes afraid to go to sleep and feels like he's losing his mind. People make fun of the high-pitched scream Jesse often lets out during the film's frightening moments, citing it as evidence of girliness on his part (and, believe you me, we will talk about that aspect of the film presently), but I've always just seen as some poor guy who's scared out of his mind at what he's seeing. If this kind of crap started happening to me, I'd be screaming like that too! That's another thing: people talk about the fact that Jesse is a victim and Lisa the hero who plays a big part in saving him from Freddy and say that he's a wimp, that he's a pussy, and so forth, but, again, I look at it as someone who is unprepared for the crazy stuff that's happening to him and, as a result, is so freaked out that he's unable to control or stop it and needs help. Not every guy on the planet is going to be able to step up to the plate and deal with this stuff like some action hero. I know I wouldn't.

Due to Patton's likable and sympathetic performance, I feel so bad for Jesse as Freddy gains more control over him as the movie goes on, not only giving him nightmares but also making him wander around and do things that Jesse remembers as a kind of sleepwalking state, with him often regaining consciousness in places he didn't expect to find himself in, further freaking him out, and, like all of the other kids in these movies, make him do anything to avoid sleeping. As we get into the third act, Jesse looks like crap due to not having slept in a long time and you get a real sense of his emotional anguish too, with how his parents think he's either on drugs or crazy, he himself feels like his losing his mind, and knows that something is controlling him and trying to make him do horrible things to those around him. That's what he's most afraid of: he's really horrified when he finds himself in his little sister's room in the middle of the night, wearing Freddy's glove, and when he's making out with Lisa in the cabana during that pool party and this long, greenish-purple tongue bursts out of his mouth, he gets out of there and away from Lisa before Freddy can make him hurt her. I really feel for Jesse when Freddy literally tears his way out of his body in Grady's bedroom not too long afterward: not only is he frightened out of his wits by what's going on but he's also in excruciating pain. As if that wasn't bad enough, when he regains consciousness, he finds that his friend has been brutally murdered and he breaks down in tears, screaming at Freddy's image in the mirror and throwing the glove at it. Now, Jesse knows what's going on, that Freddy used him to kill Coach Schneider, and is more terrified than ever, fearing what he'll do next. Not too long after that, Freddy once again comes out of Jesse and appears to have destroyed him completely, although there are moments where Jesse's voice comes out of Freddy's mouth, showing that he's still in there, as he begs Lisa to kill them both. And Freddy is also not in control as much as he seems, with Jesse's influence preventing him from killing Lisa several times and even causing him to tell Lisa he loves her in his own voice. Plus, during the climax at the abandoned power plant, Jesse begins to fight back and make his way out of Freddy, resulting in a fire that destroys Freddy's body and allows Jesse to emerge from the burnt remains. Lisa played a big part in saving Jesse but he wasn't completely helpless here either. And during the film's ending, Jesse is now stronger and more confident, with how he demands that the school bus driver stop when he feels that the bus is going too fast, as it did in the opening nightmare. It's not enough to save himself and his friends from Freddy, though, but it is a big change.

Okay, before I say anything else, I just want to make it clear that Kim Myers is not ugly, alright? Yeah, her nose is a little big but it's not like she's Jimmy Durante, and the glimpses of her body that we do see, especially when she and Jesse are making out in the cabana, proves that she's no slouch there, either. I think she has a very cute look to her overall and I don't understand why people can't find her attractive but they can Sarah Jessica Parker, whose nose is pretty noticeable too (nothing against Sarah Jessica Parker, though). I had to get that off my chest before we moved on. In any case, I really her character of Lisa. She comes from a fairly wealthy family who has a big pool and whatnot but is not spoiled at all; rather, she's a very sweet, kind person who clearly likes Jesse as more than just a friend but is too shy to tell him how she feels at first. When he begins to talk to her about the weird, freaky stuff that's happening to him, she does try to help him, thinking that he may be picking up some kind of psychic images and influences, an ability that he didn't know he had. That turns out to be wrong, and when Jesse shows back up at her house, covered in blood and claiming that Fred Krueger is making him kill people, she doesn't really believe him, feeling that everything he's taken in is causing him to hallucinate, but she's at least sympathetic and trying to understand him, which is more than I can say for his parents (his father, anyway). Once she reads Nancy's diary entries about how her and her friends' fear of Freddy is what gave him the power to come for them, though, she realizes (rather suddenly after what she was telling Jesse earlier, I might add) that it is true and tries to help Jesse fight Freddy off by not fearing him. She's unable to prevent Freddy from entering the real world through Jesse but she is able to appeal to the part of him that's still in there and keep Freddy from killing her and give Jesse the strength to fight his way out. That's ultimately what makes Lisa likable: how much she clearly loves Jesse and is determined to help him fight Freddy off, and just as I feel bad for Jesse when he goes through the horrible stuff that he does, I feel bad for Lisa when she's so desperate to save Jesse from Freddy that she's in tears and when it seems like she may have to kill both of them to stop him. It's pulled of so well that I kind of wish that this film didn't have a shock ending and that Jesse and Lisa could have had a happily ever after considering everything they've been through, especially since the later films don't mention this one. But, what can you do?

Upon first viewing when you see him make fun of him and get into a fight with him on the baseball field, you'd probably expect Ron Grady (Robert Rusler) to be an asshole bully who's going to pick on Jesse for the entire film but, surprisingly, the two of them become friends over the course of the movie. It happens gradually, since the two of them are still a bit antagonistic towards each other when Coach Schneider forces them to do push-ups as punishment for the fight and later on in the locker room when Grady tells Jesse about what happened in his new house, with Jesse telling him that he's full of shit, but they do warm up to each other. They exchange some barbs about Schneider in the locker room later on, which gets them doing push-ups again when he overhears them, and when Jesse is starting to fall apart, Grady asks him if he wants to do something to take his mind off things and makes innocent enough joke to Lisa about Jesse being a basket case that gets him yelled at by him due to his high-strung state. And, of course, we have to talk about how Jesse goes to Grady after that moment where he's making out with Lisa and Freddy begins taking over his body, which I think people put more into than there is. I've never seen him sneaking into Grady's room as anything homosexual between the two but simply that he's scared about what's happening to him, feels like he needs to get away from Lisa before Freddy makes him hurt her but, at the same time, he sure as heck doesn't want to go home, so Grady, his friend, is the only other person he feels he can go to. Yeah, Grady's just in his shorts and Jesse's shirt is open but the former was sleeping and the latter is probably so weirded out that buttoning his shirt up is hardly a priority. And there's Grady's remark about how Jesse wants to "sleep" with him when he could be with Lisa but I think that's just commenting on how ridiculous this whole thing is. In any case, Grady is, predictably, skeptical about what Jesse tells him, thinking that he's losing it because of the dreams he's been having, but, seeing how scared he is, he allows him to stay and agrees to watch him and make sure nothing strange happens. That gets him killed by Freddy when he tears his way out of Jesse but at least he went out trying to help his friend.

Jesse's parents, like Nancy's in the original, aren't exactly the most likable couple of people. His mother (Hope Lange) is the more sympathetic of the two because she does see that her son is in some kind of trouble and wants to help him but she's not able to do much when he pushes her away. She's also the type of person who's in denial about certain things, telling her daughter that Jesse and his father are just making stuff up when talking about their house's history and telling Jesse that he's looking better when, in reality, he looks like absolute crap from staying awake for so long. But, again, at least she's sympathetic, which is more than I can say for Jesse's father (Clu Gulager). This guy is just a dick. I'm not talking about when he forces Jesse to unpack his room right when he's leaving to go hang out with Lisa or anything like that but rather when he, out of nowhere, accuses Jesse of being behind one of their parakeets going crazy and exploding in mid-air, going as far as to say that he used a cherry bomb. How in the hell does he think Jesse pulled that off? Just try and come up with ways that Jesse might have been behind what happened. You can't, can you? So, exactly how does his father think he did it? And why did he blame Jesse out of nowhere? Because he said that it wasn't because of a leaky gas pipe? Again, how could a leaky gas pipe make a parakeet blow up in mid-air? I know he's probably not too knowledgable about this kind of stuff and he's at least looking for an explanation but still, good lord. As if that isn't bad enough, he seems less concerned for his son's well-being when he begins acting strange, assuming out of nowhere, again, that he's on drugs, and the next day angrily yelling at his wife, "No, he's not in trouble! What that boy needs is a good goddamn kick in the butt! That's what he needs!" And finally, you learn that he knew something about what happened in the house years before and didn't tell his family before they moved in, making him akin to the character of John Strode in Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers later on. He's not as despicable a character as John Strode, mind you, but when his wife confronts him with it and he says, "Oh, come on, Cheryl. How do you think we got such a good deal?", I once again can't help but think that he's a dick. I do like how the toaster catches on fire even though it wasn't plugged right after he says that there's nothing wrong with the house. I'm surprised he didn't blame that on Jesse either. After that, he never says anything for the rest of the movie, so we never get any closure on his relationship with his son and don't know if he ever apologized to him for what he said or not, which doesn't help his case. I don't have much of anything to say about Jesse's little sister (Christie Clark) since she doesn't do or say much but, that said, that scene where Jesse sees her playing jump-rope in her room while singing Freddy's nursery rhyme is one of the creepiest in the entire series to me.

Coach Schneider (Marshall Bell) comes very close to be a secondary villain in the film. At first glance, he may seem like a typical, hardass coach, but as the film goes on and you learn more about him, it's obvious that he's a pretty fucked up individual. He likes to hang out at S&M clubs and, according to Grady, he has a thing for nice-looking guys like Jesse. He seems to really like forcing people to do push-ups as punishment, with Grady saying that he gets his rocks off on stuff like that, and he does seem to take some pleasure in it. It seems like he's had his eye on Jesse for a while with how he watches him and Grady doing their first set of push-ups from his office and when he catches Jesse at an S&M club, he takes him to the school and forces him to run laps in the gym. I seriously doubt that he has the right to do that but that's nothing when you think about how, after he sends Jesse to the showers, he's seen taking a jump-rope out of an equipment locker. Maybe I'm doing what I accused other people of doing to the scene where Jesse goes to Grady but, still, when I think about what Schneider is into and how he's decked out in leather at that point, I wonder what he's planning on doing with that rope. Maybe Jesse's lucky that Freddy killed Schneider then. One last character I want to briefly mention before we talk about Freddy himself is Lisa's friend, Kerry (Sydney Walsh), this rather hot girl who, despite some off-color remarks she makes about it at first, appears to really want Lisa to get with Jesse. At the pool party when Lisa debates about whether she should go to Jesse after he leaves in a panic or stay with the party since she's the host, Kerry, when she's not making out in the pool with one of the guys, tells her, "Fuck the party. Go see him." And when the plan with Jesse failed, Freddy apparently chose her as his new avatar for entering the real world when his hand bursts out of her at the end.

Those who say that Freddy Krueger was the most evil in the original Nightmare have either never bothered to see this one or they did and weren't really paying attention. I've always felt that this is Robert Englund's darkest, most unquestionably evil portrayal of the character, rivaling that in both the original film and Wes Craven's New Nightmare later on. In the first film, there's no question that Freddy was a very twisted character but, when he chased after and terrified his victims, there was a glee to what he did; I don't see any of that here. It feels like in this film, he's still filled with the rage that had engulfed him when he was trying to kill Nancy at the end of the first one. He does laugh a number of times in the film but instead of feeling sadistically playful like it did before, here it sounds truly diabolical, like he's revelling in his evil and the pain and terror that he's causing. His voice, which sounds more demonic in this film than any other to me, adds to this feeling that he's not to be messed with, truly sounding like he's come straight from hell. Freddy has no one-liners in this film, either. Even the first one had, "Hey, Nancy! No running in the hallway!" but here, when he's not laughing like the devil, he's snarling and yelling while killing people in very brutal ways. He slices Coach Schneiders's back like Swiss cheese, grabs Grady by the throat and guts him right through to the door, chases Lisa down and bites her leg, and goes completely postal on the kids at the poolside, slicing one open and skewering another in the stomach with his knife fingers while using his powers to make sure that the others can't escape. Like the first film, he doesn't have many lines (or much screentime, for that matter) and whenever he does talk, he's full of rage and hatred, like when Lisa tries to reach a trace of Jesse inside of him and he yells, "There is no Jesse! I'm Jesse now!" or when that one guy by the pool tries to talk him down, telling him, "I'm here to help you," and he snarls, "Help yourself, fucker!" before stabbing and throwing him. And the classic line, "You are all my children now," is basically him telling all of those scared teenagers that they're not going to leave this place alive, as well as possibly hinting at his intention to destroy everyone in the town. Finally, there's Freddy's ultimate plan. Instead of merely killing Jesse in his dreams, he intends to take him over and wipe him out of existence so he can resume killing in the real world. On top of that, he emotionally and physically torments him, uses his body to get to a couple of victims before coming out for good, tells him things like, "Kill for me," and even makes him go to his little sister's room in the middle night, potentially to kill her with the glove. If that doesn't make him a truly malevolent entity, I don't know what will.

Aside from being at his most evil here, I also think that this is the nastiest that Freddy has ever looked as well. Like before, Freddy is often photographed in very low lighting and the film is also often edited in a way where you can't get a good look at his face but in the shots where you do see him in all his glory, man, is he disgusting! Kevin Yagher took over the job of creating Freddy's makeup from David Miller, which he would continue in the next two films as well, and he's said that his intention was to make Freddy look like a male witch, which you can definitely see from the slightly hooked nose, the overall skeletal look of the face, complete with prominent cheekbones, and the texture of the burnt flesh, which looks a bit wrinkled and saggy-looking (this is the only time where I don't see Robert Englund in there at all). That shot of Freddy looking almost straight at the camera as he laughs at Lisa when she futilely stabs him in the shoulder is where he looks the most like a witch, with his hat looking like a stereotypical witch's hat in the way it's framed. The brass-colored eyes that he has here help with his very demonic feel this time around as well. What's most interesting about Freddy's design here is the situation that came up regarding his glove. The glove, which is the same one that was made for the first movie (it looks kind of different to me here, though, which could be due to the lighting) is prominent for 3/4 of the film and then, when Freddy emerges from Jesse in Lisa's house near the end, he has knife-blades literally coming out of his fingertips from there on out. As any fan knows, someone stole the glove in the middle of shooting and, I guess since they were really deep into production at this point and didn't have time to build another one, they were in a bind and needed a quick way to get around it, so they had Yagher and his team design these knife-fingers. They look very realistic, to the point where I cringe every time I look at them, especially in that part where Freddy tries to stab Lisa while he's chasing her and they stick into the floor, because they come across as seeming very painful, even though I guess they're not. But still, it is inexplicable for Freddy to go from his trademark weapon to a more organic version of it with no explanation and can really throw first-time viewers, as it did me (I knew going in that the original glove was stolen but I never read anything about the knife-fingers).

The biggest complaint I often hear leveled at Nightmare 2 is Freddy leaving the dream world to commit murders in reality again, saying that it breaks the rules established in the first film. Members of the crew and the producers have said that, Robert Englund has said that, and Wes Craven cited that as the reason why he refused to direct the movie. They often go after the pool party massacre in particular as being the most "nonsensical" scene in the film, a point they really hammered in the Never Sleep Again documentary on the series (which is a must-watch for fans, by the way). I just don't get it. What is so bad about Freddy leaving the dream world? First of all, didn't Nancy pull Freddy out of the dream in the first movie? You might bring up the confusing nature of that ending but the much more lauded third film confirms that finale did happen and Freddy would get pulled out of the dream again in future movies, so it's obvious that is possible. Second, Freddy often, in both the original and the following movies, affects the real world. Look at how he dragged Tina up the wall and across the ceiling in front of Rod, manipulated the bed sheet around Rod's neck to hang him, turned Glen into an enormous geyser of blood spewing out of his bed in front of his horrified mother, and called Nancy on her disconnected phone and made his mouth and tongue come out of it while she was awake. Plus, you have the point of the entire series: he can kill you for real through your dreams. Third, there's the complaint that when he enters the real world here, he still has the powers he has in dreams. Again, look at the stuff he did in the previous film, and don't forget that in the first movie, Nancy pulled him out of the dream by force whereas here, he comes out through his own volition, using Jesse as an avatar to do so (not to mention that if we're to believe that the climax of the first film happened, Freddy was able to survive being lit on fire, drag Nancy's mother down through the bed, and then rise up through the mattress). Fourth, why wouldn't Freddy want to do this? Killing people in their dreams is probably fine for him but being able to re-enter the real world and do the stuff he can do in the dream world there probably appeals to him a lot as well. I've heard some mention how he was able to "safely" kill people in their dreams, as if he's now vulnerable when he comes out of Jesse? Who is going to be able to take him with what he's capable of? Even if Lisa hadn't stopped her father from shooting him, do you think that shotgun would have done anything to him? And finally, this is a franchise about an undead killer who continues killing in people's dreams; stop taking it so damn seriously and just enjoy it. If Freddy had to stick to some set rules, it wouldn't be as fun, so I have no problem with him coming out to play in the waking world.

One thing's that interesting about the film is that, because Freddy isn't oncreen that much, a good chunk of it feels like a haunted house/ghost movie, rather than a supernatural slasher movie like the original. You have a lot of instances of things moving by themselves, like the sports equipment that attacks Coach Schneider, the jump ropes that grab his arms and tie him up by themselves, and shots of windows and gates locking by themselves before the attack at the pool party, all of which are signs of Freddy doing his thing before he uses Jesse to enter the real world and attack. The basic premise of the Walsh family moving into a house where something bad happened in the past and they begin to experience strange things like unexplained heat, their pets suddenly going crazy and attacking them before blowing up for no reason, and their toaster oven blowing up for no reason, as well as their son having horrific nightmares that he never experienced before they moved in, is the classic haunted house story. Jesse's being specifically targeted by whatever evil forces are in the house, being physically and psychologically tormented as the entity tries to take him over, is also a much used archetype, bringing to mind not only The Exorcist but also Amityville II: The Possession and The Entity. And that's to say nothing of the many sequences of him getting up in the middle of the night, wandering around, and coming across weird things, with that bit where he opens the door to his sister's room and she's jumping rope while very creepily singing the Freddy nursery rhyme being something that I would expect to see in that kind of movie. As with the idea of Freddy coming into the real world, some may not like this approach to the story but I think it was interesting take that did work for the most part.

Long before I saw any of these movies, I read up on them on IMDB and that was where I first heard  a little bit about the gay overtones that people tended to see in Nightmare 2, with one reviewer mentioning that Jesse walked around the town naked after Freddy kills the coach in the showers (which is true but the person neglected to mention that we're told this rather than actually seeing it). That remained in my mind when I finally did see the film but it wasn't until after I saw it those first three or four times and read up about the film afterward that I really learned that people often refer to this as the gay Nightmare on Elm Street. This baffled me because, being only 15 and naive when I first saw it, I honestly didn't understand what people were seeing that made them think that. I was kind of like Jack Sholder and the crew in that I didn't understand for the longest time how any of it could be interpretted as gay, even though I certainly knew what homosexuality was at that point. I guess since I was young and naive and also because I'm not gay myself and I don't make it a habit of looking for these kind of sexual undertones in films (I subscribe to the idea that sometimes a cigar is just a cigar), it was a mystery to me... looking at it now, though, I wonder how Sholder and company couldn't have realized what people would think of the stuff in here. I still don't think there was anything homosexual about Jesse's friendship with Grady, but there are so many eyebrow-raising shots and images here that you wouldn't even need the perceived metaphor of Jesse's torment being one of not being able to come out of the closet to think that this couldn't be accidental (screenwriter David Chaskin finally admitted in the Never Sleep Again documentary that he did intentionally write this angle into it). It's not just that it happens but also how the filmmakers seem intent on making you see it with close-ups and suggestive angles. You've got a number of instances of partial or full-on male nudity, with Jesse's rear end getting a lot of coverage and Schneider being stripped naked and his butt smacked with gym towels until it's bloody, the scene in the S&M bar, Schneider being into that stuff, with his aforementioned death being Freddy throwing that back in his face, and, of course, that legendary scene where Jesse unpacks his room. Oh, dear lord, that scene. Even when I first saw the movie, I was like, "Um..." Just the sight of him dancing around while putting his stuff up, closing that one drawer by pushing it with his butt, putting on that cap and those silly glasses, and doing that thrusting motion while he has whatever that tube-like toy is right on his crotch, with the damn thing popping right when his mother and Lisa walks in, all the while listening to one of the fruitiest songs I've ever heard ("Hold me, baby. Drive me crazy. Touch me, all night long."). "How do you like that, Dad?" indeed. As a result, it's not so far-fetched to think that Jesse maybe isn't as into Lisa as he thinks he is and that some of Freddy's torture could be tied into his sexual identity crisis, particularly when he randomly goes to that S&M bar. I'll say this, while it is weird, this stuff does make Nightmare 2 one of the most unique films in the series, and I don't mean that in a bad way, either.

New Line Cinema was able to get a slightly bigger budget for the sequel (around $3 million as opposed to the original $1.8 million) and they made very good use of it for the special effects. While the stuff that was pulled off in the first film is still impressive considering how little money they had to work with, the effects work in Nightmare 2 is, more often than not, superior in my opinion. When it comes to the makeup effects, not only did Kevin Yagher do an excellent job in giving Freddy a different but disgusting and creepy look, he also pulled off some other great stuff like when Freddy pulls the skin off of his head, revealing his pulsating brain, when his tongue comes out of Jesse's mouth when he's making out with Lisa, and when he melts after catching on fire at the end, even though that does look like nothing more a puppet in how it moves. The greatest makeup effect in the film, though, is when Freddy claws his way out of Jesse's body in Grady's room. Every piece of that sequence, from the knives coming out of Jesse's fingers to his arm splitting open to reveal Freddy's underneath, from Freddy's eyeball looking around in the back of Jesse's throat to the finale of him pushing his face through Jesse's chest and slicing it open so he can wriggle out, is well-executed and shot, making for a jaw-dropping spectacle. And the kills are convincingly brutal and nasty, with plenty of blood flowing to satisfy gorehounds. There are some makeup and mechanical effects that don't look good, like the random, baby-faced guard dogs at the power plant (I've never understood what those thing were about even in context of the movie) and that monster mouse and cat that Lisa sees in the plant, which look too much like hand-puppets to me, but everything else is solid. There aren't as many optical effects here as there were in the first movie but those that are present, like the over-the-shoulder shot of Jesse looking into a mirror and seeing Freddy there, Freddy disappearing in mid-air when crashing through the glass door, him disappearing into flames after the rampage by the pool, and the shots of the hellish inside of the power plant, are well done. But I think one of the film's crowning moments has to be the opening nightmare of the schoolbus being driven out into the desert by Freddy, where the ground caves in around it, revealing a pit that looks like it leads to hell. The physical effects of the dirt being sucked in and the ground cracking beneath the bus are good but that wide-shot of it being suspened above the pit on only two (and, very quickly, one) pillars of what used to be the ground takes the cake and makes it easy to forget how small this movie actually was.

Like nearly all of the Nightmare on Elm Street films, this movie opens with a nightmare, with Jesse riding a schoolbus (which is being driven by an out of makeup Robert Englund) that gradually lets out all of its passengers throughout the town until it's just him and two girls left. They come up on one of the girls' stop when the bus suddenly speeds up, with the driver ignoring the girl telling her that he missed her stop and barreling out into the nearby desert. As they head further into the desert, the sky turns dark and lightning is now flashing across it, and the bus keeps going for miles until it hits a small hill, flying up into the air and coming down roughly on the ground, flinging the girls out of their seat. Now that they've finally stopped, Jesse tries to open the window but is unable to when the ground starts caving in around the bus. He and the two girls watch as the ground continues falling apart when the bus suddenly shifts its weight, with a wide shot revealing the ground to have given way to a deep, hellish pit with lava and smoke at the bottom. The bus is now balancing on two pillars of what was once the ground and it gets struck by lightning as it sits there. Jesse whimpers hopelessly at this and then turns his head to the front of the bus and gasps. The girls are horrified too when they see Freddy, whom you already knew was the one driving thanks to some cutaway shots of his gloved hand changing gears when they were going into the desert, stand up from the driver's seat and begin laughing evilly at them. The girls panic and head to the back of the bus, causing its front to tilt upwards enough to where the front pillar that its weight was holding together falls apart, leaving it teetering like a seesaw on only one. The kids get into the middle of the bus to shift its weight forward so more to keep it steady but Freddy begins slowly approaching them, ripping the leather of the seats he passes by with his glove as he walks. Scared, the kids cower back to the bus' rear, tilting it up again, and forcing them to put their weight back on its center. Freddy continues approaching them and clawing the leather until he traps them in the corner, scraping the ceiling before swinging at them and yelling ferociously. A cut to the Walsh family at the dinner table shows that it was just a dream, as we hear Jesse scream in terror upstairs and another cut shows him soaked in sweat as his alarm clock goes off.

That night, Jesse appears to be unable to sleep due to how hot it is in his room and he walks downstairs to the kitchen. After opening the refrigerator and accidentally causing a glass jug of orange juice to smash onto the floor, Jesse sees a glimpse of someone in the bushes outside the window when he reaches for a paper towel. Going outside to investigate, he creeps along the side of the house, hearing scraping noises now and again, and he hears the sound of fire when he gets to the basement window. Seeing a glow coming from in there, Jesse looks in and sees Freddy, his back turned to him, reach into the lit furnace and take out something wrapped in cloth. Jesse goes back inside and opens the door that leads down into the basement. When he sees Freddy's shadow pass along the floor and wall below, Jesse pulls the door to and yells for his dad. The door is then pulled from the other side and Jesse struggles to keep it closed, with demonic growling coming from the other side. He eventually lets go and tries to run upstairs, only for Freddy to appear right in front of him. After telling him that his dad can't help him, he grabs Jesse by the neckline of his shirt and shushes him, hovering the knives of his glove in front of his face. He then tells Jesse that the two of them have "special work" to do and, after slamming him up against the wall, says, "You've got the body. I've got the brain," and pulls back the flesh on the right side of the top of his head, revealing his brain. Freddy then laughs at Jesse, who screams at horror upon seeing this and then, in a cut, wakes up screaming in his bed. His parents come in to make sure that he's okay, with his mother wondering if they should call a doctor, but Jesse assures them that he's fine and they leave him to go back to sleep.

After a false alarm in biology class the next day where Jesse dozes off and a boa constrictor that somehow got loose climbs up hiss back and around his neck, causing him to scream in fear (and for some reason, the teacher acts as if he did it on purpose), and the scene where he and Lisa come across Nancy's diary while unpacking his room and they read her entries about Freddy, making Jesse wonder for the first time if the nightmares could be real, the next horror scene happens that night when Jesse, again, is unable to sleep. Turning on the lamp to his left, he sees that it's so hot in the room that a plastic hat that was hanging on it has literally melted, as has another object to his right and a nearby record, which we see beginning to droop down over the edge of the dresser it's lying on. Jesse gets up and is compelled to go downstairs, walk down into the cellar, and open the unlit furnace. Inside, he finds Freddy's glove wrapped up in a cloth. As he looks at it, the furnace suddenly lights by itself, startling him to his feet, when Freddy makes his entrance on the other side of it with a maniacal laugh. He tells Jesse to try the glove on for size and Jesse does look back down at it but quickly throws it down in disgust. Grabbing the hot furnance with his bare hand, Freddy tells Jesse to kill for him. Jesse shakes his head and attempts to run but trips into some supplies at the edge of the stairs. Looking behind him, he sees that Freddy is gone and the furnace, although it's smoking, isn't lit anymore... but the glove is inexplicably right next to him on the floor.

The following night, the family is in the living room and after Cheryl puts a cover over the cage containing their two parakeets, she comments about how hot it is. Mr. Walsh gets up to look at the thermostat as Jesse walks in and is immediately hit by the heat as well. His father then says that it's 97 degrees in the room. The birdcage then begins to shake violently and Jesses the cover off to reveal that one of the parakeets has gone crazy and killed its mate. He opens the cage and the bird attacks his hand, causing him to throw it up into the air. It hovers above them and then dives at Mr. Walsh, scraping him on the left side of his face and knocking him into the recliner. With Angel ducking behind the recliner, Cheryl rushes into the next room while Jesse has to do duck to avoid the parakeet. It flies back up into the air and swoops down at Angela, who ducks and causes it to hit and knock over the lamp behind her. Cheryl comes back in with a broom and Mr. Walsh runs to grab it. The bird zooms by Jesse and Mr. Walsh swings the broom at it but misses and only manages to knock over another lamp. The bird hovers near the ceiling and looks like it's going to attack again, when it suddenly bursts into flames in mid-air (the cut from a real bird to a puppet is quick but it's noticeable nonetheless), raining feathers down on the floor, while the family stands there, wondering what in the hell just happened.

After that craziness, and Jesse stomping out when his father later blaims him for it for no reason, the film cuts to another sleepless night for him due to how hot his room is. He goes downstairs into the kitchen again and looks out the window when a bolt of lightning comes through it and hits the metal utensils next to him. He's then compelled to walk into town in the pouring rain, arriving at this gay bar called Don's Place. He goes inside and orders a beer but after the bartender (Bob Shaye in leather garb) gives it to him and he attempts to take a drink, Coach Schneider pops up to his left and stops him. As punishment, he takes him back to the school and forces him to run laps in the gym, telling him to hit the showers once he's through. While Jesse takes his shower, Schneider takes out a couple of jump-ropes from a locker in his office when he hears a twanging sound. He peeks his head outside his office but, when he doesn't see anything, he walks back in and hears the sound again. That's when he sees that the sound is a tennis racket whose net is being gradually cut by an unseen force (truth be told, you can clearly see the device behind it that's creating the effect). Basketballs and volleyballs begin bouncing off the shelves behind his desk, with one of them flinging itself at him fairly violently, forcing him to dodge it, and tennis balls in the locker behind him start firing themselves at him out of their tubes like mini-cannons. Schneider hits the deck to avoid them and that's when the shelves behind his desk turn themselves so that they're aimed right at him. I like how, during all of this, Schneider keeps chewing his tobacco and has a look on his face that's basically kind of like, "Huh, that's weird." A basketball shoots itself and whacks him in the head, followed by an onslaught of all kinds of balls, including more tennis balls from the locker, that tear the office apart, with a small barbell getting sent through the window, until Schneider puts a stop to it by closing the locker. That's when those jump-ropes that he took out earlier fly at him and tie around his wrists. The door to the office opens by itself and Schneider, who is now finally scared and screaming bloody murder, is pulled down the hall by the ropes. In the shower room, all of the other shower-heads turn on by themselves and Jesse watches as Schneider gets pulled into the room, is hoisted up against the wall, the ropes' other ends tying around the handles, and an unseen force tears his clothes off. Gym towels in the next room fly in and smack his butt until it's bloody, and when Schneider looks at Jesse on the other end of the room, the steam becomes so thick that he disappears from sight... and Freddy appears in his place (from his robotic, stiff walking, you can tell that this is not Robert Englund but rather a really bad double they started the movie with when New Line didn't want to pay him some extra money). He walks up to the terrified Schneider and slices his back open, blood now spraying out of the showerheads as he dies. Jesse emerges from the steam, wearing Freddy's glove and with blood on him. When he regains his senses and sees the glove, he screams in horror. Jesse's brought home by some cops who found him wandering around naked and, after he denies that he's taking drugs when his dad asks him, he goes to bed.

The following night, after he learns from Grady that Schneider's been murdered, Jesse hears a rustling sound in his nearby drawer and when he opens it, he finds Freddy's glove inside, slowly flexing by itself. He then hears Freddy's voice again tell him, "Kill for me." In the next cut, Jesse walks out of his room and, hearing a noise behind a nearby door, he opens it up to see Angela jumping rope while singing the Freddy Krueger nursery rhyme. Jesse only allows her to get to the third verse before he closes the door. And this is when I feel compelled to adress something that Brad Jones mentioned in his Cinema Snob video on this film. In an interview after the movie on the VHS I once had, Jack Sholder talked about how he edited the film to move Coach Schneider's death earlier in the movie than it originally was, which made a difference in the preview screenings. Now, keeping that in mind, think about this: when Jesse finds the glove, he's in his underwear, but when he sees his sister in the following cut, he not only has his clothes on but they're the same clothes he was wearing when he walked out into the rain and lost due to being forced to take a shower at the school. So, was he originally meant to walk downstairs after seeing that eerie vision, leading into the build-up to Schneider's death? You could make the argument that the bit with the glove was meant to end right there and happen the previous night, with Schneider's death being directly tied to Freddy telling Jesse to kill for him here and, therefore, adding even more to Jesse's horror when he regains consciousness in the shower and finds himself wearing the glove. In any case, the following morning after he grills his dad about the house's history, the toaster suddenly burts into flames and Mr. Walsh discovers that it wasn't plugged in.

After Jesse and Lisa drive out to the abandoned power plant where Freddy worked when he was alive and a false scare involving a rat in a locker, we get a POV shot that begins in the basement of the house and, after the furnace comes on by itself, it travels up the stairs, into the main part of the stairs, heads up to the second level where the bedrooms are, and goes into Angela's bedroom. It stops at her bedside and you hear Freddy's voice telling her to wake up. She does and asks what time it is, with a cut revealing that the person standing over her is Jesse. He tells her that it's late and that she should go back to sleep. Pulling the covers over her, he then recoils his right hand away from her when he sees that he's wearing the glove again. In his room, Jesse takes some pills to keep himself awake and downs them with some Coca-Cola to further ensure that he won't sleep.

Despite his less than stellar mental and physical state at this point, Jesse goes to Lisa's pool party the following night but, after a while, decides to leave and goes into the cabana to get dressed. Lisa, concerned about what's happening to him, follows him in there and, after they talk for a bit, she promises him that she won't let anything happen. The two of them begin making out in there as the kids outside, seeing that Lisa's parents have gone to bed, turn off the Benny Goodman music he had playing and put on some really loud dance music, kicking the party into full swing. While they all begin dancing, making out, and break out the beer, Jesse and Lisa are on the floor in the cabana and their makeout session is really heating up, with Lisa's shirt now open and Jesse kissing her torso. And that's when a long, purple-green tongue slides out of Jesse's mouth and begins licking Lisa, who doesn't see this because her eyes are closed at the moment. The tongue slides back into Jesse's mouth right before she opens her eyes back up and he, now scared as to what might happen, quickly puts his shoes on and leaves, ignoring Lisa asking him what's wrong. He goes to Grady's house, sneaks into his bedroom, wakes him up, and tells him what's happening. Grady doesn't really believe Jesse but, seeing that his friend is really freaked out, he allows him to stay. Jesse tells him to watch him and not to let him leave if he starts to act strange. He also warns him not to fall asleep.

After a quick cut back to the party where Kerry convinces Lisa to forget about it and to go see Jesse, we cut back to Grady's, where Jesse has fallen asleep in his chair and Grady, after not being able to find something on TV to watch, turns out the light and tries to go to sleep. That's when Jesse wakes up and warns Grady that he's starting to feel strange again. Grady turns the light on as Jesse, clearly beginning to feel pain, tenses up and whimpers. Grady gets out of bed and asks Jesse what's wrong, with Jesse lifting his right arm up as knife-blades slowly emerge from his fingertips. The flesh of his arm then splits open, revealing Freddy's arm, and Jesse begins yelling and whimpering in pain, with Grady backing up fear and trying to open the door, which is locked. Grady bangs on the door and yells for his dad as Jesse backs up against the wall and lets out a horrible scream, with a shot showing Freddy's eye looking around in the back of his throat. He slumps to the floor and Freddy's face pushes through the flesh of his torso from the inside, and as Grady starts banging on the door and yelling for his dad again, Freddy slices open Jesse's chest and wriggles out. He stands up, what's left of Jesse sliding off his back, and looks at Grady. Grady's parents have finally heard him and his dad is banging on the door from the other side, yelling for him, but he's now too shocked to answer as Freddy smiles evilly at him and puts his hat on. Grady then does yell for his dad and his dad yells back, telling him to open the door (on which side is it locked?), but there's no escape for him as Freddy walks up to him, grabs him by the throat and lifts him up, and skewers him, the knives going all the way through him and the door, horrifying his parents. Blood gushes out of Grady's mouth and Freddy drops him to the floor, dead. Freddy once again goes back into Jesse's body, who regains consciousness and becomes distraught over seeing Grady dead. Hearing Freddy laugh, he looks in the mirror and sees him there, taunting him. Yelling angrily at Freddy, Jesse takes the glove off and throws it at the mirror, cracking it, but Freddy remains and continues laughing at him. Jesse then hears the police arrive and start to break down the door, causing him to panic and escape out the window.

Covered in Grady's blood, Jesse arrives back at Lisa's house more frightened than ever and tells her what happened and that Freddy is inside him, saying that he owns him. Outside, Freddy is beginning to make his presence known by heating the pool up hotter than normal, setting the hotdogs on fire and making them pop like firecrackers, with one kid putting them in the barbecue and closing it, and slicing open the beer cans. Lisa shows Jesse the last entry in Nancy's diary where she describes how she and her friends gave Freddy power originally through their fear, while outside the padlock on the gate locks by itself and inside, the door to her parents' bedroom closes and locks by itself, which they do see. Downstairs, Jesse feels Freddy coming back and tells Lisa to fight him. The window then shuts and locks and so do all of other doors, while Lisa again tries to get Jesse not to fear Freddy and prevent him from coming. Jesse, however, is too afraid and as he struggles, the water in the nearby fish tank begins heating up. Lisa keeps trying to give Jesse courage but the TV behind her explodes and when she dodges it, the fish tank's glass shatters next to her. Outside, the lawn lanterns strewn above the pool explode, panicking the kids. Back inside, Lisa hears Freddy's laugh and he rises up where Jesse was, snarling, "He can't fight me! I'm him!" He then tries to attack Lisa, who manages to whack him in the face with a lamp and run into the next room and to the back door. She's unable to open it and, as Freddy enters the dining room she ducked into a moment before, Lisa walks down the hall to try to find another way out. She runs into Freddy, who grabs ahold of her and the two hit the floor. Lisa tries to get away but Freddy catches her and bites her left leg hard enough to make it bleed. She manages to get loose and kicks Freddy in the face, barely avoiding his knife-fingers as she gets up and runs to the doors in the kitchen. Outside, the pool bubbles violently and becomes so hot that those still in have to climb out. The other kids try to help Lisa but she's trapped as Freddy appears in the doorway to the kitchen, smacking a plate off its display and growling at her. Lisa grabs a butcher knife on the counter and holds it in a defensive way, pleading for Jesse to help her. Freddy tells her that there is no Jesse and stalks towards her, with Lisa screaming at him to get away from her as the kids outside watch helplessly. Now right in front of her, Jesse's voice comes out of Freddy's mouth and begs her to kill him. Freddy then laughs and yells, "Come on, Lisa. Kill him! Kill him!" She hesitates but when he threatens her with his knife-fingers, she stabs him repeatedly in his left shoulder, with Freddy chuckling evilly at her. Jesse's voice tells her that he loves her and Lisa then drops the knife, feeling hopeless. Freddy grabs her face, freaking Lisa out, and tells her in his own voice that he loves her. He then realizes that he can't hurt her because of Jesse and throws her against the wall in frustration and runs for the doors. The teenagers right outside scatter as he crashes through the doors and vanishes.

For a minute, it looks as if everything's fine. The door to Lisa's parents' bedroom unlocks, some boys help some of the girls out of the pool, and everything is very calm. But then, Freddy bursts through the deck amidst the partygoers and all hell breaks loose. People start running everywhere in a panic and Freddy swipes off the decorations on a table before cornering one poor guy against the fence and slicing his face open. Another guy tries to get out through the gate but gets an electric shock when he touches it and some of the kids fall into the pool in their panic, upon which the water actually ignites. Hearing the commotion, Lisa's parents run down the stairs while the kids desperately try to escape but find themselves cornered against a wall, with one group of guys finding their path blocked by flames that come out of nowhere and another trying to escape over the wall when flames pop up on the other side, causing him to fall down behind the bushes and get fried by some other flames there. In the house, Lisa's mother manages to wake her up while her dad sees what's going on outside, with the kids panicking and trying to climb up the wall, crushing one guy who fell down with their collective weight, and one guy getting Freddy's knives right in his gut. Lisa's father tells her mother to get Lisa to safety while outside, one guy tries to talk Freddy down, with Freddy looking at him like, "Are you serious?" While Lisa's father smashes open the case where he keeps the shotguns, the do-gooder gets yelled at by Freddy, with flames springing up out of the pool behind as he slashes the guy, grabs his arm, and flings him across the yard, causing him to slam into the barbecue grill. Freddy then tells them that they're all his children now when Lisa's father runs outside with a shotgun and tries to shoot him but hits the buffet table behind him instead. Freddy glares at him as he puts in another shell and aims the gun again but Lisa grabs the barrel and points it at the ground as he pulls the trigger. He angrily asks what she's doing and they then all watch Freddy as he calmly walks away from the buffet table and towards the wall, the teenagers giving him plenty of room as he disappears into flames. While Lisa's parents try to figure out where he went, she runs back into the house.

Lisa drives Jesse's car to the old power plant and, after wrapping the spot on her leg where Freddy bit her with a piece of the seat upholstery, she gets out and walks past some bizarre-looking guard dogs to enter the plant, which is now active and looks more hellish than it did before. Walking down a walkway, she hears Freddy scrape his knives against metal nearby and when she touches a pipe as she rounds a corner, she recoils from how hot it is. You can hear some demonic sounds nearby as Lisa takes a few more steps before, feeling something, she bends down and unwraps her wound, revealing that it's festering and is covered in ants. Panicking, she smacks at it repeatedly, trying to get rid of the ants, when she suddenly stops and a camera pan shows that the bite is still wrapped. She then walks up some steps, hears another scrape nearby, and walks down and around another platform, coming to a ladder. She climbs up it and sees a mouse rush toward her that reveals itself to be a demonic creature with sharp teeth. As if that wasn't strange enough, a demonic cat pounces on the mouse and gobbles it up, prompting Lisa to climb back down as it snarls at her. Lisa runs back the way she came until a piece of the walkway beneath her appears to fall, forcing her to grab onto the railing. But, it's shown to be another instance of Freddy messing with her mind as a pull-back shows that the panel didn't fall. Lisa gets to her feet and turns to her left, where Freddy pops up and swipes at her. Lisa runs the other way but eventually comes to a dead end. Freddy appears nearby and tells her to come to him. As he approaches, scraping the railing, Lisa tries to reach Jesse, telling him to stop Freddy. Freddy tells her that Jesse's dead and corners her, swiping at her. He puts his hand on the side of her head and prepares to kill her when Jesse calls to her from within him. Freddy finds himself unable to attack Lisa, who tells Jesse that she loves him. Blood suddenly begins oozing out of the spot where Lisa stabbed Freddy earlier, shocking him. Lisa runs past Freddy, who then calls to her and then, grabbing the railing for support, tells her to come back to him, laughing. Lisa tells Freddy that she's not afraid of him, adding that she's going to take Jesse away from him. Freddy again insists that Jesse's dead but Lisa calls to him, causing Freddy to slump down onto the catwalk. Lisa tells Jesse that Freddy's weak and that he can escape. Freddy tries to stab Lisa but she catches his hand. Freddy says that Jesse will die with him, which Lisa ignores and removes his hat. He then adds that he'll die with both of them as Lisa kisses him to try to bring Jesse out. It takes him a bit but Freddy is able to shove Lisa away and, as he sits in the corner, the equipment around him starts combusting. Fire spreads all around the bit of the walkway he's on and he begins screaming as his arm catches on fire, yelling for Lisa as he begins to melt before becoming fully engulfed. Lisa sobs as Freddy's body falls over and the flames die off just as suddenly as they started. After a few moments of silence, the charred body begins to move, momentarily scaring Lisa, but as it gets on its knees, she watches as it pulls off what's left of Freddy's face, revealing Jesse underneath. Lisa sobs happily and walks over to Jesse, who puts his head on her shoulder.

Some time later, Jesse is going back to school and joins Lisa and Kerry on the schoolbus, everything appearing to be over. However, as they drive down the road, Jesse feels that the bus is going too fast. Lisa and Kerry both reassure him that it's fine but Jesse is sure that something's wrong and, despite Lisa continuing to tell him that it's fine, he stands up and yells for the driver to stop. He does stop but it's just to let a kid onto the bus and he gives Jesse a look as the kid climbs aboard. Jesse, feeling embarassed, sits back down and apologizes to Lisa for what he just did. Lisa tries to comfort him as Kerry tells him it's okay, that it's all over... and Freddy's knife-fingered hand bursts out of her chest as Jesse and Lisa scream. Freddy then laughs evilly as the bus speeds off into the desert, just as it did in Jesse's nightmare at the beginning, and it's left unclear as to whether this is real or if it's a nightmare that Jesse or someone else is having.

Nightmare 2 is a completely different movie from the original even in terms of its music. Unlike the composers who followed him, Christopher Young never uses any of Charles Bernstein's themes, including the main melody, which you only get a hint of from the scene where Angela is singing the nursery rhyme, making this score quite distinctive from its brethren. That's not a negative at all, however; on the contrary, this score is a memorable one, being very creepy and atmospheric. The music that plays over the opening credits, for instance, is an eerie, subtle piece that sets up the dream nature of the movie perfectly, with the horn melody that you hear becoming something of a main theme for the film. Another memorable theme, and my personal favorite of the entire score, is this utterly horrifying, kind of screeching piece that you hear when Freddy kills Grady after emerging from Jesse's body and when he's going postal on the kids at the pool party. It fits those two scenes to a T, especially the latter when you see Freddy chasing down and slaughtering those kids while making sure they can't escape at the same time. And it makes the shot of him telling them that they're all his children now all the nightmarish, for lack of a better word. There's another piece that you hear when Jesse first sees Freddy down in the basement that isn't the best but it's certainly not bad music. A lot of the themes that make up this score are even more effective when you listen to them by themselves without the sound of the film to bury them, especially the music when Jesse begins to change in Grady's room. That is very eerie, with a lot of whale sounds used in the background to make it even creepier and builds in intensity until it leads into that screeching theme I mentioned. Another that's creepy by itself is the theme when you have that long tracking shot from the basement to Angela's bedroom and the same goes for what you hear when Coach Schneider is attacked and killed. Once again, it's really good, eerie stuff, with more whale sounds in the background (which are used a lot in the score, actually) to give it that extra otherworldly feeling. I could go on but I think my point is clear: it's an awesome, memorable score for a film that's also awesome and memorable.

The songs on the soundtrack, however, I'm not too crazy about. I've already talked about that song Touch Me All Night Long by Wish when Jesse is putting his stuff away. It really is like they intentionally picked the cheesiest 80's song imaginable for that scene. You can listen to it and the entire soundtrack on YouTube if you want, by the way. The other songs aren't much better. Terror In My Heart by The Reds is what's playing in the S&M bar and it's what I'd expect to hear in a place like that. "Many times, you tried. Many times, you died." Ugh. Pass! I prefer the Whisper to a Scream song that plays over the first part of the ending credits to Wes Craven's Scream than the song with the same name by Bobby Orlando and Claudja Barry that we have here, which plays when the pool party kicks into gear. There are some other songs at the pool party whose names I can't place but it doesn't matter because I don't remember caring much for them when I heard them either. And the use of Bing Crosby's Did You Ever See A Dream Walking? over the ending credits is interesting for how it clashes with the movie you just watched (I can never hear that song without thinking of this film) but that kind of music isn't my taste, although I do acknowledge that Crosby was a great singer.

I've always enjoyed A Nightmare on Elm Street Part 2: Freddy's Revenge and, to this day, I feel that it's unjustly underrated. Like Jason Goes to Hell, it's one of the most unique films in its respective series but, unlike that movie, I think the different angle that they tried worked very well and I don't see why people criticize it so much, it has a great cast and some really good performances, especially by Mark Patton, Robert Englund gives his darkest and most unapologetically evil portrayal of Freddy Krueger ever, the special effects, especially Kevin Yagher's new makeup design for Freddy and the scene where he rips his way out of Jesse's body, are very well done, there are plenty of well-handled sequences, the music score by Christopher Young fits the film like Freddy's glove, and the homosexual touches to the film, while strange, make it interesting. The few problems are the moments that are just bizarre and inexplicable, like the psycho parakeet and the weird creatures you see during the climax, some ill-advised scenes like Jesse unpacking his room, some places where it looks like some scenes were edited out of order, and the songs on the soundtrack being the worst of really bad 80's music or just not my thing, which is more of a personal preference than any mistake on the filmmakers' part. If you don't like the movie, that's fine but, those quibbles aside, I don't think this is a bad movie at all (I like it a lot more than a couple of the movies that we'll get to down the road) and is worth a rediscovery by both Nightmare and horror fans in general.

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