Friday, September 11, 2015
Franchises: A Nightmare on Elm Street. A Nightmare on Elm Street Part 2: Freddy's Revenge (1985)
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.
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.