Thursday, August 30, 2012

Jesse's Girl - A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy's Revenge

Sequels are tricky. Even at their best, they essentially are re-treads of previous themes and conventions. Which is maybe why I have such a soft spot for the Nightmare on Elm Street series. It goes bat shit crazy in terms, concepts and its own mythology and I don't know if there is a better exemplar of this than in Freddy's Revenge. Granted the other big series (Halloween, Friday the 13th) run longer but once they figure out a way to bring the killer back to life once again it slips into the sex, stab, blood, flee formula.

The film picks up 5 years after the events of the first film when a new family moves into Nancy Thompson's house. Their teenage son Jesse starts having nightmares involving a certain hat-ed fella and begins to wonder if there's something wrong with him. The only thing wrong with Jesse, however, is that everyone's favourite undead dream weaver is trying to posses Jesse's body and kill for him. Love thwarts this as Jesse's would be girlfriend Lisa (Kim Myers) fights to save Jesse.

Freddy's Revenge is notable in two very big ways for me; Wes Craven's complete absence, and the film being the supposed "gayest horror film ever". While it definitely had big shoes to fill which is why I was feeling cautious to watch it, it was a surprising treat. It had its camp elements with Jesse (Mark Patton) dancing around in his underwear and Freddy running around a party throwing chairs. And with that one exception at the party they manage to keep Freddy in the shadows rendering him all the more creep-tastic and threatening. (possibly because they start filming without Robert Englund) As for the homosexual undertones, they're there but I don't think they're overwhelming. I think that's it's an interesting way to scholarly read this film but i don't think it overshadows the story. I highly doubt it's the "gayest horror film ever", maybe the most mainstream but even that is pushing it. I think the relationship based conflicts actually adds some interesting complications to the story because Lisa isn't just a girlfriend off the bat, they're are trying throughout the film to establish their relationship.

And I'll be honest, I'm not that heart-broken about Wes Craven's lack of involvement. I find he gets to schmaltzy and esoteric. Craven has made it known that he always hoped for a happy ending for Nancy and her friends but as some of you may know, evil never dies. I love that horror movies often thrawt the happy ending trope by screwing over all the characters. I like that once Freddy's initial plan in the first one doesn't  work out, the next logical step is to try possession. AMIRITE?!

Speaking of logic, however, there are a few things that have plagued me about this film. Almost to the point of it being distracting. Nancy's old house on Elm Street seems to play an oddly large role in this film though it was almost incidental in the first. The importance of the house is apparent from the beginning well before Freddy shows up. And also, everything melts. Like everything. Well, except a parakeet that spontaneously combusts. The heat thing is neat as Freddy was burned alive but it's never quite addressed or resolved. Which is exactly what keeps this film from being on par with Citizen Kane.

Now, let us dance.

My eternal struggle is which one of these dances is better...

Truly, a mystery for the ages...

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