Thursday, October 13, 2011

“Hello, dirtballs.”

1985 ushered in A Nightmare on Elm Street Part 2: Freddy’s Revenge, and brother, let me tell you, it goes off the rails in a hurry.

Five years after the first movie, a new family moves into the Thompson residence in Springwood. They’re the Walshes, and their oldest son, Jesse, is in high school; he gets Nancy’s old room (and finds her diary). Jesse starts to experience nightmares of a similar nature and starts getting both freaked out and sleep deprived. Slightly a social outsider, he’s got a hot girlfriend and an athletic buddy, so he’s not THAT much of an outcast. About the only real problem he’s got is the gym coach doesn’t like him. Anyway, Jesse starts getting possessed by Freddy and Freddy starts murdering people in the real world. This is a problem. It culminates in an abandoned factory that bears a resemblance to the traditional Freddy Boiler Room (there's always a boiler room).

Jesse Walsh: Mark Patton is our rather whiny protagonist. Compared to the very proactive Nancy, he’s just kind of blah. He’s sympathetic enough and you get that he’s tortured by all this, but he is also pretty much a puppet for Freddy to screw around with. Oh, and he screams like a girl.

Lisa Webber: Kim Myers is our hero’s girlfriend, and she’s watching him with those eyes, and she’d LIKE to love him with that body, but lately something’s changed that ain’t hard to define. Her boyfriend is somehow possessed by an undead murderer. Lisa is actually the proactive character, digging for information on how to stop Freddy and so on.

Ron Grady: Robert Rusler is first Jesse’s rival, then closest friend. Jesse’s also more interested in hanging out with him than the cute girl that wants to get up on him. For his part, Ron doesn’t seem as invested in the friendship between him and Jesse as Jesse is. Draw your own conclusions.

Coach Schneider: Marshall Bell is the school gym coach. He’s a jerk and fond of using “Dirtballs” as an insult. He’s also into dressing as a leather boy and going to gay bars. For some weird reason Jesse finds him in one on a night when he wanders into one such place. It’s a bit bizarre and leads to Freddy killing a very much awake adult in the gym’s shower room.

Freddy Krueger: Robert Englund is easily the best part of the movie. Possibly a bit more vicious than the last time around, he’s definitely more manipulative and also more random in his attacks. The whole possession thing and killing people in the real world really doesn’t jive with anything Freddy’s ever done in anything else before or since.

Directed by Jack Sholder, the movie looks fine and shows a little more polish than the first one. The effects are actually quite good and when Freddy does his thing people die in reasonably imaginative ways.

The acting is rather blah and Jesse’s rather annoying. The characters aren’t very interesting and as such, the pacing suffers a lot, since Freddy’s not on screen for most of the time. Jesse, Lisa and Ron are all rather boring people with little in the way of personality. There is a nice little detail of a message board in the Walsh’s kitchen that changes from day to day, helping to emphasize the passage of time. But it makes me want to follow that storyline as opposed to the one we got. Also, Ohio apparently has not only palm trees but a desert too. As a resident of the state, this is news to me.

On the other hand, a budgie goes berserk and then explodes. I can honestly say I’ve never seen that before.

Based on characters created by Wes Craven and written by David Chaskin, the script is kind of a mess. Sequentially, yes it is a direct sequel to the first movie. Functionally, Freddy is completely different in his entire modus operandi. Possessing a teen and killing people who are wide awake? That’s just not Freddy. Now, considering that this was only the 2nd movie of the series, I guess you could argue that if it was just these two movies it might be “valid” but even that’s a stretch for Freddy’s nature. Freddy being defeated by the power of love? Weird.

Also, the homoerotic subtext is more than just present, it’s pretty obvious. The basic metaphor of it makes sense. A teen is tortured by feelings that are frowned upon in his suburban, middle-class culture. It explains why he doesn’t take advantage of a girl that totally wants him and he would rather spend time with a male friend who doesn’t reciprocate the same way. The sympathetic metaphor falls apart rather quickly when said tortured teen becomes “possessed” by the thing inside him and he starts killing innocent people, including the same friend who’s friendship he values a lot. And then he’s redeemed by reconciling with the girlfriend he’s kind of discarded earlier in the movie. So if that IS the metaphor the filmmakers were going for, what’s the actual message here...?

Original music by Christopher Young, and the story repeats itself for the music: Atmospherically appropriate and extremely 80’s.

Yeah. I can see why Freddy’s Revenge is considered the black sheep of the family. It really doesn’t have much in common at all with its predecessor. Its also not a very good movie with dull characters and extremely muddled symbolism. Englund as Freddy is really the only true virtue for the film, as he still does a great job as the villain. But yeah, its not a very good movie. At all.

No comments: