18 – 87mins – 1985
THE DEADLY DINOSAUR
“Something is trying to get inside my body…”
Set five years after the original Nightmare (reviewed HERE), quickly-produced sequel Freddy’s Revenge sees high schooler Jesse Walsh (Mark Patton) and his family move onto Elm Street – and into the former home of dream-stalked survivor Nancy Thompson. Upon reading Nancy’s left-behind diary, Jesse is bedevilled with horrific night terrors and uncharacteristically violent outbursts. From beyond the grave, Freddy Krueger (Robert Englund) needs a host body to carry out his revenge against the community’s youth.
“I’ve got blood on my hands – he owns me!”
Despite no creative input from creator Wes Craven, I was impressed with the direction this first follow-up took. First-time screenwriter David Chaskin works the razor-gloved serial killer’s deadliest motifs into a narrative which does far more than simply recycle the template set out in 1984’s original movie, beat-for-beat. Horror hounds are still treated to some kooky, logic-defying surprises, but the shocks are padded out with a fresh approach; Freddy’s possession of a mortal host, rather than continuing his sick spree by invading their unconscious.
As possessee, teen Jesse is full of subtle subtext which, quite unexpectedly, hints at a metaphorical homosexual coming out. Actor Mark Patton is gay (albeit still in the closet at time of filming), while Jesse is happy to camply dance around his bedroom to 80s pop while his door displays a “No Chicks Allowed” sign. He does have a girlfriend in Lisa (Kim Myers), but their relationship is frequently stalled before turning sexual as Jesse struggles with his inner demons – namely, a man is screaming to come out from within him (see photo)!
“There is no Jesse, I’m Jesse now!”
Burn-scarred Krueger’s historic public execution is also smartly worked into the scares with heat playing a major role throughout. The Walsh’s house is unnatural hot (which Jesse initially attributes to his nightmares) to the point where their poor pet canaries spontaneously combust. Later, a poolside scene sees the water bubble and boil as the sausages on the BBQ are engulfed in flames.
While Chaskin purposefully added black humour to the script, Freddy Krueger is no joke and the tone often darkens whenever he is on screen. Thankfully, things never feel cheesy. The special effects work is gloriously gruesome (“I’ve got the brains”; chestburster; fat tongue, etcetera) while the only line which perhaps feels forced and unearned is Krueger’s “You are my children now!” boast. Otherwise, this second Nightmare is an uproarious success which caught me off-guard with how creative, original and bombastically entertaining it is.
CR@B’s Claw Score: