Directed By: Jack Sholder
Written By: David Chaskin
Some films are doomed. A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revengeis such a film — doomed to forever lie unappreciated in the shadow of its predecessor. And why not? After all, Wes Craven’s first Nightmare was unlike anything filmgoers had seen before; inventive, brutal, and memorable. Just like The Exorcist 2: The Heretic, despite whatever redeeming qualities the film may possess, it is cast off into the darkness of obscurity.
Okay, maybe that’s going too far. Freddy’s Revenge is far from obscure, but it’s certainly underrated. For as much as people complain about it, the movie is still leagues better than a lot of horror films being currently released, and in my opinion, was actually a worthy sequel to the first film (though part 3, which would re-unite Craven, Langenkamp, and Englund, is arguably the second best installment in the series).
Freddy’s Revenge works for me because it took a new direction to the Nightmare story — albeit an illogical one. While it was established in the first movie that Freddy Krueger, our favourite razor-weilding death-fiend, exists inside the dreamworld and through it can directly affect the physical world (i.e., if he kills you in the dream he kills you in reality), the second movie finds Krueger with the urge to relocate. Tired of being confined to the realm of dreams, he seeks to break through and once more exist in our reality (why a man who was brutally burned to death would want to experience physical pain again is beyond me…) How does he accomplish this? By using the newest resident of 1428 Elm Street as his vessel: high schooler Jesse Walsh (Mark Patton).
So what do you get when you take a dream-stalking boogeyman out of the dreamworld? Well, you get a movie that’s royally shunned. And maybe it’s just because of the plot that the film takes so much bad heat, because in all seriousness it has more than its share of redeeming qualities. For one, theatmosphere is bang on. I mean, this film is more 80s than the actual 80s! Additionally, the special effects — ranging from shocking to absurd — were creative and at times genuinely gruesome (the transformation scene was perhaps the highlight of the film). Lastly, this early installment of the series marks a point during which Freddy was still a dark, twisted bastard. He wasn’t the polished, almost comedic character that he slowly evolved into — here he was a guy who revelled in the fear of his victims, tearing the flesh off his skull just to get a scream. Critics of the one-liner spouting Freddy should at least appreciate the film on these grounds.
But I suppose the reality of it is that atmosphere and special effects can only do so much for a film, and if the story isn’t solid the movie will inevitably fail. While the film explores an interesting new angle (playing off the idea that perhaps Jesse is experiencing moments of violent psychoses and is not actually possessed by a long-dead child murderer) it wasn’t developed well, and winds up being unfocused at best. Ultimately, the film seems to be more about the hack-and-slash effects, which is unfortunate because a better developed story would have certainly helped elevate the status of the movie.
Freddy’s Revenge might be the black sheep of the series, but it is still deserving of a watch in this reviewer’s opinion. And if I haven’t been able to sell you on it yet, go watch it for no other reason than because it has baby-faced dogs in it. That’s right… dogs with human baby faces.