Director: Jack Sholder
Cast: Mark Patton, Kim Myers, Robert Rusler, Robert Englund
Have I Seen it Before: I think so? Honestly, during this screening it became abundantly clear that if I had seen it before, much of the movie had slipped into dim memory.
Did I Like It: In a word, no.
When one realizes that it had to be less than twelve months between the studio issuing the edict that this film was to be made and its release to theaters (it was released exactly 52 weeks after the release of the last film), one can see that the whole affair is rushed. A few special effect gags are lovingly rendered, but the film is bereft of anything resembling a believable performance, any sort of suspenseful tension, or anything resembling a story that even by the time the film had been released hadn’t been done plenty of times before.
I’ve never been the biggest fan of the original A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984), as I thought the story was a little too pat. One might have also looked at Heather Langenkamp’s performance and been left wanting, but in light of this film, it feels like I owe much of the first film an apology for not fully embracing it as much I should have.
That is not to say that Freddy’s Revenge is completely unworthy of any further analysis. Long heralded as a cult film for the gay community.
And it’s hard to deny the elements that some would call subtext. Jesse (Patton) is clearly struggling with issues far beyond the demon that haunts his dreams. Additionally, every other character in the film—with the possible exception of Lisa (Myers)—has a much clearer awareness of Jesse as a person than he does.
One wants to come away from the film attached to that higher virtue, but a quick scan of the circumstances under which the film was made only muddies the waters further. The screenwriter, David Chaskin, for years insisted that no gay subtext was intended. Apparently he never watched the final film, or for that matter, read the screenplay. Patton has said that those elements of the films were highlighted in part because of Patton’s own (at the time) closeted sexuality, and the idea that as the AIDS epidemic just began creep into the cultural consciousness, a film about a gay character would be inherently scarier. In short, if you would suggest to the main audience of these films (adolescent boys) that they might be gay, too, then there would be at least something to unsettle said audience, when the craft of the rest of the film was never going to measure up.
I’m not sure I can give any extra points to a film if it’s one redeeming virtue is so callous and calculating.