You and I will claim
You've got the body
And I've got the brains
- DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince
Sometimes a sequel is better than the original - like how the Wrath of Khan beat out the first Star Trek movie by a solid mile. However, this usually isn't the case with horror movies. True, virtually all sequels in all genres are cash grabs. But Nightmare on Elm Street 2 is the ultimate cash grab. No heart, no soul...no brains. And it was in definite need of a Nancy, and perhaps a Wes. I went into this one remembering how much I didn't like it and nothing has changed.
Good looking young kid Jesse moves into the Nightmare house and begins having strange dreams about a killer in a dirty red and green sweater with claws on one hand. Yep, Freddy's back y'all. But Freddy isn't really out to kill Jesse - rather he decides he needs a new body and that Jesse looks good enough to possess. And with that, it's up to Jesse's pretty girlfriend Lisa to save the day - with the power of love.
Let's start with the smartly dressed elephant in the room. This movie....Well....um. It's not that it's openly...(not that there's anything wrong with that...Oh heck y'all are going to make me say it.
It's a gay male's fantasy.
There is a strong gay subtext running through the whole thing. A PE teacher gets his bare bottom smacked. Jesse wrestling with Grady, pulling down his pants in the process. Jesse dancing around his room to a chick song whilst wiggling his bottom. Oh, and also running from his pertty girlfriend to stay the night with his guy friend instead. And those are the more subtle ones. Anyways, the whole thing was covered quite extensively in the great documentary "Never Sleep Again - The Elm Street Legacy" and if you're a fan of the series or even if like only one or two of them, it's a 'must have'. In it,the actors in Part 2 point out the gay subtext quite readily (and hilariously). The director...well...he still doesn't see it. At least that's his story and he's sticking to it. Funny since it's so prevalent.
Now that that's out of the way, (ahem) let's talk about the movie. It's a disappointment.
First of all the good. Freddy. Freddy looks TERRIFIC. The make-up artist followed the form of the first movie, but made Freddy look positively demonic with glowing red eyes and skin that seemed to have been burned by the fiery depths of hell itself. He is wonderful and Robert, ever the professional, is amazing. Freddy hasn't been wimpified since the first one. In fact, in defeat, he's gotten stronger. And he's ever bit as terrifying as the first. He isn't played for laughs just yet and that's a good thing.
Now for the bad. Everything else. There.
Okay, maybe I should elaborate. Jessie is a likable kid, and Mark Patton a capable actor, but he's far too wimpy to fill Nancy's shoes. In fact, his girlfriend has to do all the dirty work while he frets, moans and whimpers. I didn't buy Jesse and Lisa's relationship since they seemed more like a brother and sister than an actual couple. Their friends weren't sympathetic or fun to watch - they were emotionally disconnected from the whole affair and then there are the dreams.
A ton of the action doesn't even take place in dreams. In fact when Freddy crashes the pool party, arguably a fun moment, no one is dreaming. How is he there? Why is there? Did he simply want a hot dog? The kids are very much awake when he comes through so we're not sure how he got into the real world. It's great to see Freddy go hog wild and slash up kids left and right - he's the fat guy at the all-you-can-eat buffet. But since we don't care about nameless kids it's just not scary. The serious lack of dreaming takes out all the surrealness of the original. Like I said, a disappointment.
So yes, this was filmed with the intention of making a few bucks. Admittedly, according to box office numbers it succeeded, but it failed just about everywhere else. The whole thing is silly and unnecessary which is a shame because Robert's Freddy was in his glory here. Sadly, the rest of the movie just couldn't catch up.
Favorite Moments (may contain spoilers):
- Eek! It's a parakeet!
- Jesse's booty dance which has to be seen to be believed.
- You've the the body - I've got the brains. A wonderfully scary moment in an unscary film.
- The PE teacher's death by...um...balls.
- Run Frankie! Run Annette! It's a pool party massacre!
- Robert Englund wanted more money so they replaced him with a stunt man. After starting the shoot with the new actor it became obvious that no one could replace Robert and he was brought back in.
- And yep, that's Robert England sans Freddy make-up driving the bus in the opening sequence.
- Mark Patton is gay but wasn't open at the time this movie was filmed. He soon after left Hollywood due to perceived homophobia.
- Look for New Line honcho Robert Shaye as a bartender in a gay leather bar.