A Nightmare on Elm Street Part 2: Freddy's Revenge

Lava Lamp
Our rating: one lava lamp.

Information about this film in the Internet Movie Database.

Nightmare on Elm St 2
"Does this hat make me look more
like Frank Sinatra?"
In accordance with the laws of the horror film industry, a sequel was made to the successful film A Nightmare on Elm Street. In accordance with the immutable laws of quickie film-making, it sucked rocks. Robert Shaye, the producer of the original Nightmare and all of its sequels (so far), was so eager to capitalize on the success of that first film that he pumped out this followup in the space of a year.

Perhaps the original cast members of Nightmare foresaw this film's imperfections in their dreams. Only Robert Englund, who plays the villain Freddy Krueger, returned for the second go-round. Joining him are Mark Patton as the whiny Jesse Walsh (Krueger's latest target), and Kim Myers as Jesse's love interest, Lisa. Myers probably got the part by winning a Meryl Streep lookalike contest.

Jesse's family has moved into the old house on Elm Street, which has been vacant for a long time. Shortly after moving there, Jesse's parents begin to notice changes in his behavior. He wakes up screaming every night, and becomes more and more sullen, except when hanging out with his new girlfriend, Lisa. Lisa and Jesse discover the diary of Nancy Thompson, who lived in the house before the Walshes. In it she describes Jesse's dreams with eerie accuracy.

Naturally, the culprit behind Jesse's dreams and odd behavior is Freddy Krueger, that deceased child murderer who can haunt teenagers through their nightmares. This time, though, Freddy wants to possess someone in the real world so he can hunt people down physically. That someone is Jesse. Though he comes to realize exactly what's happening, the story is so incredible that he feels he can't share it with anyone. After causing our teenaged hero to undergo a series of freakish physical changes, Freddy starts using Jesse to slaughter people before exploding from Jesse's chest into the real world. (Somehow, Jesse's intact body is still somewhere inside Freddy, but these details are just too silly to contemplate.)

Nightmare on Elm St 2
Jesse, Lisa, and some friend whose
name we can't remember (center)
contemplate their experiences with Krueger.
This could have been a compelling story, but there aren't many actual plot developments. Jesse just goes through one weird experience after another, without really gaining much insight as to what it all means. Krueger actually has to spell it out for him in a dream. No wonder His Gruesomesness decided to dispense with the kid and go out on his own -- Jesse is incapable of doing anything but sulking. That Lisa could be interested in a weaselly coward like Jesse defies all logic. This was Nightmare 2's biggest flaw: we didn't give a hoot about any of the characters, so who cares when they get sliced to bits?

Because plots in horror films are generally thin, there are two other things to look forward to in movies of this genre. We hope that there will be a few genuinely creepy moments, and some good gory effects that aren't too over the top. Nightmare Part 2 delivers only two creepy moments, and a mere handful of decent effects.

The aforementioned creepy moments are contained within a party that Lisa holds at her parents' place. During a makeout session with Lisa, Jesse's tongue becomes enlarged and black, flopping about on Lisa's chest. Lisa, eyes closed and unaware, sighs contentedly. Jesse, obviously, freaks out. This is perhaps more creepy for its gross-out factor than anything else, but it is effective. The other moment that inspires a tiny chill down the spine is Freddy's apparent ability to raise the temperature of a swimming pool, where you just know that the bathing teeny-boppers are going to be boiled. Unfortunately, the film backs away from that one, allowing the kids to escape.

Thankfully, the makeup and special effects deliver a bit more, mostly in Freddy's "birth" from Jesse's chest. Sure, it looks a bit fake during the final stages, but at least they didn't just prop up a mannequin for Englund to jump through.

The good news is that Freddy's Revenge is an easily dispensible part of the Nightmare on Elm Street series, so you can just skip it if you'd prefer to follow the more interesting adventures of Our Man Fred. Heather Langenkamp even returns in the third film, as if the adventures of Jesse and Lisa hadn't happened. Hey -- maybe it was all just a bad dream.

Rent or Buy from Reel.

Review date: 6/25/98

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