Freddy Krueger is one of the more fascinating horror villains. Unlike the hulking, silent killers Michael Myers and Jason Voorhees, Freddy actually has a personality. Wes Craven’s 1984 “A Nightmare on Elm Street” introduced the wisecracking, dream-invading Krueger, and was instantly a hit. Following a year later, 1985’s “A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge” is a worthy sequel, and enjoyable continuation of Freddy lore.
It’s been five years since Freddy Krueger (Robert Englund) sliced and diced his way through the Elm Street kids. Presumed dead, a new family, the Walshes, now inhabit the old Thompson home where Nancy Thompson (Heather Langenkamp) battled Krueger. Teenaged Jesse Walsh (Mark Patton) is suffering frightening dreams about being trapped on a school bus, and hunted by a mysterious killer. After school one afternoon, Jesse and his friend/love interest Lisa (Kim Myers) discover Nancy Thompson’s old journal. Accounts of her nightmares parallel Jesse’s experiences.
Soon Jesse’s dreams become more vivid, and Freddy appears imploring Jesse to kill for him. As the nightmares progress, Jesse discovers himself roaming around at night. Not only are his dreams evolving, but Krueger seems to be growing stronger as Jesse’s fear amplifies.
“A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge” is an overall well done film, with terrific acting, an engaging story, and a lovely score. Acting is pleasant, with Mark Patton playing a realistically conflicted and confused Jesse. Kim Myers contributes a strong supporting role as romantic partner Lisa. However, the legendary Robert Englund really steals the show as Freddy Krueger, further developing Krueger’s fantastic personality.
Christopher Young’s score provides an appropriate musical backdrop for the film. Young provided the soundtrack for “Hellraiser” and “Hellraiser II: Hellbound,” and his work on “Freddy’s Revenge” really showcases his mastery of horror. It’s an eerie, plodding string and synth-infused score. After Charles Bernstein’s tour de force “A Nightmare on Elm Street” score, Young carries the legacy with a soundtrack equally as delightful and creepy as its predecessor.
The narrative follows a similar structure, but different premise, from the first series entry. This makes “A Nightmare on Elm Street 2” splendid, though it’s also the biggest criticism. What’s great is the way “Freddy’s Revenge” stands generally on its own. Unlike “Halloween 2” which resumes the same night as the events from “Halloween,” five years separate “A Nightmare on Elm Street” from its sequel. “Freddy’s Revenge” features an entirely different cast, recapping Freddy’s earlier rampage through Nancy’s journal. It’s a nice touch, solidifying “A Nightmare on Elm Street 2” as its own film.
Unfortunately, the plot is a bit of a double-edged sword, or razor-fingered glove if you will. Though departing from the original story, “Freddy’s Revenge” doesn’t really do anything new. The general premise is Freddy Krueger haunts and stalks teenagers in their dreams, which steadily spiral out of control, culminating in an epic bloodbath of a finale. Despite the continuation of the Freddy saga, Nancy Thompson is absent, making “Freddy’s Revenge” feel less like a sequel than it would have with Thompson once again headlining.
Yet original touches eventually negate “A Nightmare on Elm Street 2’s” slightly formulaic plot. There’s a homoerotic subtext that permeates the film, a distinctive change. Plus, the completely revamped cast provides a bevy of fresh faces, and the storyline remains riveting. Ultimately, “A Nightmare on Elm Street 2” might not be the masterpiece the original franchise flick became, but it’s nonetheless an entertaining sequel.