It’s that wonderful orange and black, spooky time of year again and I’m watching all my classic slasher movies. Since it’s 2015, I’m focusing on two thirty year anniversary slasher movies: A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge, and Friday the 13th V: A New Beginning. Neither of these films are really considered to be the best entries in either series, but I love them both and feel like they get an undeserved bad rap. First off, let’s talk about Nightmare 2.
I saw Nightmare 2 as a double feature with the first one on TV one fall afternoon after raking leaves when I was 12 or 13. Even then I knew both movies were super cheesy and dated, but I couldn’t turn the TV off. Throughout high school and college, I bought them on DVD at Media Play and probably watched the first, often accompanied by the second, Nightmare on Elm Street on a bi-monthly basis. So how I can explain how I like something so much when I acknowledge that it’s not very good? If you haven’t seen the movie, it’s definitely worth the watch. In a nutshell, it’s about a teenage boy who moves into the house on 1428 Elm St. and begins turning into a Were-Freddy at night and killing people. He even has a Werewolf-like transformation scene full of gross special effects where he literally transforms into Freddy Krueger. (By the way, I’m not going to talk about the homosexual subtextual themes in this movie, that’s a whole other discussion for another day.)
What did the movie get wrong? Well, to be honest, a lot. The filmmakers seem to have completely ignored the whole Freddy Kills People in Their Dreams concept that made the first movie so great and innovative. Instead, they just made yet another demonic possession horror movie. It’s almost like the filmmakers hadn’t even watched the first film before they made this one. Originally, they weren’t even planning on bringing back Robert Englund to play Freddy, luckily they changed their minds or this film would’ve been a complete disaster. Hell, they even dropped the classic Charles Bernstein theme music. Also, a lot of the story makes no sense at all. Why does Jesse leave his house in the middle of the night and go into that weird ass new-wave gay bar? If Freddy just kills teenagers, then why does he kill the gym teacher, and furthermore why did the gym teacher bring him back to the school and make him run laps in the middle of the night? Or why does Freddy need to possess Jesse in the first place? It’s not the most non-sensical Freddy movie (that award goes to either 4:Dream Master, 5:Dream Child, or 6:Freddy’s Dead) but it’s definitely up there.
What did the movie get right? Personally, I think it is the only movie in the entire series to keep the feel of the original intact. First off, Freddy is still taken seriously as a frightening killer. In Part 3 we begin to see the goofy, pun making, un-scary side of Freddy, but not in this one. Freddy was still really freaky at this point in the series and not a joke like in all of the later films. Another reason could be because they used Jacques Haitkin, the director of photography for Part 1, again. His colorful red and green lighting particularly in the opening school bus scene, the party scene, and the boiler factory scene at the end is beautiful. I might even go out on a limb and say it’s shot better than the first. He also shot the Wes Craven film Shocker which also has a very NOES feel to it. Also it’s got that awesome Teenagers-In-The-Mid-80’s feel. We see the characters in the halls of their school, in gym class, in the cafeteria, partying on Friday night. We hear their synth driven 80’s New Wave music. We see their outfits, and their big hair, and everything that makes the 80’s awesome. I look to this movie a lot when I’m trying to get that 80’s feel right in my Kill River books. I even based a character in the upcoming Kill River 2 off of the character of Grady played by the badass and underrated Robert Rusler. Part 3, the Dream Warriors, was also good and got back to the original story, but it lost that mid-80’s feel. It’s not as fun and I don’t like it nearly as much as I like 2. Both the first two Nightmare on Elm Streets are classic and fit well together as a double feature. You couldn’t pair any of the other sequels up so nicely with the original as Part 2.
So this Halloween, give Nightmare on Elm Street 2 a watch, or a re-watch, and enjoy one of the best Freddy Krueger movies in the series. Also check out the awesome New Wave Nightmare 2 soundtrack on youtube.com/nightmareradio25/videos. Next entry, I’ll talk about Friday the 13th Part 5.