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Old 10-04-2004, 04:47 AM
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Default Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy's Revenge, A




Reviewer: Rhett
Review Date: November 15, 2003

Released by: New Line
Release date: 9/1/1999
MSRP: $24.95
Region 1, NTSC
Widescreen 1.85:1 | 16x9: Yes



Many film scholars trace the roots and conventions of the modern slasher film back to the age-old belief of sexual repression. Killers like Norman Bates and Michael Myers are said to kill because of their repressed sexual desires. When Norman Bates finds himself being attracted to Ms. Crane, he quickly reverts to his mother's imposing personality in order to repress his lustful feelings. Unable to love who he wishes, Norman (and most killers in the slasher genre, it is believed) exert their sexual desires by using their knives or weapons as phallic symbols. These knives enter in and out of the flesh, in a motion much like the act of sex, thus the effects of sex and violence become intermingled.

Much analysis of sexual repression has been devoted to Psycho and Halloween, but how about A Nightmare on Elm Street? Surely ol' Freddy has some suppressed erotic desires hidden behind his burnt visage. A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy's Revenge has been unfairly dismissed as one of the worst films of the Nightmare series. Director Jack Sholder has layered this film with themes of sexuality, making this an important steeple of the horror genre. So join me in a critique of the film as well as a review of the quality of New Line's DVD.

The Story

inline Image Jesse Walch (Mark Patton) sits alone on a bus. Everyone but two pretty girls, who go on to make fun of him, has gotten off the bus. Mark tries to ignore the girls, but he is interrupted when the bus goes horribly off course. It speeds past the girls' stop and shows no signs of slowing down. This is because Mr. Fred Krueger is behind the wheel; taking the kids on a trip to the unseen netherworlds. The bus is about to fall off a cliff when poof, Jesse awakens from his dream. It was all just a horrible nightmare...or was it?

inline Image Jesse and his family live on Elm St., having just bought the house at an incredibly cheap price. Why? Because this was the house of Nancy Thompson, who, it is discovered, went crazy after the happenings of the first film. She conveniently left her diary behind though, for Jesse and his friend Lisa Webber (Kim Myers) to peruse through at will. Lisa is the good girl from down the street who has feelings for Jesse. Jesse knows this, but seems to be unwilling to make a move towards her. While at school Jesse begins developing a very friendly relationship with one of his classmates, Ron Grady (Robert Rusler). The two meet while serving punishment from their leather-wearing S&M coach, Mr. Schneider (Marshall Bell).

inline Image Jesse's life begins to turn upside down as his nightmares start becoming reality. After his presumably gay coach is viciously murdered, Jesse begins to suspect himself, and Freddy, for the murders. If the trauma of murder and reoccurring nightmares weren't enough, Jesse must also prepare for Lisa's big house party (do all students celebrate like this after a death of one of their teachers?). Freddy is taking over Jesse's body increasingly by the minute, and it is only a matter of time before only one of them remains...who will it be?

inline Image As stated previously, I think Freddy's Revenge is a solid entry into the Nightmare films because it tries to shed a little subtext; that subtext being the theme of sexual repression. Freddy, in this film, appears to embody the negative effects of repressed erotic desires. He, in a way, serves as Jesse's alter-ego; one that helps Jesse kill off his objects of taboo sexual desire. In the film, Freddy tries to get Jesse to kill three people: Coach Schneider, Ron and his little sister. Schneider is clearly gay, since Ron mentions that he hangs around at the S&M gay bars around town. Jesse appears to be more attracted to Ron than he does to Lisa, which also brings about his homosexual desires. So by killing the two people, he is suppressing his sexual longing, reinforcing heterosexual beliefs. By killing his sister, he is removing the possibility of an incestuous relationship, one which is also taboo in modern society.

inline Image So in the end, by killing off Freddy, Jesse removes all possibilities of venting his erotic desires, forcing himself to engage in a heterosexual relationship with Lisa. Obviously though, sexuality can never be entirely repressed, and as a result, Freddy rears his ugly head in the closing moments of the film. Earlier on in the film, Nancy Thompson stated in her diary that she had been having lustful thoughts for Glen at night. She then goes on to state later that she created Freddy through her fears and emotions, which were most likely, in the context of this film, because of introverted passion for Glen. Thus, the theme of repressed sexuality as a means about bringing out evil has been applied to the first film as well, via Nancy's diary.

inline Image Jesse tries to constrain Freddy and his sexuality throughout the film, but it soon becomes uncontrollable, and Freddy does surface in the end. It becomes highly suggestive during the closing credits that not only can evil never die, but also sexuality can never be repressed. This seemingly everlasting theme in the film gives the film a depth that elevates it above some of the other films in the series.

inline Image As far as the film itself goes, this is otherwise a fairly by the numbers slasher. The acting is mediocre at best, which is a shame, considering that Kim Myers looks like she could be Meryl Streep's daughter. There are some decent gore effects though, and a few nice Freddy-isms to boot. Freddy himself is menacing in this film, an attribute that would take nearly 10 years to resurface in New Nightmare. This film is also somewhat notorious for the "pool attack" scene near the end, where Freddy makes his jump into reality memorable by offing several helpless teenagers. It is well done, reminding us why Freddy is so darn frightening in the first place.

Freddy's Revenge is a dark film, unlike most of the Nightmare films, and that quality serves the film handily. On the surface it may seem like yet another mindless slasher, but there is some definite connotations to the film's sex-driven story. The acting may not be good (or even average), but the film still manages to strike a chord. Watch the film with the repressive undertones; it will give the film a quality that has largely been overlooked since its release.

Image Quality

Presented in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen, this print looks great. Although the film was noticeably low budget, the grain is kept to a minimal here, and for the most part the print is very sharp. Colors are saturated nicely, and many of the colors appear rich and vibrant. This is again a dark film, but the blacks look surprisingly strong, especially for a 1985 film. There is nary a blemish to be found, and the print overall looks very clean. New Line has clearly put in a lot of work to this film, and their work has paid off; this is by far the best the film has ever looked.

Sound

Presented in its original monaural soundtrack, as well as an updated Dolby Digital 5.1 track, Freddy's Revenge has never sounded better. The dialogue and music sounds extremely crisp and sharp, as if it had just been newly recorded. Sounds are matrixed nicely throughout the five speakers, lending a nice bit of ambience to the film during some of the more action packed moments. When Freddy is turning over tables or screeching his claws, it really comes to life with this soundtrack. There are times when this track sounds a wee bit flat, but considering the film's origins, this is easily overlookable. What we have here is an excellent mix that brings the film to life, complementing the excellent video quality.

Supplemental Material

inline Image Unfortunately, the only video based supplements included on this disc are some cast and crew bios and a jump to a nightmare feature. The "jump to a nightmare" feature is a handy listing of chapter stops for all of Jesse's nightmares in the film; slight, but cool. The film's trailer can be found on the standalone disc, but those who opt for the box set will get interviews with the director and much more on the Nightmare Encyclopedia disc that comes with the set. Since this is now also a standalone disc though, the supplements will be graded accordingly.

For all those DVD-ROM users, there are a few worthy supplements. First off is a comprehensive "Script to Screen" interactive screenplay. Seeing entire screenplays are always a pleasure to see, and this one is no exception. There is also the moderately enjoyable and slightly tough "Dream World" trivia game for all you die hard Freddy fans out there.

Final Thoughts

Freddy's Revenge has long been dismissed as an inferior Nightmare film, but there are some connotations in the film that make it much worthier than people give it credit for. If anything, Freddy's Revenge serves as an intriguing allegory to the effects of sexual subjugation. The audio and video transfers on this disc are up to New Line's stellar standards, although it falls somewhat short in the supplemental department. A commentary with Sholder would have been gold, but as it stands, this is an excellent disc, and well worth the cash (for either the box set or the stand-alone release). Do not repress your desires to see this flick; New Line has given you a reason to give it a second chance!

Rating

Movie - A-
Image Quality - A-
Sound - A-
Supplements - C+

Technical Info.
  • Running Time - 1 hour 27 minutes
  • Color
  • Rated R
  • 1 Disc
  • Chapter Stops
  • English subtitles
  • English Dolby Digital 5.1
  • English Mono
Supplements
  • Cast & Crew bios
  • Jump to a nightmare feature
  • Interactive screenplay (DVD-ROM only)
  • "Dream World" trivia game (DVD-ROM only)
  • Theatrical trailer (standalone release only)

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