You’ll have to forgive me, but I watched A Nightmare On Elm Street (1984) back on September 6th, 2008. So it’s been awhile. Luckily, this film doesn’t really ask you to know anything about the original. Also on the plus side, I’ve reviewed Rock: It’s Your Decision (1982) and Law Enforcement Guide To Satanic Cults (1994) this year, so imaginary subtext is still fresh in my mind.
The movie opens up with Jesse Walsh (Mark Patton) riding the bus. Just in case we didn’t notice that Robert Englund is driving the bus, the movie makes sure we know right away that something isn’t right. They have Jesse looking like he doesn’t think very highly of himself in real life. Of course Freddy Kruger is driving the bus and a nightmare sequence ensues. Then we cut to Jesse waking up sweating. Heat plays a major role in this film because of course it does since Freddy was burned.
Unfortunately, Jesse does go downstairs to find that Fu Man Chews cereal is very real. That’s scary! This movie is cerebral. I remember the original also playing with what was real and imagined, but here it’s a little different. The things here are mostly real in that something really is happening in Jesse and it does have him take actions in the real world against his will. Freddy isn’t something that gets you in your dreams. In this sequel, Freddy is inside Jesse slowly but surely taking hold of him. Doesn’t really fit with the first one, but who cares. It’s much better than just getting a retread of the original.
Pretty quickly, Jesse and his girlfriend Lisa (Kim Myers) find a diary written by the girl from the first film. They find it because it turns out Jesse’s family has recently moved into the house from the first movie, unbeknownst to anyone but the dad. One of the things people might latch onto in the hopes of reading gay subtext into this movie here is the “No (out of town) Chicks” sign on his door. Yes, because kids in high school are totally not so juvenile to have something like that on their door. And just in case we don’t remember that kids at that age are that juvenile. When Jesse and his friend are forced to do pushups by their coach on the field because they were fighting, they of course assume the coach must be “queer” because they know he frequents an S&M club.
While we are here. I believe the cleaning the room scene pictured above means he’s gay about as much as I believe the girls from Teen Witch (1989) went home and made out with each other after the I Like Boys musical number.
As stupid as they are, these kind of scenes are all over 1980s movies. Remember this one from Risky Business (1983)?
Hell, going back to Teen Witch again. The infamous Top That! rap is just as goofy.
The first time we really see Freddy truly taking hold is when Jesse appears to leave his house in the middle of the night. He goes to the S&M club where his coach goes. It takes no time at all for the coach to spot him and punish him by making him run laps at the school gym. Of course they didn’t mention the coach was into S&M for anything. I can’t think of one off the top of my head, but movies from this period loved to throw in characters who were perceived sexual deviants, then punish or kill them in a manner similar to what turns them on. That’s what happens here to the coach. However, instead of Jesse waking up in his bed to find out the coach is dead the next day. He is actually brought home by the police, meaning it really happened. This obviously scares the crap out of Jesse.
And things only spin further and further out of control as Freddy manifests himself more and more in reality. This is another scene I’m sure is supposed to seal the deal on the gay subtext.
The gay is trying to get out of him so he flees being with his girlfriend to barge in on his friend. Of course he goes to his friend. This isn’t a big budget film we’re talking about here. The coach is dead, his parents think he’s on drugs, and Freddy just manifested himself while he was with Lisa. Who else is he going to go to but his friend? He’s the only other character of consequence left in the movie.
And this line that Jesse says shortly after coming into his friend’s room means a penis if you are in middle school. This is where the film does run into some issues for me. Up until now, the movie did a good job of showing Jesse slowing losing his mind as Freddy took further and further control, but now he literally appears to jump into reality as if Jesse were an incubator. It eventually kind of explains it, but I wish they could have smoothed this out a bit more. Especially seeing how good of a job I think Mark Patton did up till now with the character of Jesse.
After Freddy runs wild at a party, Lisa goes to where Freddy used to work. There was a scene earlier where Lisa took Jesse there.
This is where Lisa tries to get Jesse to fight Freddy’s control over him. In fact, we can hear Jesse sometimes and it’s clear that Freddy hasn’t destroyed Jesse quite yet. Or you can read this as reparative therapy with Lisa trying to call Jesse back to being straight. Even going so far as to kiss him because that’s never used in films to draw characters back from the dark side in a movie.
Then we get the ending of Ghostbusters (1984) in that Jesse emerges from the charred outer skin of Freddy. And then that little bit at the end of the movie just in case we weren’t sure that they were going to make more of these movies.
And I’m sure you can read this the way you can the ending of Taxi Driver (1976) in that Jesse has only resolved this episode, but hasn’t dealt with the real issue. And I’m just coming up with these things off the top of my head without actually referring to anyone else’s posts.
As a follow up to the original, I like it. They tried to do something different that still drew from the source material. I really did like Mark Patton’s performance in this.
As a horror movie in general. It’s not really scary in the traditional sense. You don’t perceive something or someplace as now being dangerous and a source of fear like a regular horror movie does. In that sense, it’s actually even scarier because Jesse does nothing, but is simply taken over just because. Near the end of last year my brain turned on me and I wound up in the emergency room. They didn’t know what was wrong with me and sent me home. It took around five days or so to come out of it. While I was in it, among other things, I honestly believed I was trapped in some sort of Matrix-like prison that just looked like reality. I kept looking for anything that could be a flaw in what my brain kept telling me wasn’t real. It’s an absolutely terrifying thing.
As for the supposed gay subtext in the movie. It’s just not there. You can add up all the scenes you want and apply any meanings you want to them, but it doesn’t means it’s there. I’m transgender and Terminator 2: Judgement Day (1991) meant something to me as a kid. It doesn’t mean that the scenes where Robert Patrick is seen having transformed into a woman didn’t strike a note in me because they did. But it doesn’t mean that there is transgender subtext in it or anything that happens to have shapeshifting between genders. So please don’t take what I said as trying to take away something that might be special to you. I have no desire to do that. It’s just that you are reading your own meaning into it, not one that was hidden away and discovered by you.
Now I need to get back to something less serious. I’m in the middle of the first Mostly Ghostly movie and it’s not as stupid so far, but pretty close.