Sunday, January 18, 2015

A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy's Revenge (1985) Review:

It's truly sad to see when a promising franchise starter manages to shoot itself in the foot after its first sequel. Of course for Wes Craven's A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984), was not the only movie franchise in general to achieve mainstream popularity and have a sequel made right after it. Like many others, whether it be "Part 2" or just labeled with the number 2 after it, its successor ended up financially blowing away its competition but lost its critical flare that the original had. The reason behind these flaws was either the lack of the creator's involvement with the further projects or the producers decided otherwise what should be the next step in the franchise. As of right now, there's only one horror sequel that manages to complete its narrative in two successful steps and that's John Carpenter's Halloween (1978) and Halloween II (1981).

"I'm baacckkk,....wait, who do I want revenge on?"
Here fans are introduced to Jesse Walsh (Mark Patton), the newest tenant living in 1428 Elm Street, the same house that Krueger appeared in 1984. After a few nights of some intense dreams involving Krueger (Robert Englund) wanting Jesse to kill for him, his friends Lisa Webber (Kim Myers) and Ron Grady (Robert Rusler) begin to notice and try to figure out what's going on. The sequel to A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984) doesn't make sense in a number of areas. As his first writing job, David Chaskin didn't modify the script in any way to enhance the story that was told prior. His first mistake is the title; Freddy's Revenge? Who is Krueger getting revenge on? He got his revenge at the end of the first entry. This also completely puts into question what are Freddy's motivations. Why does Freddy want Jesse to kill for him? If its to avoid having people think Freddy Krueger is back, the reason seems pointless. Nobody believes what they don't see anyway.

Jack Sholder's direction in the plot is interesting but if looked at deeper, it just doesn't add up. The only thing Chaskin does correctly is continuing to maintain connections to the first nightmare by introducing Nancy's diary, which gives the characters a sparknotes edition of the events before. Although even that may come into question because I don't clearly remember Nancy ever writing down anything about her experiences. The main actors do give believable performances for the situations they encounter but unfortunately, they aren't attachable. Mark Patton and his co-stars can portray emotion but they just aren't the same likable cast. The only actor who comes out unscathed is Robert Englund just because he's playing Krueger like he always has. The only difference here is that he no longer has a connection to these specific characters other than one of the individuals living in 1428 Elm Street.

Even actor Marshall Bell has a minor role but for those who are familiar with Bell's other roles, they might already know where he's headed. The cinematography provided by Jacques Haitkin (who worked on the first nightmare) and Christopher Tufty manage to keep the look of the first with various lighting and colors. However, the creativity behind the dream sequences isn't as frequent anymore either. And when the scene shifts to a dream, the scenes focus more on the surroundings than what Krueger can do. Instead, the big thing going for when Krueger is around is that everything gets molten hot. That's nice because in some cases it did look good for the practical and special effects used. However more could have been done too. A good example of this is one dream sequence that is skin crawling. For a minute I actually thought it was real.

Robert Rusler
This leads to the horror aspect of the picture. Is it scary? Well, for horror fans no but they should still have fun watching it. As for anyone else who's not used to Krueger already, they will be scared. The makeup on Krueger is still slimy and gross and his method of killing is still grotesque and ugly. Can you imagine being killed by rusty claws? Ewww, least clean them. The music produced by horror composer Christopher Young is an unfortunate let down too. Young who would later prove himself with Clive Barker's Hellraiser (1987) score, manages to only make the score to this sequel only creepy and not scare inducing. For some reason, Young also did not include composer Charles Bernstein's original theme from the first movie and its sad because Young probably could have enhanced such a unforgettable cue. Here Young does include drawn out clashing string tunes and one-two mystery notes. That's it and regrettably, this is Young's only score to this franchise. Sigh.

The special/practical effects still look good and the story's direction is new but with little to no clarity, the reasoning barely makes sense. Although every actor is new other than Robert Englund, none of them give showings that are remotely memorable. Grievously, even with Christopher Young composing the musical score, he too cannot help the film be but only mediocre.

Points Earned --> 5:10

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