By Richard Winters
My Rating: 4 out of 10
4-Word Review: More dreams more Freddy.
A new family has moved into the house on Elm Street where Nancy from the first film once lived and who is now locked away in a mental institution. The family’s son Jesse (Mark Patton) starts to have the same reoccurring nightmares dealing with child murderer Freddy Krueger (Robert Englund), but this time Freddy wants to overtake Mark’s entire body and use it as a killing machine to the other youths in the area.
As sequels go this one is okay. I liked the idea that it is a continuation from the first one and not just a reworking of it. Trying to evolve the idea to the next level by having Krueger actually possessing the kid is interesting and the scene where Kruger’s head pushes out of Jesse’s stomach is good. However, it also gets away from the whole dream element that made the first one unique and turns the thing into just another slasher formula. Freddy only appears for 13 minutes during the 84 minute runtime, which isn’t enough as the pace and tension starts to ebb towards the middle. A little too much focus is put on Jesse and his emotional quandary at knowing what this evil spirit is trying to do, which turns it into more of a drama than a horror film. The climatic sequence that takes place in the boiler room where Freddy used to work when he was still alive becomes a bit too melodramatic and not that scary.
I would have liked some flashbacks showing what Freddy was like when he was alive and before he got burned and some history showing what might have lead him into becoming a child murderer in the first place. I also couldn’t help but wonder why Freddy only seems to torment the dreams of the teen characters. Why not Jesse’s parents as well? One could argue that as a child murderer Freddy was only interested in terrorizing young people, but then why not get into the dreams of Jesse’s younger sister Christie (Angela Walsh), which he never does.
This film also has one of the biggest plot holes I have ever seen and far more glaring than the ones you usually see in most other films of this genre. It all has to do with a party sequence in which Jesse turns into Freddy and starts killing off the other teen attendees. This was not dream, but reality, which was witnessed by many other people including Lisa’s parents. Yet at the end when Jesse somehow returns to ‘normal’ he boards the school bus where his friends make statements to the effect that he should just ‘forget about’ the party incident and everyone is ready to move on, but how does that happen? With the amount of carnage seen by the viewer the police and media would certainly have to investigate and the parents of the victims would want answers. Just ‘forgetting about’ something like that would not be a realistic option and the filmmakers attempts to gloss over what ends up being the movie’s biggest event is patently ridiculous.
End of Spoiler Alert!
Director Jack Sholder spends a lot of time focusing in on Krueger’s glove with its finger-like blades, but the more I saw them the less scary they became. The blades look awfully thin and flimsy and have no ridges or teeth on them. They look so dull that they would barely be able to cut through butter let alone human skin.
I did like that the lead victim was a male this time and it was nice seeing a teen character with sophisticated tastes as I spotted Jack Kerouac’s ‘On the Road’ novel laying on his bedside table. The scenes inside the high school and some of his conversations with his friends seemed less cardboard than usual. I also liked that Jesse manages to make friends with Grady (Robert Rusler) who initially comes-off as a stereotypical bully, but the scene where Grady speaks with his mouth full of food during a cafeteria sequence is a bit gross.
Jesse’s dealings with his harsh baseball coach (Marshall Bell) gets a bit over-the-top and forcing the boys to do pushups for hours underneath the hot sun would most likely get him fired especially these days. However, watching him get tied up and stripped naked and then whipped by towels in a sort of S & M death sequence is a highlight.
The story and special effects is still creative enough to raise this above the average 80’s slasher film although not all of them are effective. David Chaskin’s screenplay has some intriguing elements, but ends up biting-off-more-than-it-can-chew and creates too many loopholes to be satisfying.
My Rating: 4 out of 10
Released: November 1, 1985
Runtime: 1Hour 24Minutes
Director: Jack Sholder
Studio: New Line Cinema
Available: VHS, DVD, Blu-ray, Amazon Instant Video