Freddy’s Revenge: A Nightmare On Elm Street II (1985)
Cast: Mark Patton, Kim Meyers, Robert Englund
Director: Jack Sholder
Nutshell: Freddy returns to wreak revenge as a gay metaphor tormenting a boy himself torn apart by his confused sexuality.
It’s now established as one of modern horror cinemas urban legend that the sequel to Wes Craven’s all time classic horror film was crafted intentionally as a “gay film”. There may well be some truth to this especially after the script writer David Chaskin decades later has spoken about the films undertones and deliberate “gay subtext”. It appears as though the script writer did indeed inject a rather obvious gay undercurrent to his work it also appears as though it was an unspoken secret among some of the crew of the film and that the director Jack Sholder played it absolutely dead straight without an inkling about the gay references.
Overtly the film is about Freddy tormenting a young teenaged boy who moves into the ill-fated home of the family that had been so tormented by him in the original movie. Jessie (played by Mark Patton) is similarly tormented by recurring nightmares through which Freddy is attempting to possess his body and use him as a pawn to carry out his killings.
The film is a major departure from the norm in the sense that the “final girl” part is played by a young man who is shown in half the movie in the minimum of clothing due to the heat generated by Freddy Krueger’s evil. Almost always this is the domain of a young woman and Freddy’s Revenge tears up the “rule book” for slasher films this time around.
The storyline itself has been perceived as being about a young man struggling to come to terms with his sexuality and it adds fuel to the argument in that Mark Patton happened to be a gay actor and his portrayal of Jessie in the movie is mannered to fit that mold intentionally or not. In the movie Jessie is struggling to control this ugly urge that is growing within him in the form of Freddy, threatening to come out from within and take total control. He struggles to stop Freddy from taking control but it’s a losing battle and Freddy soon “comes out” causing havoc, death and destruction, not unlike the havoc being caused in 1985 by a virus that was called the “gay virus” and was mowing down scores of young men like a plague in the mid-80s.
There are certain scenes that also suggest a strong gay undercurrent to the film. Banter between Jessie and his friend about Gay S&M clubs that their coach frequents looking for fine young men somehow results in the two young men jostling each other to the ground and Jessie momentarily loses his track suit bottom revealing a fine male rump for the audience to have a good look at!
The major “gay” scene is when Jessie, in one of his dreams enters a gay leather bar frequented by many of the “New Romantics” of the 80s and there he is met by his sports coach in full leather regalia. Soon coach has Jessie running laps at the gym at night while he has some lustful thoughts of his own. Moments later, while a naked Jessie is in the shower, the coach is attacked by an unseen force, stripped naked and then thrashed on his buttocks by some demonically possessed towels before being left tied up to the showers, butt naked and very dead! Jessie watches all this in horror, the tennis balls popping out of their cans and all sorts of things exploding mirroring his exploding desires? Some have read into this scene of the tennis ball cans exploding the way they do as a simulation of his sexual urges. Once again how much of this is intentional and how much is just reading into the film for the “shoe to fit Cinderella forcibly” is another matter. However the script writer suggesting that he wrote the film with a specifically gay orientation does provide grounds for imaginations to wander furtively.
Meanwhile as a horror film the movie barely holds interest and there is no sense of building tension or danger as the film lumbers to its admittedly fun climax with Freddy/Jessie unleashing the monster within to murderous effect. Jessie’s girl Kim Meyers (a Meryl Street lookalike) is having a party for what looks like the entire high school and Freddy turns up uninvited.
Some of the movies effects and set pieces are fun; especially considering this was the Pre-CGI era in which masters like Dick Smith, Rob Bottin and Tom Savini were simply brilliant with their cutting edge nightmares coming to celluloid reality (thing The Thing).
If the theory does hold it goes something along the lines that Freddy represents the ugly “gay” sexuality that is tormenting our young male protagonist who is battling with himself to somehow suppress this terrible urge but is somehow losing the battle as Freddy literally “comes out” of his body. It absolutely cannot be denied that one way or another, intentional or not, Freddy’s Revenge is indeed laden with a queer undercurrent which is a dominant part of the films basic battle between good and evil. It may be a coincidence that Mark Patton happened to have turned out to be gay but there are enough scenes littered through the movie that suggest the whole ‘discussion” has not been a baseless one, far from it.
Freddy’s Revenge is indeed one of the most remarkable twisted Psycho-slasher films with a strong gay theme lurking in between the lines. A very odd breed of horror film indeed – unremarkable as a horror film but memorable due to its translation into a raging battle of sexuality within a young man trying desperately to fit in and reluctantly come to terms with the realization that he is gay.
The film would have been largely forgotten by now had it not been for this “gay subtext” thing that has seemingly given it cult status and immortality as a gay icon yet as a horror film it doesn’t have much going for it. Still, this film will forever be discussed in colleges, universities or even just horror geek discussions as the “Gay Elm Street Movie” and will thus always have a little footnote in the study of gender and sexuality in cinema.