ByJames Dunlap, writer at
My tastes are truly bizarre. Finding and reviewing cinema's hidden gems is my forte.
James Dunlap

I'm a huge A Nightmare on Elm Street fan. Ever since my (probably irresponsible) mother took a tiny toddler version of yours truly to the theater to see the original back in '84, the series has been a consistent source of film nostalgia for me (particularly the first three films. No. 4 only gets an honorable mention).

And so. I've decided to write this piece due primarily to how much shade I see thrown, unfairly, at one of my favorites in the Nightmare concatenation: A Nightmare on Elm Street Part 2: Freddy's Revenge. -Or really, just the entire franchise as a whole. And to be fair, there were some lousy sequels. I admit that part five, The Dream Child, was exquisitely lame, (and we don't even talk about Freddy's Dead in my house). As a general rule, the longer the series went on, the worse the films got until reimagined it all with 1994's New Nightmare.

Thing is, though, this is generally true of most horror franchises. And just because the sequels tend to lose their charisma and appeal the more of them that there are, this doesn't necessarily mean they're all terrible. It just means they're not as good as the original, which most horror fans have come to realistically expect and even forgive, within reason.

This caveat aside, has been overly hated on, even for a sequel. The website Bloody Disgusting, in its surprising defense of the film, writes:

A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge is perhaps the most reviled slasher sequel ever made, generally considered among horror fans to be a complete and utter abomination.

Matt Molgaard of calls it:

A horrible, horrible film that happily defecates on the established mythos right from the beginning, and continues to do so over the course of 83 long, stressful minutes.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, it scores a dismal 40 percent on Rotten Tomatoes, with an even more appalling audience rating of 33 percent.

So, yeah. People hate it. A lot.

And don't get me wrong, it is a flawed film. I'm not arguing that it's perfect or that it is as good as or better than the original. But when we consider that diehard fans of certain classic horror franchises tend to be somewhat forgiving with respect to less-than-stellar sequels, A Nightmare on Elm Street 2 works as a worthy entry. Its strengths make it worth watching and enjoying, if we can only overlook its blemishes.

To this end, here is a list of five reasons why A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy's Revenge is a decidedly decent followup to the original.

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5. That Opening Bus Scene

Who needs a boiler room?
Who needs a boiler room?

The bus scene is one of the best film openers of all time, and it may be difficult to explain why I love it, but I'm going to give it a try.

For starters, there's the cleverly innocuous way that this particular scene begins — with a nerdy-looking guy sitting uncomfortably on a school bus. It turns out this "nerd" is the film's protagonist Jesse (Mark Patton), and we soon discover that this bus ride is all happening in his subconscious, as Jesse is currently lost in an utterly banal Freudian dream. "Freudian" in the sense that this scene adequately explores teenage insecurity. It is later revealed that Jesse is not quite as nerdy in real life as he is in said dream — though he does kinda come close. Even so, this scene finds an innovative way to portray the previously hackneyed stereotype about youthful diffidence.

Since we know this is all dream, and since we know this is a Nightmare on Elm Street movie, you can probably guess where it goes from here. From to , obviously, as the bus driver is revealed to be none other than the man in the red-and-green himself. The bus recklessly detours, eventually finding its way to some demonic other-realm, and Freddy Krueger finally gives the audience a full reveal.

It should be noted that this scene apparently has enough fan appeal that Warner Bros. has uploaded an official clip of it to its YouTube channel. Check it out:

4. The Special Effects Are Admirable

Admittedly, the FX aren't mind-blowing. But considering that this was made in 1985 with a budget of around $3 million, they're definitely passable.

Not only are the special effects decent, but they're plentiful. Everything from Freddy peeling back part of his skull to display very realistic-looking brain matter, to a fully formed Freddy escaping from Jesse's body. Even the aforementioned bus scene offers up some impressive illusory tricks.

Freddy "escapes" from Jesse.
Freddy "escapes" from Jesse.

All in all, A Nightmare on Elm Street 2 delivers in the effects department and I can't imagine even the most dedicated haters and salt-throwers disagreeing with this point.

3. Lisa Was Way Ahead Of Her Time

Knife-wielding Lisa was played by Kim Myers.
Knife-wielding Lisa was played by Kim Myers.

When it comes to strong female leads, the horror milieu has been consistently ahead of the game. This can be traced at least as far back as Alfred 's 1960 classic Psycho with Vera Miles' unforgettable performance. It's definitely not unusual in this genre to have a woman thwart the villain and save the day — or at least save herself.

The thing about Nightmare 2 though, is that Lisa (Kim Myers) isn't the main character. She's a side character, and in many ways the unsung hero of the film.

Jesse is the main character and yet, despite this, he is weak, scared, insecure, and ends up being easy meat for Freddy. Lisa, by contrast, is strong, confident, self-assured. What's more, she bestows all of these traits onto Jesse (or at least she attempts to), even when he is at his most pathetic. When her selfless giving of strength to Jesse finally fails due to his own ineptitude and meekness, she takes the reins, defeats Freddy and saves the day. What a complete and total badass!

Not only is this a unique plot structure, it was also way ahead of its time thematically, even for .

2. Freddy Breaks New Ground

Ladies and gents, I give you Robert Englund.
Ladies and gents, I give you Robert Englund.

There's been a lot of criticism leveled at this film for one particular reason: Freddy's penchant for leaving the realm of dreams and entering the real world.

What I think people are failing to take into account is that "different" doesn't always equal "bad." Not only that, but as fans we damn near expect a sequel to take us places the original didn't. In the case of Nightmare 2, I'm of the opinion that taking Freddy out of dreams and into reality is a refreshing change of pace -and one that doesn't really occur again in any other sequels, having the added benefit of making this one wholly unique.

It's also worth noting that this isn't some willy-nilly jumping of the shark that's been crafted by way of some absurd, poorly written plot point. Freddy is able to escape our dreams through corporeal possession. His goal throughout this sequel is to take over Jesse's person to such a degree that the two become one, with Freddy being the more dominant aspect, whereby giving him the ability to wreak bloody havoc.

1. Freddy Is Still Evil

My biggest complaint about the Nightmare on Elm Street franchise is that Freddy very quickly devolves into something campy as the sequels unfold. As early as the third film, Dream Warriors, he's cracking jokes and dropping one-liners. This trend becomes increasingly more prevalent as the series continues, until we arrive at the terrible, awful part six, Freddy's Dead, which I wouldn't even classify as a horror film — it's a black comedy at best, an all-out comedy at worst.

To be fair, this nonsense did kind of get started in Freddy's Revenge. In this installment, we see an extra shot or two of what would later become Freddy's trademark, i.e. that over-the-top, almost Falstaffian laugh he let's out with just before he commences slicing and dicing some poor schmo to death. Not to mention the infamous towel whipping scene... So it's definitely there, the campiness.

It's fairly muted though, especially when compared to pretty much every Nightmare film that came thereafter. One could even make an argument that, in this sequel, the light comedic strokes complement the otherwise dark premise and content. It's a nice touch, as opposed to being overbearing and ridiculous. Or to put it another way, Freddy is still evil in this one, all guttural laughs aside. He's not making a pun or wisecracking every five seconds.

Basically, in A Nightmare on Elm Street 2, we see as he was intended and depicted in the original: ominous and scary.

Unfortunately, the same can't be said for any of the other sequels. Much to my chagrin.

Check out the aforementioned 'towel whipping' scene from A Nightmare on Elm Street 2, below, and as always, feel free to agree, disagree, or tell me I'm an idiot in the comments section!


What do you think the best A Nightmare on Elm Street sequel was?


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