1985 was a fine year for Hollywood. Icons fell under the stampede for sequels while future classics were created. It’s time to look back.
In the coming weeks the HeyUGuys team will focus on some of best from ’85, exploring their legacy and capturing something of their enduring essence.
We’ve already watched a boxer win the Cold War, shone a light on an oft-forgotten Disney outing, hung out in a pool with Steve Guttenberg, endured bad Bond, enjoyed a Cruise Curry, drew First Blood for second time, reunited with The Brat Pack, got a keg of beer with a wolf, learned to hate vacation, gone back in time, today we’re falling asleep…
It only took a year for a Nightmare on Elm Street sequel to surface, following the groundbreaking success of its predecessor forged by Craven, but the man who began it all would be no part of this second jaunt, instead deciding that he had already experiences his fair share of slashing and scream queens for that current time period. Replacing him in the director’s chair would be Jack Sholder, of Alone In The Dark fame, while screenplay duties were undertaken by debutant Jack Chaskin, ushering in a whole new dimension to Freddy’s reign of terror.
On a budget of $3 million, Freddy’s Revenge presented a stark contrast in fortunes compared to the original defining movie, having doubled the classic’s box office takings and taking in a sizeable $29.9 million, yet remaining one of the series entries that often falls foul of audience opinion. Inevitably, such box office results would deem Robert Englund a horror icon and the cogs would turn further on the machine ploughing out Nightmare sequels for years to come.
In terms of furthering Freddy’s dream-dwelling antics, Revenge ultimately ripped up the rule tapestry so beautifully weaved by Craven and took a whole new approach to Krueger’s methods of torturing and murdering more helpless teens. Chaskin’s screenplay is one that has forever created many a debate as to its validity within such a horror series, with his insistence on homoerotic tendencies and content more than often holding back what is a dark and disturbing movie.
While leading star Mark Patton’s Jesse remained in relationship limbo with female interest at high school, scenes including the men’s showers and the general ‘in the closet’ overtones of his character prove that Chaskin’s insistence to solidify a homosexual lead in the film went above director Sholder’s head. While Patton is an openly-gay actor of the time, it certainly would have been interesting to see if Brad Pitt or Christian Slater had got through the audition stage.
The issue that the majority of Nightmare fans encountered with this second outing is its insistence on trying to create a whole new set of rules for Freddy, him ultimately possessing a body for his own means of killing and even appearing within the real world and slaughtering, even though nobody is technically asleep.
It’s moments such as these which cement the film in the doldrums of series displeasure; ignoring past endeavours and instead looking to reinvent when the formula was a groundbreaking success.
Essentially, Freddy’s Revenge, interestingly and inaccurately tagged with the signature tagline, ‘the man of your dreams is back’, poses no correlation with Freddy’s notable method of killing, instead dispatching within the real world. Moreso, the fact that Englund’s razor-edged villain only appears in 13 whole minutes of the film is one that garners concern and confusion, especially for a property that thrives on its main antagonist delivering the scares and terror.
Admittedly though, when Freddy is in full view and causing havoc he is most certainly thriving in the limelight, with a horrifying pool party massacre sitting on the pedestal for the most notable instance of his reign within the swift 90-odd minutes of questionable mayhem. Aside from it, once again, taking place very much when everyone is wide awake and enjoying the luxuries of the local neighbourhood, the appearance of Freddy from nowhere kickstarts a short period of marauding from the dream dweller, slashing and cursing his way through the crowds before exiting into a flame-filled magic act.
It’s dark and affecting and reminiscent of some of the better moments of Craven’s exemplary effort, but it’s a shame we get little more in terms of real horror. Instead, Chaskin’s script essentially gives birth to the lighter side of the Nightmare saga, which spawned the latter entries and glossed them with cheap laughs in favour of primal fear.
While the visual atrocity of Krueger’s severely burnt face and rotting teeth, along with his knife-edged glove, remained an image to instantly give one nightmares, this second edition of Elm Street’s famed child killer’s escapades would divide opinion. On one side, a cult status has seen the film remain one of those ‘so bad it’s good’ horror movies in the same ilk as Halloween III: Season of the Witch, while others remain unmoved in declaring this as the worst in the long-running series – even with the reboot taken into account.
Thankfully, Englund’s reign would see some well-needed invigoration soon after, with Patricia Arquette and the returning Heather Langenkamp adding some more life in that hat, sweater and glove yet…
Read on about other classmates from 1985…
Most Likely to suffer from an Oedipus complex:
Most Likely to ruin Europe for good:
Most Likely to Win in the End:
Most Likely to get your Man in Motion:
Most Likely to make an inappropriate joke while arching an eyebrow: