Mark Patton plays high-schooler Jesse, whose family have just moved into Nancy Thompson’s old house on Elm Street. Jesse begins having nightmare visions about Freddy Krueger (Robert Englund). Freddy wants Jesse to do his bidding, and slowly begins to invade the boy’s body. Killing and homoeroticism ensue.
I know no one knew what the series would become, but this sequel from director Jack Sholder and screenwriter David Chaskin really does stand out like a sore thumb for a whole bunch of reasons. For starters, it has Freddy Krueger using a young man as kind of a vessel, which isn’t the worst idea in theory, I suppose. However, even if you can get past that, someone decided to take a pretty different creative direction for this one, and…it’s awkward.
This one’s all about puberty and homosexuality. That’s not an inherently awful idea for a horror film, really. Here it’s appallingly done, awkward, and doesn’t fit in with the rest of the series. I get that it’s only the second film, but still…this is weird and not in an especially compelling way. Poor Mark Patton is completely out of his depth, and no one here is taking the themes remotely seriously. Just look at the dialogue. Lines like ‘Assume the position!’ from Patton’s S&M-loving and presumably gay coach (Marshall Bell) who is surely not talking about push-ups, Freddy saying ‘I need you Jesse’, etc. It’s beyond corny and in no way sincere, despite Patton himself apparently being gay. The whole gay/bisexual angle might’ve had half a chance if Patton wasn’t such an awful actor and it weren’t so insincere and heavy-handed. If you’re still in doubt that this is one sexually fluid film, co-star Robert Rusler’s character has a Limahl poster on his wall. C’mon. Add to that Patton’s cries of ‘He’s inside me and he wants to take me again!’. Subtle, guys. Real subtle. As far as I’m concerned, no serious examination of gay/teen sexuality themes would also involve a scene with a demonic budgie attack.
Mark Patton is one of the worst actors to ever headline a horror film. I’m glad he eventually found another profession that he’s presumably a lot better at, because he’s just not an actor. At all. His complete lack of charisma and complete inability to convincingly emote help torpedo an already fast sinking ship. Better is veteran character actor Marshall Bell as the S&M-loving gym teacher. Very few actors play hardened a-holes better than Bell, but boy does he face some very big obstacles here. The role is somehow ambiguous without being remotely subtle, and is very weird and somewhat homophobic. Kim Myers (as the girl who clearly likes Jesse more than he likes her) is better than Patton but pretty dull if you ask me. Clu Gulager is usually good value, but he’s seemingly in a foul mood in this. I guess he only read the script before the cameras rolled. The characters frankly suck here. The next film, the best in the series, would give us a far more enjoyable bunch of characters than these dullards.
In a positive sense, the only memorable thing about the film is the opening bus trip nightmare, with Robert Englund sans makeup playing the bus driver before Freddy takes over. A later chest-bursting scene is kinda memorable, but what in the hell is it doing in an “Elm Street” film? It doesn’t seem to fit. Meanwhile, there were some really dumb death scenes in parts 5 & 6, but one death scene here involving gym equipment is for me, by far the dumbest in the entire series. It’s a shame that the film takes the body-invasion approach, because when we do see Freddy, he’s seen mostly in shadow and barely talks, both of which are effective. But the body-invasion is stupid (and no one gets killed in a nightmare!), and Patton’s ineptitude further sinks it.
Thematically ambitious and audacious, but not in the correct proportion to the talent involved. Agonisingly slow, clichéd, wrong-headed, insincerely written, and mostly appallingly acted. Every bad thing you've heard about this film is true. It's not even entertainingly bad.