Set five years after the original, A Nightmare on Elm Street Part Two: Freddy´s Revenge was the first in a long line of sequels. The film sees teenager Jesse Walsh and his family moving into the infamous 1428 Elm Street. Jesse is assigned Nancy´s old room and soon begins to have nightmares, which pave the way for Freddy´s return.
Wes Craven has nothing to do with this production and it shows. The film lacks the originality of part one, though it is at least still meant to be taken seriously, and there is a genuine attempt to scare. Direction is from Jack Sholder and it was produced by Robert Shaye. Mark Patton plays Jesse but the cast is a list of unknowns otherwise apart, of course, from Freddy, who is always played by Robert Englund.
Jesse finds out that his dreams are not isolated as a school friend tells him about the history of the house he is living in. The father has purchased it on the cheap without telling his family about the trouble. It isn´t long before Jesse is meeting up nightly with Freddy and providing a physical form for his sick handiwork. Help from his friends and girlfriend is provided but how can they hope to overcome the hate-filled and twisted Kreuger?
This effort is worthy of the horror film tag; it does include a few scares and some frightening murder scenes. It also includes some surprisingly good special effects considering it came out in 1986. My favourite is the scene where Jesse has worked out that he is "possessed" by Freddy and tells his friend to watch him as he sleeps and wake him up if anything starts to happen. Of course in true horror film style his friend thinks that he is crazy and falls asleep himself. He awakens to find Freddy bursting literally out of Jesse and the punishment for his stupidity is nasty death. The effects are excellent as Freddy can be seen gradually forcing his way out of Jesse leaving his body behind like a shed skin.
The plot is predictable but elements of it are dreamlike and it is creepy in places, retaining something of the chilling atmosphere that the first film built up. There are no huge surprises as the film unfolds, but we are treated to a nice ending obviously inspired by the original.
The acting is fairly bad, especially Coach Schneider the strange fetishist who punishes Jesse and pays for it. The father of the family could also be singled out for his poor performance, while Jesse and his girlfriend struggled to bring some believability to their parts. The film was made and is set in the eighties and consequently the clothes and music are laughable, look out in particular for the scene where Jesse is unpacking and performs an impromptu dance routine (you can´t watch it without cringing). The creepy music was fine, it helped set the scene and fit the usual pattern of the Nightmare films being somewhere in between choir and nursery rhyme but slightly off.
Running time is a mercifully brief 82 minutes. Within that short 82 minutes the makers still found time to include some of the usual cliched aspects of the horror genre. There is the diary they just happen to find, Nancy´s diary, which recounts the tale of what happened before they met Freddy (very convenient). There were also a few of those pretend scares and a predictable final showdown in, you guessed it, a disused factory building. The worst scene of all is incredibly badly done and involves an exploding bird, truly ridiculous (by chris). It is worth watching closely for the end part of the scene after the bird explodes, the father covers his face with his arm, as a few feathers float down to earth. It looks so bad I cannot believe they left it in the film.
Anyway if you liked the original this is probably as close as the sequels get to it. Kreuger has not yet descended into comedic remarks and there is still a clearly evident intention to scare. Unfortunately the plot, script and direction were rather dull, and the acting was poor in places. A competent if uninspiring effort, elevated by the awfulness, which came along after it.