I can’t believe I’m almost a third of the way into my month long journey into the realm of horror movie franchises and haven’t told you my Rules for a Horror Sequel yet. Just bear in mind that these rules aren’t set in stone and of course, there are exceptions to the rules. Consider them as more of a guideline than anything else.
1) Different But the Same: In the case of the Friday the 13th movies, they basically made the same movie 12 times in a row. That’s fine. Sometimes Jason is a Mongoloid, sometimes he’s a Zombie, sometimes it’s not even Jason who’s the killer but as long as SOMEBODY is killing teens who are smoking dope and fornicating, it’s all good. The location can be different too (camp,
2) If It Ain’t Broke Don’t Fix It: If a horror movie was great, don’t fuck the sequel up by adding a whole bunch of new “rules” (like the Jason Puke Monster from Jason Goes to Hell) or a stupid back story for the killer (like the “Mark of the Thorn” from Halloween 6). Upping the body count and the nudity is encouraged though.
3) Better to Break It Than Remake It: It’s preferable to add new rules and a stupid back story than to just up and reboot the whole franchise. Adding new rules to your killer’s modus operandi at least shows some originality on the filmmakers’ part instead of just giving up and calling a do-over.
4) If You’re Going to Make a Sequel, Make a Sequel: Don’t get artsy. Don’t do one of those Halloween 3: Season of the Witch numbers that don’t feature anyone or anything from the previous films.
Also, all of a franchise’s sequels are more or less measured and graded next to how good the original was. Generally, if the first film in a series is an undoubted classic (Texas Chainsaw Massacre, A Nightmare on
A Nightmare on Elm Street Part 2: Freddy’s Revenge breaks Rule Number 2 of the Horror Movie Sequel Rulebook. Now instead of killing people in their dreams, Freddy Krueger (Robert Englund) possesses the body of Jesse (Mark Patton) and makes him kill people in his sleep. This is not a good plan if you ask me. Wouldn’t it be better to jump in and out of people’s dreams and kill them instead of hiring a middle man to do all your killing for you? Besides, you’d think a Grade A psycho like Freddy would get more kicks from murdering people himself. And when you really think about it, why would Freddy need to pin his murders on somebody? I mean he’s technically dead anyway, it’s not like he’ll be serving jail time or anything. Freddy quickly got his shit together for the next film when he struck upon the idea of killing his victims then making it look like a suicide.
It’s one thing to make new rules for a sequel but when you conveniently forget the rules from the first movie AND your new rules, things can get kinda frustrating. Like the exploding parrot scene. What the fuck was with that. I know Jesse’s sister says that it was “sleeping” before it blew up but c’mon; are we really supposed to believe that Freddy invaded the dreams of a fucking parrot and made it explode? Get real. And what about the flaming toaster? Or the fact that the gym teacher (Marshall Bell) gets tied up and whipped by jump ropes and towels that move all by themselves WHEN HE ISN’T EVEN ASLEEP! I know Jesse was possessed by Freddy when he killed him, but how could he make the ropes and towels move by themselves? Likewise, the scene where Jesse licks his girlfriend’s chest with a monstrous tongue happens while both of them are wide awake.
Then there’s the weenie roast scene. For some reason in this scene, Freddy is able to appear and disappear at will. Hot dogs and beer cans also explode for no reason whatsoever too. At least this scene contains the immortal line, “You are all my children now” and the hilarious part where a concerned teen tries to get Freddy “help” before Freddy says, “Help yourself fucker!” and slashes him up.
And what about the dogs with human faces? Can somebody explain that brand of lunacy to me? I can believe a murderer that invades your dreams and forces you to kill in his name. I can also believe that said murderer can make parrots explode, make towels whip people all by themselves, and turn an innocent weenie roast into a descent to Hell. What I can’t believe is two dogs with human faces just chilling out in an abandoned power plant. Where’s Animal Control in all this? Jesus, this movie will give you an ice cream headache just trying to figure it out.
The thing that makes Part 2 stand out from the glut of horror sequels of the 80’s is the homoerotic subtext. Nowadays, there is a whole subgenre of Direct to DVD movies devoted to gay horror (like The Gay Bed of Breakfast of Terror) but in the age of Reganomics and legwarmers, this was fairly new territory. This movie is loaded with gay imagery. From the subtle, like Jesse and his friend Grady (Robert Rusler) rolling around and fighting because he pulled Jesse’s pants down, to the not-so-subtle, like when the gay gym teacher cruises an S & M bar.
We know Jesse is sexually confused pretty much from the get-go. Mostly because he wiggles his butt to close his dresser drawers and simulates ejaculation using a pop gun when he doesn’t think anyone else is looking. And what about the scene where Jesse can’t bring himself to lick Lisa (Meryl Streep impersonator Kim Myers) with his Monster Tongue? What does he do? Run to the bedroom of his hunky shirtless best friend Grady. Now even though Lisa had the hots for him, I’m still thinking Jesse was flat-out gay. His turquoise Swatch watch is an obvious giveaway. You should also consider the fact that Freddy spends most of the movie trying to get inside Jesse. (“I need you, Jesse!”) That should send off the Gay-dar big time. (“He wants to take me again!”)
Unintelligible lapses in logic and homosexual undercurrents aside, what makes the movie memorable is Robert Englund as Freddy. He is a fucking badass in this movie. He doesn’t rely on any gimmicks to kill kids; he just slashes the shit out of them with his glove. Respect.
People bitch about Freddy’s Revenge because this was the first one where they started giving Freddy one-liners. True enough, but at least they aren’t purposefully as jokey as the later sequels. Sure, there is the “You got the body, I got the brain” moment”. To me though, it isn’t a Ha-Ha kinda funny when a man’s brains are spilling out of his head. Freddy laughs at it, but this moment is more of a “Dude, seriously put your brains back in your head… you’re creeping me out” moment than a “Shit man… Freddy’s off the chain! Kill his ass, Krueger!” I think a throwaway line is perfectly acceptable in this situation because you aren’t rooting for Freddy to kill somebody. When Freddy starts making puns while slashing somebody up, then the jokes dilute his menace.
I really dig Kevin Yagher’s Freddy make-up in this one. His face looks a lot greasier than in the original and kinda resembles a cheese pizza. The other effects are pretty cool too. The scene when Freddy rips out of Jesse’s chest is impressive as is the part where his glove comes out of Jesse’s hand. (In the end, Freddy doesn’t even have a glove; he just has razors coming out of his fingers, which is kinda weird.)
I rented Freddy’s Revenge for the first time when I was about nine. This was when our town Rite Aid had a kick ass horror section. I remembered not liking it very much as a kid but I still enjoyed it mostly because it was a Freddy movie. Watching it as an adult I can appreciate it a bit more for what it attempts to do. It’s not great but it at least tries to be different yet still remain the same. That’s Horror Sequel Rule Number 1. Because of that, I can’t bear to give it any less than ** ½.
<Tomorrow’s Horror Franchise Movie: A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors>