A Nightmare on Elm Street Part 2: Freddy's Revenge might just be the gayest sequel to a non-gay horror film ever intended for teenage boys and put out by a fledgling studio. So gay it's fun to watch, so poor a sequel that it's astonishing, and filled with so many mixed messages it has an absolute bevy of "issues."
Its undercurrents about "demonic gay impulses" that threaten to break out of poor, defenseless Jesse White, aren't so much undercurrents as the thrust to the entire plot, so to speak. Is it anti or pro-gay? A case could be made for both sides. As homoerotic as many scenes play, it's also pretty clear we're meant to see Jesse's gay desires as the enemy that needs to be sent back to hell where it belongs. What a weird mutation for an established horror icon? And what a way to ensure no one legitimately respects your film.
Screenwriter David Chaskin had this to say : "Yes, there was certainly some intentional subtext but it was intended to play homophobic rather than homoerotic... Jesse is, in the end, finally able to control the monster inside him (his latent homosexuality) with the love of a good woman. Maybe they should show this film at one of those evangelical deprogramming sessions where they try to “fix” gay people into regular Americans."
Hmm... "Regular?" "Americans?" That doesn't sound too promising... Yet, I'm still confused.
So why not do an exhaustive play by play so we can analyze and dissect this gay content in the only way I know how: observation and mockery. Let's dig in!
The times associated are vague approximations, in case you want to give the film a go for yourself, but they may not match up entirely.
3:00 Jesse, the pasty boy at the back of the bus, gets mocked by the catty girls who have no interest in him. Ouch! Not even in his dreams...
4:00 Cavernous openings appear beside the bus, giving way to giant phallic columns of rock that threaten to topple into hell! Metaphor, or lame scare sequence?
6:00 Jesse's little sis asks, "Why can't Jesse wake up like everybody else?" upon Jesse's girlish shrieks from the bedroom.
Jesse awakens and pointedly adjusts himself in his briefs.
7:00 Hints of daddy issues? Maybe it's the drama of moving and all but... Maybe not!
8:00 Jesse gives Lisa a ride to school, just like any nice gay boy to his potential fag hag. Note that Lisa is the redhead. Why are the redheads always relegated to the fag hag roles? Don't tell me it's because she looks like Kathy Griffin...
9:00 Jocks on the baseball field in short shorts, but it seems Jesse can't (and WON'T) play sports. (Even though his bedroom is decorated solely in sports paraphernalia, like any true closet case.) Sure, many gay men play sports, but Jesse, he's distracted by the short shorts.
Kerry, Lisa's best girlfriend, asks if she's "getting any from Jesse?" Lisa gets snippy, "He's my ride to school, okay?!" Back off, Lisa! We get it. He's just not that into you.
10:00 Ron Grady, a jock clad in red short shorts, joyfully depantses Jesse on the bases, ending in a rousing and playful wrestling match.
Coach Schneider's response? "Okay dirtballs, assume the position."
11:00 Coach Schneider watches from the office as his boys do push-ups. Ron explains, "Guy gets his rocks off like this. Hangs around queer S&M joints downtown. He likes pretty boys like you."
Ron asks Jesse about Lisa, "Are you mounting her nightly or what?" Jesse gets defensive, "Look Grady, you got some problem with me?" Stop hounding him, Ron.
Schneider ends that girl talk quickly, "Okay dirtballs, hit the shower!"
12:00 Locker Room Scene 1! Shirtless boys make conversation while we get plot points. Can you believe it? I almost forgot this was the sequel to a horror classic.
16:00 Back in class we're discussing the colon.
17:00 A snake appears around Jesse's neck and he gets another girlish shriek in during class. Metaphor, or lame scare sequence?
18:00 Lisa gets out of the pool. Notice the lack of drying off, cleavage thrusting and excessive nipple shots usually in abundance in these films.
19:00 Gay Dance Sequence! Jesse pops in a cassette of an ultra gay song and snaps his fingers during the lyrics "All night long." He gyrates his hips while placing his pretend-mic in a choice area.
20:00 Uh-oh, nearly outed by Mom and Lisa! They walk in during the lyrics "you're my kind of man." They pretend it's just Risky Business teen boy fun but we all know better.
21:00 Lisa comes up to Jesse's bedroom and they... Wait for it... Clean Jesse's room!
Lisa finds a product called "Jock Itch." So maybe that wasn't your standard penile adjustment in the briefs earlier...
22:00 Jesse gets busy cleaning as Lisa finds a diary hidden in the closet. It belongs to Nancy from the first Nightmare film. Lisa reads an entry: "I can see Glen in his window across the way, getting ready for bed. His body is slim and smooth..." Jesse pulls up a seat. It's getting good!
25:00 Freddy Krueger, like your favorite employee at Banana Republic, appears mystically and says, "Go ahead Jesse, try it on for size." Literally he's talking about a glove, or make that a claw. The "demonic" gay side is starting to emerge from Jesse.
26:00 At the sight of Lisa and Jesse close together in the school hall, Kerry gives a winking, "Hi guys..." Lisa gives a somber, dejected, "Hi Kerry." Lisa's getting nothing. Nothing.
Kerry asks about Lisa's pool party,"Are any cute guys going to be there?" Lisa perks up, "All of them!" Jesse mentally RSVP's.
Apparently Jesse and jock Ron are running buddies. Jesse asks Ron if he remembers his dreams. Ron really opens up, "Only the wet ones!"
Of course Coach Schneider is looking on in hopes of some playful grab ass.
27:00 Locker Room Scene 2! Shirtless boys converse again. Ron says Schneider "sure does got a stick up his ass today!" Jesse replies, "Schneider's always got a stick up his ass." Hello boys, of course Schneider's listening in. Like he'd miss locker time!
Back at Jesse's house they have caged birds. Metaphor, or setup for a lame scare sequence?
28:00 Lame scare sequence involving a metaphorical caged bird that gets free and bursts into flames.
29:00 Belligerent Dad blames Jesse for the exploding bird attack. No wonder Jesse's staying in the closet!
31:00 Gay Dream Sequence! Jesse cruises down rainy streets and winds up at a back alley gay bar called "Don's Place." It's packed with leather queens. Jesse enters, drenched, with an open shirt. Seems right at home.
32:00 (Is that New Line exec. Bob Shaye as a leather daddy bartender?)
Jesse orders a beer and chooses to pour it into a glass. He's THAT gay. Of course he's spotted by Coach Schneider, who's now clad in a leather getup with a spiked wristband. Coach Kinks has been looking forward to this.
Schneider takes Jesse by the arm and forces him to run laps on the basketball court. After working up a sweat, Schneider tells Jesse to hit the shower.
33:00 Gay Shower Scene! While Jesse's relaxing Coach Schneider's hunting down a jump rope for some good old after-school bondage. He even has boy pics on his office wall, but it does say a lot more than a plaque.
34:00 Schneider is mystically pummeled by balls.
35:00 Gay Bondage Scene! Schneider is supernaturally tied up facing the wall in the showers, with the jump rope of course. Jesse looks on through the steam as towels mystically and brutally snap Coach Schneider's bare ass. Lighthearted murder if anything.
36:00 Jesse has now emerged from the steam as the demon Freddy, overcome by his impulses to take part in every gay boy's shower room fantasy. Schneider gets clawed in the back, and in a disturbing image, his nude bloodied body hangs limp against the shower wall.
37:00 Jesse is returned home by the police. An officer tells his parents, "We found him on the highway, wandering around. He was naked." Mom just wants Jesse to go to sleep, Dad suspects drugs. If they only knew!
45:00 Scared by a rat, Jesse and Lisa have their first embrace. Lisa's pretty invested, but Jesse takes her from the side and pats her on the back.
47:00 Jock Ron's persistent at the lunch table. His mouth's full, but a move's a move. He asks Jesse, "Hey, you wanna go out and get a movie or something, hang out? Maybe ease things off your mind, get a pizza or something?" Lisa's not invited.
Kerry arrives at the table and flirtatiously addresses Ron. Disinterested, Ron tells an off-putting anecdote about throwing his grandma down the stairs. You don't need to tell Kerry twice, she gets the hint.
48:00 A lover's quarrel... between Jesse and Ron that is. It might all be due to that damn Lisa's constant coddling, but Ron forgives and forgets and still wants to hang out. Cuteness ensues.
49:00 Jesse's at Lisa's pool party hanging solo. He doesn't even want to meet her parents. Wow, girl can't catch a break!
50:00 Uh-oh, time to have a talk. Jesse wants to leave the party, asking Lisa, "How are you going to help me? What are you going to do for me?"
51:00 Hetero kissing? Lisa says, "We'll stay up all night if we have to..." It's a lead in to a stumbled, awkward kiss. Is it Jesse's first ever? Well, he's trying his best.
52:00 Jesse's working hard! He starts going to town on Lisa's breasts, though they're thankfully veiled by Jesse's workman-like grip and a thick blouse. Lisa's loving it, but Jesse's inner demons are not. Suddenly, Jesse's tongue becomes a giant icky gray mass! Jesse can't, and WON'T, go any further. Lisa's confused and asks, "What's wrong?" Oh Lisa, you'll understand when this happens again sophomore year.
53:00 Jesse flees the hetero action to Ron's bedroom. Who can blame him after getting all worked up? Jesse requests, "I need you to let me stay here tonight." Ron's begrudging but he does sleep in a twin.
54:00 Jesse comes out! He confesses to Ron,"There's something inside of me."
55:00 Jesse's loving that open shirt look. He prefaces their night together by saying, "If anything starts to happen or I start to act weird... You've got to stop me."
57:00 Jesse doesn't have the stamina and passes out, while Ron, adorably, says "sweet dreams, pal" before turning in. No action tonight... unless you count the homo-demon Freddy tearing out of Jesse's body to quell those impulses! Maybe Freddy's the one who likes the open shirt look. You know, for ease.
58:00 Jesse's lust unleashes Freddy upon Ron, clawing him in the chest while Ron's parents overhear cries through the doorway. Jesse's gayness is now free in the form of Freddy Krueger!
1:01:00 Jesse confesses his innate desires and lack of control to Lisa, "He's inside me and he wants to take me again." Lisa's so smitten (read: oblivious) that she barely believes him, despite the blood on his hands.
1:03:00 Lisa reads from the diary again, "He is evil himself. I know that I brought him into this world..." She assures Jesse, "You can fight him... You created him, you can destroy him."
She MUST work for one of those ex-gay ministries.
1:06:00 Jesse and his demon Freddy are now interchangeable as he asks Lisa to kill him. Freddy taunts Lisa with professions of love (how cruel!) and then chooses not to harm Lisa because, well, she never triggers his sexuality.
1:08:00 Hetero party guests get slaughtered. Not too many, or enough really, considering this is the Nightmare on Elm Street series. The only ones to really get put down are men. Freddy/Jesse leaves the party while Lisa, spirited as she is and sure she can change him, follows after.
(What kinds of parents let their daughter leave the house after a mass slaughter?)
1:16:00 Lisa wounds and scars Freddy by saying, "I love you."
1:17:00 Freddy goes up in flames. Somehow her wily heterosexual ways have helped stifle those pesky gay desires.
1:18:00 Jesse sheds the demon skin and emerges a new heterosexual man.
1:21:00 Jesse's dreaming again about being on the bus to school. He's still a new man, snuggling close, but only briefly kissing his new "love" Lisa. Then the bus speeds up, but Jesse insists it's "going too fast!"
1:22:00 The bus goes off the road and Freddy re-emerges! The gay impulses persist.
So there we have it. Jesse's faced his demons and come out as a happy heterosexual with the help of his most beloved casual interest, Lisa. But it seems he may never really conquer those "demons" of his...
So what's the consensus? Should we be offended, or credit this as a clever way to dissect internal homophobia?
I'm still confused.