The tagline of the movie is “The man of your dreams is back.” That’s right, it’s Pride Month baby, and today I’m talking about A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET 2—FREDDY’S REVENGE. The film, directed by Jack Sholder (12 Days of Terror) is considered an LGBTQ horror classic. It’s the Freddy Kruger movie notorious for its gay subtext.
The movie features the talents of Mark Patton (Amityville: Evil Never Dies), Kim Myers (Don’t Tell Kim), Robert Rusler (Atone), Robert Englund (Spy Kids: Mission Critical), and Sydney Walsh (Luckboxes).
In the first A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET, teenager Nancy and her friends are being tortured by Freddy Kruger while they sleep at night—Freddy kills you in your sleep, and only in your sleep. So when the sequel shows Freddy in real life instead of just in the dreams of teenagers, it’s abundantly clear that the sequel will be taking a path all its own.
Jesse, a baby-faced Mark Patton, wakes up from his nightmares drenched in sweat. Someone awful is chasing him around a boiler room every night, dragging screeching metal claws along metal pipes. So begins A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET 2—FREDDY’S REVENGE. Robert Englund returns in his second performance as unforgettable horror icon Freddy Krueger.
Kim Meyers plays Lisa, Jesse’s fawning girlfriend, who just wants to help Jesse conquer his sleep problems. Jesse constantly pushes Lisa away, his eyes locked on his friend Grady instead. They meet early in the film when Grady nails Jesse in the head with a baseball. The two scuffle and Grady rips Jesse’s pants off, exposing his bare ass cheeks. The two then fight some more, rolling around on the grass.
When they’ve finally pulled apart, they’re forced to do planks together, grunting and sweating as they make conversation. Grady tries to make small talk, asking Jesse about Lisa, “What about that rich babe…you been mounting her nightly?” Their conversations only get more sexual from there. At one point, Jesse asks Grady if he ever remembers his dreams. Grady replies, “Only the wet ones.”
It’s this type of casual-awkward dialogue that gives A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET 2—FREDDY’S REVENGE its The Room-esqe, audience-pleasing goofiness. This definitely isn’t a horror film to be taken seriously. Jesse spends a lot of time shirtless, sweaty, and/or being framed with phallic objects like tennis rackets and melting candles.
There are even more unintentionally homoerotic scenes in the movie. The most overtly sexy scene is when Jesse ventures out to a queer S&M bar that his mean gym teacher also happens to frequent. Coach Schneider catches Jesse about to have a beer at the bar and hauls him to school to make him run laps. In the middle of the night. Alone with him.
After his laps, Jesse hits the showers, but Coach Schneider begins to be attacked by a whole room full of sports equipment. An invisible Freddy ties Coach Schneider to the wall with a jump rope, strips his clothes, and whips his naked behind with a towel, all while Jesse watches from the shower. At the end of the scene, it’s revealed that Jesse-as-Freddy killed his gym teacher.
A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET 2—FREDDY’S REVENGE portrays Jesse’s gayness as something awful trying to escape and wreak havoc on Jesse’s life, which is not exactly a positive way to look at even a metaphorical coming out.
Still, media representation matters, even if it’s not a perfect gay allegory. As Michael Morgan, a former professor and author, told HuffPost, “I think the moral argument is self-evident. Stories matter. Stories affect how we live our lives, how we see other people, how we think about ourselves.” If you don’t see yourself on TV or in movies, you may feel invisible. A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET 2—FREDDY’S REVENGE, as wacky and semi-intentional as it is, was part of changing the horror genre to show LGBTQ characters.
In celebrating Pride Month, we celebrate how the queer community has moved from harmful oppression to making great strides in the acceptance of LGBTQ individuals worldwide. Movies, as with all media, are a part of that. With movies like A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET 2—FREDDY’S REVENGE, we get a snapshot of what it was like to portray a gay fantasy through the lens of a horror movie, and the result is a horror movie that is both flawed and beautiful.