Reviews: Senseless Rants from a Picky Sissy
The Gaypex of Horror Cinema
I honestly didn't want to believe it. I'd heard the rumors that "A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy's Revenge" was rife with homoerotic subtext, and I pooh-poohed it. I'd seen this film as a child, after all! I remember the pool party scene! I remember the school bus teetering on the pile of rocks! I remember the hot guy in the nylon shorts getting pinned up against the door... hey... wait a minute... I'm getting a strange tingly feeling...
The verdict is in, ladies and gents, and the ruling is thus: "Freddy's Revenge" is the gayest horror film ever made. Fuck David Decoteau and his shirtless sissyboy WB shlockfests. Fuck "The Hunger" and its hot girl-on-vampire action. Hell -- fuck "Rocky Horror", for that matter -- none of these can hold a candle to the full-immersion queerness that is ANOES2. You may be scratching your head, saying, "Hmm. I don't remember Freddy being a homo. I don't remember anything gay about ANY of those movies, for that matter." Well, just read and see, friends -- I'll bet you my last $3 bill that you'll be convinced.
In this follow-up to the enormously successful original, we find the house of good old Nancy (AHEM!) recently occupied by a new family consisting of Jesse (Mark Patton), his sister, and his folks (Hope Lange and Clu Galager). Things seem fine until Jesse begins having strange nightmares and the house starts heating up like a rice cooker for no apparent reason. It seems that someone is trying to get into Jesse's head while he dreams, and this is interfering with his sleep and his social life. Add a mysterious attack by the family parakeet (which explodes), and you've got your motor running for some fine 80's horror shenanigans.
But folks, this is where things start to get strange. In any other teen slasher movie, boys and girls would start porking and find themselves on the business end of someone's Mr. Pointy. But nooooooooo, this is not just any slasher. In this film we get the beginnings of a very strange journey ("How strange is it?") into sexual repression, angst, and ultimately nervous breakdown.
The first curious incident happens in gym class, of all places. Jesse and hunky Grady are playing ball on the field, when Jesse does something to anger Grady. In response, as any other red-blooded American teenage male would do, Grady bare-ass depantses Jesse in front of the whole class. In response, Jesse, pants still around his ankles, jumps on Grady and wrestles him, apparently trying to pull his shirt off. The class gathers around and the gym teacher lets it go on for just a little too long before breaking things up and forcing the two to do push-ups in the yard. Needless to say, they are fast friends.
Okay -- I could let this bizarre incident slide, if it were the only of its kind. True, depantsing was a staple of early 80's teen sex comedies, and -- well, boys will be boys, right? But just wait and see what happens next...
Jesse sweats a lot, see. He wakes up screaming like a woman soaked to the bone. His folks are very worried about him. Besides that, he is a slob and hasn't even unpacked his room yet (bad sissy!). His dad makes him stay in and clean the joint up, which is the perfect excuse for a dance montage. Jesse puts on a silly hat and giant, sparkly gold sunglasses, and hops on the bed, gyrating like a Seventh Bell pole dancer and pelvic thrusting while pumping a popgun in his crotch. Needless to say, Mom walks in when the gun goes off, creating embarrassment and hilarity for all. NOT! This shit is creepy! First off, I can't remember the last time the requisite 80's solo dance montage featured a BOY doing the dancing -- that's just not considered "normal" behavior for a teen horror lead! Sure -- we all love to dance around our apartments like Kevin Kline in "In and Out", but that's because we're queer! Straight men don't do this! And don't give me the whole "Tom Cruise in 'Risky Business'" speech -- that's another column altogether.
So heroine-(faghag)-to-be Lisa shows up and helps him clean up. She is attracted to Jesse because he is utterly harmless and non-predatory, and dresses well. So she reaches into his closet (AHEM!) and pulls out -- a diary. Nancy's diary, no less. And in a twist of "Young Lady Chatterly"-like proportions, we find that what was happening to Nancy is now happening to Jesse! But the kicker to this scene is that, while this discussion is going on, the closet door is ajar, and inside we see an enormous board-game called PROBE sitting on the shelf. No joke -- it takes up a good 10% of the screen. WHY??!! FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, WHY???!! So Jesse has a PROBE tucked in his closet and is reliving Nancy's teengirl nightmare. Got it.
So now it's time for all this subtext to become text, people. Enough of the subtlety. You think PROBE and bareass wrestling is the end of this party? Uh-uh. What follows is easily one of the most unbelievable and ridiculous sequences to ever be committed to film. Jesse finds himself approaching what looks remarkably like a gay leather bar. He enters, and there you have it -- there are a few women thrown in, but front and center, here we have two men making out in harnesses. No fucking joke, yo. He for some reason approaches the bar and orders a drink. And what do you know, our good friend the gym coach pops up over his shoulder, wearing what looks like a leather tank-top and leering unpleasantly. Cut to the basketball court, where Jesse is running, exausted. Wait a sec -- isn't it the middle of the night? The coach barks, "Hit the showers!", and Jesse begrudgingly does. Cut to naked Jesse alone in the steamy, dark shower, with the gym coach looking on. I'm just waiting for the Falcon Video logo to appear onscreen. The gym coach goes to the equipment locker and takes out a jumprope and lays it on the desk -- WHY??!!! Christ, what kind of sick fuck is this guy? Is this a Catholic high school? Suddenly, the equipment locker opens up and balls start flying at the gym coach. He doesn't actually seem too bothered. The jumprope binds his wrists and drags him into the shower and ties his hands above his head, dungeon-style. Suddenly his clothes are ripped from his body and towels magically appear to whip his bare ass, in close-up, as Jesse watches in what could be horror from the other side of the shower. Freddy shows up and slices the coach across the back, leaving him hanging naked.
Folks, we're about 35 minutes into the movie and we've just had our first kill. That seem odd to anyone? And honestly, when's the last time Freddy had any interest in gym coaches, for God's sake? Doesn't he go after the Elm Street kids? It would seem to me that this S&M scenario sprang directly from Jesse's head, not the bowels of hell. Which, if this IS a Catholic school, are not much different.
So Jesse's mom pleads with him to talk to her about it. Jesse says he doesn't want to. In a scene stolen verbatim from a coming-out movie, we see Jesse and his family pull apart. At school, not much is better -- Jesse's relationships with his friends are fraying, and he and Grady bicker like a married couple (or Frodo and Sam). There is talk of a pool party, but Jesse isn't keen on it.
Cut to the pool party. Jesse isn't feeling it so he goes to leave. Lisa corners him in the pool house and tries to get on him, but when they start to make out Jesse's tongue gets abnormally long and grey, so he bolts -- and runs instead to Grady's house. Grady is in bed and Jesse asks if he can sleep there. Hmm. Grady even points out how strange it is that Lisa wants to sleep with Jesse but Jesse wants to sleep with Grady, but lets Jesse stay anyway. Of course, as soon as they both fall asleep Freddy rips out of Jesse's body and skewers Grady (in nothing but running shorts) to the door. Jesse then returns to the pool party, Freddy breaks out of him again, and hot dogs and beer cans start exploding outside (paging doctor Freud...). He kills a bunch of kids and then disappears. It occurs to me now that I'm writing this that Freddy (Jesse) only seems to kill boys in this film -- I don't remember a single girl being killed so far. Lisa is almost killed about 20 times but Freddy always lets her go, but guys don't merit a second chance. Interesting...
Ultimately Lisa's love for Jesse saves him from Freddy's unwelcome advances. Or does it? In a typical last-minute twist, we learn that all is NOT well, that the kids still ARE doomed, and that Freddy/Jesse is finally ready to start killing women as well. The bus speeds off into the desert, powered by nothing more than Jesse's scalding-hot gay libido.
Besides all this, there are other alarming signs that there is definitely something queer in the state of Indiana. What's with the strange use of posters in this film? Check out the Tina Turner poster on Grady's wall (among others). Check out the creepy Sweaty Man Wrestling poster in the gym coach's office. And repeated dialogue like "There's a man who's trying to get inside me" rings oddly once piled upon all this thinly-veiled queer subtext. In the end, "Freddy's Revenge" might well be the definitive metaphor for queer teen sexual horror: the emergence of a terrifying, powerful and destructive force which exacts fantasy punishment on that which it is attracted to (gay leather bars, hot jocks, scantily-clad pool party boys) and alienates the teen from his family and the affection of a well-meaning but sexually predatory girl. In the end, the kiss of the girl pushes the destructive gay libido back into remission, but of course ultimately the force is too strong and all in its path are destroyed.
Going too far? I honestly don't think so. See for yourself -- fortunately, the film is a good watch either way, with some really creepy scenes and some decent acting by Mark Patton (almost too sincere for a horror film), and great FX. All in all, a deserving title-holder of the Gayest Horror Film of All Time.
This horror sequel contains the classically disgusting line, “Who’s up for a hot corned beef sandwich?”