6/4/10

Friday Flashback: Repressed Sexuality on Elm Street

For Gay Pride Month: Let's take a look at a little something I wrote a few years back concerning the gayest horror film of all time:  A Nightmare On Elm Street Part 2: Freddy's Revenge!


Maybe it was all purely coincidental, maybe it was not, but no matter how you slice it A Nightmare On Elm Street Part 2: Freddy's Revenge has got to be one of the gayest films ever made.

Any horror film that features Hope Lange and Clu Gulager as the parents of a Nellie-boy in distress is gay aces in my book! Add this to the mix; that said nellie-boy's girlfriend is a dead ringer for Meryl Streep, and, well, how can you go wrong?

Made as a quick follow up to the authentically chilling original, A Nightmare on Elm Street, Part 2 starts with Jesse, his little sister and Ma and Pa moving into the original home from Nightmare. Once the family is settled all kinds of goofy and gay things start happening.

To wit:

*Jesse does a masturbatory dance in his bedroom with a tennis racket. Soon after that his room becomes so hot that his stacks of Culture Club records begin melting!

*Meanwhile, at school, Jesse's best bud, Ron (Robert Russler) can't seem to stop pulling Jess's pants down exposing his pale butt.

*The constant horseplay between the two chums seems to raise the ire of Coach Schneider (Marshall Bell) (as well as his arousal, one presumes, as he is constantly eying the two boys), so he keeps them after gym so he can watch them run the track, work up a sweat, and undress in the locker room.

*Later on in the film, when Jesse becomes possessed by the spirit of Freddy Krueger (Robert Englund) he strolls the streets of Springwood Ohio and shows up at a leather bar, where, SURPRISE! He bumps into the Coach! At this point the leather clad gym teacher takes his charge back to the school gym where he makes him run the track. As poor crazy Jesse is running, the coach is seen in his office checking out his impressive collection of whips (jeez, what kind of background check does this school system employee?). However, before the coach can work out his S and M fantasies on the little twink, supernatural events occur and soon the coach is dragged screaming into the shower by unseen hands and is strapped up to the shower heads, ) At that point the unseen specter begins lashing the coach with a cat-o-nine-tails until Jesse shows up wearing Freddy's glove to finish off the horny teacher.

* When it looks like Jesse will finally get to have sex with is girlfriend, Freddy takes over again causing our poor hero to display a huge phallic like tongue that juts in and out of his mouth (gee, what could that mean?), which freaks him out and sends him running for (guess where?) If you said, "Ron's bedroom" - give yourself a gold star and a copy of Freud's ,The Interpretation of Dreams -- yes, in a state of total melt down and hysteria, Jess confronts his bare chested buddy for comfort and climbs on top of him in bed crying out for help. Ron's a good guy and he agrees to let Jess spend the night (no, not in his bed), and that proves to be a bad call as Freddy once more takes over and slashes the hunky best friend to ribbons.
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On a purely superficial level, A Nightmare 2 is a mishmash of nonsense - canaries blow up, parents turn a blind eye to their son's mental breakdown, Freddy making the proclamation, "You are all my children now"- yeah, there are a lot of inanities here.

However, if one can overlook the silliness, there seems to be a much deeper meaning to the goings on. Could this film actually be about a young man trying to come to grips with his repressed sexuality? It would seem that his first two victims represent that which both attracts and repulses him at the same time. The gym teacher and Ron both are sexual beings in Jesse's eyes. The gym coach wants Jesse, while Jesse craves Ron. And yet both of the men are killed by the evil that has possessed him (you always hurt the one you love?).

In the end, Freddy is vanquished by the virginal girlfriend after she professes her love to him and kisses him passionately (while he is in the repulsive guise of the monster no less), thus giving Jesse back his normal life. Unfortunately, the ultimate message here might be that homosexual stirrings equals death - then again, if one were to watch any other slasher film from this era, heterosexual stirrings are just as risky.

Be that as it may, A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy's Revenge is an entertaining little film, check it out when you can, and see what you think. I'd love to hear others thoughts on it.

And one last thing, interestingly enough, Mark Patton (who played Jesse) is a gay man.
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for your viewing pleasure: here is the coach's death scene:


5 comments:

Emily said...

Great post and I'm agreed 100%. The first time I watched Freddy's REvenge as a kid, I just hated it for deviating so much from the story style of the rest of the sequels. When I rewatched it a few years back as an adult, my jaw hung open the whole time. I couldn't believe how obvious of a gay analogy it seemed and just kept wondering how the filmmaker got away with it when making such a high profile sequel. I read an interview with Patton recently and while he acknowledged the subtext, he also boiled it down to the fact that his character just should've been female. I really can't agree with that. When you think of the gym teacher and quite a lot of the other side stories, there's simply no way that would've worked with a teenage girl.

One of the most weirdly fascinating sequels of all time.

B-Sol said...

Such an unfairly maligned horror sequel. I love it, and always appreciated how it kept things in the same lower-key, truly scary vein as the original, before the sequels started deviating more into humor and fantasy. Funny, even as a kid I could sense something about the subtext, even if my 11-year-old brain couldn't quite pinpoint what it was...

The Divine Ms. Jimmi said...

As I remember, this film came out in 1985 during the height of the AIDS Crisis. It made me ponder that perhaps the gay subtext in Nightmare 2 was that Gay Lust leads to death and that only heterosexuality can save you from AIDS? I wasn't alone in that thought around the time. It is the queerest horror movie of the decade except for the S&M outré of Hellraiser.

Pax Romano said...

DMJ,

In retrospect, I can what you are saying. When I first saw it, I did not get the AIDS references so much as the repressed sexuality theme. There is a feeling that only a heterosexual relationship will save the day . Odd how the script writer and director swore that they were not aiming for that. Doubly odd that the actor they cast was gay in real life.

B-Sol, I think the badpress of this movie is somewhat warranted as (for me at least), it did not have the same energy as the original. I mean, I love it for it's camp value - but as a horror film, not so much.

Emily, I think you put it best: One of the most weirdly fascinating sequels of all time.

Chad Helder said...

The new documentary "Never Sleep Again" goes into a lot of depth about the gay subtext. In the various interviews, the writer says he intended a gay subtext, and Mark Patton says he intentionally plays the character as a confused gay boy; however, the director and producer and others were totally clueless about it--there are lots of people interviewed who express disbelief that they didn't see it at the time, but they say they can see the gay subtext clearly now.