My buddy Justin’s convinced A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge is a clandestine homosexual tale. I hadn’t seen the film since I was about seven or eight years old and don’t remember it being gay; then again, I was seven or eight years old and musings on one’s sexuality were a little beyond me. The other night I came across the film on one of the pay-per-view channels and had to determine for myself whether Justin’s assertion is correct. It is. A Nightmare on Elm Street 2 is probably the most homoerotic film I’ve seen in a long time – and this is coming from the guy that believes the subtext of Predator is a gay love story between Carl Weathers and Arnold Schwarzenegger. I’m not certain whether anybody will agree with my observations, but I’m definitely going to back them up with quotes from the film.
The film follows Jesse, recently relocating to Springwood with his parents and moving into Nancy’s (from the first film) old house on Elm Street. Jesse starts having dreams about a mysterious figure in a boiler room – turns out its Freddy and he wants to use Jesse’s body as a vehicle for murder in the real world. That’s about all there is to the film, except for the overt homosexuality.
To start, Mark Patton (Jesse) is gay, or at least according to a variety of websites I visited this afternoon. However, nobody involved in the making of the film (including Patton) was aware of the homosexual undertones. I’m convinced the film’s about two personalities – the first is Jesse, your average American teenager; the other is Freddy, the homosexual inside, yearning for freedom. I saw a commentary on the film saying Freddy wants to have sex with Jesse, which I think is incorrect. I believe Freddy symbolizes Jesse’s repressed homosexuality; in essence, Freddy is what Jesse really wants to be. Jesse’s statement, “there’s something inside of me,” alludes to his real feelings dwelling underneath the personality he exhibits to his classmates. It’s the persona he’s afraid to embrace, especially in a Midwestern town that’s probably not too friendly to “alternative lifestyles.” Remember, this is the same region that produces a “God hates fags” mentality; why would anybody want to be openly gay there, when their personal safety is an issue?
Eventually Jesse, with the help of his girlfriend Lisa, defeats Freddy and the heterosexual Jesse persona prevails. However, at the end of the film Freddy returns (reprising a school bus theme from the film’s opening), indicating that Jesse’s living a lie – he wants to fit in, be a part of the herd, yet he’s gay. Jesse’s stuck combating this tension between his real feelings and the guise he exhibits until he finally embraces his true feelings and comes out. Personally I believe writer David Chaskin’s trying to discuss the issues attached to being gay in a society unfriendly and sometimes even vindictive towards homosexuals. In this respect, Chaskin’s screenplay is quite the piece of social commentary, attempting to covertly bring these issues to the general public without their knowledge. Then again, it could’ve been a joke.
Aside from the film’s subtext and metaphorical homosexual issues, there are many instances of homoerotic imagery in Freddy’s Revenge. Starting from the beginning, the way Jesse and his friend Ron do push-ups is reminiscent of coitus. A fight between Jesse and Ron concludes with Jesse’s bare ass showing and there are a variety of locker room scenes with the two where they’re half naked. Their gym coach Snyder (Marshall Bell) frequents gay leather bars and a scene where Jesse arrives at the leather bar with his shirt wide open, revealing his bare, muscular and toned chest, is rife with big, burly men wearing a variety of leather outfits. This leads to Snyder’s death, where an invisible Freddy strips him nude and ties him up in the showers where Jesse is cleaning up after a hefty round of push-ups. This scene concludes with another in a long line of Jesse’s quite feminine screams. Is he a scream king?
The most notorious homoerotic scene is Jesse’s dance scene. Aside from phallic imagery, an ass closing a drawer and the song “Touch Me All Night Long,” there’s just something aggressively sexual about his moves. Here’s a clip of the dance scene. Unfortunately the bastards that put up the original version disabled the embed code, but here’s a version that uses Rick Astley instead. I believe it still works.
Later at a pool party Lisa throws, Jesse and Lisa are fooling around in the cabana when Jesse’s tongue turns into a hideous phallus. Visually it looks like a big green penis, moving into his mouth. Visually it represents the barrier between Jesse and heterosexual intercourse. The green phallus in his mouth stands between him and the nude female below him – another symbol of his deep inner feelings’ desire to surface. Jesse quickly exits the cabana and runs to Ron’s house, where Jesse tries to explain his homosexual desires to a half naked Ron. Eventually Jesse transforms into Freddy and kills Ron. Considering their close relationship and sexual tension throughout the entire film, this scene is all about obtaining his innate desire: plowing Ron. Although Jesse exhibits dismay at his actions, he does nothing to stop them and the death of Ron is symbolic in two ways. First it represents what I discuss above – his desire to screw Ron – and second the death of Ron symbolizes the need of a paternal figure’s death for Jesse to pursue his sexual desires. In a Freudian way, Ron’s death is Oedipal, except Jesse doesn’t want to copulate with his mother; he instead desires sexual liberation.
There’s much more to this film and I’m certain I’ll explore it further later. I know I’m going to watch it again – hopefully with Justin who’s an expert on the Elm Street series. Here is the trailer.