Monday, June 14, 2010

Queer Cinema: A Nightmare On Elm Street 2: Freddy's Revenge

I think it was T.S. Eliot who described June as the gayest month, and in honor of that I'm taking a peek at some landmarks of Queer Cinema. Today: Exploding wieners and leather daddies!

Is A Nightmare On Elm Street 2 the gayest horror film ever? Plenty of people swear to it. But let me just describe the film:

Jesse (Mark Patton) is the new boy in town. He's fey, he's sensitive, he likes disco. Oh, and he always wears lots of eyeliner in his dreams. His father (Clu Gulager) has just bought a new house. Too bad it's the house from the first film, where lots of unpleasantness involving Freddy, Nancy and Johnny Depp once took place. This causes lots of nightmares for Jesse, he just doesn't know why.

At school Jesse makes friends with Grady, a jockish bully and Limahl fan. When they first meet, Grady can't resist yanking Jesse's pants down and wrestling him to the ground. The two sweaty boys are punished by Coach Schneider, who forces the two to do endless push-ups before ordering them to hit the showers. It's here that Grady reveals Schneider "hangs around queer S&M joints downtown. He likes pretty boys like you." When an exhausted Jesse dozes off in class, he dreams of a giant snake rubbing itself across his face.

Late at night Jesse wanders downtown and into a gay bar. Schneider, dressed in tight leather pants and vest, wastes no time, putting the moves on young Jesse. He takes Jesse back to the gym for another workout, and another trip to the showers. Schneider is tied up, stripped, and spanked until his ass cheeks glow bright red. Freddy then shows up and spoils the fun, murdering the coach.

Jesse gets invited to Lisa's pool party. She's sweet on Jesse, the way young girls are often sweet on fey, sensitive boys. I bet he was a good listener. But when she tries to seduce Jesse, he runs away. To Grady's. Jesse begs his best pal to let him spend the night. But before the slumber party can really get started Freddy shows up and spoils the fun, murdering Grady.

Soaked in blood, Jesse returns to Lisa's and tries to explain what's going on, how Freddy wants inside him, how he fears Freddy will try to "take" him again. And before you know it, Freddy arrives and makes a mess of the party. In a moment of subtle symbolism from director Jack Sholder, hot, roasting wieners suddenly burst into flame and cans of beer spew out showers of thick, white suds. Freddy torments the party goers before disappearing in an explosion of smoke and flames: like any decent cabaret act, Freddy really knows how to close a show.

Lisa realizes Freddy has finally got inside Jesse, and the two have become one. Only she can save the fey, sensitive boy from the gruff predator that is Freddy Krueger. Or so she thinks. But once the seed has been planted, there really is no going back for Jesse.

So, is A Nightmare On Elm Street 2 the gayest horror film ever? Harry Benshoff discusses the film at length in Monsters In The Closet: Homosexuality and the Horror Film, though flubs some of the details. I'm not sure how many horror films, especially of that era, feature scenes set in gay bars, feature scenes where the hero actively seeks out a gay bar as refuge, but that alone says a lot about this film.

Directed by Jack Sholder • R • 1985 • 87 minutes

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