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13 Things You May Not Know About Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge

Posted on the 19 April 2014 by Weminoredinfilm.com @WeMinoredInFilm

New Line boss Robert Shaye leveraged literally everything he had to get Nightmare on Elm Street made and distributed.  As a result, when it came out and turned into a hit it didn’t actually return any profit back to New Line.  However, it did give them something very valuable: the property rights to the characters, which though conceived and created by Wes Craven now belonged to New Line.  They didn’t know they had a new Friday the 13th-like franchise on their hands, though.  They just knew that among their controlled properties Nightmare on Elm Street was best positioned for a sequel.  So, they rushed into production on a sequel which seemed to fundamentally misunderstand what made Craven’s version so terrifying.  Plus, maybe it’s because they were in such a rush or just in complete denial, but they ended up making the most unintentionally gay film in horror film history.  So, here’s: Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge (1985), aka, “How did we all fail to notice all the gay stuff?”

1. So, why exactly didn’t Wes Craven return?


New Line never bothered to ask Craven back.  Why?  For one thing, he never set out to create a new horror franchise with an endless string of sequels.  His version of the film was supposed to end with Nancy waking up and realizing everything, including Freddy, had been a dream.  It was Shaye who overruled him, and added in an ending leaving it open for Freddy for return.  Heck, the two disagreed so often that at one point Craven just let Shaye shoot a couple of the scenes himself.  But, just as importantly, New Line was still pretty broke.  Bringing Craven back would have meant entering into some kind of profit-sharing agreement.  Instead, they replaced Craven by promoting from within, having a man (David Chaskin) from their 16mm distribution department write the script and the guy (Jack Sholder) who cut all of their trailers and had previously directed Alone in the Dark (1982) for them take over behind the camera.  Chaskin thought it would be cool if Freddy had some kind of human avatar in the real world, and Sholder just wanted to get away from all that dream nonsense.

Wes Craven read the script and made extensive notes, the subjext of which was probably, “Are you crazy?  Please, do not produce this screenplay.  It’s horrible.”  New Line ignored every one of his notes.

2. No one even stopped for a moment to consider asking Heather Langenkamp back


Rather than continue the story of Nightmare‘s sole survivor Nancy (Heather Langenkamp) Nightmare 2 focuses on the new residents of Nancy’s old Elm Street house.  Why?  Well, it has nothing to do with Heather Langenkamp’s availability.  They just never asked her back.  Their new concept of Freddy possessing someone in the real world was so different from the first film that bringing Nancy into that didn’t make sense.  However, Langenkamp would have likely requested a modest raise over her original salary to return (as per normal Hollywood procedure), and New Line was barely treading water.  So, why bother even asking her, right?

3. Robert Englund was replaced, and Freddy played by an extra for the first 2 weeks of filming


Penny-pinching did actually lead to the role of Freddy being re-cast.  Robert Englund and his agent realized how crucial he was to the role of Freddy, and that New Line wouldn’t dare re-cast the way Paramount did with Jason after every Friday the 13th film.  So, they asked for way more money to return in Nightmare 2, but New Line was having none of it.  Robert Shaye didn’t think Englund was really all that important to the role, reasoning anyone playing Freddy is just a dude under a rubber mask.  So, they cast an extra to replace him, but he played Freddy like Frankenstein’s monster, with slow, rigid movements.  They suffered with this for 2 weeks of filming at which point Jack Sholder went straight to Robert Shaye to demand they give Englund whatever he wanted because it was clear the film wouldn’t work even a little bit without him.

4. They could have had Brad Pitt, Christian Slater, or John Stamos as the male lead

Played by Mark Patton, Nightmare on Elm Street 2‘s male lead, Jesse, looked like this:


But he could have looked like this:


Christian Slater in Heathers (1988)

Or this:


Brad Pitt in Dallas (1987)

Or this:


John Stamos in his General Hospital character (1984), years before he’d become Uncle Jessie (“Have mercy!”) on Full House

As with the famous actresses Heather Langenkamp beat out for the role of Nancy in the first Nightmare, most of the famous guys Patton won the role of Jesse over were unknowns at the time.  Patton had actually auditioned for the first Nightmare on Elm Street as well, and he was most known at the time for having starred in Come Back to the Five & Dime, Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean (1982).

5. It didn’t exactly hurt Kim Myers when auditioning for the female lead that she looked just like Meryl Streep 

They set out to cast the best actors possible, and looking back at it today the filmmakers are quick to joke that while Kim Myers was cast as Lisa because she was the best actress for the part it sure as heck didn’t hurt that she also happened to look a lot like Meryl Streep:

Kim Myers

Kim Myers in Nightmare on Elm Street 2

Meryl Streep

Meryl Streep in Kramer Vs. Kramer (1979), nearly 10 years older at that point than Myers was when she starred in Nightmare 2

As a bonus, here’s what Kim Myers and her Nightmare 2 co-star Mark Patton look like today:


6. The homoeroticism was only supposed to be subtext

Please forgive the crudeness of the above video, but I needed video evidence here because if you have not seen Nightmare on Elm Street 2 in a while you might not understand why it’s become known as the Top Gun of the horror genre, i.e., that hilariously yet unintentionally gay film.  You could actually do an entire list covering just homoerotic elements of Nightmare on Elm Street 2, and, in fact, several others have (like freddyinspace.comor cracked.com.)

Here’s what happened: David Chaskin conceived of the idea of Freddy needing to enter Jesse’s body to interact with the real world as a metaphor for repressed homosexuality.  Basically, Jesse is a gay kid in denial about his sexuality, and his homosexual urges manifest themselves via Freddy.  So, you have Jesse clearly attracted to his male friend Grady (Robert Rusler) (Jesse: “Something is trying to get inside my body!”|Ron: “And you want to sleep with me”), and the female love interest is really just his unwitting beard.  Plus, there are some heavy S&M elements when Jesse, now taken over by Freddy, ties his gym teacher up in the showers and proceeds to slap his ass with a towel until its bright red and blistery.


Plus, he gets attacked by white and black balls

That was all supposed to be subtext, yet, whether consciously or not, it rapidly became text during the filming of the movie.  Mark Patton is actually gay, though not everyone knew when they were making the movie.  He claims he didn’t think of Jesse as being a gay character, at least not until they got later into filming.  David Chaskin did, and was aware of the film’s homoerotic content from the very beginning.  Everyone else?  They claim complete ignorance, even if it is all ridiculously obvious when you watch the film today.  Some of the smaller stuff like oddly penis-shaped art hanging on a kitchen wall, a sign outside Jesse’s door reading “NO [something in small text] CHICKS,” and a fake board game named Probe in Jesse’s closet were likely inside jokes added in by the production designer, who was gay.

7. New Line’s President Robert Shaye played the bartender at the gay bar

nightmare2 (1)

Robert Shaye founded New Line Cinema as a distributor of art-house fare in 1967, but he always harbored slight acting aspirations.  So, when they were preparing Nightmare on Elm Street 2 he wanted to play Grady’s dad, but the director actually said no, claiming he needed a real actor for that part.  Shaye almost fired him after that.  They reached a compromise by letting Shaye cameo as the bartender of the S&M bar the gym coach attends, even sending Shaye to a local S&M clothing store to buy his own costume (for some reason, he brought his 2 young daughters with him). Shaye’s cameo was officially uncredited, and he probably wishes no one remembered it.

8. Freddy only appears in 13 minutes of the film

It seems like most of the major horror franchises have that one oddball entry where the villain barely appears at all, and for Nightmare on Elm Street that’s Freddy’s Revenge in which Freddy’s only actually on-screen for 13 minutes.

9. The production designer quit just before the start of filming


A “NO CHICKS” sign left as an in-joke by the production designer

Gregg Fonseca worked as the production designer for the first Nightmare on Elm Street as well as Wes Craven’s New Nightmare (1994).  Unofficially, he also worked in the same capacity on Nightmare on Elm Street 2, designing all the sets seen in the film.  However, he quit right before the start of filming because he felt the production was way too rushed. Art director Maggie Martin did what had been Fonseca’s job during the actual film shoot.

10. It was not always a harmonious set


One they started filming Robert Shaye realized they should have listened to Wes Craven’s advice about the script.  It didn’t make much sense, and completely violated the rulebook laid about by Craven in the first Nightmare.  As such, during filming there were occasional arguments over the direction they were going, particularly over the pool sequence with Freddy appearing to the teenagers outside of their dreams and the nonsensical ending.  Robert Englund recalls several moments during filming where he struggled with playing the part because so much of it felt wrong, like the type of things the Freddy from the first Nightmare wouldn’t do.

11. The dance scene was meant as an homage to Risky Business

Hey, if Tom Cruise can get away with dancing and lip-singing in his living room in Risky Business in 1983 why can’t Mark Patton do it in his bedroom in Nightmare on Elm Street 2 in 1985?  At least that was the general idea.  Sensing impending embarrassment, Patton didn’t actually want to do it, forcing the postponing the filming of the scene a couple of times.  Finally, he figured out his own choreography, and just told them to roll the camera and he’d give it his best.  So, using his butt to close that drawer?  100% Mark Patton.  It’s been an embarrassing scene for all involved ever since, although according to Patton it enjoyed an extended popularity at gay clubs.

12. Freddy’s eye was played by the effects designer’s girlfriend

As Jesse transforms into Freddy, we see a quick shot into his open mouth of Freddy’s eye staring out.  How’d they do that?  Simple: they made a dummy of Mark Patton’s head with a hole where Freddy’s eye would look through.  They then affixed this head to a flat surface, and had someone put their head into the opening created on the other side.  However, the only person whose head could fit into the area was the girlfriend of the special effects designer, Kevin Yagher.  So, in that moment Freddy was technically played by a woman.

13. That set at the end was so big they couldn’t even light all of it

The found a spectacular iron foundry for the film’s final sequence only to later realize that it was so incredibly huge that they didn’t actually have enough lights to light it properly.  What are you going to do, though?  They did the best they could, crossing their fingers that we’be able to see through the darkness and tell what was going on.

The final damage

  • Box Office: Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge was made for $2.2 million and grossed $29.9 million, which would be like making $68.1 million at current ticket prices.  This was an improvement over the first Nightmare which ended with $25 million.  At that time, sequels didn’t normally outgross their predecessors.  Case in point: Friday the 13th Part 2 was nowhere as big of a hit as the first Friday the 13th.  So, it was only after the success of Freddy’s Revenge that New Line realized it had a bonafide new horror franchise on its hands.

Next time, we’ll tell you why they decided to kill off Nancy in Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors. 

You can use the following links to check out all of our other “13 Things…” lists: Friday the 13thPart 2, Part 3, The Final Chapter, A New Beginning, Jason Lives, New Blood, Jason Takes Manhattan, Jason Goes to Hell, Jason X, and Nightmare on Elm Street.

Source: Never Sleep Again: The Elm Street Legacy

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