Monday, January 6, 2014

On Nightmare On Elm Street Part II and 80's Slashers.

I woke up and couldn't get to sleep. So, I popped in Nightmare On Elm Street Part 2. When I started watching horror movies I developed a strong animosity to films that were created in the 80's. The early techno/atmospheric music they used bugged the crap out of me. Films would start out with this horrid techno beat that jarred my bones like having my teeth drilled into at the dentist. Over the years I got used to the sounds of the 80's and most of the time I can get through a film with out noticing the whiny electro-tones.  For example:


About two years ago I read Carol C. Clover's wonderful text Men Women and Chainsaws and was inspired to give the horror flicks of the 80's a second chance. At the beginning of the year I sat down and watched all of the Jason, Freddy, and Michael movies in sequential order (I almost said chronological, although that could make for interesting viewing). What I found out is that I didn't hate the movies as much as I thought I would have. The series that stood out to me most was Friday the 13 (at least up to Jason goes to New York). Although I enjoyed the first Nightmare On Elm, I wasn't sure what they were doing with the film. But after watching Halloween 2 I got the point. These slasher flicks, specifically, Michael and Freddy's features were never intended to be serialized (this isn't the case for Jason).

The dudes over at Bloody-Disgusting posted an article entitled Whats The Biggest Problem With Modern Horror? Lined up at the top of the post are four of the iconic stables of 80's horror franchises. The article provides not answers but pushes the question out to the internet. I've been thinking about this article a little this week and I think the question that Evan is asking is wrong. I think the more important questions are; what has always been a problem in horror film, and what needs to happen to open the space for new and more creative horror flicks? (I plan to begin thinking through this problem of modernity and horror in a future post).

I'd like to make a few comments on Nightmare 2 before I try to find myself sleeping again. As things go I found myself enjoying the film more now then I did a year ago. I appreciated the sequels idea of breaking out into its own territory with out considerations for the the dogma of the first film. The two big horror no-no's that this film presented were ditching Nancy from the first film, and bringing Freddy out of the dream. I did not have a problem with either of the breaks, because I found my self interested the allegory for repressed homosexuality that I didn't notice the last time I watched it. The two key scenes that drills this theme down, one of them more obvious then the other. I'll start with the more obvious one, because it put's Jesses behavior earlier in the film under a new light. The scene is at the party immediately after Lisa's mother lightly insinuate to her father that it's time for them to go to their room to have sex, that all of the members at the party pair up into heteronormative couplings. At this point Jesse and Lisa are making out in the pool house, and Jesse has an experience where his tongue become's Freddy-ized and stretches out of proportion. Jesse then freaks out and breaks into Grady's bedroom where explains to him that there is something that's trying to get inside of him. What makes this scene change the viewers perspective on all the previous scenes between Jesse and Grady is that Grady's attitude has changed. Through out the film Grady and Jesse had a psuedo-bully style of relationship. Where Grady was teasing the crap out of the guy. But what we find out in this scene is that Grady's feelings towards Jesse are not at the least bit malicious, because he agrees to let Jesse sleep in his room. Based on Grady's demeanor in the rest of the film the only reasonable reaction he could of had to an intruder would be to violently freak out. But this doesn't happen. 

Hows this for something else. I just pulled up the bedroom scene clip to get a better idea of what happened and noticed a poster for a pop-star on the wall. The poster is Limahl (who wikipedia says) is an 80's british pop star who is openly gay. Mind you this is the 80's and it simply wasn't very popular thing for high school jocks to support anything gay or remotely gay in anyway (think Regan). I think it's an intentional drop by the film makers to hint to the sexual orientation of Grady. Sadly he gets dead before we find out his true motivations. 

What is up with Jesse? Is he gay or just curious? By the end of the film he is shacked up with Lisa, but the the sexual tension between the two characters does not compare to what was happening between Grady and Jesse. So, was Nighmare 2 just another sequel or one of the first same-sex romances in main stream horror cinema? 

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