This hastily-produced sequel ignores the dreamstalking premise that had made A Nightmare on Elm Street successful and reverts to the overfamiliar possession story.
There are clichés a-plenty, from the slow, low tracking shot past the ominously illuminated house that marks it out as ‘a bad place’ to the ludicrous finale in which the heroine defeats the monster by repeatedly and bathetically declaring her love for the drippy hero.
Robert Englund’s Freddy begins his sad transformation from most fearsome bogeyman of the 1980s into a wisecracking goon, too often stepping out of the shadows to deliver punchlines while clacking his fingerknives.
Director Jack Sholder (The Hidden) delivers a lot of would-be scary idiocies: an exploding budgie (!), sports equipment with a mind of its own, human-headed dogs and (as was common in the ‘80s) the monster emerging from the rubbery ruins of its host’s flesh.
Clu Gulager and Hope Lange have the thankless roles of the stupid parents who keep denying that there’s anything wrong – and, in a strange kind of way, the film seems to be an allegory for Jesse’s sexual confusion, as he repeatedly turns away from the willing girl to get close to half-naked guys (including the monster).
Lest the movie be accused of sensitivity, it also has the bullying gay gym teacher (Marshall Bell) tied up naked in the showers and whipped by possessed hoses.
The subsequent sequels, starting with A Nightmare on Elm Street, Part 3: Dream Warriors, ignored this film and went back to Wes Craven’s playbook, though that didn’t stop the series running out of steam by Part Five or Six …