The documentary Scream, Queen! My Nightmare on Elm Street thoroughly delves into the history of A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge and the effect it had on its star, Mark Patton. It’s an interesting look at how a movie can change someone’s life for better or worse.
In the first Elm Street, a group of teenagers are stalked and killed by boogeyman Freddy Kruger (Robert Englund) in their nightmares. Nancy (Heather Langenkamp), the final girl, survives and defeats him. The movie did extremely well at the box office and led to a sequel being rushed into production. Part 2 strayed from the original’s formula though. For starters, the final girl was replaced with a guy, Jesse (Patton). That wasn’t something you normally saw back then. Also, Freddy wasn’t just haunting Jesse, he wanted to possess him and escape the dream world. The movie was moderately successful compared to the first. The biggest critique, mainly coming from straight men, was that it was too gay. They weren’t that off base.
In the film, Freddy wants to “get inside Jesse’s body” and his interactions with his prey are quite homoerotic. Then there’s Jesse’s possibly gay gym teacher, Coach Schneider (Marshall Bell). Jesse dreams about running into him in at a leather bar. Later, Schneider is stripped (rare male nudity) and whipped with towels. Seriously. There’s also the notion that Jesse (and Patton) wasn’t masculine enough. It was said that he was too sensitive and screamed like a girl. The criticism negatively impacted Patton’s life. At the time he was a closeted actor trying to make it in Hollywood, so he worried that being associated with anything gay would derail his career. This was also 1985, the height of the AIDS epidemic. Gay equalled diseased and ultimately blacklisted. Patton discovered he was HIV-positive and retreated from acting. He went off the grid and moved to Mexico.
The documentary cuts to the present day with Patton coming to terms with Freddy’s Revenge. He’s still hurt by the jabs about his performance in the film and blames one person in particular, the screenwriter. For decades, David Chaskin denied that he purposely put gay elements into his script. Instead he inferred that Patton made the movie gay. But he never had a conversation with Patton about it either way. Luckily, the documentary captures their long-time-coming meetup. The film also shows Patton interacting with his former castmates, going to horror movie conventions, and doing Q&A’s after screenings of Freddy’s Revenge. You see that he’s accepted the legacy of the movie and Jesse. Yes, he still has issues from his past experiences, but he has been able to move on and create a good life for himself outside of Hollywood. Instead of becoming bitter he has a sense of humor about the situation. Plus, the once panned movie has now become a cult classic for many.
I like that Scream, Queen! co-directors Roman Chimienti and Tyler Jensen also focus on the overall appeal of horror movies to gay audiences. Many of the interviewees are fans of the genre who talk about escaping from their own harsh realities through these films. As outsiders, they find strength in seeing the protagonist fight back and beat the evil that is out to get them. It’s even more meaningful when a gay character or theme is added to the mix. The filmmakers show how powerful it is when a horror fan can identify with these movies with one fan mentioning how Jesse inspired him. Hopefully, in the future there will be more final “out of the ordinary” guys in horror movies and it won’t be so scary.