A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge was never the most beloved entry in Freddy Krueger’s filmography. While other films in the series may have been beaten harder by critics and audiences for being just flat out not good, Freddy’s Revenge tended to take heat for simply being a rushed, sub-par follow-up to the instant classic the first was.
What was never talked about though, was the – some say unintentional – spotlight put on the film’s star Mark Patton. The same spotlight that took Nightmare II from being almost universally hated, to cult status. The same spotlight that has had the film labelled “the gayest horror film of all-time”.
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Freddy’s Revenge broke the mould and brought audiences a final girl that wasn’t a girl. Our final boy, Jesse Walsh, a “sensitive” kid who was trying desperately to hide the monster coming from inside of him for everyone else to see has often been seen as an allegory for closeted gay men hiding their sexuality from the world. At the best of times it would be top level homophobic to use your platform to compare homosexuality to a child murdering monster, but the insensitivities of 1985 were made far worse when its star was, in fact, a closeted gay man. A closeted gay man who felt not only personally attacked by the themes of the film he worked so hard to get to, but considered that the film and its sexual politics prematurely outed him.
Scream, Queen! My Nightmare on Elm Street sets up not only to tell Patton’s story – a story that goes from his early days working in New York to Nightmare II, and from there to Mexico having left behind a Hollywood and an industry that made him feel like an outsider – but also tries to get the actor some form of closure.
The film spends the majority of its time following Mark around horror conventions. Having been found as part of the pre-production for 2010’s Never Sleep Again documentary, Patton embraced his role and started touring the conventions. So along with the regular talking heads, there are a lot of flashback moments looking at the film, the general demeanour of the mid-80s, and the AIDS epidemic. We are treated to a lot of time with the other actors in the film, that plays as a fun contrast to the rest of the tale that has to be told, mainly because it is nothing short of hilarious watching clearly uncomfortable people try to talk around the prominent themes of the film.
My Nightmare on Elm Street is an essential watch, whether or not you are a fan of Freddy Krueger’s films. It’s a wide-lensed look at the way gay people were treated in the 1980s – in Hollywood or not – and a look at how people were so easy to dismiss the concerns of the young actor affected by the film.
Unfortunately, in its 100 minute runtime, Scream, Queen! never seems to provide a resolution to the tale it is exposing. Mark Patton, while honest and genuine about how the film was a massive part of his life, comes across as a little self-obsessed and unable to listen to others that don’t share his opinions. There’s a moment where Patton and a few of the cast, along with writer David Chaskin, are around a fireplace and he’s explaining his position to them. But while it never comes off as insincere, it does suggest a man who has let his hatred for certain people fester for thirty years and now has an outlet for it.
It’s a necessary documentary to get a peek behind the curtain of 80’s horror – a decade revered by fans of the genre across the world – and how it saw a certain part of its demographic. And it’s a look at a tragic tale of how Mark Patton felt exposed, embarrassed and then marginalised by the filmmakers, and a system that didn’t care about him. But what it isn’t, is a satisfying conclusion to a tale that should be eliciting far more emotional anger from its audience than it does.
Scream, Queen! My Nightmare on Elm Street is streaming on Shudder US.