Scream, Queen! My Nightmare on Elm Street
by Hope Madden
“It was intended to play as homophobic rather than homoerotic.”
So says David Chaskin, writer of 1985’s A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge—a film many consider to be the gayest horror movie ever made. Chaskin has long shared the belief that it was the casting of Mark Patton in the lead role, the “final boy,” that pushed the envelope from homophobic to homoerotic.
Chaskin is right.
Thank God for casting.
The mid-Eighties hardly needed another homophobic movie, or another AIDS-terrified horror flick. Did it need the story of an adolescent boy whose homosexual nature emerges as some monstrous id, only to be cured by the love of a good woman? No, but if you just don’t watch the last ten minutes of the film, Nightmare 2 is a bizarre and glorious B-movie coming out party.
Again, thanks to Mark Patton.
Patton is the center of the Shudder documentary Scream, Queen! My Nightmare on Elm Street. He also produces, which means he gives the footage his OK, leading to a film that comes off as self-congratulatory and self-indulgent more often than it should. But there is no denying Patton’s life has been fascinating.
Patton’s a charming, charismatic vehicle for the doc and the insight he offers into burgeoning stardom, closeted Hollywood and the Eighties is riveting. He’d lived quite a life before his first feature lead likely ended his career—but what he survived outside Elm Street was certainly tougher.
So much so that Patton’s particular anxiety about how this film affected him and his career sometimes feels misplaced. But watching how his perception of the “gay controversy” has evolved and what that evolution has allowed him to do within the gay community is delightful.
Of course, equally fascinating for horror fans is the debate as to who did and did not realize how profoundly gay Nightmare 2 was. Patton’s co-stars—Robert Englund (Freddy himself) comes off especially well—each add to the conversation in entertaining ways, though director Jack Sholder should maybe stop talking.
First time filmmakers Roman Chimienti and Tyler Jensen seem unsure of their real aim: to tell Mark’s story, to help Mark find closure, to deconstruct the film’s subtext, to explore its lasting meaning for the LGBTQ community. Because of their meandering focus, Scream, Queen feels longer than it needs to be.
Lucky for the filmmakers, every one of those topics makes for an intriguing investigation, and watching Patton triumphantly recreate his iconic (and likely career-ending) dance scene is sheer joy.