No one was prepared for the success of 1984’s Nightmare On Elm Street. However, when Mark Patton signed on to star in the leading role of the sequel one year later in Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge it was a role that would change the course of his career and life forever.
When the sequel was released it was another box office financial success, but the reviews were not as kind as the original had received. In Freddy’s Revenge, instead of haunting your dreams, he tries to possess the main character’s physical body. This was completely unlike the original context of A Nightmare On Elm Street. It was a new idea not written or directed by Wes Craven that made it seem maybe not a sequel but a stand alone film in itself. However, those are not the reasons why its audience reception was not as kind. The reason being was the homoerotic text throughout A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge and in 1985, with the AIDS crisis, it made many audiences uncomfortable.
For decades, Freddy’s Revenge was seen as the odd cousin of the franchise and unfortunately that landed on the 25-year-old star of the film, Mark Patton. When Patton received the news that he was landing the main character role in the sequel to A Nightmare On Elm Street he believed this would make him a big star but thanks to the reception the film had with its gay overtones, it was denounced by many viewers. Patton – who was himself gay and suddenly at the center of its controversy – had his private life under a microscope and it drove him away from the industry for 30 years. SCREAM, QUEEN! MY NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET explores what Patton went through while making the film, its consequences and how it affected his career and life thereafter.
For myself, I think Freddy’s Revenge is not the best Nightmare sequel due to its darker elements and unsatisfying ending overall. However, SCREAM, QUEEN! MY NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET was an honest touching documentary that I was not expecting and Roman Chimienti and Tyler Jensen really help tell Mark Patton’s story. You also see it unfold with the relationship with Patton and the screenwriter for Freddy’s Revenge David Chaskin who has denied that he wrote the film with any homoerotic subtext at all. He lays all the reason for that on Mark Patton’s shoulders for his performance in the film. This is something that obviously Patton has kept inside and held a grudge over for many years after. We see them interviewed separately for most of the film and then when they finally do sit down together, the tension is very heavy.
For anyone that has seen the film today, it seems almost crazy to believe that the gay subtext was not there. But as people say, it was a different time back then in Hollywood. Everyone was in the closet as AIDS and HIV spread with fear.
What I most took away from this documentary was that it was ultimately a story about forgiveness. Exploring Mark Patton’s career, to see its downfall was, in the end, something he had to accept and forgive. He has now made this his life mission – being the first male scream queen traveling around film festivals and horror conventions seeing all the fans of the Nightmare series and especially Freddy’s Revenge while also advocating for HIV/AIDS in the community.
SCREAM, QUEEN! MY NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET is a beautiful reexamination of a horror movie that also shows how far as a society we have come in accepting the LGBTQIA+ community while also showing how far we still need to go. It highlights Mark Patton’s interesting, but also at times, distressing personal story and how he ultimately deserved better.
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