On November 9, 1984, A Nightmare On Elm Street changed the horror landscape of all time. Aside from introducing the world to horror icon Freddy Kruger, the critically acclaimed box office smash solidified independent studio New Line Cinema’s as a contender. Of course, the “House That Freddy Built” wasted no time in getting a sequel underway. A Nightmare On Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge was released less than a full year later on November 1, 1985. While it was a box office success, making ten times its budget in the United States alone, its critical and audience reception was not nearly as kind as the first film.
There are numerous reasons for the less than stellar reviews. One of them is how much Freddy’s motivations changed in this movie from the first. In Freddy’s Revenge, the burnt up haunter of dreams is trying to possess the main character’s body. It does not make sense given the context of A Nightmare On Elm Street. The new film was not written nor directed by Wes Craven, which may have led to an inconsistent tone from one film to the next. However, all of those issues are not necessarily deal breakers unto themselves. No, what turned off most audiences of A Nightmare On Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge is all the homoerotic text present throughout the film.
The use of the word “text” and not “subtext” in that last sentence is entirely purposeful. For two decades, give or take, Freddy’s Revenge was the pariah of the franchise. The fallout for the film sadly landed on the shoulders of its 25-year-old star, Mark Patton. As a gay man trying to make in Hollywood, his agents asked him to tamper down his lifestyle. To his credit, Patton stood his ground and refused. Sadly, this meant he left Hollywood shortly thereafter. However, as society as a whole has become more receptive toward LGBTQIA+ representation, the film has been reassessed in a more positive light.
“A Nightmare On Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge was released less than a full year later…its critical and audience reception was not nearly as kind as the first film.”
Then in 2010, a documentary examining the entirety of the Elm Street franchise was released to great acclaim. The filmmakers had to hire a private investigator to track down the whereabouts of Mark Patton. Fans, for the first time, heard his story. Now, everyone will discover it, as Scream, Queen! My Nightmare On Elm Street, directed by Roman Chimienti and Tyler Jensen, looks at the production history, fallout, and reexamination of Freddy’s Revenge. Interviewing all the major players involved, the film delves deep into Patton’s rise in Hollywood, the release of the much anticipated sequel, and how that changed his life for the worse.
For context, I think Freddy’s Revenge is an okay film, with several creepy moments and a fantastic score. However, the ending does not work, in my opinion, and so the movie leaves the viewer on an underwhelming note overall. On the other hand, Scream, Queen! My Nightmare On Elm Street is a masterpiece. Chimienti and Jensen make a strong case for Mark Patton’s rise to stardom as earned and deserved. Hearing about his early life, especially Patton’s relationship with his father, provides sympathy and understanding for when the rug gets pulled out from under the actor.
Far more critical is the catharsis that the cameras are on hand to catch. See, for numerous years the screenwriter David Chaskin has denied that he wrote Freddy’s Dead with any homoerotic subtext whatsoever. Instead, he lays the blame for that almost exclusively on Mark Patton’s performance. This is something that Patton has internalized and holds a grudge over. The two are interviewed separately for a majority of the movie. When they finally do sit down together, the initial tension in the room is almost unbearable.
“…delves deep into Patton’s rise in Hollywood, the release of the much-anticipated sequel, and how that changed his life for the worse.”
The director of Freddy’s Revenge Jack Sholder proclaims that he was too naive to grasp that anyone would interpret any scene in the movie in an LGBTQI+ fashion. If you have seen the movie, that might sound impossible to believe. However, he sounds sincere and honest when he makes that statement, so I do not doubt him. The filmmakers also interview icons of the LGBTQIA+ horror scene such as Peaches Christ, whose adoration of this film is sublime. Hearing how fans have softened their take on the movie is also quite heartening.
Scream, Queen! My Nightmare On Elm Street is a brilliant and exciting reexamination of a panned horror movie with a modern lens. In doing so, it highlights how far society has come in accepting the LGBTQIA+ community; despite acknowledging how far we still need to go. It also tells the fascinating and frustrating story personal story of Mark Patton. He deserved better than what happened to him.
Scream, Queen! My Nightmare On Elm Street (2019) Directed by Roman Chimienti, Tyler Jensen. Starring Mark Patton, Robert Englund, Jack Sholder, David Chaskin, Peaches Christ, Heather Lagenkamp, Robert Rusler, Kim Myers. Scream, Queen! My Nightmare On Elm Street screened at the 2019 Outfest Los Angeles.
10 out of 10 Nightmares