My taste in 80’s horror is somewhat peculiar. In the popular slasher franchises I’ve taken a liking to some of the lesser appreciated films. Ever since I saw Halloween III: Season of the Witch on cable in high school I’ve had an unapologetic love for it. There are some films that I understand why fans dislike them (Seed of Chucky), but still find interesting. Today our focus is on A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge and it’s link to the documentary Scream, Queen!
Fans often rank this as the worst of the series typically for a very specific reason. Many articles online have dissected the homosexual themes of the film, so if you want to look into that you can find it elsewhere. I’m here to look at the aftermath the film had, most specifically on the lead actor Mark Patton. Scream, Queen! My Nightmare on Elm Street is Mark’s story of how this lead role was a blessing that ultimately became a curse. The turmoil he faced in his personal and professional life. Finally, how he ultimately reclaimed his place as a Scream Queen in the Elm Street saga.
“As the reputation of this movie started to grow, it sorta became a nightmare.”
In 1985 Mark Patton got cast as the lead in the highly anticipated sequel beating out Brad Pitt and Christian Slater. Going on to gross nearly 30 million dollars against a 3 million dollar budget things were looking up for Mark. In following years things began to fall apart in both his personal and professional life. Mark’s career suffers from how Freddy’s Revenge pigeonholed his acting. Worse, as the AIDS crisis rises public perception of homosexuality becomes increasingly stigmatized. Being in the closet and seeing friends and loved ones dying around him Mark retreated from the public eye. He became one of biggest mysteries of a horror actor to disappear (him and Eric Freeman of Silent Night, Deadly Night 2).
I was wondering if after Never Sleep Again: The Elm Street Legacy’s exhaustive look at the franchise we’d need another documentary. That said the film is only a piece of the story. Hearing Mark talk candidly about his life isn’t always easy, but often inspiring. Painting a grim picture of being a gay actor in the 80’s and the necessity of being in the closet (later being diagnosed HIV positive) does make the fallout of Freddy’s Revenge even harder. It is nice to see after being interviewed for Never Sleep Again Mark decides it’s time to use his platform to discuss these talking points and advocating for further AIDS/HIV research.
“I realize there is a gay subtext in it.”
We also see how a rift formed between Mark and screenwriter David Chaskin. Chaskin often stated interviews that there was no subtext in Freddy’s Revenge in spite of decades of talk and speculation deflecting this speculation towards Mark’s performance. It wasn’t until around 2010 Chaskin admitted to the subtext. Mark is understandably upset that until it’s in vogue to have LGBTQ themes in film he denied it. At the film’s conclusion the pair meet up to finally discuss this animosity. It was nice to see a rift get mended with understanding and forgiveness.
I had heard great things about Scream, Queen! and it exceeded my expectations. I thank Mark Patton for having the courage to discuss the highs and lows of his life. This is not just a documentary for horror fans, but anyone who needs a lesson or reminder of feared/stigmatized/mocked gay culture was at the heights of the AIDS crisis. I cannot recommend checking this film out enough.
Overall Score 4.5/5