Scream, Queen: My Nightmare on Elm Street
Mark Patton, Robert Englund, Kim Myers, Jack Sholder
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… a historical document about Hollywood’s response to the AIDS crisis and how actors like Patton had to deny who they were so they could get ‘straight’ parts.
In a montage filmed at a horror convention in the middle of Whoknowswhere, USA, a group of Freddy Krueger fans gleefully tell the camera that 1985’s Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge is by far the worst Elm Street movie of them all. A bold claim if we’re taking into consideration Parts 4 – 6 and the remake, but hey, people have opinions. What stands out during some attendees’ ribbing of the film are comments like ‘it’s little too gay for me.’ For the film’s star, Mark Patton, this is just the tip of the iceberg in terms of his experience with homophobia.
Having walked away from acting soon after appearing in Freddy’s Revenge, Patton, now living in Mexico, had heard that the film gained a reputation for being one of the worst horrors ever. A quick search online not only confirms this, but it also triggered a lot of bad memories for the actor. Anonymous internet comments called the film ‘disturbingly homoerotic.’ His character, Jesse, was called every gay slur under the roof as well as, bizarrely, a paedophile.
Scream, Queen follows Patton attending a series of conventions, talking about his life before and after Jesse and discussing what it means to be gay in Hollywood in the ‘80s. This is an opportunity for Patton to exorcise some demons. He talks candidly about his strict religious upbringing, his hidden relationship with Dallas’ Timothy Patrick Murphy, and being diagnosed with HIV at the age of 40.
For Patton, Freddy’s Revenge is very much horror with a gay subtext. You can find hundreds of assessments online about how Jesse’s battle with Freddy Krueger is an allegory for our hero coming to terms with his own sexuality. As the film progresses, Patton’s co-stars Robert Rusler, Kim Myers and Robert Englund also acknowledge the hidden queerness in the film. The only people who don’t seem to follow suit are Freddy’s Revenge Director Jack Sholder and screenwriter, David Chaskin. While Chaskin has acknowledged that the film was written with a deliberate homoerotic context, he did so after nearly 30 years of denial. For Patton, this meant that all fingers were pointing at him as to why the film came out the way it did.
As Patton moves from convention to convention, Chaskin’s shadow looms heavy over Patton, and after a Freddy’s Revenge reunion, it’s suggested that he should confront the screenwriter. While the film doesn’t become the horror equivalent of Roger and Me, Scream, Queen clearly tries to shape the eventual meet up as a final boss confrontation. You can see this in the somewhat salacious montage that opens the film. However, the film doesn’t need to do this to keep us interested.
Narrated by the velvety tongue of Cecil Baldwin (Welcome to Night Vale), Scream, Queen is a historical document about Hollywood’s response to the AIDS crisis and how actors like Patton had to deny who they were so they could get ‘straight’ parts. It blossoms into a discussion about what it means to be a male ‘final girl’ and all the definitions of masculine and feminine that come with that.
In light of the US government’s recent response to the Trans community and Australia’s own omnishambles of a religious bill act, Scream, Queen reminds us that these conversations still, unfortunately, need to be had.
Back to the film’s biggest strength, which is Patton… Timid and self-deprecating, it’s clear that he has been through a lot. You don’t go through what he has and come out the other side unchanged. That he maintains a sense of humour and is willing to be out there for his fans is inspiring.
For a lot of people, Scream, Queen will be a comfort as it reinforces how important something like Freddy’s Revenge can be for those in the LGBTQIA+ community. Now, if we must have a sequel to the Elm Street remake, Scream, Queen makes a solid argument for bringing Jesse back, you cowards!