In 1985 just one year since New Line Cinema released it’s franchise starting horror hit A Nightmare on Elm Street the studio released a highly anticipated sequel.
A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge was directed by Jack Sholder and written by David Chaskin and follows Jesse Walsh (Mark Patton) a teenager who begins having recurring nightmares about Freddy Krueger (Robert Englund) after moving into the former home of Nancy Thompson the final girl and original NOES scream queen from the first film.
New Line had another commercial success on their hands but had unleashed the ‘gayest’ horror blockbuster ever – which wasn’t helped by its campy tagline “The Man of Your Dreams is Back”!!!!
During the course of the film Jesse is not having an easy time of it. When not wrestling semi-naked with his best frenemy Grady (Robert Rusler), he’s dodging the fearsome razor fingers of Freddy Krueger.
Unusually for a slasher horror film – especially one from the 80s, most of the victims are male. The closeted gym teacher (Marshall Bell) is killed naked in a shower after being brutally spanked with a towel, while poor Grady is sliced up in his boxers after Jesse has failed to consummate his relationship with his girlfriend (Kim Myers), for reasons unspecified – which ‘screams’ unresolved sexuality issues.
A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge from the moment it hit the big screen in 1985 has been the subject of debate, with many viewers asking then and still asking now;
- Is it a ‘gay’ horror film?
- It is to be viewed as homoerotic or homophobic?
- Was the films homoerotic themes subtext or intentionally present?
- Why was the final girl concept which was a horror trope suddenly changed to a blonde twink with sexuality issues?
Scream Queen! My Nightmare on Elm Street, sets the records straight about the controversial sequel to A Nightmare on Elm Street, which ended Mark Patton’s acting career, just as it was about to begin. Scream Queen follows Patton as he travels to horror conventions across the U.S.
Each new city unwraps a chapter from his life that is met with equal parts joyful and bittersweet detail, as he attempts to make peace with his past and embrace his legacy as cinema’s first male “scream queen.”
The documentary also finds Patton confronting Freddy’s Revenge cast and crew for the first time, including co-stars Robert Rusler, Kim Myers, Marshall Bell and Clu Gulager, as well as Freddy Krueger himself, Robert Englund.
The film opens with an exciting montage of female ‘scream queens’ and moments from classic horror films that helps to illustrate the idea that ‘victims’ in horror are typically female; which has created the genre trope of the ‘Final Girl; one of the themes explored in this documentary.
Whilst featuring some new interviews with the cast and crew of NOES 2 as well as archive footage this film does not give an in-depth look at the making of the movie (such as Never Sleep Again: The Elm Street Legacy) but instead focuses on the personal story of the film’s star Mark Patton; both before and after the film’s release as well as the lasting legacy of the film and it’s resurgence as an unofficial LGBT horror film.
Through a mixture of in-depth interviews with Mark and the others involved, convention footage and fans responses the film explores much wider issues such the stigma attached to being a out gay actor in Hollywood; which at the time of the films release was intensified by the worldwide AIDS crisis in the late 80’s. We also see how Mark has tried to come to terms with his legacy in later years and his role in activism and the wider LGBT community.
Perhaps some of the most interesting sequences in the film are when Mark re-unites with the cast and crew of the film and confronts them with how the film’s legacy has affected him personally and professionally; especially a reconciliation between Mark and film’s writer David Chaskin. The film doesn’t have any particular flair to it’s visuals and music and at times can be self-indulgent although does attempt to cover different viewpoints to some degree.
However as an incredibly personal insight into one mans story the film excels and may leave viewers with food for thought, and perhaps a few new nightmares.
The film is playing select theaters within the US now and a DVD and digital release is scheduled for March 3rd.
A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge, was one of many films featured in our editorial retrospective piece ‘Horror and the LGBT community‘ check it out now.
Check out our interviews with Nightmare on Elm Street Alumni: