‘It wasn’t subtext, it was right there…’
I love the Nightmare on Elm Street franchise. I have wiled away many an hour watching Freddy butcher various teenagers, and in terms of sequels, it is definitely my favourite of all the horror powerhouses. Dream Warriors is arguably better than the original, Freddy’s Dead is a lot of fun, and New Nightmare was a genuine shot in the arm for an ailing character. However, the second entry in the series, Freddy’s Revenge, was never my favourite. It has some nice moments, and some other scenes that are enjoyable in a so-bad-they-are-good kind of way, but overall, it was a letdown.
What I missed first time round (until watching the excellent Elm Street documentary Never Sleep Again), is that Freddy’s Revenge is shot through with gay subtext. While this has become celebrated now, it was widely derided at the time, and most of the blame fell on the shoulders of Mark Patton, the young star of the film who wasn’t openly gay at the time of release, but who has since gone on to become an activist for gay rights after recovering from a HIV diagnosis.
Scream Queen: My Nightmare on Elm Street is mainly Patton’s story of how the film affected his life, and the turmoil it caused him when writer David Chaskin initially blamed the gay subtext on Patton himself, rather than his own writing. The film culminates in an uncomfortable confrontation between Patton and Chaskin which makes for compelling and powerful viewing.
We also have archival and contemporary interviews with Patton’s co-stars Robert Englund and Lisa Wilcox, as well as other various cast and crew members involved in the making of Freddy’s Revenge. The result is a deep dive into an otherwise forgotten film that, while overly long, will still hold some fascination for Freddy completists or those interested in the history of portrayals of homesexuality throughout Hollywood in the ’80s. It’s perhaps a niche market, but one that is all too often forgotten and overlooked.