REVIEW: SCREAM, QUEEN! MY NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET is an honest portrayal of the price of screen infamy in 1980’s Hollywood


SCREAM, QUEEN! follows the life and career of actor Mark Patton and how his role in Nightmare on Elm Street 2 derailed his career due to his homosexuality in the AIDS panic of the 1980s.

When you look at the 1980’s horror sequels, one of the most anticipated sequels in its day was A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET 2: FREDDY’S REVENGE. Wes Craven’s original 1984 A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET became something of a cultural phenomenon, introducing Robert Englund’s burnt dream-demon slasher Freddy Krueger to an unsuspecting populous. With Craven moving on after the original, New Line Cinema tapped director Jack Sholder and writer David Chaskin to bring a new installment of the Springwood Slasher for 1985. Chasken envisioned a flip of the horror trope of the final girl and envisioned the character of Jesse, a male version of the final girl who would be Freddy’s target as he searched for a body to possess to bring him back to the mortal plane. As might be expected, the idea of a man trying to another man’s body for his own opened up the possibility of a lot of homosexual overtures and subtext in the script. It was this subtext that actor Mark Patton, who was cast as Jesse, felt cost him his chance at a career as a leading man and the desire to confront Chaskin over whether this subtext was intentional in subsequent years marks a big part of the journey in Patton’s life as chronicled in Shudder’s latest original, SCREAM, QUEEN! MY NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET.

SCREAM, QUEEN! largely follows the life of Mark Patton from his promising beginnings as a commercial model/actor, to his successes on Broadway originating a role in Ed Gracyk and Robert Altman’s play Come Back to the Five and Dime, Jimmy Dean … alongside Karen Black and Cher. From there, Patton gains fame and works on the film version and moves to Hollywood where he starts a romance with Dallas star Timothy Patrick Murphy and the two quickly move in together. Around this time, Patton gets his big break as the lead of the sequel to A Nightmare on Elm Street 2. Here, Patton plays the role as written on the page and corroboration from his co-stars like Robert Englund and Marshall Bell follows Patton’s thoughts that there is a heavy homoerotic subtext in the script. When the movie is released, Patton is told by his agents his future lays in playing character parts, because he can’t convincingly play a straight-male lead. That, coupled with the death of Patton’s lover due to AIDS and the fact that this meant he also had HIV, led to Patton retiring to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. Decades later, Patton is tracked down and finds he has become famous in the new horror scene and infamous as the lead of “the gay Freddy movie.” SCREAM, QUEEN! is largely Patton talking about how this all affected him and his life, the life of being on the horror convention scene, and his aspirations for what his career could’ve been. He wants to confront Chaskin as now that the film has gained a cult following, he takes credit for the very subtext that ruined Patton’s career. The scenes between the two of them are the film’s strongest by far and give you a real eye as to how difficult it was to be a closeted actor in the 80s.

Overall, SCREAM, QUEEN! is a celebration of Patton’s life and career with its highs and lows outside of film with his partner in Mexico and the fulfillment he gets from participating in the fan culture. It examines him, warts and all, and gives the viewer a real eye into a world they might not have known much about in the convention scene and the wider horror community. Definitely worth checking out for the hardcore Freddy fan and those who enjoy culture documentaries as well.