Horror films, and slasher movies in particular, are either incredibly empowering to women, or horribly misogynistic, depending on who you ask. (Personally, I’m in the empowering camp.) One thing’s for sure, though: slasher flicks almost always, always center around a young female protagonist. Men are killed in these movies, sure, but they’re almost always disposed of quickly, while the killer spends the 90 minutes of the movie’s runtime in a slow, usually sexualized cat-and-mouse game with the heroine of the story.
There is one great exception to this slasher film rule: 1985’s A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge, the only movie in the series with a male lead, teenager Jesse Walsh, who moves into 1428 Elm St and must contend with Freddy Krueger. Jesse was played by Mark Patton, a young gay actor who was (professionally) in the closet, only to find himself cast as the main character in a movie overflowing with gay subtext that’s really less “sub” and more just “text.”
At the time of its release, Reagan’s America was not only super homophobic, but AIDS panic was everywhere, and yet somehow this movie got released to the masses, and the gay stuff went right over almost everyone’s heads. Everyone, that is, except young queer fans who were excited to see themselves represented on screen in a mainstream genre film, even if it was only subtextually, and still love the movie to this day.
Now, thirty years after its release, a new documentary is being made called Scream, Queen! My Nightmare On Elm Street, from director Tyler Jensen. The film is described as “a story not just about Mark Patton, the star of A Nightmare On Elm Street 2, but about Hollywood’s gay subculture in the 1980s.” Interviews with celebrities, film historians, and fans allow Scream, Queen! to bring audiences a deeper understanding of the social atmosphere when A Nightmare On Elm Street 2 was released in 1985.
Like most indie documentaries these days, this movie is being crowdfunded, so if you want to see Scream, Queen!, head on over to the movie’s Kickstarter page and help to make it a reality. In the meantime, you check out the trailer for the film below:
IMAGE: Alan Cook