- Movie Rating -

Scream, Queen! My Nightmare on Elm Street (2020)

| December 4, 2020

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, I have not been able to go to movie theaters nor film festivals.  So now, with the help of award-season screeners, this month I am catching up.

I’ll be perfectly honest, when I saw A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge back in 1985, the gay subtext flew right past me.  In fact, the whole movie flew right past me.  I was 14 at the time.  I saw it, I liked it, I guess, but when it was over, it just kind of absent-mindedly left my consciousness.  The movie, and it’s supposed gay underpinnings, didn’t really come to me until a few years ago when it became the subject of Jamie Maurer’s YouTube series ‘Needs More Gay’.

The internet is really the best friend of films like this, sidelined feature films from long ago that slipped into obscurity only to be brought back to life through message boards and amateur video review analysis.  And, it is probably the reason that a documentary like Scream, Queen!: My Nightmare on Elm Street ever got the greenlight in the first place.

The film has an odd history.  It came out a year after Wes Craven’s A Nightmare on Elm Street got good notices and good box office.  It was hated by fans either for its lack of originality or inclusion of gay themes (you decide) or, in my case, just the fact that it was a crummy movie in general.  Never-the-less the gay community embraced the film for what it was, and for what it was trying to say.

It also gave some restitution to its star, Mark Patton, whose budding career was basically ruined by the film and who blamed the film’s screenwriter David Chaskin for, first, denying the film’s gay themes only to then embrace them once the internet rumors gave the film new life.  Patton has an ax to grind, and that gives the film it’s final act as he confronts the nervous screenwriter on the charge that his script sidelined his career and his life.

But if the film were just the story of an actor whose career was derailed by a mediocre horror sequel then the film wouldn’t mean much.  Directors Roman Chimienti and Tyler Jensen allow Patton to tell  his story that begins with a budding career working with Cher in Robert Altman’s Come Back to the Five and Dime, Jimmy Dean Jimmy Dean and then taking the job in Nightmare as a gateway to Hollywood.  Unfortunately, this was the height of the AIDS crisis and any calls to homosexual behaviors were strictly forbidden.  At the time, Patton was battling the culture that was being created by AIDS (he contracted the virus himself, but fortunately only after the retro-viral drugs became available) forced him out of the business.

What I expected was a film that would trace the history of the film, and it does, but what I didn’t expect was that Chimienti and Jensen would give so much time and weight to the atmosphere of how AIDS was affecting the queer community or how much it was affecting Patton, not only physically but psychologically as well.

Scream, Queen!: My Nightmare on Elm Street is not a perfect film, it is more of an interesting curio with  a surprisingly moving story in the middle.  It could have been shortened up, and it could have used a different narrator (this one sounds like he should be doing trailers for Troma), but I got more than I expected from this film.  It is the portrait of a person whose aspirations were derailed by the context of the times and who finally, years later, gets some respect for having gone through his own personal nightmare.

About the Author:

Jerry Roberts is a film critic and operator of two websites, Armchair Cinema and Armchair Oscars.
(2020) View IMDB Filed in: Uncategorized