Scream, Queen! My Nightmare on Elm Street [InsideOut19 Review]

Unlike most people I know who are into genre films, I got into them fairly late in comparison. It wasn’t until I was about 15 that I was able to handle them. Seeing The Shining at the age of 10 traumatized me for nearly a month. I remember being in the room at one point as my family watched Freddy Vs. Jason and I realized, maybe it’s not so bad. It was also middle of the day on the weekend with all the lights on, so I got by just fine. It wasn’t until after the film was after that my family members told me that this film wasn’t necessarily scary anyway. “Not like the older Freddy or Jason films.” They were right, but I wasn’t sure how right.

Soon after, I discovered horror and then some. I devoured what I could, bad or good. Starting with Sam Raimi’s Evil Dead franchise, and slowly moving into slashers. Then I got to do what I loved to do and devour full franchises at a time. And I started with A Nightmare on Elm Street. I saw the first one and was terrified so I waited a bit before going into the second. And then as I was going to watch the second, a close friend of mine said to me over MSN Messenger (dating myself  just a little) “It’s so gay.” Unfortunately, at the time, it was common to say those words as an insult at something. It wasn’t until the film had begun, I realized he didn’t mean it as a derogatory slam, it should be worn as a badge of honour.

Freddy’s Revenge potentially is the gayest horror film that nobody saw coming, including the cast, the director and even the writer of the film. Or so he says. At the forefront of the film, we had Jesse, a male going through high school and trying to do what guys in school do. Attend classes, hang out with their male best friend, try to woo a woman to date them, and also occasionally fight off your own demons. In the film’s storyline, that demon was Freddy, but it was also his own homoerotic desires. There were many moments in the film where Freddy only appears after a flirtation with his best friend Ron.  On top of that, Jesse as a lead in a horror film was typically played by females, and was often referred to as “the final girl.” At the time, our hero, then and in real life, Mark Patton was in the closet, and this movie changed his life.

Mark Patton was a rising star and in a secretive relationship with Timothy Patrick Murphy. At this time in the ’80s, the world and especially Hollywood was extremely homophobic. Actors had to stay in the closet, and if it got out it could ruin their careers. Which is what happened to Mark. If you look at his filmography, after being on Broadway with Cher, and in the movie adaptation with her directed by Robert Altman, he ended up landing Freddy’s Revenge, which was his last credit until 2010’s Never Sleep Again, the documentary about the Nightmare series as a whole.

This documentary is the follow up to the documentary but geared through and towards Mark. As when the film came out, the screenwriter would later make a remark stating that the film had gay subtext but it only was revealed because Mark’s performance was “too gay.” This film is about the aftermath and the struggle that Mark went through after leaving the country to find himself again. It’s about closure after not only losing his career but so much more.

But it’s also about the representation, what the film means to the queer community. To be the hero in the end. By allowing the queerness of the film to exist as is, there’s evidence and proof that representation matters. A phrase we always will shout about on this website.

There’s a bittersweet feeling that comes with the film. It’s being victorious, but at what cost? At the height of his fame, he lost it all. While he also began losing the man he loved and his friends to AIDS. A virus that resonates at moments with the image of Freddy. Freddy gets his revenge, but Mark and Jesse stand stall. Happy and proud, and healthy. An icon that begs you to know your history, and acknowledge that it can be a beautiful and monumental thing to be still standing.