Scream Queen! My Nightmare on Elm Street is streaming now on Shudder.
In October 2019, I explored the queer themes inherent in A Nightmare on Elm Street Part Two and the spectre of homophobia that haunted its story. But how did the movie affect its young star? And do the queer themes in Elm Street Two partly reflect the personal journey of its star, Mark Patton? Scream Queen finally brings us Mark’s story, from his childhood in Missouri to his late teens in New York. Here the bright lights of the Big Apple would not only help launch Mark’s acting career but also provide escape and liberation for a young gay man. After staring in countless commercials, Mark’s big break would come through the stage play ‘Come Back to the 5 & Dime Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean‘ and its subsequent film adaptation.
Following this success, Mark would move to Los Angeles for further film opportunities, meeting Dallas star Timothy Patrick Murphy on the way. Here Mark and Timothy would enter into a passionate relationship firmly hidden from public view. As hoped, Los Angeles opened the door to more potential movies, and one of those was A Nightmare on Elm Street Part 2. Horror had already sealed its place as a birthplace for new stars, with Brad Pitt, Johnny Depp and Jamie Lee Curtis all finding fame through the teen slasher. Therefore, Mark quickly accepted the chance to lead the second Elm Street outing alongside Freddy. However, what started as an exciting adventure soon morphed into a nightmare Freddy would be proud of.
READ MORE: A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET 2
Scream Queen takes us on a fascinating and enlightening journey through 80s Hollywood, one that is less about A Nightmare on Elm Street Part 2 and more about the culture into which it was released as AIDS ravished the LGBTQ+ community. Here Mark’s journey as a gay actor was restricted by a studio system where homosexuality was feared. For Mark, the anger and pain of his isolation and oppression were only further increased by the media response to AIDS. It is, therefore, more than possible that Mark brought that pain to the role of Jesse in an unconscious way. But Scream Queen also clarifies that those involved in the film were fully aware of the queer subtext it carried despite their denials.
READ MORE: SHOWBIZ KIDS
Mark was left out in the cold as a closeted gay male actor in Hollywood, his career opportunities stifled by a Hollywood system wrapped in fear. Here Mark’s career following Elm Street reflects the film’s narrative as the true horror of 80s homophobia surfaced, just as he lost his partner through AIDS and came to terms with his own diagnosis. This led Mark to withdraw from public life and acting, the Nightmare becoming a reality.
Some will debate whether Scream Queen focuses enough on the writing and development of Elm Street 2. Still, its broader analysis of an 80s film industry that condoned homophobia is far more important. A Nightmare on Elm Street Part 2 is now held aloft as a groundbreaking if confused gay horror movie, but the reality for its star was far darker during shooting and in the years following its release. Mark’s documentary is brave, bold and personal, but it also feels shrouded in a continuing fear of rejection, some of its urgent themes left hanging as it opts for safer ground.
Director: Roman Chimienti, Tyler Jensen
Stars: Mark Patton, Cecil Baldwin, Robert Englund, Jack Sholder, David Chaskin