Horror hasn’t been good to marginalized communities. Characters of color, queer characters, and even female characters have long been a part of horror’s more exploitive tropes, left to be on the side of the narrative instead of respected and embraced. This reality, while felt by fans, is also lived by its stars. At Fantastic Fest 2019, Scream, Queen! My Nightmare on Elm Street made its debut, telling the story of Mark Patton who in 1985 landed the lead in A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge, a film that would give some fans a voice while others chided it.
Scream, Queen! My Nightmare on Elm Street is Patton’s return to the big screen after 30 years, and chronicles Freddy’s Revenge’s current cult status, as we watch its star confront his own demons and tell his story. The documentary also explains how Freddy’s Revenge has moved from a film hated by vocal critics to a beloved piece of horror cinema that is loved by many in the fandom to the point that it is still shown today. Scream, Queen! tells Patton’s story on his own terms. We see Patton’s history leading up to what should have been his big break with the role of Jesse Walsh in Freddy’s Revenge. Instead, the film’s status as a subversively queer film put him face to face with a monster scarier than Freddy: Hollywood’s homophobia.
The film chronicles this change from the disdain of homophobic fans to the love of horror fans everywhere through interviews with celebrities, film historians, drag icon Peaches Christ, and the original cast and crew. Using their voices, and most importantly, Patton’s voice, Scream, Queen showcases the importance of Freddy’s Revenge in queer horror cinema, the fans who see themselves in Jesse, and ultimately looks into Patton’s life before entering the horror community and how a bigoted culture pushed him out of Hollywood.
Scream, Queen! also offers up a look into the idea of the final girl, Jesse’s status as the first and arguably only final boys in history, and how Freddy’s Revenge brought trope subversion that audiences were not ready for. The power of the final girl comes from her assuming the killer’s tools and becoming masculine. For Jesse, who is already masculine, the trajectory and trope is different as one of the scholars in the film discusses. This reading of the trope provides an important dissection of horror through a queer lens which you won’t find outside Scream, Queen!
Scream, Queen! serves as a lesson on our history as a country and of our genre. It beautifully maps out the circumstances of the film while also providing a look into Patton’s life. Through the story of Patton’s life, we experience the production of Freddy’s Revenge. The documentary shows the responsibility that directors carry when commenting on their films. While Patton’s role as Jesse was immediately read as queer horror by The Advocate when it was released, the film’s director, Jack Sholder, long refused to engage the narrative, instead of blaming Patton for the queer subtext in the film. In fact, Sholder went as far as saying that his film was meant to be homophobic. By choosing to put this all on his star, Sholder effectively pushed Patton out of Hollywood.
Scream, Queen! is a necessary film that points out the mistreatment of marginalized talent and stories in a genre that fans see as accepting. The best part of the film is that it follows Patton from convention to convention as he’s received by loving fans, exploring how Freddy’s Revenge has become central to the horror experience of some fans. With this, the documentary shows the legacy of Patton’s work, how it’s helped fans, and how it’s become much more than just another film in the Nightmare on Elm Street franchise.
Overall, Scream, Queen! is required viewing for fans of the franchise, but even more so for all fans of horror. With Shudder currently developing a documentary celebrating queer horror, Scream, Queen! My Nightmare on Elm Street showcases the importance of Freddy’s Revenge as a piece of queer horror history while also solidifying Patton’s legacy in the genre. If you love horror, you must watch this film.
Scream, Queen! My Nightmare on Elm Street
Scream, Queen! is required viewing for fans of the franchise, but even more so for all fans of horror. With Shudder currently developing a documentary celebrating queer horror, Scream, Queen! My Nightmare on Elm Street showcases the importance of Freddy’s Revenge as a piece of queer horror history while also solidifying Patton’s legacy in the genre. If you love horror, you must watch this film.
Kate is co-founder, EIC, and CCO of BWT. She’s also a Certified Rotten Tomatoes Critic, host, and creator of our flagship podcast, But Why Tho? and Did You Have To?. She also manages all PR relationships for comics, manga, film, TV, and anime. She has an MA in Cultural Anthropology and Religious Studies focusing on how pop culture impacts society.