For every film fan who might not have seen A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge or realized just how queer the 1985 horror hit is, there are true believers like Roman Chimienti and Tyler Jensen to bring them up to speed. “Nightmare on Elm Street 2 was what made me fall in love with horror movies as a kid in the eighties,” says Chimienti, co-director of new documentary Scream, Queen!: My Nightmare on Elm Street, an enthusiastic exploration of the gay subtext (and blatant homoeroticism) threaded through the slasher sequel. “It was the movie that made me go, ‘Oh my God, I love this, I’m infatuated with all of this.'”
Upon its release, Nightmare 2 met with its share of homophobic backlash, specifically due to all the male nudity, sexual panic, and suggestive lines like, “Something’s trying to get inside my body!” But neither director Jack Sholder nor screenwriter David Chaskin took responsibility for crypto-queer content like a scene in which belligerent Coach Schneider (Marshall Bell) is strung up and stripped down in a locker room shower before being towel-whipped by an unseen Freddy Krueger.
Instead, Chaskin notoriously cited the performance of star Mark Patton for any negative reactions to one of the genre’s rare depictions of a male scream queen. And director Sholder has claimed for years that it never occurred to him even after the film was out that anyone might read it as homophobic or homoerotic, or homo-anything. Scream, Queen! brilliantly addresses their years of denial, as well as Patton’s poignant journey following the film, from promising, though closeted, young Hollywood star, to mysterious recluse, referred to by some as “the Greta Garbo of Horror.” The documentary travels with Patton, now a proud queer and HIV/AIDS activist, to several fan and film conventions, where he reunites with costars (including Freddy himself, Robert Englund), and finally has a chance to hash out some version of the truth with the movie’s writer and director.
“The task at hand was this incredible balancing act because we had this unique perspective,” says Scream, Queen! co-director Jensen. “We had this opportunity to tell queer history to a predominantly straight audience. People, the fans, are coming for Freddy Krueger, and what they don’t understand is that they’re going to get this gay history with it.”
Scream, Queen! is not rated, and screens on Monday, December 30 at Suns Cinema, 3107 Mt. Pleasant St. NW. Tickets are $10. Visit www.sunscinema.com.
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