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Elm Street 2's Mark Patton Embraces Status as Queer Icon

Mark Patton revisits the camp classic that made him a queer icon.
Mark Patton revisits the camp classic that made him a queer icon.
Photo courtesy of The End Productions
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"It's a blast; I'm superproud of it. If I wasn't, I'd let history bury it," Mark Patton says of the flick that was supposed to make him a star, 1985's A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy's Revenge. Patton wound up having a complicated relationship with the Freddy Krueger sequel that was lambasted by critics but cleaned up at the box office.

In 2019, we can view Elm Street 2 as a camp classic, one that has witty subtext as a coming-out story. But when it was released in the '80s, it was mocked for being "too gay." The bullying criticisms devastated a young Patton, who was on the verge of a promising acting career, and who was also dealing with more real demons than Freddy. "When I was 20, I went to a psychic. She said, 'I know you want me to tell you you'll be famous. You will get fame, but you'll also be a witness.' And I have been a witness to a holocaust of all the gay men who died of AIDS. We lost a generation of creativity."

Patton, who produced and stars in Scream, Queen! My Nightmare on Elm Street, uses the documentary format to convey the vision the psychic saw three decades ago. "We take you on a deep dive into 1985. Freddy Krueger is the icing on the cake that brings people in, but then we deal with homophobia and AIDS," Patton says. "But there's a lot for Nightmare on Elm Street fans too."

South Florida will get a chance to see Scream, Queen! at Savor Cinema November 1. Patton will be in attendance with codirectors Roman Chimienti and Tyler Jensen. Following the screening and a Q&A with the filmmakers, the audience will be treated to A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy's Revenge.

The documentary succeeds regardless of your level of familiarity with Elm Street 2. Scream, Queen! explores how gay cinema fans of the past had to identify with mainstream movie characters where they could find them. Patton's portrayal of Jesse Walsh gave them a protagonist who inspired a generation of gay horror fans and filmmakers.

One of the documentary's pivotal scenes took place in Fort Lauderdale, at Shock Pop Comic Con in 2015. "The convention was actually a disaster," Patton says, but it marked the first reunion for much of Elm Street 2's cast and crew. "No one was there, so we had a bunch of time to film. Usually, Robert Englund [the actor who plays Freddy Krueger] spends all his time signing autographs, but since no one was there, we had all this time to film interviews."

With the success of Scream, Queen! Patton is considering making the documentary he originally intended to film, one that chronicles a generation of gay actors who were on the cusp of stardom when a homophobic culture forced them to make career changes. He has also finally decided to return to acting; he has a role in the recently wrapped dark comedy 1 Dead Dog.

For now, though, you can find him on an international tour to promote Scream, Queen!

"If you come to the theater, you'll see a fulfilling event," Patton promises. "Wherever we show the movie, anyone who's been bullied can identify with the movie. I took whatever power I had from being in an '80s movie. The world can change because of people like me telling their story."

Scream, Queen! My Nightmare on Elm Street. 8 p.m. Friday, November 1, at Savor Cinema, 503 SE Sixth St., Fort Lauderdale; 954-525-3456; fliff.com. Tickets cost $12 via ticketing.us.veezi.com.

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