Directed By: Roman Chimienti & Tyler Jensen, Written By: Michael Beard (voice-over writer) Clint Catalyst (voice-over writer) Leo Herrera (voice-over writer) & Justin Lockwood, Starring: Mark Patton, Kim Myers, Robert Englund, Jack Sholder & Robert Rusler.
To quote the opening scene of every ‘The Goldberg’s’ episode ever…
The year was 1980 something. I was a naïve 10-year-old boy who was going to stay over at a friends house for the weekend. What made this particular weekend more exciting than usual was the fact that his stepdad had just purchased an ex-rental copy of A Nightmare on Elm Street Part 2.
My plans that weekend involved chilling out at a mates, gorging myself silly on snack foods and finally feasting my impressionable young eyes on Freddy’s Revenge.
So, we popped in the VHS tape, forced as much popcorn as we could fit into our mouths and let the horror commence. And that is just what it was to us innocent ten-year-olds. A horror movie. A horror movie that I have loved from that first viewing through to all these years later as I sit writing this review, a 44-year-old man.
To say I didn’t understand the subtext is an understatement. I was a child. I liked the bit with the bus. I liked the scene where Freddy tore his way out of Jesse’s torso. I loved the part where Freddy ran amok at the party (although when I watch that scene now; I struggle to understand why the party-goers didn’t just bundle him and deliver a swift arse-kicking). I liked the visual stuff. The rest flew over my head.
Freddy’s Revenge was a good time slasher movie. The kind that young me devoured. It didn’t matter that it didn’t adhere to the rules established in part one. I was ten. What did I care?
I look at the film now and realise that there is no gay subtext in ANOES2. It’s the only text! It couldn’t be any more conspicuous. Subtext implies that your brain picks up on something a little deeper going on in the background. Freddy’s Revenge spray paints the word ‘homoerotic’ on the side of a baseball bat and then hits you in the face with it.
Recently I retro reviewed ANOES2 and while it’s a movie that holds a special place in my heart, I don’t think I need to harp on about it any further, here. It’s the documentary ‘Scream Queen! My Nightmare on Elm Street’ that I’m here to discuss.
I’m a sucker for a good documentary. Especially a documentary focusing on things that I’m passionate about. Even more so when it can provoke an emotional response from what my wife refers to as ‘my cold, robot heart.’
Having been a lifelong Star Trek fan, I fought my way through For The Love of Spock. Desperately struggling to keep the tears at bay, because sadly I was raised in a world where men don’t cry. (Pathetic, I know. Welcome to working-class Britain in the 70s and 80s.)
The Kane Hodder Story was another example of an emotional rollercoaster of a documentary. There is something remarkably moving about learning that a guy, famed for playing brutal, killing machines is deep down, an emotionally scarred survivor of relentless bullying. Such documentaries are eye-opening and it’s to their power that they make you question everything you thought you knew.
SQ!MNOES, is powerful stuff. Did any of you ever watch Freddy’s Revenge and think ‘I wonder what happened to that guy who played Jesse?’ Well, here’s your answer and it’s not always an easy watch.
This is Mark Patton’s story and it’s 35+ years in the making.
I had the pleasure of meeting Mark a couple of years ago when he headed over to this side of the Pond to appear at a horror convention in Birmingham (UK). My first impressions were that of a warm, friendly guy who was more than happy to chat to fans and throw his arm around you for a photo op. Later that day I attended the Elm Street panel and it was clear that Mark was an intelligent, outspoken person with a story to tell. It was a great experience for fans like myself and one of my more treasured convention experiences.
Having witnessed Mark embracing his part in the Elm Street legacy, it’s hard to believe that for a good many years, Elm Street had been such a weight around its stars neck. And rightly so…
Everything negative that people took from that movie was dumped on Mark’s doorstep. Given that this was a breakthrough role, what should have been a high point in a young man’s life, quickly became a… Well, a nightmare. Especially when the guy who wrote the movie, refused to shoulder any responsibility.
Sadly, the 1980s was not a friendly place to be if you happened to be a young, gay man. Patton even recounts that he had two choices. Leave his hometown or end up lynched by rednecks. The film dips into such examples of homophobia. Toothless hicks who spit the word ‘faggot,’ into the camera with hateful venom. It’s not difficult to understand what Mark was getting at. It’s
heart-breaking because it’s a true representation of peoples ignorance. To say we have moved on from those times is only accurate to a certain extent. Things are marginally better, but it’s not enough. It isn’t anywhere close to enough.
I read a few reviews in the run-up to watching this documentary. While mostly all positive, there were a few that missed the point. One review claimed that Mark was simply playing a victim. That wasn’t the impression I got at all. For me, the documentary tell’s the story of someone who faced their demons. Who didn’t back down when given the opportunity to voice what had plagued them all these years. Factor in that Mark battled HIV, Tuberculosis and Cancer in one sitting. I don’t get 'playing the victim' from that. That to me screams ‘survivor, warrior and inspiration.’ You have to walk a mile in someone else's shoes before you can judge them and I doubt many would have the strength to come through the other side. Victim? I think not.
If all you took away from this was that it’s a vanity project for an ex-actor, who is playing the victim for the camera, It’s not so much that you missed the point. It’s that you were never going to get it in the first place.
The highlight of the film is Mark, finally getting the face to face, he’d craved for three decades, with NOES2 writer, David Chaskin. Mark Patton is a man who knows loss. The loss of loved ones. The loss of health. The loss of dreams and aspirations that had driven him as a young man. So, it is heart-warming to see him receive a certain amount of closure. Especially if it means that finally, he can embrace the next chapter of his life.
Scream Queen! My Nightmare on Elm Street is a beautiful film. It’s not always a cheerful experience, by any stretch. It will not appeal to everyone. As I pointed out, earlier; those lacking empathy or compassion will miss the point.
Regarding Mark's acting career, things may not have gone the way he had hoped or planned, but he gave us A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge, and he gave us Jesse Walsh. As long as he keeps attending these conventions, there will always be a swarm of us fans, lining up to tell him how much that movie means to us.
Scream Queen! My Nightmare On Elm Street is available to stream on www.shudder.com
Check out the trailer, below: