The idea of identity but also social strife interrelated with a horror film is an interesting quandary which is explored in “Scream Queen – My Nightmare On Elm Street”. The story of Mark Patton who was the lead in “Nightmare On Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge” is an interesting story in that his was the intersection of many different aspects that together form a unique journey. It nonetheless turns into a cautionary tale of sorts that with the advent of documentary and streaming in its current form as well as the increasing balance of society in some ways can be allowed to happen. Patton played Jesse in the 2nd film in the franchise. Patton was gay but wasn’t integrating that with his career as it wasn’t socially acceptable per in Hollywood at the time as far as the roles. But what the film (“{“Nightmare On Elm Street 2”) did through its story is seemingly overwhelming paint itself as a gay horror movie. That in Patton’s view and correctly overall destroyed his career even though the film was a success. The backlash it started to receive was interesting in its vitriol but cumulative to him.

The cross roads of that occurred when the sexual freedom of the 70s and “Don’t Ask/Don’t tell) [especially in NY] collided with the AIDS crisis of the early 80s for which there was no treatment or cure. Patton’s story is one of meteoric rise from the Midwest where he couldn’t be himself and his family simply didn’t give him support. He moved to NY and just his tenacious rise from living in a hotel which was a prostitute hangout to getting an agent to eventually being on Broadway with Cher in 1980 is just an insane trajectory. He ended up moving to Hollywood to pursue his movie star dream. His boyfriend was Tim Murphy who was a star on “Dallas”. They lived in the Hills and partied as young people do. Patton got the Freddy sequel role and at the same time his boyfriend came down with AIDS and eventually died. The storm didn’t hit when the movie came out but the homophobic savagery came soon afterward. His agents saw something in the film’s first cut also said they coudln’t sell him as the straight lead, maybe as a character actor.

Rather than dig in further, Patton left for Mexico where he sequestered for many years And in a short space in the documentary he relates that he too was stricken with HIV alongside tuberculosis where he was in bed for nearly a year. This man has gone through the ringer. He recovered miraculously. He was first interviewed for a Freddy documentary film and then start doing conventions which helped with money flow But he was always haunted by the fact that “Freddy 2” screenwriter denied that it was written as a gay horror movie or at least with those themes. The writer says it was only suggested with subtext but movies are collaborative. Was it is interesting is hearing Robert Englund (who played Freddy talk about one scene where the horror became suggestive.

It was a character choice and one within Englund’s perception of the themes and archetypes it shows (i.e. the beauty and the beast) is an interesting one….and much deeper than what the film was capable of delivering. But Patton explains that no one gave him advice that what he was doing could be misconstrued. Now years later it takes on a different perspective in a way but the journey itself is fascinating simply because of the history, the overarching trajectory and the simple psychological, mental and physical tolls it portrays Patton is able to tell his story but also allows those, maybe seeing their own lives in a different matter, might be able to gleam a sense of clarity.


By Tim Wassberg

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