Gay audiences often gravitate toward horror films because of their strong women protagonists who face down the terrifying monsters that seek to destroy them. First seen as helpless victims, these Final Girls take matters into their own hands to defeat baddies in a bloody showdown. Jamie Lee Curtis still reigns as the ultimate scream queen with actresses like Neve Campbell and Sigourney Weaver in her esteemed company. When Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge came out in 1985, audiences picked up on the blatant gay content, but it destroyed the career of star Mark Patton. With Scream, Queen! My Nightmare on Elm Street, Patton takes his rightful place among those powerful heroines, and claims the title of the first ever Final Boy.
Freddy’s Revenge almost revels in how gay it is. Not only is there an S&M-themed death in a gym locker room shower, there’s a scene in which Patton’s Jesse dances around his room and shakes his behind quite a lot. The camera loves to linger on his body – he wakes up several times shirtless and drenched in sweat. In their first dream encounter, Freddy Krueger tells Jesse, “Daddy can’t help you now.” It’s shocking that the content was always referred to as gay subtext when it’s on full display.
Directed by Roman Chimienti and Tyler Jensen, Scream Queen! allows Patton to revisit his early career as we retrace his almost Tab Hunter-like ascent as a young actor. A talented performer with boyish good looks, he was in high demand – even starring on Broadway with Cher and Karen Black under the direction of Robert Altman.
So what went wrong? With the rise of homophobia and the AIDS epidemic, actors were forced to go back in the closet. Unable to get work, Patton’s agents were concerned that he couldn’t “play straight,” resulting in Patton retreating from Hollywood life until very recently to enjoy his film’s cult status.
Following Patton’s journey toward self-acceptance, Scream, Queen allows Patton to see what his character meant to so many young gay fans. As he confronts personal demons revolving around the slasher film’s initial reception, Patton’s story becomes an ultimately inspiring one, allowing him to emerge as an activist and reclaim his legacy as a horror icon.
~ Joey Moser
Awards & Accolades