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Kickstart It: Mark Patton’s Documentary About Nightmare on Elm Street 2’s Gay Subtext

A strange thing happened to me a couple of weeks ago.  An actor I’ve written about on this site actually responded to one of my articles to call me out on some shoddy research.  It’s not everyday that I look in the comments section and find someone telling me that I got something wrong, and that they would definitely know better than me because they were actually part of the movie I was talking about.  That’s exactly what happened, though, when Mark Patton stopped by to let me know that I hadn’t gone deep enough with my research for an article listing 13 trivia items about Nightmare on Elm Street 2.

But let’s step back a little.  In 2010, 1428 Films released a four-hour, two-disc direct-to-video documentary called Never Sleep Again: The Elm Street Legacy (it was recently added to Netflix).  Just about everyone connected to every single Nightmare on Elm Street movie minus the 2010 remake took part, with one of the most notable (and understandable) absences being Johnny Depp.  Patricia Arquette’s also nowhere to be found.  Otherwise, Wes Craven, Heather Langenkamp, Robert Englund and most of the major actors, writers and producers from the first movie to New Nightmare offered insightful observations and often hilarious behind-the-scenes stories.  One of the more surprising participants was Mark Patton, the male lead from Nightmare on Elm Street 2.  Back in the ’80s, Patton was a gay man forced to stay in the closet by a homophobic and AIDS-phobic Hollywood, and after starring in a Robert Altman movie he suddenly found himself playing the male lead in the most unintentionally gay horror movie of all time.

jesseHere’s what happened: Completely ignoring the Elm Street rules laid out by Wes Craven in the first movie, Nightmare on Elm Street 2‘s screenwriter David Chaskin conceived of the idea of Freddy Krueger needing to enter Jesse’s (Patton) body to interact with the real world as a metaphor for repressed homosexuality.  Jesse is a gay kid in denial about his sexuality, and his homosexual urges manifest themselves via Freddy.  So, you have Jesse clearly attracted to his male friend Ron, and the female love interest (played by Kim Myers) is his unwitting beard.  Plus, Jesse more or less goes to a gay bar at one point.  The walls and closets of his house are littered with in-jokes about his sexuality, all left there by the movie’s set designer.

nochicksChaskin admitted his part in the whole affair in The Elm Street Legacy, but back when Elm Street 2 was being made he kept all of that to himself.  The production was so rushed that, as impossible as it sounds, no one else on the movie other than the set designer, Patton and maybe Englund picked up on the gay subtext.  Of course, it seemed remarkably obvious to the rest of the world when the movie came out, and Patton became the scapegoat.  The movie only seemed so gay since they had cast a gay man to play a straight character, or so the argument went in some quarters.  It derailed Patton’s career.  Several years later, he was actually cast to play a gay character on a CBS show but asked to still pretend in the public that he was straight.  That was the final straw for him, and he gave up his dream of being an actor, leaving Hollywood and moving to Mexico.

Pulling Patton back into the entertainment world and asking him to open up about his Elm Street 2 experience was a big get for 1428 Films.  However, Elm Street Legacy ultimately has a lot of fun at Elm Street 2’s expense, and most everyone seems to be a good sport about it, particularly when referring to Mark Patton and Kim Myer’s characters as the “Will & Grace of the horror genre” or reliving the stress over Jesse’s infamous dance scene.

I took the documentary at face value, and used it as the primary source for my Elm Street 2 trivia article, which I first published in April of 2014.  Then, earlier this month Patton (or someone claiming to be him) left the following comment:

Kelly, I wish you had done your homework a bit better instead of relying solely on Never Sleep Again..Much of your information is incorrect at least concerning me..Never Sleep Again was done quite quickly and as all the actors said the questions were leading and NSA had already decided the story the wanted to tell..Hopefully you will enjoy Scream, Queen! My Nightmare on Elm Street. A true, well vetted documentary about NOES2..NSA is good for a laugh, SQ is being taught in Film Schools though out the Country. I have a very easy Facebook site and have sat for hundreds of dissertations and articles about NOES2

I had no idea that he was making his own documentary, and I certainly didn’t want to misrepresent anyone on my site.  So, I did some more homework and updated the article with quotes from Patton’s relatively recent interviews with Fangoria, HIV+, AlternativeNation and WithoutYourHead. 

photo-originalOne discrepancy which popped up is that Never Sleep Again humorously argues Patton is chiefly responsible for the choreography in his notorious dance scene.  However,Patton has now told other sources that every move in that dance was in the shooting script.  He may have been the scapegoat in 1985 but not in 2015, not anymore.  He told WithoutYourHead that his documentary will interview the same people Never Sleep Again did, but he will ask more serious questions, such as whether certain people at New Line even read the script and what exactly went down behind the scenes when Robert Englund was shut out of the movie and then rushed back when the extra they got to play Freddy couldn’t cut it.

To finish it, though, Patton needs our help.  He’s launched a Kickstarter campaign and released the following trailer for Scream, Queen! My Nightmare on Elm Street:

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1832830591/scream-queen-my-nightmare-on-elm-street?ref=video

As of this writing, Scream, Queen! My Nightmare on Elm Street is up to $10,847 on donations with an end goal of $49,000.  Head here to check it out.  You can also check out the movie’s Facebook page.

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About Kelly Konda (1854 Articles)
Grew up obsessing over movies and TV shows. Worked in a video store. Minored in film at college because my college didn't offer a film major. Worked in academia for a while. Have been freelance writing and running this blog since 2013.

2 Comments on Kickstart It: Mark Patton’s Documentary About Nightmare on Elm Street 2’s Gay Subtext

  1. This fills in a lot of theories I had about the film and, specifically, the intentions of the screenwriter in particular.

  2. I think this explains why I liked that second film so much. I certainly enjoyed it far more than any of the other films, except for number four.

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