My friends and I hated A Nightmare On Elm Street 2: Freddy's Revenge when it was released in 1985. For starters, it seemed to throw out the imaginative ground rules set up by Wes Craven's original; Freddy was flesh and blood for large parts of the action, possessing bodies, crashing pool parties, slipping in and out of the real world willy-nilly. Horror fans like rules! The film faltered elsewhere: its protagonist Jesse (Mark Patton) was not the resourceful hero that Heather Langenkamp's Nancy was, and Craven's nightmare-logic imagery was sorely missed. (In fact, Craven was not involved at all, and a fiercely loyal horror fanbase took umbrage at the interlopers.)
On top of all that, we kind of snickered at the gay vibe that seemed to flow through Elm Street 2. As suburban white boys in 1980s New Jersey, homophobia was de rigeur, "faggot" was part of our daily lexicon, and AIDS was something that happened to actors on TV-movies. So of course a horror film trading in themes of closeted shame and gay panic was going to sort of fly right over our heads. But my youthful dismissal of what was going on under the surface of this film is what makes Scream, Queen! My Nightmare On Elm Street such a fascinating project. One of the most powerful things movies can do is to allow us new perspectives, and to let us experience the familiar from another point of view. And I don't think I'd be as taken with this project as I am if not for my experience with the film as a teen.
If you've seen A Nightmare On Elm Street 2, you know there's a ton of subtext that barely qualifies as "sub", but according to this Kickstarter project's excellent pitch video, there's more to it than even its creators knew. Scream, Queen! promises to delve into lead actor Mark Patton's journey from a closeted actor in the '80s, sweating bullets through a role that he feared would expose his true self to the world, to a 21st century advocate for gay rights, sharing his story with a new generation while reconciling his experience with an acting gig that upended his life for years afterward.
But I think what I'm most excited here about is the way the film presents the phenomenon - glimpsed in the pitch video - of A Nightmare On Elm Street 2 becoming an iconic gay film for a generation raised on it. In my experience horror fans can be a pretty bigoted, close-minded bunch of Red Staters, so seeing out-and-proud dudes openly celebrating the gayest aspects of this film is an encouraging eye-opener. Organic, grass-roots developments like this fascinate me in film, and to think of Elm Street 2 joining the ranks of classic "gay subtext" films like Rebel Without A Cause, All That Heaven Allows and Top Gun puts a smile on my face.
We don't normally cover Kickstarter projects on BMD, but this looks like a fascinating and important topic, one that's well-told, and after donating, I figured I'd put my mouth where my money is. You can do the same here.