Mark Patton reflects on his own personal nightmares and successes in Scream, Queen!

by Andrew Parker

In 1985, actor and rising star Mark Patton was given the opportunity of a lifetime, and it’s one that he has spent most of his looking back with equal parts love and malaise. After turning heads on stage, screen, and television, Patton was tapped to play Jesse Walsh in the heavily hyped sequel A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge, a teenager (even though the actor had just entered his twenties at the time of filming) tormented by the dream inhabiting child murderer Freddy Krueger.

It was a big deal, not just for Patton, but for then upstart independent studio New Line Cinema. Freddy’s Revenge was the first sequel to New Line’s biggest success up to that point (previously they made most of their money off holding the distribution rights to cult classics like Reefer Madness and The Texas Chain Saw Massacre), and Patton was slated to star opposite Freddy actor Robert Englund in a story that saw his character of Jesse becoming slowly possessed and consumed by his tormentor. A Nightmare on Elm Street creator Wes Craven wasn’t returning for Freddy’s Revenge, but that didn’t stop New Line from ramping up their efforts to ensure that the sequel was an even bigger success. It was the widest release from the studio, bolstered by a massive, practically inescapable marketing campaign and a production that offered a quick turnaround so New Line could strike while the boiler room was still hot.

A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge opened on November 1, 1985 – just a few days shy of the one year anniversary of its predecessor – and debuted at number four at the box office, which was pretty good when one considers that it played on barely over 600 screens in the United States on its opening weekend, and it came at a time when most horror movies were being discovered by kids and teens who would find the films at their local video store months later. It scored decent reviews by 80s slasher movie standards, and it left audiences clamouring for more. Freddy’s Revenge outearned the original entry in the franchise and helped cement New Line Cinema as “The House That Freddy Built.” Robert Englund’s fedora and gnarly sweater wearing villain would become a pop culture icon whose popularity grew and grew throughout the eighties and nineties. 

Over the various sequels of fluctuating quality and success, various actors would reappear to continue playing their characters or to make cheeky little cameos. One person who never reappeared and wasn’t mentioned again was Jesse Walsh, and it had almost nothing to do with the film’s popularity or its curious second life. Almost immediately upon release, Freddy’s Revenge was read by some fans and cultural critics as a gay parable; the story of a young man who had something inside of him that was trying desperately to break through from the realm of the subconscious and into his reality. Watching the film – which includes plenty of suggestive dialogue, a trip to a leather bar, a campy dance sequence-slash-room cleaning montage, and a sadistic gym teacher getting whipped to death with towels – that homoeroticism is almost impossible to escape. For years, many involved with the making of the film, including director Jack Sholder and screenwriter David Chaskin, denied that Freddy’s Revenge had any deeper meaning outside of the obvious dead teenager movie tropes. Attentive and thoughtful genre fans strenuously disagreed, and although opinion on the overall quality of the film remains divisive, it remains one of if not the most talked about entries in the franchise.

Not long after the release of Freddy’s Revenge, Mark Patton all but vanished from the industry. There were various retrospectives, DVD box sets, television specials, and public reunions of cast and crew members that came and went with no input from Patton, who many people thought had simply up and vanished. Documentary filmmakers and franchise fans Roman Chimienti and Tyler Jensen were among those curious about what could’ve happened to Patton and why he rarely acted again, resulting in their joint effort Scream, Queen! My Nightmare on Elm Street, which screens at Outfest in Los Angeles this weekend, with Patton, the directors, and a fair number of his Freddy’s Revenge co-stars (including Englund) appearing for a post-screening Q&A on July 20.

The answers provided as to why Patton stepped away from the industry almost in the blink of an eye are both complicated and personal, making the actor’s life the perfect fodder to make one heck of a documentary.

“You have to realize that it’s not just one thing,” Jensen says, sandwiched between Chimienti and Patton, hours prior to a special preview screening of Scream, Queen in Toronto at the Inside Out LGBT Film Festival. “This movie is thirty years worth of experiences where people from the outside looking in often pinpoint things in the wrong direction. To get to the specific root of anything, you kind of have to attack the whole first. That’s what we tried to do here.”

The whole of the problem was something that Patton shied away from discussing publicly for quite some time. Following Freddy’s Revenge, the Nightmare on Elm Street franchise would revert back to characters from the first film and virtually ignore that Jesse Walsh was a character. The blame for the film’s “failure” to maintain any lasting impact on the franchise was often laid at the feet of the overall gay tone of the story, especially by Chaskin, who frequently stated in interviews that all of the gay subtext had to be Patton’s fault as a performer. (In some degree of fairness to Chaskin, his interviews over the years about Nightmare 2 have been wildly inconsistent at the best of times, and trying to decipher the writer’s true feelings about the film are sticky, murky waters to navigate. But more on that later.) This hurt Patton not just because it was emphatically untrue, but also because he had been living as a closted gay man in the entertainment industry for years.

The emotional trauma of having a film’s perceived lack of success thrown upon his shoulders was only part of the reason why Patton quickly escaped from the limelight. Patton was also diagnosed with AIDS not long after. With the help of friends and loved ones, Patton beat the disease and now lives a much happier and healthier life. He became a designer, found a new love, moved to Mexico, and opened his own shop in Puerto Vallarta. His partner, Hector Morales, knew a lot about Mark, but almost nothing about his time as an actor until a different documentary crew came calling to try and get Patton’s input about his role in the Nightmare on Elm Street franchise. In 2010, Patton broke his self-imposed silence to appear in the lengthy, series spanning documentary Never Sleep Again, but the Scream, Queen filmmakers knew that there had to be a lot more to Mark’s story and his side of events than that movie was letting on.

“For me, I think this all started when I saw Never Sleep Again, and everyone was smiling and seeming like they were having a good time talking about it,” Chimienti says about when he first got the idea to make a movie about Patton, his career, and the lasting impact and cult appeal of Freddy’s Revenge. “Mark seemed cute and happy, but something didn’t sit well with me afterwards. It seemed so dismissive of the whole movie, and when I met Mark it was clear that it didn’t feel like a resolution for him, either. I reached out to Mark, and I always had this question about what happened to him. He was in my favourite movie, and I needed to know where he had gone. We connected, and it just went from there. Through a lot of the filmmaking on our movie, we were witnessing Mark processing all of this in real time. We watched as everything evolved and changed. Like Mark said, it was like a wave coming and going, and there were a lot of ups and downs. Living it out was the important thing. That was more important than just talking about the making of that movie and leaving it at that.”

The process of appearing in Never Sleep Again and being approached by Chimienti and Jensen about doing another documentary did prompt Patton to start making more public appearances at screenings and conventions around the world. The idea of putting himself out there to once again be the face of a film that gave him so many complicated feelings in the first place was initially daunting for Patton, but Scream, Queen helps to document the ways in which the actor came to accept and embrace the fact that Freddy’s Revenge still has a rabid, loving, and adoring fanbase.

“Everything about this has come like a wave,” Patton says about internally wrestling with his return to the public spotlight and all of the feelings it has stirred up inside of him about the past and the present. “I was having all of these new experiences being on the road. I had finally started talking about this when I did Never Sleep Again, and I had started accepting invitations to conventions to sign autographs and make appearances, which from a financial standpoint is kind of a seductive road for anyone to go down. But really weird things would happen to me along the way. I don’t want to sound like I’m too tender, because I’m not, but I was feeling wounded over and over again because some of this is still fresh to me.”

“When you’re gay you tend to pick up on all of these subtle cues that people – for whatever reason – don’t want you around, and I had felt that for years,” Patton says about how his unpleasant past experiences made him hold back his true feelings about his stardom for decades. “You can tell when they think there’s going to be this personality or perception issue, or that they don’t want you to talk too much about your life, but I know when I’m being pushed out of a certain lane. So what you do when that happens is you create your own lane. That’s what this movie is about. There have been so many young actors that you see in maybe one or two movies and you think they’re great, but suddenly you never see them again. There are lots of answers for that, but a lot of people have had their careers cut away from them specifically because they were homosexual.”

“We’re in a weird place in history right now for queer and gay performers,” Patton says when asked about if he thinks its easier or harder to be an out, gay actor today. “It’s great to see what’s happening now with the likes of Billy Porter and Ezra Miller, but when I was acting, the social acceptance of homosexuality was actually declining. It looked like things were starting to get a little brighter in the seventies, and then it took a huge step back again in the 80s. People say to me that I was a gay actor, and for the longest time I would say, ‘No. I am a gay person, but also an actor.’ I wasn’t an out gay actor because that wasn’t a thing at the time. I think a lot of younger people don’t understand quite what that means today or what the weight of that was. The people that we call the ‘it boys’ of today are the kinds of people that would’ve been labelled as ‘sissy boys’ back when I was working. Everybody wants to be ‘it,’ but today you have a lot more freedom to define what ‘it’ is. I think a lot of that comes from intelligence, and today that’s a big turn on, but in the 1980s, it absolutely wasn’t. Nobody wanted you to talk about your feelings or serious issues. There’s still an emphasis in some parts of showbiz that place looks above talent, and that will always be there because it’s a business. But I think today you have a lot more choice as to where you want to point your star if you want to be a performer and still live a happier, healthier life.”

“For me, I was aiming always at the top and never at the middle,” Patton adds, noting that his own quest for success might’ve contributed in some ways to his internalized conflict, and how things have changed for a new generation of queer actors and filmmakers. “Even at the time, I saw Nightmare on Elm Street as just another step on the ladder to my goal, and actually in a lot of ways it was a step down for me. I had previously worked with people who were talked about as auteurs and artists, and they were the kinds of people you could technically become a star with, but working on a film that could make a lot of money is certainly a risk worth taking if you’re comfortable with it. Today, even if you have a plan towards success, there’s more freedom to move around and be yourself. I think that the university level studying of acting and performance has been co-opted by the upper classes, which I think is both good and bad. That used to be a way out for kids, but now there’s so many different degrees and programs and specific branches of study that it becomes a harder road. It used to be that when you went to school, you could make connections with other directors, writers, and actors and you could kind of float around. Today, you basically need a $200,000 degree just to get an agent. At the same time, I also like to think that you have the ability to do anything you set your mind to if you just have the passion and access to a computer these days. In my day, you couldn’t do that, but today you really stand a shot of getting something done if you just refuse to give up.”

Filmmakers Roman Chimienti (left) and Tyler Jensen, directors of Scream, Queen!

“I think the passion behind this really comes from Mark as much as it does from us,” Chimienti says, noting that Scream, Queen wouldn’t have been made without Patton’s close participation. “He had this great story to tell, and he had begun sharing it by the time I met him. But when we started meeting and talking and filming, I realized that this wasn’t something that was in the past for him. This was something that was still very much there. He was experiencing a lot in his life and seeing so many parallels, and a lot of it were things that I could relate to. Obviously, if you grow up as a gay person, you can relate on some level to the things Mark talks about. There were times where things got difficult, and we wondered if this was something that would be able to happen, but we all thought it needed to be told.”

Taking part in Scream, Queen and making the rounds on the convention circuit meant that he had to once again have face to face conversations with people he had no desire to speak with for years, including Sholder and Chaskin. One of the conditions Patton gave to appear in Never Sleep Again was the chance to have a one-on-one, on camera sit down with Chaskin. The relationship between the actor and the Freddy’s Revenge screenwriter remains strained to this day, but the one he has been able to reform with Sholder is something that Patton treasures.

“Forgiveness has a ripple effect,” Patton says about reuniting with former coworkers. “I’m grateful for the relationship that I have with Jack these days, and it continues to grow and evolve because we travel together a lot now. Jack and I had a really profound series of conversations not that long ago. We were at a screening, and I remember telling him that if he’s going to face a crowd of Elm Street fans, particularly with this movie, that he needs to look at what it means to the people in the audience beyond it just being this film he made. He needs to see it in the context of what it means to the people watching it. For the longest time, Jack was kind of dismissive of the movie. He didn’t think it was particularly well done, he would always say that his other movies were better – you know, he saw it like a filmmaker would see it. He never saw it as part of any sort of social movement, and he would sometimes make these offensive jokes about ‘loving the homos’ in the past just to get a chuckle. I let him know that sort of thing wouldn’t go over well, and that this wasn’t the sort of crowd and age where that would fly. I told him he would be attacked.” 

“We actually had a mutual friend – a young guy – who committed suicide, and it was over his past, specifically about him being gay and the situations that he had personally been placed into. When that happened, it hit Jack really hard. Jack came back to me around that time, and we got together for breakfast. He wanted to apologize, and he said that he saw a lot of himself in the character I played in Nightmare on Elm Street. He told me that he used to cover things up a lot, and he would make lots of jokes about being Jewish, and he said that he didn’t realize then what he was doing and that he never thought about what the things he said about the film were doing to me. For a 75 year old Jewish film professor who’s used to being right all the time, that was a big thing for him to admit and for me to hear. Now he’s coming with us to shows, and he’s excited to talk about these sorts of things. He actually talked to [New Line Cinema founder] Bob Shaye recently, who gave an interview for the first time ever about Nightmare on Elm Street 2, and Bob was really excited about how the film is being treated now, and specifically because of us. He likes what’s coming and how it speaks to greater issues. It was this bad thing for a lot of people for a long time that’s turned into a good thing. And I hope that feeling will keep going.”

“David just won’t change,” Patton says bluntly after a lengthy pause when asked about his current relationship with Chaskin. “Any healing that came from our last talk was mine, not his. Things with David are kind of heartbreaking in a way. To me, he’s the kind of person who really seems to tailor his answers based on whatever he thinks his particular audience wants to hear. I have compassion for him when it comes to feeling like that, but after we did our interview, there was another interview with him that came out where he went right back to the same things he was saying before. Some people like Jack and outlets like Fangoria – which previously weren’t at all kind to gay people – and Rue Morgue have had that sort of ‘come to Jesus’ moment, and that’s been wonderful to see. Rue Morgue and Fangoria today have been nothing but great and they’ve been making things right. And that’s partially a generational thing, which is great, but you can’t always change the past, some people don’t want to bother with making those changes, and everyone’s path to change is different.”

Patton certainly doesn’t shy away from speaking his mind anymore, and the actor understands that any serious examination of his life needs to look at the lengthy period of time he spent battling AIDS and HIV, something that he never spoke about publicly while he was going through it. To hear Patton describe it, it was almost as if he needed to go through those health struggles to get to a point where he could talk about his professional past once again. In Scream, Queen, it certainly seems like one part of Patton’s life story can’t be told without closely examining the other and looking back on the most devastating chapter in gay history.

“When we were editing the film, we noticed that Bill, Mark’s assistant, gave us a great interview about what it was like to grow up as a teenager in the 1980s and to see on the news that gay people were made out to be these disease ridden burdens on American society that should be feared because of AIDS,” Jensen says about framing Mark’s biography around more than just his on screen activities. “When you’re a gay kid and that’s what you’re exposed to, you think that’s going to be your future. The whole possession story in Nightmare 2 is about becoming the thing you fear the most; just the most evil thing imaginable. Today, we have a lot more stories about self-discovery, and AIDS isn’t seen as a death sentence anymore. But you can’t really tell a story like Mark’s and what this film means to so many people without looking at that history of the early 80s up until the mid-90s. There’s still a lot of stigma surrounding HIV positive people, but we’re trying to show things in a positive light.”

“One of the things I went through in the 80s and 90s was letting go of secrecy, which I think is super important when it comes to your sexuality and your health,” Patton says about his journey to wellness and acceptance. “But I have noticed today that a lot more young people who are HIV positive are very secretive about it again, and they don’t want to talk about it. My health was saved through the kindness and strength of other men who walked me through the process of getting better and staying healthy. There were a bunch of us who would go out for coffee together every morning, and we’d take our medicine together. I had friends who insisted that we live without shame, and I am eternally grateful for that. It was indoctrinated into me twenty years ago that if you put things into the light it takes away a lot of the fear. I surrounded myself with people who I could talk to about what this medicine was doing to us – because it does do things to you – and joke about it. There were all these things like medications that could give you diarrhea or how hard it was to put weight on, and we could bond together or possibly even joke about those sorts of things because we knew we weren’t alone and that we were all feeling the same way. Some of the things that your body can go through during that time are humiliating to experience them when you’re 35, 30, 25, whatever. That helped me become more powerful about a lot of things.” 

“I have a lot of things to say in the short amount of time that I have left, and I’m going to say them, and I just don’t care anymore about hiding it. I don’t care how I look,” Patton comments about what his brush with death taught him. “I look fine, to me. I’m on a mission now. These boys who made our film are on a mission, too, but they’re at the beginning. I’m honestly at the end. I’m finishing up. I’d be happy to just go away and live out the rest of my days on the beach, but I kind of got dragged back into this kicking and screaming at first. But I don’t regret sharing my story at all. I want to tell everybody about HIV, but also what self-hate can do to a person. Those two things in tandem can be a cruel elixir. I learned self-care and to allow other people to help me heal. That’s hard to accept. So many people died wishing they had one more chance to touch somebody, and it’s hard because there’s this understandable fear of death. I like to tell people that they can no longer say that they don’t know a person with HIV because they know me.”

Although he starred in Freddy’s Revenge before he was going through his own struggle between life and death, the film’s story and the overall notion of a killer that stalks people in their dreams has always fascinated Patton. To him, it has always been easy to see why the franchise has endured for multiple generations now.

“People will almost always have their first brush with death in their dreams, and that’s always terrifying, and something that we can plumb the depths of until the end of time. Your psyche is often at its most vulnerable when you’re asleep and dreaming. You just go to bed and assume that you’re going to wake up in the morning, and is there a feeling that’s more taken for granted in everyday life than that? I would love to see someone do Nightmare on Elm Street again, but to do it in a different venue because we all experiencing dreaming and death in different ways. I think it would be great to do it in the vein of something like American Horror Story and have a bunch of different arcs where Freddy could be at his darkest and all of the experiences wouldn’t be like the ones that came before it.”

Patton, who would love to see someone remake Freddy’s Revenge as long as they place the gay subject matter front and centre, even had his own wishes for quite some time that he would rejoin the franchise. He had his own story ideas that would involve Jesse teaming up with the first film’s protagonist Nancy (played by Heather Langenkamp, who Patton cites as a dear friend) to put Freddy away once and for all. That never happened, but Patton did keep up with the following franchise entries, which he found curiouser and curiouser the more Englund’s character was made out to be some sort of wisecracking, charismatic antihero, creating what he thought was an ill fitting tone that wasn’t in line with the first two considerably darker Elm Street movies.

“After the third entry and once Robert became the star of the series, Freddy became a lot more charming and more of a pop culture icon, and I would’ve loved it if Freddy just stayed as this dark presence,” Patton says about the films that came after his in the franchise. “I remember once during pride week, I posted something online showing Freddy in a rainbow sweater, and people just attacked me. I got comments saying ‘You fags think you can have everything! Why do you get to have Freddy, too?’ I think that’s hilarious. You know that Freddy was a homicidal pedophile, right? Does anyone really want someone that evil on their side? If you want him on your ‘team,’ go right ahead.”

A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge is the kind of movie that has stood the test of time based on the love it gets from its supporters and fans, especially those in the queer community. While it’s a film that’s seen today as an unlikely landmark in the history of gay cinema, it wasn’t the first film Patton did that had queer overtones.

The actor’s first major break – which is also covered in Scream, Queen and often goes overlooked – came from stage and screen director Robert Altman, who cast Patton in a small role opposite Cher, Sandy Dennis, and Karen Black in Come Back to the 5 & Dime, Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean. Although he appeared in the stage version of Altman’s show, there was a film adaptation that brought his performance as Joe Qualley to a wider audience. Writer Ed Graczyk’s play and film are built around a key reveal: the fact that his character was actually transgender. The experience of working on that character and recent discussions about the hiring of binary actors to play non-binary roles helped to further put his own career and what his characters have meant into greater context.

“I didn’t do a lot of films, but I feel like each of them has had this long life thanks to being connected to a franchise like Nightmare on Elm Street,” Patton says when asked if some fans who first discovered him in Freddy’s Revenge later went on to see out the actor’s previous work with Robert Altman. “I feel like that’s sort of karmic in a way. I have so many people who still contact me about Jimmy Dean, like literally yesterday someone reached out to me to talk about that. And that role is also something worth talking about because I was playing a transgender person, and at the time that wasn’t being talked about at all. There almost wasn’t even a word for it. He was just classified as gay because that was how people at the time thought all gay boys were. There was this belief at the time that a gay boy would leave their hometown and they would come back a woman. People weren’t looking at transgender lifestyles seriously at the time, and they were just getting lumped in with gay people. It wasn’t an issue at the time, and now I have many transgender people who contact me and want to talk about it. I just like to listen to what they have to say without immediately speaking, because at the time I didn’t even know what that character would mean to so many people and how my part in playing it would be perceived today. I know that I still have lessons to learn about things, and that’s certainly an example of that.”

Films like Come Back to the Five and Dime and Freddy’s Revenge are as anomalous today as they were back then, but Chimienti and Jensen point to them both as proof that there are audiences always being underserved by mainstream cinema, and the appetite for narratives by and about queer, racialized, and marginalized peoples has never been greater and stronger than it is today.

“I think [Nightmare 2] and what it represents to people really speaks to what audiences want to see from the next wave of horror,” Jensen says. “That door had been starting to crack open for a while, but since Get Out was nominated for Best Picture, I think a serious look is being taken at what kinds of horror audiences have been traditionally underserved. I think that’s why Nightmare 2 keeps getting rediscovered and reappraised. I think queer anxiety is definitely a part of that next wave.”

“When we were doing our research, we scoured magazines and the internet to find the worst possible comments about Nightmare 2, and a lot of it came from fans who said they didn’t see how it could be seen as gay and thought that people were reading too much into it,” Jensen continues. “People thought it was all made up, and that’s really where most of the negativity we found tends to stem from; that complete disregard for queer theory. I find that fascinating because I think a lot of people who watched the film saw it at a young, possibly pre-sexual age. It was often part of the traditional Friday night ritual of having a sleepover with a bunch of friends and renting some scary movies. If you watch it as someone who knows that they’re gay, you can see things in the film that everyone else might overlook and you can still go unnoticed among your friends because you probably wouldn’t talk about it. It’s easier for kids to have access to a horror movie like this than something like Brokeback Mountain, and in some ways you look cooler in front of your friends for seeing a horror movie. At the same time, it’s easy to just dismiss it as a horror movie. It’s also calls back to one of the biggest sticking points of American culture: you can watch the most violent things imaginable, but to talk about anything involving sexuality is taboo.”

The journey of making Scream, Queen has been an emotional one for all parties involved, but the story of Patton’s life also means a lot to the fans of Freddy’s Revenge. Patton credits these fans and their passion for keeping the memory of Jesse Walsh alive. He’s always happy and shocked to see the overwhelming amount of fan tributes online and bits of DIY Freddy’s Revenge merchandise that has come across his path over the years. Outside of people who want to talk to Patton about real life serial killers (which happens, but thankfully not all that frequently), the actor’s interactions with fans have been resoundingly positive, but also noticeably emotional. The sheer amount of emotional outpouring at convention appearances is something Patton has gotten used to, but Jensen and Chimienti were unprepared to witness firsthand.

“I now think of conventions as some of the safest place in the world,” Patton says about how his views about meeting fans has changed over the years. “Going in, and to be frank with you, I initially thought of some of these people as the enemy based on how I had been treated in the past, and others as the type of people I wouldn’t want to get close to, but I discovered that they were often some of the most lovely and open people. You meet a lot of people who were bullied, misunderstood, or shy growing up who were able to find their place in something that they love.”

“I had never gone to a convention before following Mark,” Chimienti says about the learning curve he faced when trying to keep up with Patton’s travels. “I was a fan before, but I was more the type of person who would order things online or through the mail. When we were following Mark, it was a like a sensory overload. For me, that took me aback, but what I was most unprepared for was the emotional intensity of being there with someone like Mark. You see people all dressed up and having a good time, and that’s easy to understand, but it’s something else entirely to see how emotional they get when they see an actor or artist that’s so closely tied to something they love. That takes getting used to. There’s a lot of emotion to process, especially for someone like Mark or any other performer who attends one of these things. You’ll take the weight off the shoulders of others, but you also get a lot put back on. It’s a huge responsibility, and you just have to ride that wave. It’s almost like watching hundreds of people having a spiritual experience.”

“There are lots of people that will come up to someone at a convention and tell stories about how something got them through a troubling or traumatic time in their life; people who have lost loved ones, people with depression, people who went through abusive relationships, people who were in accidents, and they see someone like Mark and they can see part of themselves in the struggles faced by a character they played in a movie or television show once,” Jensen, who had previously attended such events as a fan, says about his experiences with conventions. “That takes a lot to process. You hear these stories every five minutes for an entire weekend, and it becomes a lot. I remember the first interview we did with Mark for the film came right after one of these conventions in his hotel room, and he just told us his entire life story and after that weekend, we almost didn’t know how to process it. But at that point I knew that this film was something much bigger than the one we thought we were making, and we knew how much this would mean to people.”

More poignantly, however, Chimienti saw something while attending conventions that made him reflect on his own experiences as a gay man.

“I realized that these people go to these things because this is their community, and the feeling they get from that shared experience is along the same lines as what we get as gay people when we get together in our own community,” the filmmaker remarks. “It’s a chance to laugh, cry, and celebrate together with people who understand. That’s a common denominator, and we hope that in some way our film can act as a gateway for straight people to learn more about he gay experience.”

And while Patton insists that what’s left of his career as an actor is winding to a close, he hopes that Scream, Queen will stand as a representation of the things he values most importantly at the moment.

“Today, I have a real strong feeling about mentorship for young people,” Patton says. “I think people in the position we’re in should be role models. We have three different decades of upbringings between us working on this film, and we can inform people in different ways. It’s especially important to talk about these things because particularly in the United States, things are in a state of flux for gay people at the moment. I think young people think that things have always been this way, but I know first hand that these things can regress very quickly if we don’t talk about it. It was fun and cathartic to share my story like this, but it also acts somewhat like a teaching tool.”

“I hope all of these kinds of people are disappearing, but I dream that one day some homophobic monster slips their kid a copy of Scream, Queen one night and just dismisses it by thinking it’s just a another movie about horror movies. And I hope that kid learns something from it.”

Scream, Queen! My Nightmare on Elm Street continues to tour around the world before its proper release. It next screens at OutFest in Los Angeles on Saturday, July 20 and Sunday, July 21. The screening on July 20 will include scheduled appearances by directors Roman Chimienti and Tyler Jensen, subject Mark Patton, and Freddy’s Revenge actors Robert Englund, Kim Myers, Robert Rusler, and Clu Gulager.

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