To Roman Chimienti, A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy's Revenge thoroughly awoke his nascent horror movies undertone. So while the second installment slashed the shallow plot lines of the genre (and siblings such as Jason Voorhees and Michael Meyers), this Freddy Krueger's depth had a lot to do with the film's real shock value. But there were still far more laying beneath - and only one thoroughly invested demographic picked up on the subversive gay rights subtext.
"Nobody noticed it," Chimienti says of this "analogy for gay youth" that he believes the filmmakers sought and is the subject of his new film, Scream, Queen: My Nightmare on Elm Street.
Documentary is a Celebration for Filmmaker and Participants
The New York City Filmmaker’s trailer shows a joyful identification of gay men and women who didn't miss the message and an empowering sense of community that goes with the remembering. "We had to find heroes and Mark Patton was one," says Chimienti of the lead actor in the 1985 film.
The first sequel also broke ground in the way it portrayed the story of the outcast. “Coming of Age Movies like 16 Candles and The Breakfast Club told the story by making the character seem worse off than most of us so he could be laughed at," he says. "This character wasn't like that.”
Getting to meet and interview Robert England for the film wasn't bad either. "It was thrilling because he gave insight that only he could," says Chimienti who co-directed the film with Tyler Jensen.
Lack of Gay Rights and Acceptance Alienates Gay Actors
But the documentary definitely contains a serious look back at the history and what was at stake for the gay community - inside and outside the glamour of Hollywood. Chimienti first noticed a problem as a glaring omission. "The movie and Mark's role thrilled me," says Chimienti. "He was an up and coming actor and he just disappeared from the scene.”
A change over in the times holds the answer, according to Chimienti. The far more accepting disco era passing, Ronald Reagan's ascension as President was not music to the ears of those who welcomed the past progress. "It was a very conservative time," he states flatly.
That is clearly reflected in the administrations refusal to acknowledge the AIDS crisis as tens of thousands succumbed. One of their own falling prey also fell on deaf ears. "They turned their back on Rock Hudson as he pleaded for awareness," says the filmmaker.
At the same time, Hollywood still shielded their stars' privacy but took no further steps toward openness or acceptance. "Gay actors could not come out because they would not be marketable," says Chimienti of the bottom line thinking.
Too Much to Bear for Young Actor
But for someone who cracked the business like Patton, such a burden seems manageable to us out here. "A lot of times people think that actors make great money and have charmed lives, but the studios can have a very big say in how you live your life," he says.
In Mark's case, according to the director, he just didn't see a future in film as himself.
On other other hand, Scream, Queen presented an opportunity. "I was able to contact him, and this was a way to recreate his own story," says Chimienti.
Patton’s tragic journey aside, the film is also meant to stand against complacency that can come with progress. "This generation doesn't know about being discriminated in a movie because of sexuality or that terms like faggot could freely be used," he reflects
For the one demographic in question, his message isn't to be missed either. "I'm trying to light a fire under the gay youth of today," Chimienti concludes in hopes they pick up the mantle for gay rights.