Nightmare on Elm Street 2 has come a long way. From being dismissed as the worst entry in the long running franchise to becoming a cult favorite, the film has been on a wild ride. Scream, Queen! My Nightmare on Elm Street chronicles the journey of lead Mark Patton. AIPT spoke with Patton and directors Roman Chimienti, and Tyler Jensen about the documentary.
To hear the complete interview with Mark, including his thoughts on his famous dance scene and a Nightmare on Elm Street musical (?!?) check out out the latest episode of Adventures in Movies!
AIPT: How would you describe Scream Queen?
Mark Patton: It begins with Nightmare on Elm Street and then sort of takes you on a deep dive into the 1980s politically, socially, and it’s fun, but it’s a pretty deep story. It’s not exactly what people are expecting, I think. But I love it, obviously.
AIPT: What inspired you to create it?
Roman Chimienti: Well, Mark inspired me to create it. I think that being a longtime horror fan, I was into Nightmare on Elm Street in general. So if you’re not someone that’s following the franchise, it would probably not be something that you’re aware of, but that documentary Never Sleep Again had really kind of launched this. They’re, the ones that really brought this topic into the conversation and we just took it from there I guess.
Tyler Jensen: Yeah, it was definitely like carrying the torch. It was a deeper dive into the time period and to Mark’s story.
AIPT: You mentioned being a horror fan. Were you a Nightmare fan also?
Chimienti: Oh absolutely.
Jensen: Oh yes. That’s actually how we met is I have this Freddy Krueger phone tattoo and we were working on a job together and I hadn’t met him yet, but I overheard him talk about this project and about to start it and I just kind of showed my tattoo. I’m like, “I’m a nerd as well. I’m going to be a part of this.”
AIPT: The documentary talks about how many people did not care for Nightmare 2 at first. How did you feel when you initially saw it?
Chimienti: So I saw it pretty much when it came out and I loved it because it was a super scary movie. We rented movies from the video store. No one was really that concerned at the time with, “Is this an amazing movie?” We just wanted to have a good time. That’s what eighties slashers were for. So when this conversation started where it was like, “This one is not good for whatever reasons,” that was kind of out of the ordinary because people were accepting a lot of really bad movies and this one isn’t a bad movie, but it was being thrown in that category.
And so as I got older and I started hearing the slander, “Oh, it’s the gay one.” I’m like, “Well, I’m a gay one too. So do I get thrown in that trash?” So that’s kind of where it started for me, but Nightmare on Elm Street 2 was the very first movie that made me fall in love with horror movies. I liked Carol Anne and I love ghost stories, but this is the first one that was really meant to be horrifying. And I braved getting through it and then I was like, “Wow.” I felt like I could challenge myself and live up to those things and, I don’t know, kind of defined how I interact in this world.
Jensen: I was a second generation Nightmare fan. I didn’t find these movies until the 90s and at that point I had gone totally out of order. I started at number five.
AIPT: That’s the real worst one.
Chimienti: Everyone’s got their opinions. The negative reputation of the second one was already in place. So while I was getting these films from my older sister, I never saw the second one right away. It wasn’t until many years later until Never Sleep Again that I was like, “Oh my God, I need to go back because I can’t believe I missed all that.”
AIPT: How cathartic was it to be in Scream, Queen?
Chimienti:: I mean I’m speaking about it through how it felt for me, but on a social level it’s really important too. I mean it really, but moving forward, I think in order to do that we have to feel good about ourselves as gay people first of all. And that’s the challenge. I think that’s kind of on being able to reach out to the younger people or the older people that have buried a lot of things like get living through that experience. In order to get to the other side you have to kind of close some doors.
Jensen: That was a feeling that was coming up a lot while we were putting this film together. It was just how all of our internalized homophobia expresses itself in our lives and how we’ve seen ourselves depicted in stories in media before and feel like there’s a very narrow window in which we are allowed to exist in culture and anything outside of that is to be shunned and either snuffed out or pushed into the margins. And I feel like we’re all, now that the world is getting better, we’re also a little cautious because we know how delicate everything is.
AIPT: What do you think changed the narrative of Nightmare? I remember when I first heard about it it was the “gay one” and now it tops many top queer horror movies lists.
Chimienti: So when I was a kid, I was pretty good, I was pretty loud. I was not a shy kid and I called myself the bully’s bully. Because there were some other kids I knew were gay and they would get picked on and I was kind of the one that, I knew my power was that you’re a little bit of afraid of me, so I’m going to use that. And I realize if you just step in and tell people, “This is what’s going to happen.” They’ll listen you. And that’s what Mark did. He came in, he’s like, “No, you know what? I’m proud of this movie.” And there’s no reason for you to be repeating these empty phrases of, “Oh it’s gay. Jessie’s gay.” Why is that a bad thing? You need to start paying attention to how you’re referring to things and I think he changed the script by basically standing up and saying, “I’m confident with how I talk about myself in this movie. So what are you going to do about it?”
AIPT: The Internet can be a very negative place, but everyone seems to speak highly of you.
Patton: You know, I’m not playing. I really stand in that line. And I say this is the truth. And once in a while I’ll put something political on, you know, only because I feel it’s so frightening right now that I have to say that. But I really try not to even do that because it’s interpersonal. Do you know what I mean? It’s like I can. I think we need to learn at this point that I can disagree with you, but I don’t have to hate you. Or I can have an opinion about you but that doesn’t mean I have to dismiss you completely. Like that you don’t exist, you know? And so I think that’s what we’re doing here. That’s kind of our little mission. We’re a little serious, but we’re a lot of fun too.
AIPT: Early in the documentary you mention a five year time limit you had imposed on yourself.
Patton: It was so funny cause that five year time limit was real. I mean I have the tickets and the opening act program and now this opens on my birthday on Sunday is my birthday. So, and totally by serendipity, I think it’s another sign from the universe saying the whole day at Fantastic Fest, our day, we didn’t get a little time slot. We got the entire Sunday that’s about us. And so I think that’s a huge compliment.