Scream, Queen! My Nightmare on Elm Street d. Roman Chimienti, Tyler Jensen 100min USA 2019
At the time of release, The Advocate dubbed 1985’s A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge the gayest horror film ever made. For the film’s closeted young star, Mark Patton, such a tag was a stark reminder about the homophobia in Hollywood at the time—and the painful experience he had making the high-profile film and living through the polarizing critical aftermath as well as the devastating AIDS epidemic. This new documentary highlights Patton’s time in the horror spotlight, and Patton sets the record straight about the controversial sequel, which ended his acting career just as it was about to begin. The film follows Patton as he travels to horror conventions across the U.S. Each new city unwraps a chapter from his life that is met with equal parts joyful and bittersweet detail, as he attempts to make peace with his past and embrace his legacy as cinema’s first male “scream queen.” Patton confronts the Freddy’s Revenge cast and crew for the first time, including co-stars Robert Rusler, Kim Myers and Clu Gulager, as well as Freddy Krueger himself, Robert Englund. The film also discusses Freddy’s Revenge’s status as an LGBTQ cult classic, and illustrates how the career turbulence experienced by Patton—whose résumé includes stints on Broadway and a regarded role in the 1982 film Come Back to the Five and Dime, Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean—wasn’t out of the ordinary for the time. “There were plenty of gay actors like me,” says Patton. “They starred in one movie and just disappeared. A whole generation just vanished.”
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Dan Vena is a SSHRC Postdoctoral Fellow at Carleton University and holds a doctorate in Cultural Studies from Queen’s University, where he teaches in Film & Media. He locates his academic interests within the spheres of visual and popular cultures, merging together trans, queer, and feminist approaches to an array of topics including: monsters and horror cinema; Classical Hollywood Cinema; comic book superheroes; and histories of medicine.
Examining what he calls, ‘the new wave of woman’s horror,’ his dissertation revisits classical feminist studies in horror cinema in relation to the recent surge of women directors working within the genre.
For his postdoctoral studies, he explores the relationships between medical horror cinema and changing approaches to gender confirmation surgeries. This study is the first to re-read medical horror cinema through the histories of surgical modification and shifting understandings of transgender identity.
Dan’s published work can be found in various journals including, Transformative Works and Culture, Studies in the Fantastic, Graduate Journal for Social Studies, and several anthologies on gender, sexuality, horror cinema, and comic book studies.
Complimentary to his academic work, Dan has also been invited to speak at a number of activist- and community-oriented panels and conferences about trans identities, especially in relation to practices of medical care.