Scream, Queen! My Nightmare on Elm Street (Blu-ray Review)

  • Reviewed by: Stephen Bjork
  • Review Date: Apr 12, 2022
  • Format: Blu-ray Disc
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Scream, Queen! My Nightmare on Elm Street (Blu-ray Review)

Director

Roman Chimienti, Tyler Jensen

Release Date(s)

2019 (April 26, 2022)

Studio(s)

The End Productions/Virgil Films (ETR Media/Vinegar Syndrome)
  • Film/Program Grade: B
  • Video Grade: B+
  • Audio Grade: B+
  • Extras Grade: B+

Review

Scream, Queen! My Nightmare on Elm Street is a documentary about actor Mark Patton—the star of A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge—that examines the way in which fan backlash against that film effectively ended his career, and shows his later voyage of rediscovery on the convention circuit in 2015. Patton was a young gay actor in Hollywood working in an era in which his sexuality was something that many people still weren’t comfortable discussing openly, and since his character of Jesse in Freddy’s Revenge is blatantly coded as gay, the negative reaction to the film affected him personally. He ended up retreating from acting and moving to Mexico, effectively disappearing from the public eye. He resurfaced after the filmmakers behind the 2010 documentary Never Sleep Again hired a private eye to track him down for interviews about Freddy’s Revenge. Patton had been unaware that there was indeed a fan base for the film and for his portrayal of Jesse, so he ended up openly embracing his role as a male Scream Queen, though he still had some demons to exorcise, as Scream, Queen! documents.

Freddy’s Revenge remains an oddity in the entire A Nightmare on Elm Street franchise, in more ways than one. It deviated widely from the formula established in the first film, which is one reason why many fans rejected it. (It’s the standard franchise no-win scenario where you’re damned if you do something too similar, and damned if you do something too different.) Yet there’s no way around the fact that the openly homoerotic nature of the film has been its biggest barrier for some viewers. Writer David Chaskin and director Jack Sholder have claimed that the gay subtext in the film was unintentional, but that’s rather laughable.

Frankly, any discussions about the gay “subtext” in Freddy’s Revenge have always been baffling, because there’s nothing subtextual about it. It’s a bit like claiming that there’s an extraterrestrial subtext in Close Encounters of the Third Kind. The lines between text and subtext are sharply defined in some films, while they’re blurred in others, but no such lines exit in Freddy’s Revenge. Everything is front and center. Chaskin’s denials about it have always rung hollow, and his attempts to shift responsibility for the supposed subtext to Patton have been disgraceful. To be fair, Patton’s performance is a major factor in the tone of the final film, but the structure of the story and many of the specific elements came straight from Chaskin.

There’s an argument to be made that Patton really needs to let go of past resentments, however valid they may be, and at one point in Scream, Queen!, Jack Sholder makes that exact argument. Yet Patton’s journey is his own, and he needed to make it his own way. That journey required a confrontation with Chaskin, so Scream, Queen! directors Roman Chmienti and Tyler Jensen provided it. The meeting between the two is an awkward one, with Chaskin providing an irresolute non-apology apology, but it did provide closure for Patton, and that’s the most important thing. Many documentaries capture individual moments in time, but Scream Queen! does something a bit less common: it shows the “character arc” for a real person.

The bulk of Scream, Queen! My Nightmare on Elm Street was shot on HD video by Julian Bernstein, Amber Gray, Sasha Landskov, Eavvon O'Neal, Mark Zemel, and co-director Tyler Jensen. The final film combines that footage with archival clips and fan footage, so it’s a mixed-media presentation, and needs to be considered as such. The final image, framed at 1.78:1, is generally sharp and clean, with some of the archival footage naturally looking somewhat rougher. The colors all look natural, and the contrast is fine, within the limitations of the original cinematography.

Audio is offered in English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, with optional English subtitles. The dialogue is always center stage, so the music provides most of the stereo spread, with occasional swishing sound effects to match the video overlays, and light ambience in the surrounds.

ETR Media is a new film distribution arm for Enjoy the Ride Records. They’re being handled through OCN Distribution, which is a sister company to Vinegar Syndrome. Their Blu-ray of the film is packaged in a clear amaray case with a reversible insert that features alternate poster artwork on each side. It includes a six-page booklet with an essay by B.J. Colangelo. There’s also a die-cut slipcover available directly from Vinegar Syndrome, limited to the first 1,500 units, which was designed by Haunt Love. The following extras are included, all in HD:

  • Audio Commentary with Roman Chimienti, Tyler Jensen, and Mark Patton
  • Backstage with Scream, Queen! (5:03)
  • Bedtime Story with Mark Patton (2:58)
  • Fireside Chat with the Cast of Freddy's Revenge (12:36)
  • Music Video: Split Second by Skeleton Head (3:16)
  • Panel Discussion: Femininity in the Horror Film (40:21)
  • The Monster Is Queer (9:13)
  • The Psychic (2:42)
  • Trailer (2:29)
  • Commercial: Soundtrack Spot (1:02)

In the commentary, co-directors Roman Chimienti and Tyler Jensen explain that Scream, Queen! really began as a Freddy’s Revenge documentary, the nature of which changed once they met Patton. Patton wanted it to be like his own version of Madonna’s Truth or Dare, and the directors embraced that approach (which explains one of the poster designs they used). Patton joins them a few minutes into the track, and as a result it quickly becomes an extension of the documentary, with the directors essentially interviewing him throughout. They do chime in occasionally with details about the filming, and they also share a bit about their own queer identities, and what making the film meant to them. This is a lively and affectionate commentary that provides a nice extension to the film itself.

Backstage with Scream, Queen! is a brief montage of behind-the-scenes clips from the film. Bedtime Story is a clip of a spoken-word tribute to Wes Craven by Mark Patton. Fireside Chat is an extended version of the scene where the cast and crew of Freddy’s Revenge debrief after their first reunion together. Jack Sholder (who still denies knowing that there were any gay elements involved) explains that he hired Patton because he recognized the actor’s vulnerability. The Panel Discussion is a Zoom chat moderated by Dr. Andrew Scahill from the University of Colorado, featuring filmmakers and writers B.J. Colangelo, Isa Mazzei, and William J. Nazareth, Jr. Subtitled Femininity in the Horror Film, it’s a broad look at gender in horror, the representation of the effects of trauma, and the nature of female victims vs. female monsters. The panel members draw from their personal experiences as well as giving their observations, so it gives a nice voice to the complexities involved with the subject. The Monster Is Queer is an examination of horror genre studies with Scahill. It’s essentially a deleted scene from the film, done in the same style, but it would have been a sidebar to Patton’s story, so it’s best left as an extra. The Psychic is an alternate version of the opening scene for the film, with a voiceover from Patton describing his visit to a fortune teller as a child.

While Scream, Queen! My Nightmare on Elm Street works well enough on its own, it really does form a perfect companion piece to Never Sleep Again. Taken together, the two provide bookends for Patton’s voyage of personal rediscovery. Scream, Queen! is essential viewing for fans of the Nightmare franchise in general, and the oft-maligned second installment in particular. It’s also an important reminder of how representation matters, in myriad different ways.

- Stephen Bjork

(You can follow Stephen on social media at these links: Twitter and Facebook.)

 

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