New Documentary, "Never Sleep Again," Answers Question: Was "Nightmare on Elm Street 2" Gay?
A frequent debate in gay pop culture circles is this: Just how "gay" was 1985's A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy's Revenge (the first Elm Street sequel)? The imagery in the movie makes it seem unmistakably gay — but the filmmakers have all long denied that that was their intention.
Now a terrific new documentary on the Elm Street film franchise, Never Sleep Again, The Elm Street Legacy, definitively answers the question with interviews with almost everyone involved: yes, it was incredibly gay.
But an even more interesting aspect of the documentary is the discovery that almost everyone involved with the film didn't know it was "gay" at the time, never even considered it, and didn't realize until years later the implications of what they had created.
What's gay about the movie? How do we count the ways?
There's the movie's shy main character, Jesse, who is uncomfortable around girls. He spends a fair amount of time wrestling his male buddy. At one point, he rejects his girlfriend's advances and goes directly to ask that guy-friend if he can spend the night with him, saying, "Something is trying to get inside my body." The buddy says, "And you want to sleep with me?"
At another point, Freddy's claw bursts out of a girl's chest (making this perhaps the only horror movie in history where a girl's breasts are seen as something threatening).
There's also a scene where Jesse runs into his sadistic gym teacher at a gay bar — a man who later ends up stripped down in the locker room showers being pelted by levitating balls and snapping towels. And what about the campy scene where Jesse sings in his bedroom, holding a phallic-like object in front of his crotch. There's also a "dream" scene of him with giant tongue.
Then there are little clues in the background set of the movie, like a board game in the closet named Probe and a sign on Jesse's door that reads "No Chicks" (with the word's "out of town" written in very small letters).
The movie's original tag-line was, "The man of your dreams is back," with Jesse, holding a girl, staring terrified into a mirror.
Meeting Coach Syder at a gay bar
So what do those involved with the movie say about all this now?
"I simply didn't have the self-awareness to realize that any of this might be interpreted as gay," director Jack Sholder says in the documentary.
"We were all incredibly naive," says one of the producers, stating flatly the gay subtext was never discussed at any point by anyone she knew who was involved with the movie.
"If you're called the homo Nightmare on a Elm street by a million prepubescent boys on the net, then a bunch of grown men have to have known what they were doing," says Mark Patton, the now-out actor who played Jesse.
But he also admits, "I don't think that Jesse was originally written as a gay character. I think it's something that happened along the line by serendipity."
Patton thinks he himself had a lot to do with the movie being perceived as gay. "I think I was revealing who I really was," he says. "And I think that came clearly through on the screen."
Still, it wasn't just Patton's performance.
Next Page! The screenwriter finally fesses up!
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