Nightmare on Elm Street 2 was “the gayest horror movie ever made” unbeknownst to those who made it.
“We made Nightmare 2 absolutely clueless that it had any gay overtones whatsoever,” line producer Joel Soisson explained in the documentary Never Sleep Again: The Elm Street Legacy. “But looking back, it was so gay. It was amazing. All I can say is we were all incredibly naive or all incredibly latent gay. I’m not sure which.”
One person not in denial was Mark Patton, the openly gay actor cast in the lead role of a sexually confused boy, Jesse. Freddy Krueger (Robert Englund) literally wants his body so he can enter the real world.
“I don’t think that Jesse was originally written as a gay character,” Patton surmised. “I think it’s something that happened along the line by serendipity.”
Screenwriter David Chaskin says it was meant to be subtext playing into fears of the time.
“Homophobia was skyrocketing and I began to think about our core audience — adolescent boys — and how all of this stuff might be trickling down into their psyches at an age when raging hormones often produce dreams and urges that make them (if only unconsciously) begin to question their own sexuality,” Chaskin told Buzzfeed. “My thought was that tapping into that angst would give an extra edge to the horror.”
The last man standing in a horror movie is usually a woman, known as the final girl. Nightmare on Elm Street 2 is the one exception in the franchise. Chaskin complained Patton’s performance was “too gay” in no small part due to him screaming like girl. Patton has accused Chaskin of gay bashing him ever since. Nevertheless, Patton has embraced his status as “the first male scream queen.”
The movie opens with a dream sequence that quickly becomes a nightmare. Jesse is dressed like a stereotypical nerd complete with a pocket protector. Two girls laugh at him as he tries to escape out a school bus window. The scene by itself seems to show just another awkward boy but when viewed its totality, there’s a much more deep-seated fear of the opposite sex.
Jesse’s aversion to women is literally spelled out on a sign hanging on his bedroom door, which warns “no chicks.”
Jesse has a board game called Probe ‘in the closet.’ It sits next to a fedora similar to the one worn by Freddy. In other words, Freddy wants to probe him.
Freddy tells Jesse he wants his body while caressing his face with his long nails. The already phallic scene was almost pornographic. Englund wanted to stick one his blades in Jesse’s mouth but a gay makeup artist pulled Patton aside and convinced him not to do it.
Jesse sneaks into his little sister’s bedroom multiple times. First, he sees a ghost version of her jumping rope and singing the nursery rhyme “One, Two, Freddy’s Coming For You.” The implication is that she will be his next victim. The next night, Freddy’s glove appears on his hand when he tucks her in.
Freddy was originally conceived not just as a child killer but as a child molester, which was explicitly stated in the franchise reboot. Homosexuality and pedophilia were frequently conflated in the 80s. The scene appears to play up that stereotype.
Jesse is bullied by his classmate, Grady (Robert Rusler), during a baseball game. Grady tackles him causing his sweatpants the come down and reveal Jesse isn’t wearing any underwear. The altercation is more like Greco-Roman wrestling than a fight.
Jesse is afflicted with literal hot dreams. He wakes up to find a candled melted into the shape of a penis ejaculating.
“I mean, when you’re looking at dailies and I’m lying in bed and I’m a pietà and the candles are dripping and they’re bending like phalluses and white wax is dripping all over… It’s like I’m the center of a — what do they call it? — a bukkake. Like I’m a bukkake video,” Patton recalled.
After one of his hot dreams, Jesse goes to an underground night club filled with S&M fetishists including a kinky bartender portrayed by producer Robert Shaye. It’s unknown how Jesse knew about the club but presumably he’s been there before. His outing is short-lived as the underage boy is caught by his gym coach Schneider (Marshall Bell), who also dons an S&M outfit.
Coach Schneider punishes Jesse by making him run laps at the gym. He immediately regrets making and enemy of Jesse and thereby Freddy. Balls and packages of jockstraps fly off the shelves and pummel the coach.
The coach is dragged into the showers where he is stripped naked and subjected to some not-so friendly towel snapping on the butt. Freddy finishes him off from behind.
Freddy has always been associated with fire. He was burned alive by the parents of his victims. However, things get inflammatory when hog dogs AKA wieners burst in flames and explode. Flaming homosexual is pejorative for flamboyantly gay people.
One of the few times Jesse shows intimacy for his girlfriend is when Freddy takes over his body. Jesse literally puts his tongue back in his mouth then he runs away.
Jesse seeks refuge in Grady’s bedroom. He jumps into his bed and pleads for Grady to let him to spend the night.
“I’m scared, Grady,” Jesse tells him. “Something is trying to get inside my body.”
Grady summarizes, “Yeah, and she’s female. And she’s waiting for you in the cabana. And you wanna to sleep with me.”
Patton will tell his story in the upcoming documentary Scream, Queen! My Nightmare On Elm Street, which will premiere at film festivals in 2018.