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Arts and Entertainment

Robert Englund Says We're Ready For A Gay 'Nightmare On Elm Street 2'

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Actor Robert England is perhaps best known as Freddy Krueger, a true horror icon who can kill you in your dreams. In a recent interview, he talked about the gay subtext of the franchise—in particular, the second film.Nightmare on Elm Street villain Freddy Krueger is a ghostly serial killer who finds his victim in their dreams and kills them with a glove that gives the wearer knife-fingers. England, who is straight, told The Advocate that he first noticed that Nightmare might have a gay following when he saw several drag queens portraying Heather Langenkamp's Nancy Thompson, one of the teenagers that Krueger terrorized in the 1984 flick.

"Full drag, in the pajamas with the embroidery, and the white streak in the hair. It was fabulous!" Englund said.

But it's the second film A Nightmare on Elm Street Part 2: Freddy's Revenge that contains the gay subtext.

In this film, a male teenager named Jesse moves into Nancy's former home, only to be tormented by Freddy, too. Jesse was played by Mark Patton, who is gay, but closeted at the time. Jesse's role is one that is frequently assigned to a woman in slasher flicks—he's frequently seen running around shrieking, his shirt half-open.

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Screenwriter David Chaskin admitted that he had intentionally added some gay subtext to the script in the documentary Never Sleep Again: The Elm Street Legacy, but had previously attributed the gay subtext to Patton's acting, not his work.

"My interpretation of what Freddy was doing throughout the film was that he was picking up on that subtext on the boy's latency. He was exploiting that and testing Mark's character with it," Englund said.

Some of the film's team claimed to not have noticed it, but Englund told The Advocate, "I was aware of it and I think people were more aware of it than they disclose now."

He points to scenes like the one where Jesse gets into his friend Grady's bed—the two met while wrestling during P.E., during which Grady pulls Jesse's pants down. Jesse gets into Grady's bed to tell him he's scared after Freddy interrupts Jesse's attempt to make out with his female love interest, Lisa.

And there's another scene where Freddy almost seductively touches Jesse's mouth with his blade—which Englund said was perhaps an "oral sex innuendo." There's also the part where Jesse runs into the abrasive P.E. class instructor while wandering around downtown in—of all places—a gay S&M leather club.

Another installment of the Nightmare franchise was released in 2010, a reboot of the original that received mostly mediocre or poor reviews from critics. Englund hopes the next Nightmare reboot will revisit the second film and explore the relationship between Jesse and Grady and Jesse coming out as he fights the monster.

"I'd like to see a new film going where the original logically leads. I certainly think audiences are ready for that," Englund said.

Patton walked away from his acting dreams for many year following the film after he almost landed a role on a CBS show in 1987 where he would play a gay character. Patton told HIVPlusMag, "They began to ask me if I would be comfortable playing a gay character and telling people I was straight if they began to question my sexuality? I remember looking around that table and I knew every one of those men were gay. All I could think about was how everyone I knew was dying from AIDS and we were having this bullshit conversation. My heart just broke and that was the line for me. I knew I would never be able to do what they were asking, so I walked away from Hollywood and decided to move on to a place where it was totally acceptable to be gay.”

There's a Kickstarter in the works to fund a documentary about the film and Patton called Scream Queen! My Nightmare on Elm Street.