Halloween 2021: Horror movies and supernatural thrillers in theaters on All Hallow’s Eve

October 1, 2021

by Carla Hay

There are numerous horror movies available to watch on TV, computers or mobile devices, but for Halloween 2021, there are some horror flicks and supernatural thrillers that will be released in theaters in October. Horror and supernatural movies released before October 2021 that should still be in theaters during the Halloween season include “Candyman” (rated R); “Don’t Breathe 2” (rated R); “Malignant” (rated R); “The Night House” (rated R); and “Old” (rated R).

Here are the movies that have an October 2021 release in theaters:

Information in this article is about U.S. releases.

“The Addams Family 2”

The ghoulish Addams Family returns in this sequel to 2019’s “The Addams Family.” Greg Tiernan and Conrad Vernon directed both movies. In “The Addams Family 2,” the family goes on a road trip, as gloomy teenager Wednesday Addams begins to question her identity after coming up with a biologically altering invention. The voice cast of the animated “The Addams Family 2” includes Oscar Isaac, Charlize Theron, Chloë Grace Moretz, Nick Kroll, co-director Vernon, Javon Walton, Bette Midler and Snoop Dogg. “The Addams Family 2,” which is rated PG, arrives in theaters and on VOD on October 1, 2021.

“Antlers”

After this movie’s release was delayed several times due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the sci-fi horror flick “Antlers” is finally arriving in theaters. Not much has been revealed about the plot, except that it’s about a mysterious creature that goes on the loose in a small Oregon town. Directed and co-written by Scott Cooper, “Antlers” has a cast that includes Keri Russell and Jesse Plemons. “Antlers,” which is rated R, is set for release in theaters on October 29, 2021.

“The Blazing World”

Written, directed and co-starrring Carlson Young, this sci-fi horror movie is about a woman haunted by the drowning death of her twin sister and ends up in an alternate dimension. The movie also stars Udo Kier, Dermot Mulroney and Vinessa Shaw. “The Blazing World,” which is not rated, is set for release in select theaters on October 15, 2021.

“Coming Home in the Dark”

In this New Zealand film, a high school teacher, his wife and his two stepsons encounter two murderous drifters​. Directed and co-written by James Ashcroft, “Coming Home in the Dark” stars Daniel Gillies, Erik Thomson, Miriama McDowell, Matthias Luafutu, Billy Paratene, Frankie Paratene and Bailey Cowan. The movie, which is not rated, arrives in theaters, on digital and on VOD on October 1, 2021.

“Detention”

Directed and co-written by John Hsu, the Taiwanese film “Detention” is an adaptation of the video game of the same name. The story, which takes place in 1962, is about the mysterious occurrences at a high school in an oppressive society. The movie’s cast members include Gingle Wang, Fu Meng-po, Tseng Ching-hua, Cecilia Choi and Hung Chang Chu. “Detention,” which is not rated, opens in select theaters and in virtual cinemas on October 8, 2021.

“Halloween Kills”

Jamie Lee Curtis returns in her iconic role as Laurie Strode, the most famous survivor of mask-wearing serial killer Michael Myers. You already know what the movie is about: Michael Myers goes after Laurie and some other people again. David Gordon Green, who directed 2018’s “Halloween,” directed and co-wrote “Halloween Kills.” The movie, which is rated R, opens in theaters and begins streaming on Peacock on October 15, 2021.

“Lamb”

The Icelandic movie “Lamb,” starring Noomi Rapace, is a supernatural horror film that has a lot of strangeness revolving around a lamb. “Lamb” is directed and co-written by Valdimar Jóhannsson. The movie, which is rated R, will be released in select theaters on October 8, 2021.

“Last Night in Soho”

Anya Taylor-Joy and Thomasin McKenzie star in this supernatural thriller with retro elements. The movie is about a London fashion student who begins having strange dreams about an aspiring singer from the mid-1960s. Directed and co-written by Edgar Wright, “Last Night in Soho” also stars Matt Smith, Diana Rigg and Terence Stamp. The movie, which is rated R, arrives in theaters on October 29, 2021.

“Monster Family 2”

In this animated comedy film, the Wishbone family returns to “free Baba Yaga and Renfield from the clutches of Monster Hunter Mila Starr,” according to the movie’s official synopsis. Directed by Holger Tappe, “Monster Family 2” features a voice cast that includes Emily Watson, Daniel Ben Zenou, Jessica Brown Findlay, Emily Carey and Nick Frost and Jason Isaacs. The movie, which is rated PG, is set for release in select theaters on October 15, 2021.

“Roh”

In this Malaysian folk tale, which is the feature-film debut of writer/director Emir Ezwan, a family headed by a single mother is deeply affected by a stranger who has been brought into the home. This stranger is a girl who was found caked in mud by the children in the family. And this mysterious girl has an ominous prediction: The entire family will soon die. The cast of “Roh” includes Farah Ahmad, Mhia Farhana, Harith Haziq, Nam Ron, Junainah M. Lojong and Putri Syahadah Nurqaseh. “Roh” (which is not rated) is Malaysia’s official Oscar entry for consideration for the 2022 Academy Awards category of Best International Feature. The movie arrives in select theaters, on digital and VOD on October 29, 2021.

“The Secret of Sinchanee”

Directed by, written by, and starring Stephen Grayhm, “The Secret of Sinchanee” is about how an industrial tow truck driver, who has insomnia, returns to his hometown after his father’s death and finds out that his childhood home is haunted. Meanwhile, a single mother from the area has gone missing. The movie’s cast also includes Nate Boyer, Tamara Austin, Laila Lockhart Kraner, Jacob Schick and Rudy Reyes. “The Secret of Sinchanee,” which is not rated, will be released on October 8, 2021, in select theaters, digital and VOD.

“The Spine of Night”

In this animated supernatural thriller, a power-hungry young man steals knowledge from another planet and becomes a corrupt villain. Throughout the years, his misdeeds result in human suffering, and several entities try to stop him. Written and Directed by Philip Gelatt and Morgan Galen King, “The Spine of Night” has a voice cast that includes Richard E. Grant, Lucy Lawless, Patton Oswalt, Betty Gabriel and Joe Manganiello. The movie, which is not rated, is set for release in select theaters, digital and VOD on October 29, 2021.

“Titane”

Written and directed by Julia Ducournau, the French film “Titane” tells a bizarre story of a 32-year-old dancer (played by Agathe Rousselle) who is a serial killer and who’s sexually attracted to automobiles. Her strange obsessions have to do with a surgical operation that she had after being in a car accident when she was 7 years old. Vincent Lindon also stars in “Titane,” which won the Palme d’Or (top prize) at the 2021 Cannes Film Festival. “Titane,” which is rated R, is also France’s selection to be considered for the Best International Feature category at the 2022 Academy Awards. “Titane” arrives in theaters on October 1, 2021.

“Val”

An outlaw criminal (played by Zachary Mooren) breaks into the home of an escort named Val (played by Misha Reeves), and he finds out the hard way that she’s a demon. Directed and co-written by Aaron Fradkin, “Val” (which is not rated) is set for release in select theaters on October 1, 2021, before being released on digital and VOD on October 5, 2021.

“Witch Hunt”

What if the modern-day United States made being a witch illegal and punishable by death? That’s the concept of this movie written and directed by Elle Callahan. In “Witch Hunt,” a teenager in high school (played by Gideon Adlon) disapproves of her mother (played by Elizabeth Mitchell) secretly hiding witches in their home as part of an underground smuggling network for witches. There’s also a ruthless government inspector (played by Christian Carmago) who’s on the hunt for witches. “Witch Hunt,” which is not rated, arrives in select theaters, on digital and VOD on October 1, 2021.

SPECIAL RE-RELEASES

“Amityville 4: The Evil Escapes” (RiffTrax Live)

RiffTrax comedy stars Mike Nelson, Kevin Murphy and Bill Corbett give their running commentary during the 1989 campy horror flick “Amityville 4: The Evil Escapes.” In this TV-movie (directed by Sandor Stern), priests try to defeat the evil spirit that’s taken over the notorious Amityville haunted house. The movie’s cast includes Patty Duke, Jane Wyatt and Fredric Lehne. Fathom Events will present the RiffTrax version of “Amityville 4: The Evil Escapes” in select theaters on October 21, 2021. More information and ticket purchases can be found here.

“Beetlejuice”

Tim Burton’s classic 1988 horror comedy tells the story of deceased young couple Adam and Barbara Maitland (played by Alec Baldwin and Geena Davis), who haunt their former home and try unsuccessfully to scare away the house’s new residents: Charles and Delia Deetz (played by Jeffrey Jones and Catherine O’Hara) and their moody teenage daughter Lydia (Winona Ryder). In desperation, the Maitlands conjur up the obnoxious ghost Betelgeuse (played by Michael Keaton) to enlist his help in terrifying the Deetz family into moving out of the house. “Beetlejuice” (which is rated PG) will have screenings at several movie-theater chains. Cinépolis will show the movie on October 13, 2021. The screenings for Alamo Drafthouse locations will vary by location.

“The Craft”

In this 1996 film, four teenage girls in high school find out that they have the power to practice witchcraft. Directed by Andrew Fleming (who co-wrote the screenplay with Peter Filardi), “The Craft” has a cast that includes Robin Tunney, Fairuza Balk, Neve Campbell, Rachel True, Skeet Ulrich, Christine Taylor and Breckin Meyer. The Alamo Drafthouse theater chain is showing “The Craft” (which is rated R), with the dates varying by location. More information and ticket purchases can be found here.

“Dracula” (1931)

The original “Dracula” movie (starring Bela Legosi and directed by Tod Browning) will be shown as a double feature with 1931’s “Frankenstein” movie (starring Boris Karloff and directed by James Whale) to celebrate the movies’ 90th anniversary. Fathom Events will present this double feature (which is not rated) in select theaters on October 2, 2021. More information and ticket purchases are available here.

“The Evil Dead” (1981)

The 1981 supernatural horror film “The Evil Dead” established writer/director Sam Raimi as a filmmaker to watch. Bruce Campbell stars as Ash, who arrives at a remote cabin in the woods with his girlfriend Linda (played by Betsy Baker), his sister Cheryl (played by Ellen Sandweiss), and another couple named Scotty (played by Hal Delrich) and Shelly (played by Sarah York). When a mysterious occult book is found in the cabin, mayhem ensues. To celebrate the 40th anniversary of “The Evil Dead,” Fathom Events is bringing back the movie in select theaters, with an exclusive precorded introduction by Campbell, on October 7, 2021. More information and ticket purchases can be found here.

“The Exorcist”

The 1973 classic “The Exorcist,” directed by William Friedkin, is often ranked as the scariest horror movie of all time. In the story, Chris MacNeil (played by Ellen Burstyn) is distraught when she sees her 12-year-old daughter Regan (played by Linda Blair) begin to act strangely, such as speaking in tongues. When Regan starts levitating, Chris is convinced that Regan might be possessed by the devil. Chris asks a local priest named Father Damien (played by Jason Miller) for help. He then requests to perform an exorcism, and the Catholic Church sends an exorcism expert Father Lankester Merrin (played by Max von Sydow) to assist in the exorcism. “The Exorcist,” which is rated R, received 10 Oscar nominations (including Best Picture), and ended up winning two Oscars: Best Original Screenplay and Best Sound Mixing. The Cinépolis theater chain is showing “The Exorcist” (which is rated R) on October 23, 2021. More information and ticket purchases can be found here. The Alamo Drafthouse theater chain is showing “The Exorcist” (which is rated R), with the dates varying by location. More information and ticket purchases can be found here.

“Frankenstein” (1931)

The original 1931 “Frankenstein” movie (starring Boris Karloff and directed by James Whale) will be shown as a double feature with 1931’s “Dracula” (starring Bela Legosi and directed by Tod Browning) to celebrate the movies’ 90th anniversary. Fathom Events is presenting this double feature (which is not rated) in select theaters on October 2, 2021. More information and ticket purchases are available here.

“Get Out”

In 2017’s “Get Out,” the horror of racism is on display when an interracial couple (played by Daniel Kaluuya and Allison Williams) go back to her family home so that he can meet her parents (played by Bradley Whitford and Catherine Keener). Writer/director Jordan Peele made his feature-film directorial debut and won an Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay for “Get Out,” which also stars LaKeith Stanfield, Betty Gabriel and Lel Rel Howery. “Get Out” also received an Oscar nomination for Best Picture, while Kaluuya got an Oscar nod for Best Actor. AMC Theatres will re-release “Get Out” on October 13, 2021. More information and ticket purchases can be found here.

“Halloween” (1978)

John Carpenter’s “Halloween” is considered one of the most influential horror movies of all time, and certainly one of the top films representing the “slasher” subgenre of horror flicks. The mask-wearing, knife-wielding, mute serial killer Michael Myers has become a much-parodied and imitated horror icon, but at the time that “Halloween” was released, many of the terror-inducing elements of this movie were considered groundbreaking. The slow-burn suspense of “Halloween,” which spawned numerous inferior sequels, can be fully appreciated on the big screen, considering that most modern “slasher” movies follow a formula of someone getting killed every 15 to 20 minutes. Jamie Lee Curtis, as teenage babysitter Laurie Strode, made her movie debut in “Halloween,” one of many horror films in which she’s had a starring role, including the 2018 movie sequel of the same name and 2021’s “Halloween Kills.” Donald Pleasence also stars in the original “Halloween” as Myers’ psychiatric doctor, who doggedly tries to find his patient after Myers escapes from a psychiatric institution. The Cinépolis theater chain will have a screening of the original 1978 “Halloween” (which is rated R) on October 27, 2021. More information and ticket purchases are available here. The Alamo Drafthouse theater chain will have “Halloween” at various times and locations. More information and ticket purchases can be found here.

“Halloween II”

In this 1981 sequel, Laurie Strode (played by Jamie Lee Curtis) and Dr. Loomis (played Donald Pleasance) return to do battle against serial killer Michael Myers, who wreaks havoc in a hospital. “Halloween II” was directed by Rick Rosenthal, in his feature-flm directorial debut. The Alamo Drafthouse theater chain will have “Halloween II,” which is rated R, at various times and locations. More information and ticket purchases can be found here.

“Hotel Transylvania”

In the 2012 animated comedy “Hotel Transylvania” Count Dracula (voiced by Adam Sandler) runs Hotel Transyvania, where he has invited several monsters to visit. Directed by Genndy Tartakovsky (in his feature-film directorial debut), “Hotel Transylvania” (which is rated PG) has a voice cast that includes Andy Samberg, Selena Gomez, Kevin James, Fran Drescher, Steve Buscemi, Molly Shannon, David Spade and CeeLo Green. Alamo Drafthouse will show “Hotel Transylvania” at various times and locations. More information and ticket purchases are available here.

“The Howling”

This 1981 film, directed by Joe Dante, is about a TV journalist who goes to a remote mountain resort, only to find out the resort’s residents are werewolves. “The Howling,” which is rated R, stars Dee Wallace, Patrick Macnee, Dennis Dugan, and Robert Picardo. Alamo Drafthouse will show a 4K restoration of “The Howling” at various times and locations. More information and ticket purchases are available here.

“Howl’s Moving Castle”

In this supernatural Japanese animated film from director Hayao Miyazaki, a wizard named Howl takes a quiet girl named Sophie on an adventure, but she is cursed by the Witch of the Waste and turned into a 90-year-old woman. Sophie must break the spell by going to Howl’s moving castle. The English-language voice cast includes Lauren Bacall, Christian Bale, Billy Crystal, Blythe Danner, Emily Mortimer and Jean Simmons. Fathom Events is presenting “Howl’s Moving Castle,” which is rated PG, in select U.S. theaters on October 24, 25 and 28, 2021. The October 24 and 28 screenings will be dubbed in English, while the October 25 screening will be in Japanese with English subtitles. More information and ticket purchases can be found here.

“The Invisible Man” (1933)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GFtbiFgaAiM

The original 1933 “The Invisible Man” movie (starring Claude Rains and directed by James Whale) will be shown as a double feature with 1941’s “The Wolf Man” movie (starring Lon Chaney Jr. and directed by George Waggner). Fathom Events is presenting this double feature (which is not rated) in select theaters on October 30, 2021. More information and ticket purchases are available here.

“Night of the Living Dead” (1968, in color)

George A. Romero’s zombie-invasion classic is often on people’s lists of the best horror movies of all time, and it’s considered the best of all the sequels, spinoffs and remakes that this original movie inspired. Filmed in black and white, 1968’s “The Night of the Living Dead” has a plot that is simple but executed to chilling effect: A group of strangers trapped in a rural Pennsylvania farmhouse try to survive an unexpected plague of zombies. Duane Jones and Judith O’Dea were among the cast of relatively unknown actors in the film. Alamo Drafthouse will present a 1986 colorized version of “Night of the Living Dead” at various times and locations. More information and ticket purchases are available here.

“A Nightmare on Elm Street” (1984)

Serial killer Freddy Krueger (played by Robert Englund), who comes to life in people’s nightmares, is considered one of the all-time greatest horror movie villains. He was first introduced to the world in 1984’s “A Nightmare on Elm Street,” directed by Wes Craven. The movie, which also stars Heather Langenkamp and Johnny Depp, in one of his first film roles. The Cinemark theater chain will present “A Nightmare on Elm Street” on October 8, 2021. More information and ticket purchaes can be found here. Alamo Drafthouse will show “A Nightmare on Elm Street” at various times and locations. More information and ticket purchases are available here.

“Nosferatu”

The silent film “Nosferatu,” released in 1922, was the first movie based on the “Dracula” novel. Directed by F. W. Murnau and starring Max Schreck, “Nosferatu” is shown at Alamo Drafthouse locations every Halloween season, with a musical score by the Austin-based band the Invincible Czars. In 2021, “Nosferatu” will be screened at Alamo Drafthouse locations on October 29. According to Alamo Drafthouse: “The Invincible Czars have updated their soundtrack for ‘Nosferatu” in preparation to release a recording for the film’s centennial in 2022. This will be the debut of the updated score.” More information and ticket purchases can be found here.

“Phantasm”

Written, directed, produced and edited by Don Coscarelli, the 1979 supernatural horror flick “Phantasm” introduced the world to the villain The Tall Man (played by Angus Scrimm). Alamo Drafthouse will show a 4K restoration of “Phantasm” at various times and locations. More information and ticket purchases are available here.

“Possession” (1981)

In the 1981 psychological horror film “Possession,” Sam Neill and Isabelle Adjani portray a Berlin-based international spy and his wife, who begins acting bizarrely after she asks for a divorce. Written and directed by Andrzej Żuławski, “Possession” also stars Margit Carstensen, Heinz Bennent and Johanna Hofer. Alamo Drafthouse locations will show a 4K restoration of “Possession,” which is rated R. More information and ticket purchases can be found here.

“The Rocky Horror Picture Show”

Do the time warp again as an audience member of the 1975 horror-comedy musical “The Rocky Horror Picture Show,” which is based on the stage musical “The Rocky Horror Show.” This cult-movie classic, directed by Jim Sharman, has been a late-night staple at cinemas for decades. The movie tells the story of naïve, engaged couple Brad Majors (played by Barry Bostwick) and Janet Weiss (played by Susan Sarandon), who find themselves stranded at a mysterious mansion after their car gets a flat tire during a storm. At the mansion, they meet an eccentric bunch of people, including Dr. Frank-N-Furter (played by Tim Curry), a transvestite scientist who’s determined to make Brad and Janet lose their innocence. Screenings of “The Rocky Horror Picture Show,” which is rated R, usually include audience participation and sing-alongs, so don’t expect people in the theater to be quiet during the movie. The Cinépolis theater chain will exhibit “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” on October 29, 2021. More information and ticket purchases are available here.

“Scream”

This 1996 classic film features a masked serial killer on the loose with an ultimate target: high schooler Sidney Prescott (played by Neve Campbell). The psycho also likes to call his victims before he murders them. Directed by Wes Craven, “Scream” has a cast that includes Courteney Cox, David Arquette, Matthew Lillard, Rose McGowan, Skeet Ulrich and Drew Barrymore. Fathom Events is celebrating the 25th anniversary of “Scream” (which is rated R) by bringing the movie back in select theaters on October 10 and October 11, 2021. More information and ticket purchases can be found here. Alamo Drafthouse will show “Scream” on October 29, 2021. More informaton and ticket purchases can be found here.

“Shaun of the Dead”

The 2004 horror comedy “Shaun of the Dead” shows what happens when two best friends (played by Simon Pegg and Nick Frost) try to survive during a zombie apocalypse in England. Directed by Edgar Wright (who co-wrote the screenplay with Pegg), the movie’s cast includes Kate Ashfield, Lucy Davis, Dylan Moran, Bill Nighy and Penelope Wilton. Alamo Drafthouse locations will have various screenings of “Shaun of the Dead,” which is rated R. More information and ticket purchases can be found here.

“The Silence of the Lambs”

The 1991 film “The Silence of the Lambs,” directed by Jonathan Demme, was the first horror movie to win an Academy Award for Best Picture. The movie tells the story of a determined police detective named Clarice Starling (played by Jodie Foster), who is on the hunt for a serial killer who calls himself Buffalo Bill. She enlsts the help of an imprisoned cannibal serial killer named Hannibal Lecter (played by Anthony Hopkins) to give her advice on how the mind of a serial killer works. “The Silence of the Lambs” also won Academy Awards for Demme (Best Director), Foster (Best Actress), Hopkins (Best Actor) and Ted Tally (Best Adapted Screenplay). To celebrate the 30th anniversary of “The Silence of the Lambs,” which is rated R, Fathom Events is having screenings of the movie in select theaters on October 17 and October 20, 2021. More information and ticket purchases can be found here.

“Spirited Away”

Hayao Miyazaki’s 2001 Japanese fantasy adventure “Spirited Away” is an Oscar-winning movie (Best Animated Feature) that tells the story of a 10-year-old girl named Chihiro Ogino who enters the spirit world after her parents are turned into pigs by a witch named Yubaba. Chihiro then works in Yubaba’s bath house to try and find a way to free her parents from the spell and get them back into the real world. To celebrate the movie’s 20th anniversary, Fathom Events is presenting “Spirited Away,” which is rated PG, in select theaters on October 3, 4 and 6, 2021. The October 3 and 6 screenings will be dubbed in English, while the October 4 screening will be in Japanese with English subtitles. More information and ticket purchases can be found here.

“The Thing” (1982)

In the original 1982 version of “The Thing,” which is rated R, 12 researchers at a remote Antarctic research station discover a deadly alien that had been buried in the snow for over 100,000 years. Directed by John Carpenter, the movie’s cast includes Kurt Russell R.J. MacReady, Wilford Brimley, T.K. Carter, David Clennon, Keith David, Richard Dysart, Charles Hallahan, Peter Maloney, Richard Masur, Donald Moffat, Joel Polis and Thomas G. Waites. Alamo Drafthouse will have screenings of the 1982 version of “The Thing,” which is rated R. More information and ticket purchases can be found here.

“Us”

In 2019’s “Us,” a family of four (played by Winston Duke, Lupita Nyong’o, Shahadi Wright Joseph and Evan Alex) are menaced by four people who look identical to them. Written and directed by Jordan Peele, “Us” also stars Elisabeth Moss, Tim Heidecker and Yahya Abdul-Mateen II. AMC Theatres will re-release “Us” on October 15, 2021. More information and ticket purchases can be found here.

“The Velvet Vampire”

A vampire (played by Celeste Yarnall) sets her sights on an amorous couple (played by Michael Blodgett and Sherry Miles) in this campy 1971 film (also known as “Cemetary Girls”), directed by Stephanie Rothman. The results are a very bloody love triangle. Alamo Drafthouse will show a restored version of “The Velvet Vampire,” which is rated R, on October 27, 2021. More information and ticket purchases can be found here.

“The Wolf Man” (1941)

The original “The Wolf Man” movie (starring Lon Chaney Jr. and directed by George Waggner) will be shown as a double feature with 1933’s “The Invisible Man” movie (starring Claude Rains and directed by James Whale). Fathom Events is presenting this double feature (which is not rated) in select theaters on October 30, 2021. More information and ticket purchases are available here.

Review: ‘Scream, Queen! My Nightmare on Elm Street,’ starring Mark Patton

March 3, 2020

by Carla Hay

Mark Patton in “A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge” (Photo courtesy of New Line Cinema)

“Scream, Queen! My Nightmare on Elm Street”

Directed by Roman Chimienti and Tyler Jensen

Culture Representation: In this documentary which has mostly white Americans and some Latino representation, actor Mark Patton (who’s best known for starring in “A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge”) tries to make sense of the circumstances that led him to quit acting in the 1980s, including the homophobia that he says ruined his career.

Culture Clash: Patton places a lot of blame for his career downfall on “A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge” screenwriter David Chaskin, who gave interviews saying that Patton made the movie too gay.

Culture Audience: This movie will appeal primarily to horror fans, audiences who care about LGBTQ issues, and people interested in “whatever happened to” stories.

David Chaskin and Mark Patton in “Scream, Queen! My Nightmare on Elm Street” (Photo courtesy of Virgil Films)

Faded actor Mark Patton says that the 1985 horror flick “A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge” was the best thing that ever happened to his career and also the worst thing. He never starred in another major motion picture again after this sequel got mixed-to-negative reviews. And in the documentary “Scream, Queen! My Nightmare on Elm Street,” he tries to make sense of what went wrong.

Patton is one of the producers of the documentary, which was capably directed by Roman Chimienti and Tyler Jensen. Because Patton is a producer of the documentary, it explains why the film is mostly a sympathetic portrayal of him. It’s a compelling story, even though Patton (who still calls himself a “movie star”) at times seems to have an exaggerated sense of importance about his impact on the movie industry. He certainly isn’t the only actor who’s become a “has-been.”

Narrated by Cecil Baldwin (who sounds like he could be narrating a true-crime documentary), the movie starts off with Baldwin’s voiceover saying that “the world wasn’t ready for a male scream queen” when “A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge” was released in 1985, when Patton was in his 20s. Although Patton’s Jesse Walsh character in the movie wasn’t explicitly gay, he had effeminate mannerisms, and the movie had some homoerotic undertones, which are explained in this documentary.

The basic premise of “Freddy’s Revenge” was that “A Nightmare on Elm Street” villain Freddy Krueger—the slasher serial killer with full-body burn scars, a striped sweater and gloves with knife blades as fingernails—had invaded the body of Jesse Walsh, a nerdy and sensitive high-school student. Jesse has been having nightmares about Freddy after moving into the same house where Freddy terrorized the main female character in the first “A Nightmare on Elm Street” movie. Jesse finds out later that his body has been possessed by Freddy—which is a departure from the first “Nightmare” movie, where Freddy only appeared when the main character was asleep.

In one of his dreams, Jesse goes to a gay bar and orders a drink. He’s seen at the bar by his gym teacher, who later punishes him for underage drinking. Freddy then kills the gym teacher in a homoerotic shower moment that includes the naked teacher getting slapped with a towel on his rear end. And the very concept of Freddy entering and leaving Jesse’s body has also been pointed to as homoerotic. Although Jesse shows a romantic interest in his friend Kim Myers (played by Lisa Webber), many people who’ve seen the movie think that Jesse is gay and in the closet.

“A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge” director Jack Sholder, who’s interviewed in the documentary, swears that he didn’t see any gay overtones when he was making “A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge.” Sholder says that he cast Patton in the starring role because Patton looked like he had the vulnerability needed for the Jesse Walsh character. The movie’s screenwriter David Chaskin is more evasive when he’s asked about any homoerotic content in the movie. Chaskin says that although he didn’t intend for “A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge” to be a gay horror movie, he understands why people think it is.

Patton was a closeted gay man during his brief acting career in the late 1970s to mid-1980s. After “A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge” was released to profitable box office but mixed-to-negative reviews, there were minor rumblings in the media about the gay overtones in the movie. Patton says the chatter was enough for his agent to get scared and demand that Mark only audition for roles where he played an obviously heterosexual character.

But except for two roles in television in 1986, Patton didn’t work as an actor again for decades. (He resumed his acting career with a small role in the 2016 independent horror film “Family Possessions.”) As far as a lot of people where concerned, he had disappeared. What really happened?

Patton places a lot of misdirected anger on Chaskin, whom he accuses of getting him “blacklisted” from the industry by “outing” Patton in interviews, where Chaskin would claim that he never wrote the Jesse Walsh character as gay and that Patton just played the character as gay. In the documentary, Chaskin gives his perspective: “‘Nightmare 2′ was a possession movie. I like the concept of an innocent person being invaded.”

But the more Patton tells his life story, the more it becomes obvious that Chaskin is just a scapegoat for what really led Patton to suddenly “disappear” from showbiz. Patton’s on-again, off-again live-in boyfriend—actor Timothy Patrick Murphy, best known for his early 1980s role as Mickey Trotter in “Dallas”—had AIDS, and so did many of their friends. Murphy was “in the closet” about being gay, at a time when almost no working Hollywood actors were openly gay.

In the documentary, Patton candidly talks about finding out around the same time that he was filming “A Nightmare on Elm Street 2” that he was also HIV-positive. Because his lover and many of his friends were HIV-positive or dying of AIDS, and because he didn’t know if or when he was going to die too, Patton says in the documentary that he had a “nervous breakdown,” and he decided to quit acting. After admitting all of that, why does he have so much hatred for Chaskin?

As Patton tells it, Chaskin deliberately and cruelly fueled the homophobia that Patton believes led to him becoming an industry pariah. Patton says that the AIDS crisis was just one of the reasons why he quit acting, but he believes that Chaskin and homophobia in Hollywood were the main reasons. It was also during a time when Rock Hudson revealed he had AIDS, and there was a “gay panic” in Hollywood to not hire actors who were rumored to be gay. (This was during the beginning of the AIDS crisis, when many people mistakenly thought that only gay men could get the disease.)

Even though homophobic ideas about AIDS certainly affected how Hollywood did business, Patton comes across as too paranoid and illogical when he says that Chaskin was out to get him. Chaskin never had that much power to get Patton blacklisted from Hollywood. “A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge” was Chaskin’s first movie screenplay, and his Hollywood career never really thrived after that. Chaskin has written only three feature-length movies since then (all little-seen independent films), the last one being 2000’s “Love Hurts.”

Furthermore, an untold number of gay actors were in the closet back then who had rumors swirling that they were really gay, but they still kept working. Patton’s boyfriend Murphy was one of them. Murphy’s last movie was released in 1988, the year that he died from AIDS at the age of 29. The reality is that Patton just gave up because of all the personal problems in his life. If he has anyone to blame other than himself, it’s probably his agent at the time, who obviously didn’t have enough confidence that Patton could find work because of the gay rumors.

We’ll never know what would’ve happened if Patton had a better agent at the time. But in hindsight, from the way that Patton describes his epic meltdown, he probably would’ve quit acting anyway, even if he had been getting steady work. He says he left Los Angeles, moved to Mexico, cut ties with showbiz, and spent years in a deep state of depression. He says that by the time he left the entertainment business, he had found out that he had “HIV, cancer and tuberculosis” and he was “bedbound for a year.” With all of these health problems that would affect his ability to work, exactly how is that David Chaskin’s fault?

And when Patton describes how he got into acting in the first place, it’s easy to see why he couldn’t handle the first major rough patch that came along. He never really struggled to get his big break. It all happened very quickly for him.

He describes his childhood in suburban Missouri, where he grew up in a Christian household, as living in an area where people looked just like him (white and wholesome-looking). However, his parents’ marriage was troubled (they divorced when he was 14), and his mother spent time in and out of psychiatric institutions.

In the documentary, Patton says he knew he was gay from an early age, but he went to great lengths to keep it a secret. He caught the acting bug when he would perform at talent shows in school. When he made the decision to move to New York City after high school, Patton says it was the first time in his life he felt he could be openly gay among his friends. (Although Patton’s IMDb page lists his birth year as 1964, more likely he was born in 1959 or 1960, because in the documentary, he says he moved to New York in 1977, after he graduated from high school.)

And how Patton broke into showbiz is the stuff that people dream about but rarely happens. Within days of getting his first agent, he was working as an actor, and he says it’s because he had the right “look.” (In other words, a pleasant-looking boy next door.) Getting work in commercials led to his first big break: a supporting role in the Broadway play “Come Back to the Five and Dime, Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean,” starring Cher, Sandy Dennis and Karen Black. In 1982, Robert Altman directed the play and the movie, which had the same stars as the Broadway show.

That kind of luck—co-starring in your first movie with that level of talent at such a young age—almost never happens to most actors. Therefore, it’s easy to see why Patton took for granted that things would continue to go that easily for him. In the documentary, he’s somewhat arrogant in describing how lucky he was to have such smooth sailing in his first few years as an actor. His attitude comes across as, “Of course I got work right away. I was cute and I had a great personality.” He doesn’t fully acknowledge that the opportunities that he got at the beginning of his acting career is not how it happens for most people when they first become actors, even for those who reach the A-list.

Because he never really paid his dues before getting high-profile roles, Patton comes across as a little too entitled in thinking that the ride should’ve kept going that way for him because he thinks he deserved it. Even the biggest entertainers have had career flops and pitfalls. The ones who survive the bad times (such as Patton’s idol Cher) are the ones who don’t give up, like Patton did.

Early in the documentary, Patton quotes something that Cher told him: “In show business, you always have to do what’s best for you.” Patton should also have learned more than a few other things from Cher about how to get through career slumps. (He’s old enough to remember how Cher became a laughingstock of showbiz in the early 1990s when she did infomercials for Lori Davis hair-care products.)

Patton says he decided to return to the entertainment business shortly after he was tracked down in Mexico by the filmmakers of the 2010 documentary “Never Sleep Again: The Elm Street Legacy,” which was a comprehensive history of all the “Nightmare on Elm Street” movies up to that point. It was through that movie that Patton realized how the “Nightmare” fandom was still large enough that he could start making money by doing personal appearances, such as going to fan conventions that specialize in fantasy/horror entertainment.

A considerable amount of the documentary shows Patton doing just that, as he’s seen interacting with fans, doing Q&As at “Nightmare” events, and traveling with his assistant Bill Nugent from personal appearance to personal appearance. The documentary also features commentary from “Nightmare” fans, some more famous than others. (Podcast host John Fozzie Nelson and drag queens Peaches Christ and Knate Higgins are among those who say glowing remarks about Patton.) Most of them either comment on the “Nightmare on Elm Street 2” movie, Patton’s identity as a gay man and/or how he and the movie helped them accept their own sexuality.

To his credit, Patton seems very grateful for fan appreciation, now that he knows how fickle fame can be. He has this to say about interacting with fans: “They don’t want to know about your problems. They want to see a movie star.” And he offers this response to people who think that doing the convention circuit is degrading: “If it seems whorish to do this, then be a good whore, because you’re taking their money.”

When he’s not traveling, Patton runs a gift shop in Mexico, where he lives with a man who’s described in the movie as his husband Hector Morales, who didn’t know when they first met about Mark’s past as a Hollywood actor. Because Patton is now a passionate AIDS activist and because he seems to have found true love with Hector, it’s safe to say that Patton is in a much better place in his life right now.

One of the best parts of the documentary is when it shows the 30th anniversary reunion of “A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge,” which took place at Shock Pop Comic Con in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. The reunion included director Sholder, along with cast members Robert Englund (who plays Freddy Kreuger), Patton, Myers, Clu Gulager, Marshall Bell and Robert Rusler.

Patton’s co-stars have good things to say about him, but Sholder is the only one shown on camera giving Patton a much-needed reality check that he needs to let go of all this hatred toward Chaskin. (Chaskin was originally announced to attend the 30th anniversary reunion, but he ended up not going, for reasons that weren’t made clear in the documentary.)

And so, it’s inevitable that near the end of the film, Patton and Chaskin agree to sit down together and hash out their differences, after not speaking to each other for decades. It’s a necessary part of this documentary, since all of Patton’s whining about Chaskin gets very irritating after a while. Ultimately, “Scream, Queen! My Nightmare on Elm Street” is a cautionary tale about bitterness, and it’s a wake-up call for any actors who think they’re owed a long and successful career in showbiz just because they starred in a couple of movies.

Virgil Films released “Scream, Queen! My Nightmare on Elm Street” in Los Angeles on February 27, 2020, and on VOD on March 3, 2020.

Copyright 2017-2024 Culture Mix
CULTURE MIX