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Tuesday, July 29, 2014

I Know You’re Ready For Freddy But What About Nancy? Thoughts on the documentary, I Am Nancy

Actress Heather Langenkamp and I at Monster Mania in Hunt Valley, MD in 2012.
If we look like BFF's, it's because of Heather's warm heart.

The fact that there are still references to A Nightmare On Elm Street (1984) and Freddy Krueger on The Daily Show, in music videos, and television sitcoms is simply pure testimony to the power that horror icons have in popular culture. Freddy in particular has worn so many hats, on the spectrum from jester to the most organic form of evil that has made him such a likable and memorable character. He's a chameleon. And his victims dreams have allowed him to stretch his creativity into images that both resonate and stick with his audience.

You remember Nintendo Freddy...
                                        

Or Freddy, the sous chef/waiter...

How about TV Freddy...
                                   

The list goes on...


But let's go back to the original, the 1984 classic that started it all. When a small group of teenagers who occasionally pull knives on each other realize the same figure keeps haunting their dreams, only one takes the figure as a serious threat to her mortality. Every Elm Street fan knows who Nancy Thompson is. But to the general populous, she's probably not even a blip on their horror film radar. In true slasher fashion, Nancy and the woman who gave the character life, Heather Langenkamp is one of the most heralded final girls within the genre.

I Am Nancy (2010) played like a fan letter to Heather to remind her that she does matter, without the ego and a genuine stitch of vulnerability from an actress is who suspended in this film canon as the title states. In a quest to see why Nancy doesn't quite resonate with folks the way Freddy does, Heather and a small crew took to horror conventions in the states, the UK, and Germany to talk to fans about their love for Freddy and if there's any love for Nancy. Her most notable stops, London for a collector's convention and Connecticut for Monster Mania's celebration of 25 years of the franchise shows Heather's search at its best and worst.

I've heard great things about Heather in person, but to see her really personable with fans, asking their names and doing that little extra to make their interactions with her that much more special just warmed my gooey insides. I cannot dish my personal favorites because it'll ruin the good 'ol toasty feelings I want you to personally experience. But I will briefly mention my recent encounter with her which will stay with me for a lifetime. Getting a chance to talk with Heather, albeit briefly was such a joy. And you could feel the passion for her fans and work radiating from her. She really appreciates our support and I think most if not all horror fans truly appreciate those in the business who value their legacy in horror.

Heather asking fans if there are any Nancy collectibles, memorabilia and their bleak answers may induce a reverse of such warmness. The Freddy craze has clearly overshadowed all the other characters and Nancy was not immune to the overcast. When Heather goes to inquire about this to a vendor, all she finds is a replica of Nancy in the tub with Freddy's gloved hand coming at her. A replica that the vendor tells her is "discontinued". With all the Freddy stuff floating around, Heather shamelessly admits to a ping of jealousy. It's all about Freddy and Robert (Englund, the guy who plays him), Robert and Freddy. Their brief exchange about this while doing a convention together balances out any discomfort thanks to Robert's lemons-to-lemonade disposition.

When Heather talks to Wes Craven, she gains some understanding of how and why Nancy was created to be who she was. This is in conjunction with how fans feel about Nancy. All sentiments from here on out truly pay homage to her strength and how she has inspired others to be fearless in the face of fear. 

The juxtapositions between themed clips from Heather's Elm Street appearances and fan stories was a clever technique to keep you engaged and excited about the nostalgia one would experience watching. It's a fantastic hour and ten minutes that is full of insight that is as much for the fans of the series as it is for people interested in how monster villains become larger than life in society as well as the importance of the second wave of final girls in horror cinema, feminist context included.

Nancy for me was always on equal footing with Freddy. I had never seen a female character so proactive and emotionally vulnerable without being an annoying drama queen. She spent three films encompassing a bravery and selflessness while still maintaining her humanity. You can buy the DVD here and check out the neat site Heather & company put together. I can promise any fan it'll be your hard earned $19.99 well spent.

Extras included!


1 comment:

  1. wow, she sounds great! You know, I do think like any character in her unique situation that she was at points whimpering, but it was real. You felt her journey and you empathized with her. Definitely a scream queen. (And Freddy is soooooo scary. I always thought he was particularly terrifying because he invades dreams, and you can't run away from him).

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