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Heather Langenkamp (Part 2)

Heather Langenkamp (Part 2)

By Patrick Samuel • August 8th, 2011
Static Mass Rating: 5/5
I AM NANCY (DVD)
Some Pig Productions

Release date: May 1st, 2011
Certificate : Exempt
Running time: 120 minutes

Director: Arlene Marechal
Producer: Heather Langenkamp

Cast: Heather Langenkamp, Robert Englund, Wes Craven

Official Site

When you first found out Wes was bringing you back for New Nightmare, was your reaction more of excitement or surprise?

“Both. Well, at first I wanted a job so badly. I had a little boy and he was young, it’s so hard getting another acting job after being pregnant and being this gigantic thing, trying to get your figure back to normal so you can go back out on auditions and yet you’re just torn. I remember going to auditions and worrying… did I leave enough bottles for my son while I was away?

Heather Langenkamp and John Saxon

I felt like I needed something to give me a leg up in a way and Wes’ offer was just that. He was so excited because he was getting his second chance as well and he wanted to do it right. He thought up a story that was just so absolutely original at the time.

I never knew it but now that I’ve talked to him about it, he always thought that Nancy was the centre of his story. It wasn’t this typical horror movie where you’re going to kill off everybody. He knew that she was the heart and soul of Nightmare On Elm Street so I think it made a lot of sense for him to bring her back, but I didn’t know all of this until recently, after conducting my own interviews with him and asking him myself.”

I Am Nancy

You and Arlene took to the road, filming at conventions with fans and interviewing them for I Am Nancy. You must have heard some amazing stories and met some incredible people, was there one in particular that stood out for you?

“We interviewed one particular young lady who knocked our socks off with her excitement! I met her because I do these photo ops where folks pay to have their picture taken with you in front of a professional photographer and that’s something that’s common at some conventions, so I went to take the photo with these folks. One gal was in a wheelchair and I said “would you like me to kneel down and be at your eye level for this?” and she was like “oh no, I’ll stand up” and she just pogo-sticked out of her wheelchair on one leg, hopped over to me with this brilliant smile and ball of life! We took the picture and Arlene could just tell that she would have a lot to say about Nancy, so she took her aside and said “would you mind if we interviewed you about what Nightmare On Elm Street means to you?”.

I Am Nancy

So Jude gave an interview to Arlene first and Arlene just comes running over to me and says “Heather, I think I’ve met the most fantastic fan of all!” and this was the very end on Sunday so it was close to when we were wrapping down and leaving. I said “by all means, bring her over, bring her over!” so we sit down and we have what I think is the highpoint of the whole movie. Her story is of a terrible accident and then she sees A Nightmare On Elm Street in the hospital and she watches it everyday and uses Nancy as this totem to get her through this agony, as inspiration to be strong, to persevere and go through five months of therapy to heal her wounds.

Everyone who sees the movie says she’s the highpoint for them because she’s delightful and she just expresses what the Nancy spirit is all about. Wes calls it Nanciness, and I love that he used that word because Jude is the perfect embodiment of Nanciness. I couldn’t have wished for someone to say the things that she said because when you make a documentary you don’t know what’s going to happen and for some people that’s the frustration because you want someone to say A, B and C but then they say X, W and Z and you don’t know what to do with that. We always said that whatever people bring us is what we’re supposed to put in the movie.

I Am Nancy

Everybody who was in the film brought such a great attitude or story; some people were just interesting to look at! We always had a difficult time whittling it down to that final movie because so many fans said great things but the ones we have n the movie actually help our story move along. Jude is what we end with because what she expresses is exactly our philosophy.”

I Am Nancy

It’s very easy to relate to Jude because what she says is exactly what Nancy represents to many fans. I think that came across very well. Her story is definitely a high point.

“I have to hand it all to Arlene because she’s a writer and she heard things in people’s dialogue and created these connections. She would build and build and build. I told her this was the story arc I wanted to see; to start literally on the surface of the skin. We start with the tattoo and try by the end to have gone really deep into the body and heart to say where Nancy is.

Technically you don’t see much proof of Nancy out there at these conventions and that was the funny aspect I wanted to bring out. We don’t see much of her on the surface level but when you do get to know the fans who are so educated about this movie, there’s no doubt in my mind that she’s extremely important to the fans. That was the question I was asking; why don’t we see more evidence of this and is it important to see it? In my own mind it’s not important to see the dolls, the toys, the buttons and the badges because I know deep down how important she is to everybody.”

Heather Langenkamp and Robert Englund

Have you ever seen her as a gay icon?

“I’m really actually in the middle of developing my thoughts about this topic because I know that it’s true. I have so many gay fans and all of my associates that I work with on the conventions and our other documentary, Never Sleep Again, almost everybody that I work with in Hollywood is gay and loves these movies so I just thought it was a coincidence but there’s something more to it.

I read a lot of these PhD thesis’ that talk about the final girl, sexuality and sexuality of horror… they’re kind of on to something but I don’t know if they’re onto the right thing. One theory goes that Nancy is not a particularly feminine hero; she’s not androgynous but she’s not scarily beautiful and as a result she can easily identified by both men and women and I don’t know if that’s the key to her popularity.

Heather Langenkamp and John Saxon

I think that people like these movies at a time in their lives when they’re also understanding who they are sexually so it makes sense that they make connection and they see things in these movies that express who they are. I know people who are in wheelchairs or deaf they, too really identify with Nancy. It seems like you can have any kind of personality and somehow identify that with Nancy, almost like the Mona Lisa! People can just put anything into her that they want! For the gay population out there, I’m not sure if its just a great movie or there is something to it that gives a gay man or woman a sense of strength maybe.

Heather Langenkamp and Ronee Blakley

I haven’t put my finger on it, but it’s something I’d like to interview a lot of people about and find out if maybe when they decided to come out about their sexuality that’s also the same time when they see these movies and it gives them an inspiration to be strong in the face of what might be adversity. I hope that’s the case, that watching inspirational characters helps you be true to yourself and find the strength you need to do whatever you need to do. It’s a curious thing and I love it so I don’t try to analyse it but I certainly have noticed in the last 15 years that my most ardent fans are in the gay community and they’re very open about it and they’re very excited about and they love to talk about it.”

Heather with Johnny, Amanda and Jsu

Well there are two types of gay icons aren’t there? The tragic martyred one and the popular idol.

“She’s definitely tragic but she’s not the victim, she’s the tragic fighter and the thing with not being able to save her friends and you can only save yourself really in her situation, I think that being a gay teenager or young adult is really a lonely place and Nancy’s isolation is something that might appeal to a young person who is trying to figure out how to move on in the world.

The struggle that I see, once people are able to say who they are honestly with their family and friends, its almost like the hugest weight has been lifted from them. It’s not gone forever because they are constantly battling people’s prejudice. I notice, you can almost see it, once they have the power to confide who they really are, then they become incredibly powerful. In a way it’s kind of like Nancy; once she realises her power to fight Freddy in her dreams and actually make herself fall asleep to get there, so she can battle him there and not run away from him.

A Nightmare On Elm Street

There are a lot of analogies to being gay in this world that we live in which is not very accepting. I know my friends, who have had to tell their families that they’re gay or being bullied, felt isolated. Finding that strength to just go and take your life into your own hands and make the best of it is very Nancy and what she really represents to a lot of people.

There’s other situations in life, like Jude, where she has her leg taken off in an auto accident and there’s a moment where she has to decide to I’m not going to be a victim and say poor me and sit in this wheelchair all my life. I’m going to say “whatever”, I’m not going to let it get me down, I’m gonna keep living my life as I want to live it. That experience is so universal and unfortunately everybody has to deal with it in a way that’s uncharted. There’s no map, no way to know what’s at the end of that bad dream.

In so many ways I think of teenagers who are shunned and bullied, I think about how bad their day must be sometimes, and how they don’t even know what tomorrow brings. So many victims of child abuse, all these bad things that can happen, I hope if they watch the movie they can go “hey, she can do it, I can do it!”… I can live another day, I just gotta set my fancy watch to get me out of that bad dream on time.”

Heather with Johnny, Amanda and Jsu

I mentioned to Mark Patton that it was something I was going to ask you about and he asked if I was also going to approach the subject of the Lesbian Cult of Nancy! I had no idea there was one! Did you?

“I don’t! But since they put the movie out I’ve been made aware of so many fans I didn’t know existed! The thing that’s so interesting to me is that Wes is not like an over-sexed kind of director. A lot of directors just can’t wait to throw in all the sex, they want to see the tits and ass kind of scene, even in Nightmare 3 we had the nurse who was naked and becomes Freddy – it was a terrifying scene – a lot of movies just have so much gratuitous sex, but Wes is a very modest person, people might even say his movies are repressed.

Heather Langenkamp

They don’t have a lot of sex in them at all, if any. I mean you have Tina and Rod but until she gets spattered on the ceiling [laughs] it’s a pretty tame affair! Sex just isn’t what he wants to throw out there on the screen, it’s not his message, and as a result I get surprised if anybody makes any interpretations that rely on our sexuality. I haven’t really formulated my opinion because I know that in Wes’ mind that interpretation wasn’t really part of his thinking so when people put their interpretations on a movie, I think it’s a really natural thing but I’d like to hear from the lesbians, the Nancy Cult Lesbians, on what they’re seeing because I haven’t seen it!”

I wasn’t sure if it’s either very secretive or if Mark was pulling my leg!

“Well Mark would know better than I do!!! I’ll ask him if I can meet some of these Nancy cult members!”

Interview Part 1 | Interview Part 3

Patrick Samuel

Patrick Samuel

The founder of Static Mass Emporium and one of its Editors in Chief is a composer and music producer with a philosophy degree. Static Mass is where he lives his passion for film and writing about it. A fan of film classics, documentaries and World Cinema, Patrick prefers films with an impeccable way of storytelling that reflect on the human condition.

You can find his music on Soundcloud .

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