I’ve always been of the opinion that horror should not be exclusive to the month of October. As a diehard enthusiast I find that my appreciation of this art form can, and should be embraced all year long. Likewise I’ve always appreciated those creatures known simply as: the opposite sex. With these two subjects on my mind, penning a monthly Women of Horror blog seemed only fitting. Each month, I’d like you to join me as I explore everything there is to know about one of these amazing women. Ladies whose contributions to the horror genre have not gone unnoticed. Whether it be striking beauty, artistic talents, or a combination of the two; these gals have stolen our hearts… sometimes in a violent manner.
Heather Langenkamp is a beautiful bookish brunet who seems to have a deep gratitude for her horror film debut. As Nancy Thompson in A Nightmare on Elm Street she showed an unsuspecting audience that the heroine in horror didn’t always have to luck her way to the credits alive. No No No! Nancy was in complete control of her survival. Forever setting booby traps in our memories. As executive producer, subject, and narrator for the documentary Never Sleep Again(2010), she demonstrates a unique understanding of her character and Nightmare fanatics. This sensitivity for fans is examined even more closely in 2011’s I am Nancy. In this documentary Heather investigates the phenomenon of rabid Nightmare fandom. She truly is a Freddy nerd’s wet dream, watching her take the time to converse with convention goers, you get the impression that she listens compassionately to every last one of them. Engaging only begins to describe her convention conduct.
1980s sitcom viewers will remember her from Just the Ten of Us (1988). If you recall, it was that show where the dad was employed as a coach and his gorgeous daughters were inexplicably forced to attend an all-boys school? This show was a spin-off of the popular Growing Pains series. Coincidentally three different actresses from Just the Ten of Us were in the Nightmare franchise. On the sitcom Heather appeared alongside JoAnn Willette from part 2 and Brooke Theiss from part 4. Also early in her career it would seem that Heather was destined to become a Brat Pack member when she was cast in The Outsiders (1983), only to have her scenes find their way to the cutting room floor.
Ms Langenkamp has the distinct honor of appearing in what is widely believed to be the best Nightmare sequel. She reprises her role as Nancy Thompson in part 3: Dream Warriors (1987). In this film she plays a psychologist, as it were, who attempts to help some “suicidal” teens defeat Freddy. While the movie fell short of the original, you can’t take your eyes off of her. The grey streak in her hair, a battle scar of sorts, gives her a sophisticated look. This is in contrast to her appearance in the first film. Nancy grew up on us, almost overnight. Hello Nurse!!!!!!
In 1994 She portrayed herself in Wes Craven’s New Nightmare. While it wasn’t a critically acclaimed movie, it was experimental and prominently featured Heather. A plot element in this movie, the crazed stalker, was lifted from her real life. Ironically it was not a Freddy freak that was harassing Langenkamp but a Just the Ten of Us fan, who was extremely upset over the cancellation of the show. Truth is stranger than fiction after all.
As of late, Heather has not strayed too far from horror or television, she works as a makeup artist on both American Horror Story and Scream Queens. Langenkamp and husband David Leroy Anderson are the proprietors of AFX Studio, which is a special make-up effects outfit based in Van Nuys, CA. Both shows have proved to be extremely popular with audiences and you can’t ignore the role that make-up effects play in that popularity. She also has caught the environmentalist bug; organizing beach cleanup projects in California. We salute your efforts Ms Langenkamp.
In my opinion the good versus evil story only works if your “good” is truly believable. As Nancy, Heather conveys an almost flawless portrayal of a commendable character in a tale where the evil she faces is literally the embodiment of “the sins of the father.” As a person Heather seems to be content with her celebrity stemming from a glove between her knees in the bath tub. She doesn’t dismiss her horror career like many actors try to do, she embraces it. For that we horror fans should hold her in the highest regard as January’s Woman of Horror.