Thursday, June 8, 2017

An Appreciation: Heather Langenkamp in Wes Craven's New Nightmare

"There was no movie...there was only...her life."

All Heather wanted was to raise her son in peace and work in television. Instead, she has to confront that sick bastard Freddy. Again. Only this time outside of the safe confines of playing Nancy on a film set, and instead in the all-too vivid Hellscapes of both her dream state and her waking life. Blame it all on Wes Craven. After all, he had to purge those new nightmares—featuring everyone's favorite burnt, razor-gloved serial killer—out on the page. Dude was right though: Heather/Nancy is the key. She's the constant. She's our hero, a fierce mamma bear battling Freddy tooth and nail every step of the way for her little cub's life. Throughout, she's battered, bruised, cut, sliced, repeatedly prank-called, widowed, leered at by a creep limo driver, demeaned by an arrogant doctor, hit by a car, and repeatedly accused of being an unfit mother. Rarely has an actress faced more unrelenting horror than Heather does in Wes Craven's New Nightmare. Nevertheless, she barrels her way through it all to save her boy. A shock of grey hair suddenly appears late in the film, a constant reminder moving forward of the trauma she's endured.

Long Live Heather.

It should go without saying, but I'll say it anyway: no one in horror cinema has better hair than Ms. Langenkamp. It's lush and glorious and positively mesmerizing, practically a character unto itself. And it invites you to gaze upon the exquisite beauty of the face that it frames. She may be stunning, with hair that any Pantene model would kill for, but Heather/Nancy deserves to be celebrated as one of slasher cinema's smartest and most tenacious Final Girls. In fact, she's one of the very best. She's no victim. She's a survivor.

I repeat: Long Live Heather.

Also, when I was a young boy there were certain absolutes in life. One such truth, which I believed in with full certainty, was that Heather would make the perfect Kitty Pryde should Chris Claremont's Uncanny X-Men ever make it to film. They eventually made it to the movies, but that was years later. It's too bad Heather never got the chance to bring Kitty to life. At least we have this kick-butt performance from New Nightmare to revisit whenever we need a reminder of her greatness.

You know the drill by now: Long Live Heather.


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  2. What a great tribute, Michael! Heather is one of my favorite final girls. She didn't back down from Freddy ever. You are right. I envied her hair and I still do. I wish she acted more. This would make a perfect monthly feature. If you ever do a guest post, I will gladly sing Bruce Campbell's praises, lol. Wonderful work.

    1. Thanks, Susan. It is a shame she didn't act more. She's tremendous in these films. Looking forward to the guest post plan, too!