I Am Nancy
Director: Arlene Marechal
Cast: Heather Langenkamp, Robert Englund, Wes Craven
Review by Brian M. Sammons
Quite some months back, the best documentary on a horror film franchise came out. It was called Never Sleep Again, and it was about the Nightmare Of Elm Street flicks. To say that it was extensive would be a huge understatement. It was over six hours long! It covered all the Nightmare films, Freddy vs. Jason, the TV show, the video games, even the old 1980s 1-900 number where for just $1.99 a minute you could talk to Freddy himself. Also it had plenty of interviews, including many with Heather Langenkamp, who played Nancy in the first and third Elm Street films. It was in one such interview that she mentioned that she was working on her own documentary on the Freddy phenomena and her part in it. At the time I remember thinking why? I mean, what insights could she bring that wasn’t already covered in the six-plus hour long doc she was speaking in?
Surprisingly as it turns out, quite a lot.
I Am Nancy is that doc Heather was talking about and in it a camera follows Heather around in her life, to conventions, her friends’ homes, and even tattoo parlors, to give you a more personal look at how the famous horror movies changed and shaped her life. It does this by and large by focusing on the fans, something the humongo Never Sleep Again only just touched on. So you get a lot of reactions, remembrances, and good times from regular people. They tell stories about how the movies affected them, some in major ways, thankfully usually for the better, and some tales were honestly very touching. This film is far more personal than most other documentaries, and that includes Heather’s story about being known as Nancy and almost nothing more.
The other half of this documentary is how Heather Langenkamp deals with her celebrity, or possibly the lack of it. This is done with tongue firmly in cheek and always with a smile. She laments to the camera over her character always being in the burnt shadow of Freddy. After all, there are no posters of just Nancy, no T-shirts, no one tattoos her face into their flesh, and while she may have two toys of her character (and yet don’t look a thing like her), Freddy collectibles could probably fill an entire TOYS R US store. This is brought into crystal clear focus when both Heather and Robert “Freddy Kruger” Englund attend the same horror convention and there is a five our wait to get Robert’s autograph and there is hardly even a line in front of Heather’s booth.
The last things of note on this documentary are the interviews with Robert Englund, Wes Craven, and even Wes’ daughter, who reportedly played a surprisingly influential role in the creation of the first Elm Street movie. And because Heather knows both Wes and Robert first hand, the interviews she gets with them are far more personal and candid than I’ve seen before, and that includes the other doc on the Freddy films. These interviews are explored in greater length as extras on the DVD, along with a music video. Yes, really, a music video.
Now I Am Nancy is a very short documentary. At just over an hour, it is over before you know it, which is sad as I wanted more, but is also good as it doesn’t overstay its welcome. Light and breezy at times, candid and informative at others, and always fun and funny, I Am Nancy is a great and different take on some of the most influential horror movies of all time. If you are a fan of the Nightmare films then you can get a copy of this cool little doc straight from the source here: I Am Nancy and I highly recommend doing so.