It happens every October. I feel obligated to get into the spirit of things and do a horror-themed month, but the fact is, I don’t actually like horror all that much. This isn’t a judgement on my part for those of you who do, of course. You do you; I won’t shame you. But it does mean that there’s at least one person every year where I’m stuck saying, “I am almost completely unfamiliar with this person, and while agree they should have tribute in the column and all that, I’m also pretty well the wrong person to do it.”
All of which is a lead-up to informing you all that I’ve never actually seen Nightmare on Elm Street. Clips, but never the whole movie. I’ve never seen any of the sequels. I’ve never seen any of the movies about its making. I’ve seen The Outsiders, which would have been her first film, but her scenes were cut and she’s not in it. Her scenes were cut from Rumble Fish, too. (That he tried to cast her in both films makes me wonder why Coppola hasn’t cast her since, but never mind.) Literally the only thing in her entire career that I can tell you for sure I’ve seen is Growing Pains and its spinoff Just the Ten of Us, where she played one of the teenage daughters of a high school athletic coach. And that I saw in its initial airing literally decades ago, and I barely remember it.
On the one hand, there is absolutely no reason for everyone to be familiar with every actor’s career. There are untold thousands of movies out there, and it’s simply impossible to have seen all of them, even getting beyond adding probably millions of hours of TV. Yeah, okay, we can be familiar with the big names, but there are even a lot of big names out there. How do you decide the limit of cut off before you start shaming people for not knowing someone’s career?
On the other hand, it seems that there is something about being iconic in a horror movie that cuts you off from ever being anything but a reference to that horror movie again. I don’t know if that’s a universal, because—as established—horror isn’t my genre. But it does feel as though every October, I find myself writing about actors who everyone knows as “the final girl from [movie],” and it turns out they basically haven’t done anything much beyond [movie] and [roles that reference movie]. The fact that Langenkamp was on one of the early TGIF sitcoms for ABC is at least something, I guess.
I will say that she also appears to be doing pretty well for herself not acting. She and her husband have a makeup effects company that’s doing good work—you can argue that Joss Whedon hired her on Cabin in the Woods because of the Nightmare connection, but it’s harder to make that claim for Cinderella Man. Apparently, she’s also one of those people who are a delight on the con circuit, and speaking as someone who had a nice conversation with Brad Dourif at a con many years ago, that’s always something that makes me happy, too. They also entertain who merely talk to obsessive fans, I guess?