Interview with ultimate fan girl - Diandra Lazor
We all love attending horror conventions. It's a magical place where one can truly feel in their right element. You're surrounded by hundreds of people who all feel just as passionate as you do about horror movies. First there's the actors, directors, writers, and artist who we all love and adore. Being able to meet some of the talent behind our favorite movies is nothing short of being amazing. Then there's the merchandise, the film screenings, and of course...the fans. Nothing puts a bigger smile on my face than seeing the true hardcore fans dress up walking around the show as some of the most memorable characters from these movies. I'm of course one of these people who just have to snap a photo with them. Some of these people are completely dedicated to these costumes. The work and effort some of these people but behind is is completely breathtaking. One of the most memorable fans who I'm sure many have seen these past few years is Diandra Lazor. This girl is one of the biggest Nightmare On Elm Street fans around and is a complete dead ringer when she dresses up as Nancy from the first, third, and seventh movie. Dressing up in costumes from each movie, the detail alone that goes into it is insane. Diandra is a true fan who is a prime example of truly loving a movie. It's fans like this that make horror conventions so fun to attend. I was lucky enough to interview her asking about her passion and love behind the character of Nancy and her thoughts and views behind the whole convention scene. If you haven't met Diandra yet at a show, you can see her in the amazing documentary I am Nancy.
1) What would you say is your top five favorite horror movies?
That’s tough. Other than the Elm Street films which dominate my list(mainly Wes Craven‘s New Nightmare, the original, and A Nightmare On Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors), I would say Hellbound: Hellraiser II, the original Fright Night, Scream, the original Halloween, and Poltergeist.
2) Do you remember when you first saw the original Nightmare On Elm Street?
My first exposure to the original Elm Street came in segments when it was on television. My family was never big into horror films. If we ever did watch any, they were rare and almost always around Halloween. Even more rare was when I would watch them. Mainly because I was not allowed and partially because I was “scaredy cat”. Elm Street would pop up when I least expected it, always seeming to be on the same scene: a charred Marge slowly floating downward into the fog and lighting of her bed. That scene gave me nightmares! I didn’t see it fully until I spontaneously became a fan after a realistic Freddy dream in 2007. I had to take that first viewing in strides. Still terrified me.
3) What was it that made you connect with the character of Nancy?
Nancy struck me from the first time I saw the movie all the way through. She was the girl next door, someone I felt I could know personally, but she has that inner strength that really amazed me. She is young but powerful in her mindset, intelligence, and fight. Nancy is also incredibly righteous and working for the good of the many, traits I’ve always admired. When the going got tough, she got tougher and kept going. She could take any situation and deal with it the best she could using what she had, like the booby traps. In Dream Warriors she was a guiding light, someone to help the kids who felt lost and unheard. She had the spunk, good heart, and gumption that I wanted for myself in life. But, at the same time, it was almost as though I saw myself in her. Ever since I was a little girl, my family has told me stories of me standing up to people who bullied my friends. Even in grade school I recall being the only one to stand up for what was right and fight for the downtrodden when they were treated with disrespect. Within the first few months of my fandom, as I was standing up for some wrongdoings in high school, my mother said something that solidified my connection to her, and I still have to smile because it was almost exactly what Marge had told Nancy: “It is your nature to face things, but you don’t always turn away when you should”. That got me looking at Nancy more than just a movie character that I deeply admired, but more as someone I had a real connection with.
4) Why do you feel Nancy is one of the stronger female leads among the many horror movies out there?
There are a lot of really wonderful females, but I feel Nancy encompasses the ultimate mix of courage, endurance, wisdom, resourcefulness, and determination that has made her so beloved and recognized by the fans of the genre. From the very beginning Nancy had a heroic air about her; as Wes described in the script, she has the appearance of a “natural born leader”. She takes charge and fights. Although she may not recognize it until her battle with Krueger begins, Nancy is powerful. Yet it’s an attainable, realistic strength, not something so outlandish and out there that the audience couldn’t relate to her nor something that may taint her believability as a teenager. It’s Nancy’s vulnerability and her faults that make her such a strong character because we empathize. She isn’t perfect and that’s what makes her so perfect. Nancy is also very inspiring, both for those she helps inside of the films and those in the audience watching. She’s become a symbol of perseverance, of overcoming obstacles, the “Freddys” in our lives. She’s looked upon by many, including myself, as hope; a hope we hope to become. Someone capable of overcoming even the darkest times. Even if she does shed some tears along the way, she never lets that stop her. In a world that can sometimes be very cruel, we want to keep going. We want to, as Heather says in her documentary I AM NANCY, “Be Nancy”.
It is the characteristics of the warrior in her, the leader, the relatable friend, and the inspiration that make her the ultimate final girl, lead female, and influential character in my life.
5) Which Nightmare sequels are your favorites and why?
I love all of the sequels, even the silly ones. Yes, the one’s with Heather are my favorite(not just because of her, though), but every one of them has something to bring to the table. But, my favorite sequel is actually Wes Craven’s New Nightmare; also my favorite Nightmare film and one of my favorite films of all time. It’s hit or miss normally with the fan base but I think it’s extremely clever and very well executed. The idea of Fred Krueger becoming embraced by an ancient evil(which he’s symbolic of at his roots) that’s breaking out of the films into our reality and having to go through the Heather and real people associated with the films is a fantastically intriguing idea. I also adore the homages and the fact that it’s not a “Hey, look it’s Freddy Krueger slicing and dicing kids while cracking jokes”, but rather a film of substance and story. I could go on for hours about why I adore the film. Actually, I chose to analyzed and reviewed it for a Film As Art class last semester. After viewing it for himself, my professor fell in love with it and dubbed it both his favorite Wes Craven movie and his favorite movie to watch out of the films the students in his class had chosen to review. I felt so accomplished. Another for Team New Nightmare!
6) What did you think of the Nightmare On Elm Street remake? Also what did you think of the new Nancy?
Where to begin. Honestly, I actually think it’s okay, not some thing I love but something I like. I was so excited and ended up disappointed. It has some interesting moments, but overall it’s just a very cold movie. Too much time was placed on the visuals and explaining things than giving us a story and characters we care about. The CGI was also atrociously obvious. The performances were okay. Jackie did what he could with what mediocre script he was given yet his performance was really stiff; his body, his face, and his voice reminded me of a plank of wood. I didn’t want to see Robert but I wanted a good re-interpretation of Freddy. Everyone was so excited that he was “realistic“, but that’s not something that should have been important. Freddy’s a character of dreams who embraces his newfound freedom. He’s creepy, he’s disgusting, he knows it, and he loves it. In the remake, that’s something - among several other aspects - that he desperately needed.
Now to my least favorite aspect of the movie: Nancy, or “Holbrook” as I call her. From the beginning I really tried to like her as a character completely her own, but I feel absolutely nothing for her. To me she’s unemotional, unrelatable, and uninteresting. Most of all, she’s not a heroine by any means, especially by the means that defined Nancy Thompson. She is the “anti-Nancy”. Those working on the movie said they wanted to explain why Freddy’s #1 and why she was always such a poignant figure to him. To any Nightmare and horror fan the answer is already known: Nancy was his polar opposite, a fighter, and the first to conquer him, and let’s face it you never forget your “first”. He was drawn to her strength, willpower, and purity. Furthermore, she was the daughter of the leaders of the mob who murdered him and changed the course of his afterlife. For her, she’d always lived under the shadow of Krueger’s deeds, even when she didn’t know it. She then dedicated her life to fighting him, and then continued onward even in death. To their cores, Nancy and Freddy were always meant to be archnemesis. This aspect really fueled the Nightmare series and a lack of it severely damaged what the remake could have been. A good horror film in my eyes has always featured a great heroine or at least an admirable female and Rooney’s “Holbrook” was neither. Rooney has stated that she didn’t like the role so she kind of “sabotaged” it which is insulting to myself as a Nightmare fan, definitely as a Nancy fan, and now ultimately contributes to why I’m not fond of her.
7) Do you remember when you first met Heather?
I do! Very well.
8) When did you begin dressing up for conventions? What was Heather's reaction when she first saw you?
The first convention I attended was DAYS OF THE DEAD Indianapolis in July of 2011. It was also the convention where I first met Heather. Our first meeting was not an “all at once”, but more gradual. I've been doing costuming online since the end of 2009 and interacted with a few Nightmare alumni but not yet Heather. Then the news about I AM NANCY came out and I immediately became involved. I would submit my cosplay photos to the official Facebook page where they’d be posted. I had also interacted several times with director Arlene Marechal through e-mail so she knew of my dedication to Nancy and it was because of this she asked me to submit some video variations of me saying “I am Nancy” for her to put in the music video on the DVD(I’m “webcam girl”). At that point I was unsure if Heather knew about me, but I had assumed. Hearing that Heather would be in Indianapolis and with the support of my friend, the costume King Jeff “Wickedbeard”, I decided to go to my first convention. About a week or week and a half before I was to meet her, I was asked by the host of Delamorte’s Dungeon of Deadly Delights to be a guest host on his show for his interview of Heather within the following few days. I was honored and jumped right onboard. Pushing through nerves and disbelief, I tried to remain collected during the interview and she didn’t seem to know me by my first name. It wasn’t until I had said that I was going to DAYS OF THE DEAD to see I AM NANCY for the first time that she exclaimed “I know exactly who you are!”, making note of my cosplay identifier which is “Nancy Thompson Of Elm Street”. At that point all the walls came crumbling and I turned into a total fit of giggles and overjoyed goodish-ness. She thanked me for my enthusiastic support and knew all about the pajamas I planned to wear when I met her. Before signing off, she told me she was excited to meet me and see my costume. When I finally arrived at the convention, I didn’t go right up to her out of fear(not very Nancy-like), but some of my fellow fans/Facebook friends were coming up to me and telling me she‘d been asking where I was and if they‘d seen me. Eventually, after I introduced her before the convention’s screening of I AM NANCY, she gave me a hug and she a wonderful “Be Nancy” shirt, we interacted privately after the screening, and then she asked me to finally come visit her at her table. Although I was rather quiet from being so overwhelmed, she was very patient, receptive and we interacted many times. I was greeted with just as much enthusiasm and warm support as she showed in the interview, even surpassing any expectations I had for the first time I would meet her. After the weekend was over and a few weeks passed, the cherry on top came when she wrote a blog post on her website about her time in Indianapolis, noting that she was excited about two things that weekend: the Midwest screening of I AM NANCY and myself. Overjoyed and appreciative do not even begin to encompass what I was feeling and how I feel today. I saw her for a second time in November and she’s still as extremely supportive, enthusiastic, friendly, and overall wonderful to me as ever. Heather is an amazing woman who not only loves her fans, but is also a genuinely wonderful person. Having someone like her who has means so much show the great levels of admiration that Heather has shown me is mind-boggling and can leave even the most talkative person speechless. Unless a talkative person is recalling and explaining fond memories. Then she turns into a long-winded, chatter-box. Example A!
9) What is your favorite costume you have done so far?
I love my pajamas, but I’m incredibly partial to my post-freeway New Nightmare costume with the jean shirt and brown vest. When I put it on, I feel very much in character at all times as I limp around convention halls. I also get to wear fake blood on my face, neck, and hands which is exciting. Nancy doesn’t have too much opportunity for make-up like that.
10) Are you a fan of Wes Craven's other films? Which are your favorites?
I love all of Wes Craven’s work, even the cheesy ones like Dracula 2000. My favorites of his undoubtedly belong to the Scream series. They’re tons of fun, pay homage to classic horror films, have interesting plot lines, and I love the characters, especially Sidney Prescott. She’s my second favorite Final Girl.
11) Do you have any new costumes lined up for future shows?
I do! I’m currently aiming for Nancy’s pink sweater outfit from the end of Dream Warriors. The only problem is that my streak is on the Nightmare 1/New Nightmare side and it’s permanent so I can’t move it nor do I want to. I’m a stickler for details so I’d be bugged if I kept it like that for the costume, even though it’s where it should have been in the first place!
12) Favorite scene in the first Nightmare and why?
Nancy’s booby trap scene. Definitely. It’s also my favorite Nancy scene because it sums her up perfectly. At this moment she transforms from the hunted into the huntress. She doesn't say a word, but the fierce look on her face and determined preparation of the booby traps speak for themselves.