NANCY (LOOMIS) KYES
My favorite time of year is at hand. October brings longer nights, fall colors and the smell of pumpkin spice everywhere you go. Of course, it also brings my very favorite holiday, a night of tricks and treats, demons and witches and the unmistakable presence of Michael Myers. In 1978’s seminal classic HALLOWEEN, John Carpenter created a glorious slasher film that did everything right. With Carpenter’s gifted vision and his iconic score, this classic tale is a brilliant example of a smart and chillingly suspenseful horror film. Of course it helped that the filmmaker offered audiences a perfect cast with the wonderfully talented Jamie Lee Curtis. And who could forget about the blonde beauty P.J. Soles? However in this very special Halloween themed “Where in the Horror,” we take a look at one of my favorite movie victims of all time… I present to you the lovely Nancy Kyes (aka Nancy Loomis) who played the doomed Annie Brackett.
Nancy first graced the low-budget silver screen in what has become one of Carpenter’s early cult classics. In the 1976 thriller ASSAULT ON PRECINCT 13, the soon-to-be actress was hired as a wardrobe mistress, as well she was offered the role of doomed police station secretary Julie. This dark haired beauty proved a perfect fit for Carpenter’s gritty action drama. It has been quite a long time since I’ve sat down with this brutal little flick but thankfully we will all be able to revisit it soon with its arrival on Blu-ray courtesy of Shout! Factory on November 19th. As an old-school fan of Carpenter, the 19th can’t come soon enough!
As well regarded as ASSAULT has become throughout the years, it was Carpenter’s next feature that changed the way we look at horror altogether. It was the night HE came home. HALLOWEEN (1978) presented the story of a small group of babysitters terrorized by the boogeyman. In addition to being a fantastic horror film loaded with scares-a-plenty, the chemistry between the babysitters Annie (Loomis), Laurie (Curtis) and Lynda (Soles) was effortless. The three girls’ share a remarkably strong connection thanks to the late, great Debra Hill’s contribution to the screenplay. Loomis gave Annie a sarcastic sense of humor which gave balance to Laurie’s naïve do-gooder ways. She may have been a little too focused on screwing around with her boyfriend Paul to save her from the ‘pure evil’ of Myers, yet when she finally faces her demons you desperately want her to survive.
In John Carpenter’s ultra-spooky ghost story THE FOG (1981), the character of Kathy Williams tells her assistant Sandy that every time she hears her say “Yes ma’am,” it sounds like “Screw you.” With that Sandy simply replies, “Yes ma’am.” It is a perfect moment of sardonic humor and gives the relationship between both actors - Janet Leigh as Kathy opposite then Loomis as Sandy - a surprisingly inspired relationship. It is this dry humor that gave the talented and extremely sexy Ms. Kyes a humor fueled edge that is a rarity in Hollywood horror – at least done as well as she did it. The actress always seemed to have something more going on than just your typical damsel in distress. She, along with an excellent ensemble cast, helped make THE FOG a horror favorite for many. This is one I find myself revisiting at least twice a year.
Looking back at the few films Nancy was involved in it always surprises me that she didn’t continue working more than she did. Aside from her returning in HALLOWEEN II (as the corpse of Annie Brackett) and a brief role as Tom Atkins’ ex-wife in HALLOWEEN III: SEASON OF THE WITCH, she began to disappear from the spotlight. Her few film credits after her HALLOWEEN fueled career included small roles in the 1982 TV Movie “Not in Front of the Children” as well as an episode of “The Twilight Zone” entitled ‘Little Boy Lost’ in 1985. And according to her IMDB page, her final performance was a ‘doctor’ in the 1992 TV Movie “Lady Boss.”
Over the past few years HALLOWEEN fans have proven to entertain in anything and everything from their beloved franchise. Yet Kyes has rarely stepped back into the spotlight to talk about her time in horror. In 2006 she made a rare appearance in the excellent made for video documentary “Halloween: 25 Years of Terror” (along with our very own Arrow). Four years later in 2010, she made an appearance in another franchise documentary entitled “Halloween: The Inside Story.” Luckily for all you horror hounds, the actress will be featured in an interview included on the upcoming ASSAULT ON PRECINCT 13 release. And for some of the lucky few, you may find her at the occasional convention... that however seems to be a rare privilege.
NOW: After a brief movie career and a marriage to HALLOWEEN III director Tommy Lee Wallace - the two ultimately divorced - and two children, the actress said goodbye to Hollywood to start a new life. According to Wikipedia, she transferred her talents to sculpting and continues to do so to this day here in Los Angeles. You can find her work on her official website. While Nancy Kyes cinematic career was short, she left a major impression on horror fans everywhere. In my eyes you can’t do much better than the three girls from Haddonfield stalked on Halloween night back in 1978. Unlike many of their contemporaries, these three gals were scream queens worth rooting for. And since Halloween is coming up, be sure to get your chance to see the film on the big screen in select theatres this October, you can find the info here.