Do you want to know what surprised me the most about Sad Vacation: The Last Days Of Sid And Nancy? What surprised me was how very young Sid Vicious and Nancy Spungen were at the height of their infamy and subsequent deaths. Sid was 21 when he died, and Nancy just 20. They were just babies.
Sad Vacation is a documentary directed by Danny Garcia (The Rise And Fall Of The Clash, Looking For Johnny), chronicling the final days of Sid Vicious and Nancy Spungen, through the eyes of those that knew them: Bob Gruen, Neon Leon, Howie Pyro, Cynthia Ross, Sylvain Sylvain, Walter Lure, Andy Shernoff, et al. It’s full of vintage photos and footage of Sid and Nancy doing… things, and it is fascinating to see the people who came out the other side, the ones that survived their twenties.
Sad Vacation floats several theories about how Nancy Spungen died via these talking heads: suicide pact, a sub/dom game gone quite wrong, bodyguard/dealer Rockets Redglare killing Nancy, as well as deconstructing other suspects (Skip Wayne and a mysterious dealer named Steve Cincotti, who may or may not exist). It also takes an in depth look at Nancy’s last hours and pieces together the timeline of her death, raising questions about Sid Vicious’s actions at the time (he washed her body upon finding her bleeding out in the bathroom? What the absolute hell? Oh. Right. He was a junkie).
One of the more intriguing facets of Sad Vacation: The Last Days Of Sid And Nancy, was the reminiscences of what a sweet boy Sid was sans Nancy. Sex Pistols roadie Steve “Roadent” Conolly is a charming presence throughout the film, reiterating that Sid was called Vicious because he was very soft and a “marshmallow,” despite his terrible upbringing by mother, a woman more enamored of drugs than motherhood.
Nancy Spungen, on the other hand, seemed universally loathed. Her opportunistic nature, her psychiatric issues (having had behavioral disturbances from childhood, and in fact being given phenobarbital as a child), her weird Madonna-esque British accent (way before Madonna) Nancy was a “difficult” person. Malcolm McLaren tried to get rid of her frequently, even buying her a one way ticket back to New York.
Sad Vacation also covers the aftermath of Nancy’s death, and Sid’s curious behaviors. It’s just so sordid: Sid trying to kill himself in jail, but then hooking up with another woman post haste, assaulting Todd Smith (Patti Smith’s brother) after behaving like an idiot at a Skafish show (Jim Skafish is an incredibly engaging storyteller and a bright spot in the film), to his OD and death by heroin from his mother.
Sad Vacation: The Last Days Of Sid And Nancy provides a clear, mostly concise timeline of the events of both Sid and Nancy’s deaths, and drops theories that seem plausible. Of course, no conclusive answers are given because all of the known suspects are now dead. There’s lots of repeated footage and photos, but interesting interviews and ideas. It’s not a high-budgeted outing. Huey Morgan from the Fun Lovin’ Criminals narrates and has a deeply soothing voice.
Nancy would probably be really happy to know that people are still talking about her and if you type “Nancy Sp” into google, she’s the first result. She wanted to be liked and admired and I guess, being remembered is good enough? What would a 40-year-old Nancy Spungen be like? What would a 40-year-old Sid Vicious be like? Would he be selling margarine on TV? What if he would have lived? His death signaled the end of the punk era proper, so to speak, and all the cautionary tales on 20/20 and episodes of CHiPs and Quincy were proven true with the sad case of Sid and Nancy. The media was right, yo.
Sad Vacation: The Last Days of Sid and Nancy was released on December 9, 2016 via MVD Entertainment Group.