Interview: Brinke Stevens

recent headshotBrinke Stevens is one of the best-loved scream queens of all time. After originally setting out to become a marine biologist, she switched careers and made a name for herself in such bloodsoaked classics as The Slumber Party Massacre, Slave Girls From Beyond Infinity, Nightmare Sisters and hundreds of other barmy gems. The actress talks to Matt McAllister about on-set accidents, no-budget filmmaking and why playing the bad girl is so much fun.

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According to IMdB you’ve appeared in 152 films so far. Have do you manage to make so many movies without burning out?

I suspect I’ve done even more, but some films were never released! Honestly, I don’t think I could ever get tired of doing horror movies. They’re incredibly fun and exciting. I’ve never felt so alive as when I’m running, screaming, and either catching up with my victim or getting grabbed by the killer.

Did you ever imagine you’d be a big horror icon when you were studying marine biology all those years ago?

It’s true, I never planned to be an actor. I thought I’d have a nice little lab in Hawaii where I’d figure out how to communicate with dolphins. Life can certainly be full of surprises!

When did you first realise you had a fan-base?

Before I became a horror icon, I appeared in Playboy magazine several times in the early 1980s, pictorials called ‘Flashdancers’ and ‘Girls of Rock ’n’ Roll’. That’s when I first started receiving fan letters.

haunting fearWhat film do fans ask you about more than any other?

One of my favourite films is Haunting Fear, and I often mention it in interviews. Yet it was never released on DVD in America, only VHS. As such, there’s a lot of unfulfilled demand for it.

What are the pros and cons of low-budget filmmaking?

The pros are greater creativity and freedom, plus a faster shooting time. The cons are less salary and smaller distribution. Low budget filmmaking has totally changed over the years, going from actual independent studios with fairly decent budgets to no-budget backyard filmmaking in some cases.

You’ve worked with a lot of young first-time directors as well as seasoned professionals like David DeCoteau. Do you like having a mix of the two?

I’ve made many movies with seasoned pros like Dave DeCoteau, Fred Olen Ray and Charles Band. They’re always a joy to work with and I greatly respect their talent and efficiency. I also enjoy meeting novice young filmmakers who might have a totally unique, innovative slant on things. It’s good to have fresh blood in the mix.

Who in the movie world has been your biggest inspiration?

I’ve long been a fan of Jane Seymour’s work, and I actually got to meet her several times in the ‘90s. She’s a lovely lady, and very talented both as an actress and a painter.

Brinke ScreamDo you prefer playing the good girl or bad girl?

Bad girls are much more fun. I started out playing victims and then producers realised I made convincing villains too. I’m rather petite, but somehow I must seem larger than life in villainous roles, because people are always remarking, “I thought you’d be taller!”

What’s the secret to being a successful horror actress?

In the beginning, a willingness to do nudity was a big plus. And also having a good set of lungs for screaming.

Did you ever feel uncomfortable with the nudity of those early films?

At the time, no… it was simply the rule, what was expected of us. We just went along with it because we wanted to work. But later on, I had to cut those scenes out before showing the films to my mother!

You wrote the screenplay to Teenage Exorcist and co-wrote other films. Would you like to do more screenwriting?

Yes, I’ve sold a half-dozen scripts so far and still keep writing them. Last year, I wrote the script for Personal Demons, which will come out in 2016 on the Terror Toons 4 label. It’s a horror comedy, which is one of my favourite genres.

What’s currently your favourite of your own films?

I’d have to say Personal Demons, even though no one’s seen it yet! As well as writing it I played the leading role and also directed it – my first time as a director. I was able to hire my scream queen friends Debbie Rochon and Linnea Quigley and greatly enjoyed working with them.

brinke-poseYou’re known for doing many of your own stunts. What’s your worst on-set injury?

Oh gosh, I’ve actually gone to the emergency room a few times on movie shoots. On Mob Boss, I literally ran into a wall when some stunt person wasn’t in the right spot. On Witchouse 3, I fell down the stairs – it was very dark and I wore opaque white contact lenses. That put me on crutches for the rest of filming.

What are some of your upcoming projects?

Just released films include Joe Hollow’s Disciples, Jonah Lives, and Caesar & Otto’s Paranormal Halloween – my third film in that series. Coming out soon is Jason Paul Collum’s Safe Inside, as well as Personal Demons/Terror Toons 4.

I just finished working on The Invisible Mother playing a psychic, and I’ll soon play a fortune teller in The Tombstone. In a few months, I’ll shoot a werewolf movie called Ripped to Shreds. I also recorded my first audio book for a horror novel, Darkness Unbound: Lady in Black by author Glenn Porzig. And I’ll soon record narration for an Edgar Allan Poe documentary!

Is there anything left you’d like to do that you haven’t?

These days, I would really like to find a new niche in television and land a recurring role on some popular TV series… wish me luck!

Finally, if you had to choose between Slave Girls Beyond Infinity or Sorority Babes in the Slimeball-Bowl-O-Rama as your desert island DVD, which would it be?

I have a real fondness for Sorority Babes because I’m still in touch with many of that cast and crew, unlike Slave Girls where they all just disappeared. I often work with director Dave DeCoteau, Linnea Quigley and Michelle Bauer, and I occasionally hang out with Andras Jones, Hal Havens and John Widman. It’s a magical little movie for that reason, a great group of people who made it.

 

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