1999, the fear flick "Desecration" was well received by
the critics and a new name in horror crashed
onto the scene:
Dante Tomaselli. In 1983, a fresh faced sweetie entered the
genre arena with her sleeper hit "Sleepaway Camp".
Felissa Rose hit the map but then went on to do mostly
underground stuff. In 2001, these two horror fiends team up to
serve us a tasty looking dish: ironically it's called
"Horror". Arrow hooked up with both of them and
here's how it went down.
DANTE: Desecration was a huge
critical hit. Now you just wrapped your second flick called
“Horror”. Can you tell us what it’s about?
you. I’m floored by the amount of Desecration reviews
online. It’s definitely a good time to be an independent
filmmaker in the age of the Internet. My new picture “Horror”
is about uncovering secrets buried deep in the subconscious.
You can call it a zombie splatter movie. Or drug parable. Or a
ghost story. Like Desecration, Horror focuses on a
child terrorized by memories of parental violence. It’s
about the shock of betrayal. This film has endless shocks.
You’re being pulled…and it has nothing to do with your
will. It’s like having an out-of-body experience or a fever
dream. The viewers should get the feeling of being caught in an
ocean riptide. And they should have no idea what to expect.
FEL: Did you see
"Desecration" before acting in "Horror"?
Did you dig?
Dante was kind enough to give me a copy at our first meeting
and I absolutely loved it. The visual style and storytelling
was so innovative and original. I was mesmerized by the entire
film. I knew that Dante was someone I really wanted to work
with and felt this was one director with ambition and talent
like no one else. He is one passionate artist.
DANTE: How much "moolah" was
spent on "Horror"? What did you shoot it on?
a 200,000$ budget for the production and 18 shooting days
total. My ultra-dedicated crew worked 15 hour-days, often deep
into early morning hours. As with Desecration, shot on
Super-16mm. I know there’s a prejudice, but I think Super-16
saturates colors really well and the small amount of grain
doesn’t bother me. I can make it look like 35mm. With the
right visuals and the right cinematographer, which I
definitely had on Horror, Tim Naylor is remarkable,
Super-16 can look sleek and glowing. Since the Horror production
budget was 100,000$ more than I had for Desecration, I
did get to explore more of a storyline, there’s definitely a
lot more dialogue in this film. There’s more gore, more
prosthetics, definitely more scares.
FEL: You have only one very well known
feature on your roster called Sleepaway Camp (1983). Now
you're coming back to the screen in "Horror". I
guess my question would have to be...what took you so long?
I've done a bunch of independents, commercials and industrials
but nothing that got any great publicity. I'm really fortunate
to have landed a role in "Horror" with Dante as the
director and I hope it's the film that launches other great
roles. It's funny how in acting people seem like they've gone
away when in actuality they just haven't done anything
recognizable. I guess that's what happened to me. I'm in
it for the long haul whether I'm doing stage or independent
work, acting is my passion.
are the differences between "Horror" and
"Desecration"? They sound somewhat similar.
could almost be called Desecration 2 since there are so
many references. I would say the new film is more energetic;
it drives to a point quicker. The visuals are still painterly,
but the pace is faster here. Whereas Desecration, I
though, kind of floated around, Horror charges ahead.
More than anything, Horror will be more disturbing and
frightening. In keeping with the film’s theme of the power
of the mind, the world’s foremost mentalist, The Amazing
Kreskin is in it. He stars as Reverend Salo, an enigmatic
preacher/faith healer. Kreskin paralyzed actors during a scene
from the movie, but it was for real! I was stunned by
Kreskin’s ability to freeze actors and make them drop to the
floor. I had my doubts, but agreed to try it. I told no one
what might happen. I was just in shock when everyone fell to
the floor. I realized he was controlling all these people I
hired from NYC. They had looks of terror on their faces! They
had no idea what was happening. A little later, at Kreskin’s
silent command, they started to crawl across the floor, but
none could get up! It was absolutely the most incredible scene
I have ever seen.
TO SELF: Hire Kreskin to control Asia
Argento's thoughts...make her crawl to me...END OF NOTE)
TO FEL: How would you describe
your character in "Horror"?
I play the Art Therapist, she's quiet and alluring in
one scene and quite scary in another!
How did the
casting of Felissa come about? Are you a big Sleepaway Camp
I can’t even begin to
tell you how shocked and thrilled I was when I got Felissa’s
letter and headshot in the mail. I was electrified! Felissa
had heard about Horror though one of the casting
notices. I still have the sweet letter she wrote. I saw Sleepaway
Camp when I was 14 and thought it was a unique, quirky
horror film…I mean the final 20 seconds…wow. I think it
was the first time I ever dropped my popcorn at the movies.
Felissa was unsettling as “Angela”. She made the character
so real. It was a genuinely eerie performance. A classic
performance. And here, 15 years later, I get this letter from
her in the mail. When we finally did meet, we hit it off right
away. I told her she would have a cameo in Horror. Her
cameo is brief but very effective. I don’t think her fans
will be disappointed. It should tantalize them and leave them
wanting more. As the “art therapist” at an intensive drug
rehab, Felissa portrays a mystical Angel Of death. She
symbolizes beauty and horror, different sides of the same
FEL: Did you at any point
feel nervous being in front of the camera? What was the on-set
It felt absolutely wonderful being in front of the
camera. Dante made the whole set really relaxed and I
wasn't nervous at all. I felt like we really
communicated and got from the other exactly what we needed to
accomplish the scene.
DANTE: I guess you must be a huge horror
major fan. Many cultured critics say horror films are really
bad for kids. But that’s not true. Horror films give kids an
outlet so they can work out, or deal with, violent impulses
and memories. And we all have them. They dwell in the recesses
of every one of us. For horror fans specifically, it’s good
to unlock those images from time to time. They need to be
released. It’s like hunger, thirst, sex. I know I’m
addicted to horror films.
kind of research did you do for your part?
I went through some
websites on Art Therapy, they were really interesting. I
always do a biography for my character just to know who this
person is. In reading the script I got some clues as to how
she fits in, it's like a puzzle and once on the set it all
DANTE: So what film or director
influenced by Dali, Alfred Sole, Roger Corman, John Carpenter,
George Romero, David
Cronenberg, Nicolas Roeg, Poe, HP Lovecraft, Maya Deren, Dan
Curtis, David Lynch, Brian DePalma, FW Murnau, Roman Polanski,
Tobe Hooper, William Friedkin and Stephen King. Recently Mario
Bava, Dario Argento and Lucio Fulci have been added to that
mix. My favorite film would have to be Alice, Sweet Alice,
because it’s an outstanding horror film, a breathtaking
achievement and because Alfred is my cousin. That movie made
its premiere in Paterson NJ. I was 7 years old. It was called
Communion at the time. Brooke Shields and her mother were
there. In fact, it was Brooke’s first film, even before Pretty
Baby. My parents were at the premiere because my father,
who owned a jewelry store and bridal mall, supplied all the
communion dresses, white veils and gloves for the film. All of
my relatives were there. Alice Sweet Alice has a lot of
memories attached to it. It still gives me the chills when I
watch it. I just can’t shake it. Another underrated horror
film is Lets Scare Jessica To Death. What a chilling,
hallucinogenic ghost story. Also, The Sender, the early
80’s film about mother-son telepathy, is really well made
and underrated. I’m also influenced by music. Martin Gore,
Ric Ocasek, Marc Almond, Laurie Anderson, Nico, Vince Clarke,
Kate Bush. I actually met and became friends with Soft
Cell’s Marc Almond. He wrote a song for me called Caged.
It’s on his solo album, Fantastic Star. We met in 1994, when
I was living on W 10th and Bleeker in NYC.
FEL: I hope
"Horror" brings more cool projects your way...
I'll always have the acting bug!
As I said
before, I've been acting, but it's been on the stage and in a
lot of independent projects. "Horror"
will hopefully be a film that gets a lot of exposure and gives
me a chance to work on bigger things!
Not many “regular” people saw Desecration. What kind of
release is "Horror" gonna get?
I’m hoping it will be
released in theatres. I have a strong feeling it will. If The
Blair Witch Project did anything, it opened the
gates for low budget independent horror films to get released
theatrically. It can and does happen. I think the timing is
So what's next for you, Felissa?
Hopefully I'll be working on Return to Sleepaway
Camp and I'm working with Terrence Smith who was
the director of a short I did recently. I'm also in
rehearsal for a couple of other independents....we'll see! And
the stage of course!
DANTE: And what’s next on your plate,
film will most likely be called Apparition. It will be
another tale of demonic possession rooted in childhood trauma.
My goal will be to make it even scarier than Horror.
And you can bet Felissa Rose will have a starring role, not a
There you have it you, blood lusting
psychopaths! I for one am looking forward to "Horror".
And if "Desecration" is any indication of how
gonna turn out, get ready to be creeped out! I send a big thanks
to Dante for his time and a big kiss to Felissa for hers. Now
I'm gonna call that Kreskin dude, we got some business to
ARROW'S SLEEPAWAY CAMP
Arrow's previous INTERVIEW WITH FELISSA ROSE