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In 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.

TO DANTE: Desecration was a huge critical hit. Now you just wrapped your second flick called “Horror”. Can you tell us what it’s about?

Thank 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.

TO FEL: Did you see "Desecration" before acting in "Horror"? Did you dig?

Yes, 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.

TO DANTE: How much "moolah" was spent on "Horror"? What did you shoot it on?

I had 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.

TO 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?

Well, 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.

TO DANTE: What are the differences between "Horror" and "Desecration"? They sound somewhat similar.

Horror 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.

(NOTE 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! 

TO DANTE: How did the casting of Felissa come about? Are you a big Sleepaway Camp fan?

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 coin.

TO FEL: Did you at any point feel nervous being in front of the camera? What was the on-set atmosphere like?

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.

TO DANTE: I guess you must be a huge horror fan?

Major, 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.

TO FEL: What 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 melts together.

TO DANTE: So what film or director influenced you?

I’m 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.

TO 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!

TO DANTE: 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 right.

TO FEL: 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!

TO DANTE: And what’s next on your plate, Dante?

My next 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 cameo.


There you have it you, blood lusting psychopaths! I for one am looking forward to "Horror". And if "Desecration" is any indication of how "Horror" is 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 discuss...



Read Arrow's previous INTERVIEW WITH FELISSA ROSE here

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