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INT: Barbara Crampton

Aug. 28, 2000by: The Arrow

The Arrow interviews Barbara Crampton

Barbara Crampton was in two of my favorite horror flicks: Re-Animator and From Beyond. But her genre resume doesnt stop there. She was also in Space Truckers, Castle Freak, Trancers 2, Chopping Mall and Puppet Master. She has presence, knows how to act and yes, is very beautiful. Arrow recently had the pleasure of exchanging a few words with her, and this is how it turned out.

1- What's your favorite horror movie?

Definitely The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. I believe it was shot on 16millimetre which made it seem so real, like a home movie or a documentary, like it could happen to you in your hometown in YOUR backyard! The first time I saw it I couldn't sleep for 3 nights.

2- Did you always want to be an actress? How did you fall into it?

Since I was 5. I used to love all the old movie actors. Miriam Hopkins, Bette Davis and Danny Kaye were my favorites. I started acting in school plays when I was in 7th grade, went to college and got a degree in Theatre Arts. I also developed a love for performing from my father who is the ultimate showman. He's a carnie, and much of my childhood was spent on the midway with my family. They call my father "The best mike man" in the business, because he knows a little bit about every subject, and can engage you and enthrall you so much that you are entertained enough to spend most of your money at his game!

3- You played in four Stuart Gordon films (Re-Animator, From Beyond, Castle Freak and Space Truckers). I guess you guys must have a great "work" chemistry. What kind of director is Mr. Gordon?

I love Stuart. He is so focused and calm as a director. He has a very clear idea of what he wants and works with everyone so directly so that we are all in sync. You know how you watch some movies and there is no cohesion? Like everyone's in their own little movie? Well, in a Stuart Gordon film you would never have that. There is a unified tone to everyones performance. He has a wonderful loving family who adore him and in his work he is not afraid to explore his dark side. In fact, he celebrates it! I hope I can work with him again soon. It's been too long.

4- When you were doing Re-Animator, did you have any idea it would become the classic that it is today? Do you have a funny set stories that you can share with us?

No, I don't think any of us realized it would become a cult favorite. We did have great fun making it though. We rehearsed in my living room for 3 weeks before production. Stuart came from a theatre background, as did I so it felt important for us to do that. We talked about the story, characters and got up on our feet to work through the scenes. There were definite parts we knew were funny but Stuart wanted us to play it really straight. We kept the humour inside, but especially with Jeffrey it was there. The tone became a bit satirical because of that. One night on the set a girlfriend was visiting me, it was very late. We were shooting the scene where Bruce pulls a eye out of a corpse, it was a real cow eye! It was gruesome, smoke was all around and the mood on the set was spooky. My girlfriend got freaked and had to sleep over! We worked 16 hour days, got little sleep and had a blast.

5- In "From Beyond" you played Dr. Katherine. It was a great part. What kind of preparation did you do for the part? Was it hard keeping a straight face?

I talked to a great many experts in the field of mental illness. It was fascinating! I worked a lot on a more restricted walk for her for most of the film until her passion is released and then I wanted to appear strangely sensual, almost in slow motion, as if I was existing in two dimensions. The Pretorius 'get up' was incredible. He was so gross that I would laugh at how disgusting he was! The slime (which was actually a food thickener) was cold and gooey. It was not pleasant! But it wasn't supposed to be. As for the bondage outfit, I quite enjoyed wearing it really! I was in control. It's a secret fantasy for us all. In Stuart's movies we are allowed to indulge our fantasies.

6- Soap fans also know you well. You had parts in "Bold and Beautiful", "The Guiding Light", "The Young and the Restless" and "Days Of Our Lives". What's the difference between shooting on a soap and shooting on a horror flick?

Well, it has a completely different feel being different genres. The only connection could be that both have a heightened feeling of reality. Normal people don't talk like they do on soaps and things don't quite happen like they do in horror movies. I do enjoy the bigness of both. I like to work big and broad and I enjoy playing characters who are full, vibrant and reveal themselves.

7- Of all the work you've done...what part are you most proud of, in terms of your performance?

Believe it or not I would have to say Leanna Love on "The Young and the Restless". When I originally got the part it was supposed to be for 3 months. They told me I was mentally ill and trying to kill Ashly because I was in love with my psychiatrist. I talked to many experts about what illness she might have and how to play scenes with various characters based on feelings I would have. I played her having a borderline personality with bouts of psychosis. She was and is a fascinating character. I played her consistently for 4 years and at present the character continues to recur (I never told the writers what I was playing). Now for longevity purposes Leanna is more eccentric than ill. She's become a bit more healthy. But still lively!

8- What does Barbara Crampton do when she's not drenched in karo syrup?

Actually it is not Karo syrup, although it does look like that! It was methosellulouse (that spelling is wrong, I'm sure). It is a food thickener used in Mc Donald's milkshakes. Lately I've been doing a lot of power yoga. I also love running and working out with weights. I enjoy going to flea markets and shopping for antiques. I started writing a few years ago and am working on various projects, one which is based on my life working and growing up in the carnival business.

9- Any projects in the works, when will we see you next?

Currently I am in Vermont at Edgewood studios working on a movie for Porchlight Entertainment called Lightening- Storm of Destruction (both companies have websites). It is my first family type drama! Stacey Keach, John Schneider and Michele Greene are also in it. I play the evil mayor of the town. A boy, who is a computer and science whiz, predicts a storm the likes of which we havent seen in 200 years. No one believes him. It has everything. Great storms, pandemonium, humour and a lot of heart. The script is really good and I'm very excited about it! I will also be shooting more episodes of Y and R the middle of August.

10- This question is for all the dreamers out there...what do you look for in a man?

I like a man who is a real man. No mambi pambi bullshit. A man of few words and big action. Intelligent and who can make me laugh.

Thanks a lot, Barb!

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