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INT: Brinke Stevens

When it comes to horror icons, you can hardly find anyone more deserving of that status than Brinke Stevens. While mainstream audiences my not know that name, anyone worth their salt in horror will take notice anytime she appears in one of the almost one-hundred and forty movies she has appeared in. That’s right baby, almost one-hundred and forty. With titles like HAUNTING FEAR, DEMON SEX, TERROR TOONS 2, NIGHTMARE SISTERS, BRYAN LOVES YOU, GRANDMOTHER’S HOUSE and DELTA DELTA DIE!, she has shocked and surprised audiences with numerous roles. Sometimes she plays a good girl, but she is great when she is bad.

When she very graciously gave me the privilege to sit down with her and talk about her lengthy career. I found her to be one of the most professional and wonderfully kind people I’ve ever had the pleasure to talk with. She is nothing like those maniacs and lunatics she has portrayed. She is a positive, beautiful woman that continues to make movies that will make your parents blush. With all this, I think that she is one actress who should have some of the big time directors knocking at her door. She has a huge following and would make any mainstream flick even cooler.

Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you the first lady of madness and mayhem, as AITH’s Time Out with Horror Legends continues… the lovely and talented Brinke Stevens. Read on…

So I counted about 114 films on IMDB for you…

It’s probably really closer to 140. But some of the titles haven’t come out yet or whatever. I do about a dozen a year, I keep racking ‘em up [Laughing].

How do you do that? So many films…?

Well, most of them are a few days. I used to carry an entire movie and I’d work for a week or two on it. But now the budget’s have dropped so low, they can only afford to hire me for one day, two days to three days. Although now I’m getting movies with longer roles, I may be in the Philippines in November for four weeks and in Texas in December for three weeks. So finally I’m getting back into doing the bigger roles instead of cameos.

Cool. I was actually just watching BLEED, doing a little research…

Right.

Yeah, my research is watching horror movies. [Laughing]

It’s a good job if you can get it. [Laughing]

I did notice you’ve done a lot of cameos (including BLEED). Is that something you just maybe wanted to step back and say, ‘I need a break from major roles.’?

No, it’s because they’re not making the kind of movies they used to. Fred Olen Ray would make a good movie with a decent sized budget. Three-hundred thousand was considered low-budget in those days, now you could make thirty movies for that. And just because the budgets are so low they might be making a film for ten-thousand dollars. And I have not lowered my salary, in fact, it’s gone up with my experience and what I bring to the table. I can’t work for fifty bucks a day and I’m not gonna lower my salary. So they pay me what I ask for but they can only afford to hire me for a short amount of time [Laughing].

I see that, with your experience… how many years have you been doing this?

Twenty-seven years. And often times, I’m the most experienced person on a film set. I’ll get very young actors and directors, sometimes it’s their first movie. So, it becomes fun to work with the directors and to say, ‘don’t forget to get a reverse angle on that shot’, and he’s like, ‘oh my God, thank you, I would’ve forgotten that’ [Laughing].

Now, why are you not directing?

I should be and I probably will. I was given a script by Ted Newsom called ALIAS DR. GHOUL. And he wants me to direct that for him so we’re trying to get it financed right now.

You should, I think that would be fun to watch.

It would be. I think I’d be good at it ‘cause I’m a double Virgo, astrologically speaking, so I’m extremely organized [Laughing].

Excellent. Well you’ve written a few scripts. How was that?

Well, I’ve sold four or five scripts. The most recent one was called WILD SPIRIT. I also wrote TEENAGE EXORCIST. A script called THE RECRUITER. And an earthquake safety script. I just finished a new one called DELUSIONAL with my partner Sean O’Bannon, and it’s at Lifetime Channel right now. It’s not a horror script, but more of a psychological thriller. Kind of a Hitchcock feeling to it you know. I’m trying to break into the bigger market with scripts, because all the ones I’ve made so far have been low budget. But I think there’s a chance to break out of my box as a writer perhaps more so than as an actress.

I’ve gotta say that it’s really sad, there are a lot of talented actors that don’t really get out into the mainstream because Hollywood sees them as one thing. Do you feel that you’ve been typecast?

You’d be amazed at how typecast you get. It really is a glass ceiling. And on my resume, when I have all the horror movie titles, an agent will say, ‘oh, you have to take those off of there. Don’t put those down, people don’t want to see that on a resume.’ and I’m like, ‘Well that’s what I’ve done.’… ‘no, no, no… they’ll think you can’t act if all you’ve done is B-movies’. So then, I go on auditions for parts and they’ll go, ‘well, I’m not sure you want to audition for this, it’s not a horror movie, you play a nurse’ and I’m like, ‘I can play a nurse! I can play a doctor, I can play a teacher!’ [Laughing] So people just really have narrow minds when it comes to imagination with casting.

You have played everything. Looking back at your career, it’s like, my God, there’s nothing you haven’t done.

I love to act, it’s my favorite thing in the whole world. I like it better than writing, although writing is fun. You can stay home and wear your bunny slippers [Laughing]. See what’s in the refrigerator [Laughing]. But I really love acting and any kind of role that I can play… I did a really interesting one last year, I’m not sure what it will be called, I think it’s gonna be called SIGMA DIE.

SPOILER ALERT

And I played a very prim and proper, sorority house mother who turns out to be the vicious killer.

END SPOILER ALERT

But it was such a schizophrenic kind of role. And it was so much fun.

So I take it that you love horror movies, obviously…

Yeah, I do.

What are some of the movies that have inspired you?

I like so many of them, I especially love haunted house stories. Like THE LEGEND OF HELL HOUSE with Roddy McDowell. THE HAUNTING OF HILL HOUSE… those to me, really deliver the tension and scares. For the same reason I like “Supernatural”, the TV show. I love that kind of tension as opposed to gore effects. Not that I’m opposed to gore, but its nice to be scared. When I was younger I loved all the Hammer Horror movies and I wanted to be those beautiful women with those gowns and the fabulous sets that they had. If I do this… when I do this movie in the Philippines, it’s called THE VAMPIRE HUNTERS, and I play the Queen Vampiress. And it’s just like a Hammer movie except a comedy. I get to be the perfect queen of the vampires. The role is just the quintessential vampire queen. I’m very excited about that.

A couple of your films are kind of surprising for this genre. OCTOBER MOON and NOVEMBER SON are both gay themed horror films. When you were doing them did you feel that you were breaking new ground or was it just another horror film with a different angle?

Right. I found it to be a hard sell to my fans. People tend to put it in that category… it’s a gay movie. But it really isn’t, it’s made by a gay filmmaker and it involves a gay couple living together and they have a stalker. But it’s not like you see gay sex in the movie. It’s just an alternate relationship kind of thing. So, a lot of my fans are gay for some reason. I think it’s because I’m larger than life on-screen. And a surprisingly large number of gay men are into horror. So it just seemed like a natural thing. And I had a great time working on it. It was a very strong role, an advertising executive who is kidnapped and menaced by a man she thinks is Mr. Right.

You get menaced a lot.

I do.

You also do a lot of menacing yourself.

I do. I love playing villains. And I’m only 5’2”, one-hundred pounds, and yet I play these horrible killers. Like in GRANDMOTHER’S HOUSE, I’m an escaped lunatic who murders people with a butcher knife. Then another movie I’m doing in the future is called AS NIGHT FALLS with Joe Davison. I play the maniac killer in that. And people meet me in person and go, ‘I thought you’d be taller.’ [Laughing] because I can really convey, I think, that maniacal madness.

You’re good at that. And as I looked on your IMDB page, I noticed several comments about how nice you are, in fact, this is a quote, one person said, ‘the sweetest celebrity you’ll ever meet’.

Ohhh… thank you.

You seem to be nothing like those characters.

I don’t know why I fell into the horror because I’m such a light, positive person. I’m so good-natured and I realize that I’m such a lucky girl. I’m so blessed. In this life I was born with beauty, brains, fabulous parents, ambition, talent in many areas. I’m a painter, a musician, a writer, an actor.

I didn’t know you were a painter.

Yeah, that’s something I want to do more when I retire, get into painting. Watercolors and so on. But I’m just so lucky and I realize that. And I want to give something back. So it’s easy for me to be nice because I’m so darn happy all the time and I love making other people happy. I like making people feel good and making them smile and bringing a little sunlight to their day. So it’s just fun for me to be nice and I’m glad that I’m received well from the fans.

Maybe it’s the fact that the darker the characters you play, you are so not like that and maybe… is it easier to go into that area because that is how you deal with the darkness, by playing the psycho that is stalking all the people? Is that an easier place to take out any anger or frustration…?

I guess it is. I did a movie called HAUNTING FEAR playing a woman named Vicky who slowly goes insane and becomes a serial killer. So I have a thing now called “doing the Vicky”, and it’s when I need to really stomp down hard on someone’s ass, I do the Vicky [Laughing]. So I let that inner madwoman come out.

That’s awesome.

And read them the riot act [Laughing].

FIVE QUESTIONS FOR BRINKE STEVENS

What it your favorite novel, horror or otherwise?

Boy when I was a kid I used to bicycle to the library and rent a dozen science fiction books every week. So I don’t necessarily have a favorite novel. But I love the classic science fiction authors like Robert Heinlein, Isaac Asimov, Ray Bradbury… I read a lot of Stephen King, Robin Cook, Patricia Cornwell, I like mysteries. Can’t really say that I have a favorite novel, but if I think of it I’ll let you know.

Okay that’s cool. When I was a kid I read Stephen King and other horror novels. I remember reading “The Amityville Horror” when I was like 9 or younger. It messed me up a little.

I think all of us started young. I remember watching things on TV that my parents forbid me to watch, like horror movies, and I was way too young. So I think it warped me for life [Laughing]. I was very, very young, maybe four or five years old, and visiting my grandmother in St. Louis. My mother was there and my cousin, who was a teenager. And they were watching INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS on television and they thought I was too young. So, since my bed was the couch in the living room, they made me lay on the couch facing the wall so I couldn’t see the television. But I could hear everything. I could hear women screaming [Laughing], I could hear my mother screaming. And I wasn’t allowed to look. So I think that was one of the things that I think really warped me. Because your imagination can be so much more powerful.

If you are stranded on an island and you could only have three movies, which would they be?

THE LAST DAYS OF MAN ON EARTH… have you seen that?

Yes I have.

It’s wonderful. A Jerry Cornelius movie. LAURA with Gene Tierney, from the Forties. And she’s just so beautiful and it’s a wonderful mystery. Vincent Price is in it. And THE ADVENTURES OF BUCKAROO BANZAI ACROSS THE 8TH DIMENSION.

Really?

I liked that movie. It was much under-appreciated but I think I can relate to him ‘cause he’s kind of a jack of all trades [Laughing].

Now if you could play any historical figure, who would it be?

Well, an obvious choice would be Elizabeth Bathory, although that’s been done to death but what a colorful life. It would be fun to play an Egyptian Pharaoh, there’s actually a female one called Hatshepsut. To play a female in history… well, either the roles were very boring or they ended up loosing their head like Marie Antoinette [Laughing]… you gotta be careful what you pick! It would also be fun to play Sarah Bernhardt, the actress. A wonderful stage actress from the late 1800’s I believe.

Now you’ve already kind of answered this, but it’s always a strange concept to imagine a horror icon sitting around watching television. But if you do, what do you watch?

I haven’t plugged in my television for six years.

Wow.

[Laughing] So I watch DVD’s and I also watch box sets of TV shows. I went through all the “Buffy The Vampire Slayer” seasons, I’m on “Supernatural” right now. I’ll probably get “Heroes” next… maybe “Lost”. I just can’t stand commercials. So until I can get TiVo I’m just not connecting my cable. It’s so luxurious to just rent show on DVD and skip the commercial break entirely.

And now, my final question… out of all the new up and coming directors out there, who would you like to work with?

I’d like to work with Seth Landau again. He really gave us a first class experience on BRYAN LOVES YOU. It was so easy and so rewarding to work with him. Also Jason Paul Collum who did OCTOBER MOON, NOVEMBER SUN. He’s just a natural director, he’s so good at it. He’s a mature man, he’s not a young kid anymore. He just really learned the craft. People used to go to school to be directors, you know, you’d take certain courses and classes. Now, you just get thrown into the pool head first [Laughing]. Suddenly you are a director. Most people I don’t get to work with twice. They’ll do a horror movie, and they may or may not ever do another one. A lot of directors I work with, their first movie, the one I might be in, is a learning experience for them. They find out that they can’t sell it for various reasons. Either they didn’t get the right coverage, or the actors weren’t good or there wasn’t enough shot to edit it properly. So the younger ones… the jury is still out. I loved working with Fred Olen Ray and Dave DeCoteau in the early days, they were wonderful, they were truly directors.

Let me know what you think. Send questions or comments to [email protected]

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