The term “Scream Queen” brings any number of actresses to mind when you say it to horror fans. Whether it’s Janet Lee in Psycho, her daughter Jamie Lee Curtis in the original Halloween, or Debbie Rochon from one of her innumerable roles; they all share a place in the collective hearts of movie goers. One Scream Queen that has definitely earned her royal title is actress Brinke Stevens. She’s been delighting horror fans as both heroine and villain in countless films since the early eighties. However, if you think her talent ends when she’s not in front of the camera, you’d be mistaken. Brinke is an accomplished screen writer, columnist, and filmmaker. She’s even had her own comic book series. Her Masters of Science in Oceanography, and her love of languages (she’s studied at least seven including Esperanto) aside, Brinke is also unique because of the diversity of her talent and her ability to adapt as the genre of horror has changed since her career began.
Frequently found at horror film conventions and festivals, Brinke is known to be a fan favorite because of her friendly, approachable, nature as well as her enduring beauty. I had the chance to sit down with Brinke at the Fangoria Weekend of Horrors and talk with her about some of the numerous projects she’s working on for the screen, her writing, and the differences she sees between today’s filmmaking and what it’s like making films today.
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Nic—Brinke, I understand that you’ve come to Fangoria’s Weekend of horrors to promote a couple of your recent projects. Can you tell us a little about them?
Brinke—I’m here with the producer and director of a film called Psychosomatika. We did a panel discussion about the film yesterday and it was well attended. Today we’re showing a trailer. We’ve finished principal photography on the movie and we expect to have a limited theatrical release for it later this year.
Nic—What are some of the markets you’ll be shooting for with your limited theatrical release for Psychosomatika?
Brinke—It’s definitely an art house film. It’s reminiscent of Eternal Sunshine for the Spotless Mind. It’s about a young man who wakes up naked and beaten in the forest. He’s lost his memory and he has psychosomatic blindness. So the movie is about him trying to figure out who did this to him, and everyone looks guilty.
Nic—That sounds like an interesting film. Brinke, I hear you are also set to direct a film shortly, is that correct?
Brinke—I’m attached to one film as the director called Alias Doctor Ghoul. We’re seeking our funding for that film right now. It’s a brilliant script about a little known Hungarian movie star, sort of a Bela Lagosi, who was actually very evil. He’s managed to infuse his evil nature into the celluloid of his movies.
Nic—So are you still working in front of the camera? Or are you focusing more on directing?
Brinke—Oh, I’m still doing a lot of acting. In fact I did eight films in 2007 and eleven movies in 2006. But I am moving more into the writing arena now. I’ve already sold five scripts. I sold the last one right before the writer’s strike started and it’s called Devil’s Highway. It’s sort of a Duel meets The Hitcher. It’s a road chase movie set in New Mexico. The producers plan to start shooting it this March. And I wrote a part in it for myself as a sheriff’s deputy, so I’m sure hoping that they hire me for the part I wrote! (Laughs)
Nic—I hope you get it. It’d be a shame to see someone else play a role that was made for you.
Brinke—Right! (Laughs again) I also wrote two other new scripts last year. They’re both thrillers. One is called Delusional it’s a very Hitchcockian kind of story. The other is called The House on Rachel Lane. It’s about how the kidnapping of a child galvanizes a small town in Canada and reveals some dark secrets about the town’s people.
Nic—I have to ask this Brinke, you’ve been in the horror/thriller industry for quite a while. How has it changed since you started in the business?
Brinke—Well, when I first started doing movies in Hollywood we’d shoot on studio lots. I’d have my own trailer. You would have a wardrobe person and you often got to keep your wardrobe. There would be fabulous catering and the budgets were incredibly decent. $300,000 was considered an extremely low-budget film back then.
Now you have movies being made for $40,000. All the amenities are gone of course. I often have to provide my own wardrobe. It’s certainly not as luxurious as it used to be.
Also the video revolution changed everything. Now anyone can be a filmmaker. Just as anyone can be a writer with all the bloggers that are out there now. So it has democratized it, but in a way it has glutted the market.
Nic—Talking about the blogging, do you find that is also the case for your writing?
Brinke—Definitely. For many years I had a very active career as a journalist for “Femme Fatales” magazine. I’d have three or four articles in it every month. Now people are reluctant to pay journalists when bloggers will do it for free.
Nic—That is regrettable, but it seems like a part of the changing technology.
Brinke—Indeed. Everything changes, nothing stays the same. Just like VHS gave way to DVDs and soon DVDs will be obsolete. It will be interesting to see where everything levels out and how it all comes to a balance.
Nic—Were there any other films you wanted to talk about today?
Brinke—I was in Jason Paul Collum’s film called October Moon which was released last year. We shot a sequel called November Sun in which I have a bigger and far more interesting part. I get kidnapped by a killer and I have to try and fight my way out of it.
I also shot another movie for Jason Column called Shy of Normal where I play an author with writer’s block who goes out into the world to try and get her mojo back.
Nic—There’s one film you haven’t mentioned yet that I wanted to ask you about. Can you tell us a little about Dead Clowns?
Brinke—Dead Clowns was released last year by Lionsgate. Although we actually shot the film about three years ago in Biloxi Mississippi. After hurricane Katrina, most of the locations we used were destroyed, like the hotel I stayed in and a bridge that we shot on.
The film is a wonderful story about a circus car that had gone off the trestle. The car was filled with clowns and they all died. Now on the anniversary of their death, there is a hurricane. The clowns come out of the water and start killing everyone who is responsible for not rescuing them. I have a great part, I’m kind of the historian where I tell the tale of the clown car and the ill-fated clowns. Debbie Rochon also has a lovely part in that and Jeff Dylan Graham who starred in and directed Psychosomatika is also in the film.