You may have seen her pictures in GQ, Esquire, FHM, or a dozen other magazines. You could have caught one of her films, everything from medieval fantasy to straight up horror. She’s hosted horror specials on AMC and she’s a staff writer for Gorezone magazine in the UK. That may sound like a lot of hats to wear, but actress, model, writer and horror fan Suzi Lorraine isn’t afraid of a challenge. Now this multi-talented Scream Queen is ready for more and she’s talking to B Movie Man Nic Brown about her new role as a film producer, why she thinks horror is so popular, and why, when she’s not trying to scare you to death, she may try to split your sides with a laugh.
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Nic – Suzi, you’re an actress, model and a writer. How did you get your start working in the entertainment industry?
Suzi – When I was in college, I submitted some pictures to a number of different modeling agencies, and got a few bites. I did a lot of print work (catalogs, campaigns, etc) and commercials. I took an acting class about a year into the modeling, and realized that was my true love. There’s just something so cathartic and enjoyable about immersing yourself in a character who has nothing to do with your real self. My writing career began when the editor of Horror Mania Magazine in Italy asked me to be their New York correspondent and to write a monthly column for them. It was a dream come true to be writing about something that is so near and dear to my heart. 😉 I am currently a staff writer for Gorezone Magazine (www.gorezone.co.uk), a hardcopy magazine based in the UK. I’ve been writing for them for 4 years now.
Nic – One of your recent films that has caught people’s eye is CLAANG: THE GAME. That’s an unusual title; can you tell us a little about the film and your role?
Suzi – "Claang: The Game" is a period piece fantasy film, similar in kind to movies like "Gladiator" and "300". "Claang" refers to a specific type of "game" played by Italian warriors who fight to the death in arenas. I play the female lead, Princess Eleanor, who is devastated over the death of her husband Tyr, defeated by the ruthless Bangor. One of the "games" finds Eleanor’s future at stake as the outcome determines whether she will live or die.
We shot this film on location in Italy. The filmmaker, Stefano Milla, had access to some incredibly picturesque settings, in Susa, Genoa, La Spezia, and many other cities. The film was presented with the Award for Excellence at the "Indie Fest 2009". Stefano recently signed a distribution deal for "Claang", and it is now available in a number of countries in Europe (North American release coming soon!). Here’s a link to the official trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3hrU6ex7FzM
Nic – Another of your films that has an eye catching title is BIKINI GIRLS ON ICE. The title says a lot, but not everything. What’s this one about?
Suzi – "Bikini Girls on Ice" is about an iceskating troupe of bikini clad girls who get summarily whacked on the ice.
Just kidding! 🙂 It’s really a classic slasher film, with no shortage of scenes that will make you jump. It’s centered around a bikini car wash and a maniacal garage station attendant named Moe. The film was directed by Montreal native Geoff Klein, and marks his first feature film, which is really quite remarkable, as the entire package – writing, cinematography, shot composition, and pacing – is all outstanding. After seeing it at the Rhode Island International Film Festival, one of my good friends remarked that he thinks it’s the best horror film he’s ever seen me in, in terms of a solid, slick kick ass horror film with impressive production values.
I’m thrilled to work with Geoff again on his next horror feature, a thriller called "Loknus" about the infamous and wily Loch Ness monster! www.loknus-movie.com I will play one of the female leads, who gets drawn into Nessie’s lair…. Mwahh!!!!
Nic – Your work as an actress in the horror genre has earned you the title of "Scream Queen". Is that a title that you are proud of and what do you think makes a "Scream Queen"?
Suzi – I think the term "Scream Queen" is a badge of honor. I don’t think it has any negative connotations. I’m sure there are some mainstream casting directors who might steer clear of "scream queens", believing they are "stereotyped", but other than that, I don’t see a downside. I am a horror movie junkie, and I’ve always been. So it just made sense to pursue a genre that I know so much about and that I actually enjoy. I have to say I’m a comedy fan too, and gravitate toward comedic roles as well.
Nic – A famous comedian once said “Dying is easy, comedy is hard”. Which do you think is more challenging: doing horror or comedy?
Suzi – Interesting question. I think it depends in part on the actor. I think some actors find that comedy comes more easily, and some find that drama (or horror) is more natural. The art of comedic timing is something that’s hard to learn – I think it’s something that is better "felt". Either you got it, or you don’t. So I think this is why some actors find it difficult. You really have to be in your element, and understand the comedic nature of the scene. You also have to really click well with the other actors in the scene in order for comedy to be effective. The chemistry needs to be there. Comedy is probably the most noble genre, as there’s nothing more rewarding than making people laugh. And as we all know, laughter is healing and cathartic.
And different actors have different styles. I remember reading something about a comedy that Vince Vaughan and Reese Witherspoon were working on. Supposedly, Vince drove Reese crazy (and vice versa), because he’s very much an off the cuff, "let if flow" kind of actor. He’s really into improv, and while improv-ing, he often gets some of his best material. Reese, on the other hand, wanted to rehearse, rehearse, rehearse, because that’s her comfort zone. She couldn’t understand why Vince couldn’t focus and be as disciplined. But it just wasn’t his nature. So there you have an example of 2 great actors, but 2 totally different approaches.
Nic – What do you find to be the most challenging part of acting?
Suzi – Ummm… probably when you’re in the middle of a gory scene, and covered in blood, slime, dirt, occasionally some real blood, bruises, etc. I’ve been stabbed, shot, cut, gouged, maimed, trampled, severed, gutted, beheaded, you get the idea…. Combine that with filming outdoors on a winter day, and yes, that would be the toughest obstacle to surmount as an actor. 😉 In terms of acting itself, I just think you really need to "get" the character you’re portraying. You need to understand their background, their history, life events that have made them who they are today, and what their specific motivation and drive is.
Nic – Do you want to step behind the camera and direct or write your own feature?
Suzi – I actually did. I came up with the story idea for "Won Ton Baby!" which was directed by James Morgart. I am also one of the producers on the film. We premiered it in October at the Gorezone Weekend of Horrors Film Festival in London. “Won Ton Baby!" is an homage to cult classics that we grew up on like "Evil Dead", “It’s Alive", and "Basket Case". It’s incredibly tongue in cheek, and is meant to amuse. We don’t profess to have Hollywood production values, but I think the story really shines and draws the viewer into the family’s world, and of course, devilish little Won Ton Baby’s world. Won Ton is about 3 feet tall, round and fat like a baby Sumo wrestler. He speaks with a gravelly Asian accent, and has a penchant for sex, weed, and human meat. www.wonton-baby.com
I also co-wrote a short film about 2 serial killers (Bob Berdella and Belle Gunness) for Gorezone Magazine. I play a "demon host in hell" and I educate the viewers about the grisly crimes of the murderers, equipped with reenactments of their crimes, and also a little fictional abuse of the serial killers in "Hell". Hey, they gotta pay the piper, right? 😉 The short film is going to be included on a compilation DVD that will accompany each issue of Gorezone Magazine sold.
Nic – So what does Suzi Lorraine do for fun?
Suzi – I like to watch movies, travel, and create whimsical animal art (painting/drawing).
Nic – As someone who works in the horror genre and writes about it, what are your thoughts on why the genre is so popular?
Suzi – I think horror is popular because it elicits visceral emotions. Fear is as base emotion, and feeling it, safely, vicariously – is thrilling to many people and makes them feel alive. It’s a rush, kind of akin to going on a rollercoaster ride, or driving a sports car really fast. I also think it’s part of human nature to be fascinated with death and the underbelly of society. I think it’s escapism, much like a fantasy or action flick, or going to a rock show. People want to lose themselves in a film for those 2 hours, to escape from their own reality.
Nic – On the flip side of its popularity, there are a lot of critics who would say that the genre portrays women in a negative way and promotes violence. What would you say to them?
Suzi – I think sometimes they’re right. But sometimes they’re wrong. It’s a case by case basis, and it totally depends on the movie. Take a movie like "Alien" where Sigourney Weaver’s character is bad ass and completely empowered. There’s no way someone could argue that this promotes violence against women and/or exploitation. But then take a low brow film like "Busty Babe-o-Rama in Beirut". Chances are, there’s some exploitation going on here, on a number of different levels. 😉
But sometimes, there’s still some gray area. Art is subjective. What may be offensive to me, may not be to another person. It’s up to the actor to scrutinize the script, and make sure it’s something they’re totally comfortable with before signing on.
Nic – In addition to the acting and modeling, you write for a number of horror publications. Any thoughts of trying your hand at writing horror fiction in addition to writing about the genre?
Suzi – I have written a bit of horror fiction. I wrote a horror short story for one Gorezone issue, and the serial killers film I recently completed for Gorezone was also co-written by me. A lot of it was indeed factual, but almost half of it included some embellishments and "fictional tales", straight from the twisted brain of yours truly.
Nic – We’ve talked about why horror is popular and why it’s sometimes criticized, but we haven’t hit on the most important question yet: what are Suzi Lorraine’s top five favorite horror films?
A Nightmare on Elm Street
The Wicker Man (circa 1973 of course)
Nic – Hollywood seems to be obsessed with remaking films, especially horror movies. Any thoughts on that and is there any one film you think needs to be remade?
Suzi – Remakes – arggh! Has Hollywood gone insane with their obsession with remakes? Where are all the new ideas, I ask? As you can probably gauge from those last couple sentences, I’m not a fan of them. Why mess with perfection? If a film is done right, and is really powerful and compelling, why try to reinvent the wheel? It’s kinda like a cover band. A Beatles cover band is never going to be the same as the original band. Sure, the cover band might be a lot of fun, but in terms of true artistry, true imagination, I think it’s important to focus on original ideas instead of copy cats.
Nic – Now for the lightning round!
– Zombies: Fast or slow? Slow, lumbering zombies are the bomb.
– Vampires or werewolves? Werewolves. They amuse me.
– Freddy. Jason, and Michael Myers? Freddy! Can’t live without his one-liners.
– Favorite movie monster? Belial – that handsome little devil from "Basket Case". He was the mutant Siamese twin of his brother Duane, and was a gnarly little misshapen growth that Duane kept in a basket.
– Your choice for best horror film of 2009? "Drag Me to Hell" was quite brilliant. Love Sam Raimi.