|Interviewing the Werewolf in a Women’s Prison – Victoria De Mare
by Erik Childress
King Kong Ain't Got Nothing On Her
The moment I saw the title, my brain couldn’t fathom how someone had never stumbled upon the concept before. Take one of horror’s most fearsome creatures and set them loose in all of guy-dom’s most beloved of the exploitation genres and you’ve got “Werewolf in a Women’s Prison”. What a title! What male horror fan out there isn’t going to pick that up on a video shelf or stay up ‘til all hours of the night watching it on cable and clamoring for the golden days of Joe Bob Briggs’ drive-in. Jeff Leroy’s film certainly has Joe Bob’s “three B’s” (blood, breasts and beasts) in glorious abundance and it relishes in all its campy glory to give fans precisely what they expect while stretching its old school effects budget to appear more than just an amateur weekend filmmaker excursion. Unfortunately, you can’t see the film just yet as Leroy and producer/co-star Vincent Bilancio are currently seeking out distribution. But to hopefully speed up the process, we spoke with one of the chief reasons any living male won’t be able to resist the curiosity – their lead actress, Victoria De Mare.
Let’s begin by letting the readers out there become a little more familiar with you. Tell us about the first acting gig you ever had.
Wow, the first acting gig!?! I have been performing since the age of six, so needless to say, I was insanely nervous! I was a child and it was a play called THE GREEKS HAD A WORD FOR IT. I played "Galatea," and I had to sing this song called "Three Little Rich Girls" with two other female characters. This production wasn't a musical per say with full on choreographed numbers dancing and singing, but there were several brief songs for some of the characters. I guess the most profound memory from that experience is that the minute I stepped onto the stage and began my performance I began to fly. It was almost an out of body sensation. I was living those moments as her and everything made sense. That kind of feeling can be a serious high, and an extremely addictive one!
Imagine a new reality show has been created to help aspiring actresses and the audition scenes were much like The Dating Game. Tell the judges why they should choose you.
Well, I don't consider myself an "aspiring actress." I don't aspire to be an actress. I am an actress. I make a living as one. So, I wouldn't be on that show. But, I would tell any producer or director to hire me because I am an experienced, hard working, dedicated, consummate professional. If you work with me once you will want to again and again! That has been the true experience of most of the producers and directors that have worked with me once. They always want to work with me again, and most of them usually do.
Your resume has begun with a number of straight-to-video or “B-Films”. Will you be satisfied if you are pegged exclusively as a B-movie actress or Scream Queen? Would you consider a leap to bigger budget Hollywood horror films a lateral move if you were there just to provide another bloody death or male titillation?
My resume actually has been edited for no other reason but more needed space on the page. I have worked on 25 feature length films and 3 shorts in 7 years. And, I am scheduled to shoot two more features this year with three already set up for next year. Most of them have been horror/thriller genre films, but some of them have been dramas and dramedies. I worked on one comedy a year ago called 'Ralphie,' but it has not yet been released. Unfortunately, a couple of the films I did were never completed, a couple were never distributed, and some have not yet been released. I am already pegged as a B-movie Scream Queen, and I am delighted about that! I feel at the very least that I have accomplished something so far. I certainly don't mind the fact that my film career did indeed begin in the B's. Most actors have to begin their work on the micro-low budget level of films and work their way up. Some of the best artists working in this business today such as Jack Nicholson, Robert DeNiro, Viggo Mortensen, Kim Basinger, Sandra Bullock, Martin Scorsese, and Peter Jackson all started in the B's. And, of course, most of them are Oscar winners and/or nominees. I would love to work on a big-budget Hollywood studio horror film! It must be so nice for those film makers who make those movies to have the money that they need to make the film they want. When I make the leap into the studio pictures, I would happy to play the smallest featured role. It would be progress. My first role in a B horror movie was just that. Two scenes with one line in each, and one of the scenes was eliminated from the final cut. Needless to say, I worked my way up with 8 leads and 6 starring roles under my belt. (Three of the starring roles were in shorts).
Take us through the process of making a small budget film like Werewolf in a Women’s Prison. Knowing that the film still has to find distribution and is typically not one you would find at a Sundance or non-genre related film festivals, how do you and the filmmakers keep the passion to keep going strong?
There is nothing harder and more stressful in my opinion than making a film period. If you don't have the finances you need to make the project you want to see come alive, then the process becomes 100% harder! Several of the films I have worked on did not have distribution in place yet when pre-production began, and it still didn't as we moved into post. Only a couple were never distributed, as I mentioned earlier, and some have been picked up, but just haven't been released yet. Sometimes, several years can go by before a micro-low budget film finally gets distribution. I think that the horror/thriller genre films are a bit easier to sell simply because of the vast direct-to-video and DVD market. There are many horror film fans worldwide! I have received many e-mails from fans who are also collectors. It is amazing and wonderful to me that these fans want to add my films to their collections, and inquire about future ones. So, no, of course these films aren't "Sundance" quality or any of the other prestigious film festivals, but there is a market due to the millions of fans. I was delighted when the film maker, Jeff Leroy, e-mailed me the script with an offer to play "Sarah!" I am delighted to work on any Jeff Leroy film, and when the titles say "A Jeff Leroy Film," they couldn't be more precise! Jeff does almost every job behind the scenes himself! He is incredibly gifted, creative, and smart. I think we keep the passion alive at the adversity of the struggle because we are doing what we are meant to do in life and what we truly love. We are living our purpose in life by exercising our strongest skills which in turn make us the most happy. More money in the budgets would simply mean better quality.
Was there any specific shot or scene that everyone wanted to do, but could not due to budgetary constraints?
That's really a question for Jeff. But, yes, I believe there were several things he wanted to do but couldn't due to budgetary constraints.
As false incarcerations for murders go, there are worse people you could be locked up with than Eva Derrick. Were you approached to look at WIAWP as a love story even though your character is established with a boyfriend in the beginning? Or do you think it would be more Eva’s Rachel than your Sarah who believed that love is never having to say you’re sorry? Even though you clearly have a few things to apologize for in the end?
I never looked at 'Werewolf In a Women's Prison' as a love story, and Jeff didn't encourage it to be. It's not a love story. It's a werewolf movie. There's a wild werewolf running around and someone gets bit and starts killing people before they inevitably must be killed. It's a common formula for this kind of specific horror. However, this film is unique in that it combines the formula of a werewolf movie and a women's prison movie. There was a sub-text in the story for Eva Derrick's character "Rachel." She did fall in love with "Sarah," but unfortunately for her, "Sarah" didn't return her level of love. And, yes, Eva Derrick is an extremely beautiful woman. I could see how many men and women would easily fall in love with her, but for "Sarah," it was a different situation. "Sarah" was quite intimidated by "Rachel" in the beginning, but quickly learned to appreciate and value her strength. She began to believe in "Rachel's" hope that they could somehow fight the curse of the werewolf together knowing that all the odds were against them. "Sarah" tells her she is sorry before she dies for two reasons. She is sorry for not being able to resist the nature of the beast and biting her, and also she is sorry for the disappointment that their plan failed.
Did Jeff ever sit down with the cast and make you watch a marathon of werewolf and prison movies or just make you all do homework? If you had to create your own marathon of the two, what would you program on the schedule?
No, Jeff didn't make us watch a marathon of any werewolf or women's prison movies. That is not the way he works. He knows when he is writing something exactly how he wants it to look. Unfortunately for Jeff, the darn money factor always inhibits his means to achieve exactly what he wants with the budget that he has. However, he does expect his cast to do their homework as far as being prepared to do what they are supposed to do when they come to work. Again, working with such a micro-low budget does not allow us the luxury of only shooting one or two scenes a day. I have worked on micro-low budget films that have had a shooting schedule of less than 2 weeks, so in those cases we were shooting up to 9 scenes a day on some days. I have never seen any women's prison movies, actually. And, I especially didn't want to for this. Jeff and I discussed how things were going to go before we started shooting, so I felt completely comfortable. I completely trust Jeff as a film maker. As an actor, I feel you must completely trust your director, or otherwise the working relationship and the work in the film will absolutely suffer. In my opinion, you should be completely committed to the project you are going to work on, or else don't do it.
So you didn't watch any earlier transformation scenes to draw from or inspire you?
No. I didn't. I prefer to have my own experiences in the work rather than watch how another performer may have done it. I think it is best to grow that way. Besides, I had Jeff there to guide me on what he wants to see. He will always tell me he doesn't like it if it is not working in the scene.
Mike Judge, through one of his alter egos (Beavis), said that there’s nothing better than "sitting down, getting some nachos and watching a good ol’ women-in-prison movie?" Would you agree or do you have another genre and food substance you’d rather substitute?
Ha-ha! Yes, I am quite sure that nachos and a women's prison movie would be a night in paradise for "Beavis!" Of course! I absolutely support that, and I'm sure that "Butthead" and many fraternity boys would support that as well! For me, on the other hand, although the horror genre is one of my most favorite genres, I would probably choose a drama of some kind be it an epic period piece or an edgy indie. And, I generally don't like to eat anything when I'm watching a film. It distracts me. I love to eat and I love to watch films, but I don't like to do them at the same time! Terre's Mexican Grill on Melrose Avenue in Hollywood has the best nachos I have ever had, so when I'm enjoying them I like to savor the moment!
Werewolves and women’s prison movies would seem to go like Peanut Butter and Chocolate and yet no one has thought to put the two together until now. What makes you guys such pioneers?
Well, Jeff Leroy and Vincent Bilancio deserve all the credit as the pioneers of "Werewolf In a Women's Prison." They co-developed the idea and co-wrote the script. I think they would agree how well the two go together, and as they were making the film hope manifested that this film would someday be considered a cult classic!
Linda Blair, Sigourney Weaver, Jennifer Carpenter and, of course, Bobbee Bresee are all known for their bouts with inner demons and monsters. You are starting to build a reputation with Werewolf and Azira: Blood of the Sand as the go-to gal for possessive behavior. What makes for a really good possession experience?
Wow! I am honored to be added to such an esteemed list of performers! Thank you, Erik! Yes, let's hope I am the go-to gal for such characters. For me, they are the most fun to play! Possession is such a wild and unpredictable state to behold. Portraying that on the set in production can be very challenging. You must tap into what that would really be like and go for it! Of course, the special effects that are added in post are certainly the icing on the cake for how it will appear to the viewer.
One of the things that’s easy to appreciate about WIAWP are that the transformation scenes are more old school, or at least middle school if you start with Lon Chaney’s dissolve into the beast and then the golden era of werewolf films in the very early 80s with An American Werewolf In London and The Howling. As technology improved and CGI became the norm everyone is now morphing into creatures and the primal fear and agony of your body twisting out of shape has become lost. Did you, Jeff and Vincent discuss the various avenues of capturing the transformation scenes?
There were many physical effects on this film, as well as CGI. Again, Jeff knew exactly what he wanted in every scene when we were shooting, so we didn't discuss most of the effects. I'm willing to go as far as I can for Jeff without completely loosing my mind and/or getting seriously injured. Personally, I like the "old school" and "middle school" effects. Some of them are hilarious! You do as much as your resources will allow you and hopefully your audience will appreciate it. I think in most cases they do.
Do some method acting for us. Put yourself back into Sarah’s shoes during that first full moon and tell us what’s going through your mind and what your body is doing.
Okay, what's going through my mind is, "Holy Shit! I'm going to die! I'm dying! Help Me, God, please, HELP ME!!!" My body is shaking and convulsing. I'm freezing yet profusely sweating as if my skin was on fire. I can feel the blood pumping so hard through every vein that it feels like they are all going to simultaneously combust. My head is pounding so hard that it feels like it is going to pop off my neck and explode. My eyes are itching and watering and my mouth is dry.
Was any of your performance left on the editing room floor that you wished would have made it into the movie? Fingers crossed for deleted scenes on the DVD?
Well, there were a couple of versions of the rough cut, as usual, so I'm not sure that my all of my very best takes were used in the "Warden's Office" scene between Domi Arcangeli and myself, however, I still loved that scene! It was a pleasure to work with Domi!
What would you do if you were ever bit by a werewolf and knew of the consequences? Roam the countryside like David Banner? Eat a bullet? Join a pack?
If I were ever bit by a werewolf I would probably just let the course of events take action. What a scary but incredible experience!
Exactly what is the substance that you’re spitting up and gargling that causes one gentleman in your “audience” to vomit? And how much of it did you have to use?
I'm gargling and spitting up blood. Basically the audience watches "Sarah" literally come right out of her skin! Quite horrifying and disgusting I would think. Let's just say I have swallowed enough chocolate syrup, red food coloring and Karo syrup to last me a lifetime!
Finally, the question that all guys are dying to know the answer to. Can you really obtain nourishment from sweat?
Ah, the burning question! Sadly, no, you can't obtain nourishment through sweat, but hey, "Rachel" had a point and since I was chained up in the middle of the 100 degree desert half naked, it was worth a try!
To see more of Werewolf in a Women’s Prison, you can check out the official website, their MySpace page or the official trailer
link directly to this feature at http://www.efilmcritic.com/feature.php?feature=2054
originally posted: 01/17/07 02:29:22
last updated: 01/17/07 02:33:03