You’ve heard enough about what I have to say about Debbie Rochon, so I’ll let Death Ensemble’s Queen of Queens speak for herself. I’ll just add that on top of all the other things that make her great, she’s been extremely generous with her time the last few weeks to me and the site; that includes taking time out of her schedule to do our interview, via email. Enjoy the independent spirit of one great lady.
Phil Fasso: You’re universally known as the business’ hardest working scream queen. How would you define “scream queen?”
Debbie Rochon: I never use it to define me but other people do. I don’t care for the term one way or the other. I don’t know what its supposed to mean anymore. All I know is that I act, write, collaborate on projects and work in film. I have done exploitation in my past without a doubt! I guess it’s a hybrid of a woman who works in horror and exploitation – or a mix of both!
Phil: Your entire catalogue speaks to the independent spirit of film. What is it that draws you to the indie film scene?
Debbie: The ability to do all kinds of interesting roles. I find there are so few in mainstream. It’s interesting enough to keep me completely engaged and interested in what the indie scene has to say and where it’s at. No compromising for any sort of company. However, mainstream money would be very nice.
Phil: In some of your best-known roles, you’ve appeared naked. Now that you’re a genre vet, how do you feel about nudity in film?
Debbie: I think it’s no big thing. I watch indie films back from the 60s with nudity. Sometimes it’s even funny to me. But doesn’t bother me to watch. If it’s well done it’s well done. If it’s not it’s not. But then again I might not pick up a title that is just exploitation either.
Phil: What appeals to you about working with Lloyd Kaufman and Troma?
Debbie: His sense of indiehood. He’s a long time friend and I love the man. His movies are the perfect mix for cult classics; they are saucy, exploitive, fun as hell, clever and have something to say. Do you think a big studio would have ‘greenlite’ any of his movies? Never. Yet they are some of the best indie cult films out there to date!
Phil: My friend Mike considers Christine in TERROR FIRMER to be your finest acting. How did it feel parodying a scream queen?
Debbie: That’s hilarious and great all at the same time. Well, I know who the character was based on (a variety of actresses who had worked for Troma prior to us shooting) and it was great making fun of crazy divas. It was a blast playing that role. It’s my personal fave Troma movie too! He should also get more current and check out some other stuff too though!
Phil: One last Troma question. Will Keenan’s been incredibly generous to Death Ensemble of late. What was it like working with the cult legend?
Debbie: He was always terrific to work with. Calm, collected and cool. Great actor.
Phil: Lloyd’s not the only important genre name you’ve worked for. You’ve also starred in some of the films of John Russo, co-writer of NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD. What were those experiences like?
Debbie: Loved working on NIGHT 30. Very exciting to be in the original locations working with so many of the original people involved with the film! I have always enjoyed John Russo, he is one of the few really honest straight up guys in the business. I wrote for his magazine Scream Queens Illustrated when that was being published.
Phil: Death Ensemble did a feature this past December about Christmas horror. I included SANTA CLAWS. What do you remember about that film?
Debbie: We were all playing it very seriously but it ended up to be one of the funnest and funniest films ever! I loved making it – we had a blast. Everyone was very much into their characters and was serious about the scenes. I think that’s what gives it such great camp quality today. Was the depth of sincerity while shooting.
Phil: You’ve appeared in nearly 200 films and counting. What is your favorite role, and why?
Debbie: No one favorite role. That would be impossible! But I will list a few for you! Seeing I have already mentioned TERROR FIRMER, which is way up there, I will skip it –
ABDUCTED II: THE REUNION because we shot for 5 weeks on a mountain top in British Columbia and that was a really physically exhausting shoot.
BROADCAST BOMBSHELLS because it’s so in-your-face unapologetically exploitive.
AMERICAN NIGHTMARE because I got to create a character I always wanted to play from top to bottom and was working with a director who really was open to collaborating! Great experience all the way around.
NOWHERE MAN because I was challenged more than any other film I have ever done by the director. It was an intense, scary and gratifying role to play.
BIKINI BLOODBATH movies because they are so much ridiculous fun!
MARK OF THE BEAST because it was a very interesting role and working with different material than the norm was great.
COLOUR FROM THE DARK was another really exceptional film experience. It was intense to make and we all worked so hard and in harmony it really was a magical shoot for me. Very proud of that movie.
THE GOOD SISTERS because I hadn’t played a witch before and this part was based on so many facts, in the subtext, that I found it really engaging.
WON TON BABY! was a terrifically wonderful time! Playing against a baby who has a flying umbilical cord slapping you in the face here and there is really hilarious!
PSYCHIC EXPERIMENT was so much fun. I got to play a pretty assholely character that was based on the director’s mother so I was happy to help him have a bit of cinematic catharses with that one!
NIGHTMARE BOX was super. Just shot it in the UK with director Jon Keeyes. I really love working with him as I was given complete reign to create what I want in his film, as long as it served the film – so I always dig working with him.
THEATRE BIZARRE because I love playing the revenge seeker in movies and this was a beautifully bloody revenge!
EXHUMED because I got to work with that fabulous group at Scorpio Film Releasing. We shot this noir looking horror movie in black and white. It was such a joy working in a film that is so different and the script just kicks some serious ass!
TELL TALE HEART because I finally got to work on a story based in Poe and really found the script and directing just flawless. What a great short film. I had met the director on GALLERY OF FEAR which was my first outing with this group of filmmakers and that was just a hoot. So of course I went back and made TTH and it has already won many awards, I received Best Actress for the work I did.
SLIME CITY MASSACRE was epic because I got to work on the sequel to a film I loved! The original was made in 1988 and 20 years later the director made the sequel and there I was up to my neck in slime! Literally. I had such a powerful experience working on that film I was one of a dozen people who got the SCM tattoo so that should tell you something right there.
A few more really great films I LOVED working on are coming out soon, but I will leave you there till they hit the shelves!
Phil: You’ve got to have amazing stamina to keep up the pace you do with filming. What keeps you going?
Debbie: Coffee. Lots of coffee and water.
Phil: Over the years, you’ve appeared at horror conventions. What do you enjoy about meeting your fans?
Debbie: That they sincerely appreciate what you do. That means a lot to me. They are so sweet and supportive and it really matters. THEY really matter.
Phil: Death Ensemble is about to induct you into the Hell of Fame. You’re a scream queen legend, and the first actress to enter the HOF. As we leave off our interview, what would you say about your legacy on film?
Debbie: EAT YOUR HEART OUT MERYL STREEP! You can’t touch this!