By Ed Sum (The Vintage Tempest)
Brinke Stevens is certainly one classy Dame. In the movie world, she’d be one to kill for; as one of the few Scream Queens from the years of my youth (and is still working today) she’s certainly shown that she has the chops to last in an industry that typically favours youthful fervour. As each decade tends to introduce new talent and types of horror for fans to get fast and furiously rabid about, I’m not always going to fawn over what’s the latest. I’d rather stick to what was impressed upon me at an early age. When video movie rentals became widely accessible, that’s when Stevens work caught my eye. Perhaps moreso in magazine spreads than anything else, but I was like every other horror enthusiast at that time, consuming everything I could find.
I saw that Stevens knew how to make the screams count. Later on, I’d learn that there’s more to this talent than meets the eye. She’s branched out to work behind the scenes and market herself. Zombies may be hungry for her brain, but knowing her, she can outwit any of them in an instant and still save an animal species at the same time. To enjoy the projects she’s been involved in has certainly been a pleasure, and recently, I became one lucky fanboy when Stevens agreed to answer some questions about her long and varied career.
Having been to Victoria at least twice before for this convention (even though it was under different names at the time), why do you like returning?
Victoria is such a charming city! I first visited it with my family when I was a young girl and totally fell in love with it. I was happy to return for that past convention and again for this year’s show. I have many friends in BC now. When I shot the horror film “Carmilla” (Creepy Six Films) in Vancouver, I made sure to stay an extra week in Victoria to see more local sights, such as Butchart Gardens and Salt Spring Island.
Of personal interest, how long have you done the voice-over work, like “The Many Faces of Cleopatra?” That documentary is not always mentioned in your filmography so I’m very curious as to learning about what else you’ve been involved in.
I’ve actually done quite a lot of voice-work over the years, like various radio spots; a “Garfield” cartoon show; audio books and short stories such as “The Adventures of Red Cloud,” Brad Linaweaver’s “A Real Babe,” and the Atlanta Radio Theatre Company’s “The Man Who Traveled in Elephants” by Robert Heinlein.
I’ve dubbed Spanish and German movies into English, and I’ve narrated several documentaries like “The Many Faces of Cleopatra” (which hasn’t been released yet) and “Women of the Wild West.”
Right now, I’m recording a new audio book in my home studio, Glenn Porzig’s horror novel “Darkness Unbound: Lady in Black.” It’ll be available on Audible.com in August. After that, I’ll do a voice-role in an upcoming animated sci-fi film, “Earth’s Next Tenants” by David D’Champ.
Although your marriage with Dave Stevens was short, only lasting months, what made you decide to keep using your stage name?
Dave was my college sweetheart. We dated for six years before we were married. I also continued to model for him for another six years after our divorce. After his untimely death of cancer, his sister sent me a dozen boxes of reference photographs he’d taken of me, thousands of shots. I was the model for most of his comic sketches in the 1980s, mainly of Bettie in “The Rocketeer” but also for many of his other characters too. He was a brilliant artist and I am proud to have been his favorite muse.
Not many people may be aware of about your own attempt at making your own comics like “Brinke of Destruction” in 1995, but was there a reason in why you did not continue producing any more?
Growing up reading Wonder Woman, Vampirella and Modesty Blaise, I’d always wanted to make my own comic book someday. Chaos! publisher Brian Pulido collaborated with me to produce my first book, “Brinke of Eternity.” It sold very well and got good reviews. I then took over the writing and publishing of a new trilogy, “Brinke of Destruction.”
Although I successfully completed that set, I had so much trouble with my team … the penciller was in a terrible car accident, the inker had to return to Asia to care for his ailing parents, and my investor absconded with the profits. It was just too difficult to proceed with my next proposed trilogy, called “Brinke of Madness.” My assistant, however, did take over the imprint and published two more one-shot comics later on, including “Brinke of Disaster.”
Do you think the definition of what a Scream Queen is has changed over the years? What made you decide to continue working in this industry of B-Movies and Horror for as long as you have? To be honest, I’m not aware of many people who made a sustained living in such a niche market save for a few like Charles Band (Full Moon Entertainment).
I’d say there were only three original Scream Queens in the 1980’s: me, Linnea Quigley and Michelle Bauer. We’re all still working together. Recently, our trio appeared in “Cougar Cult,” “Three Scream Queens,” “The Trouble with Barry” and “Trophy Heads.”
I’ve been able to sustain a living for so long in the B-movie business because I expanded laterally and diversified — by doing conventions and mail-order, and creating my own merchandise (photos, comic books, T-shirts, trading cards). I’ve also continually reinvented myself by becoming a writer, producer and director.
Do you find work behind the screams, er screen, more rewarding? If given a choice, would you rather be a writer, producer or director (which is what you’re doing now with “Terror Toons 4”)?
“Personal Demons” is my latest big project. I wrote, starred in, and directed this story of temptation and redemption, along with co-stars Debbie Rochon and Linnea Quigley. It’s due for release this summer as “Terror Toons 4.”
I absolutely love being a director! I’m slated to direct “The Halloween Party” in Florida soon, and I hope to get even more offers in the future.
What do you think the future is like for people wanting to work in the horror film industry? That is, are there any changes in store when compared to how the business found you when you started?
Everything has changed dramatically in the past 30 years. Other than Charles Band’s Full Moon company, there are no longer any major indie horror studios. In fact, there are no longer even stores to rent such videos and DVDs! Everything is going online now, and digital streaming is the wave of the future.
I think it’s very hard to make any profit on low-budget horror films these days. Presently, it seems like there’s a big slump in that industry.