(Editor’s Note: This interview with popular Scream Queen Suzi Lorraine was conducted by Tom Heckbert for the now-defunct website Eyestrane.com, where it was originally published in January of 2012. It’s been republished at Idol Features courtesy of Tom.)
New York City native Suzi Lorraine is an actress, writer, and model. She has appeared in over 40 independent films, allowing her the opportunity to work all over the world. One of her most memorable roles was having shared scenes with Hugh Grant in the Marc Lawrence film, Music and Lyrics. Her work has led to her being honored at film festivals including, “Suzi Lorraine Night” in Torino, Italy at the Empire Theater and at the prestigious Ravenna Nightmare Film Festival in Ravenna, Italy. On both occasions, the festivals featured a retrospective of her films.
Suzi is particularly drawn to the horror and comedy genres. Most appealing to her are roles that fuse the two, in order to complement her own quirky and offbeat sense of humor. Among her biggest inspirations have been dark comedies such as Evil Dead and Basket Case. Her adoration of genre films has led her to be featured in the award winning films Claang: The Game, Destined to be Ingested, Won Ton Baby!, Sea of Dust, and Bikini Girls on Ice.
For the past five years, Suzi’s column, “Diary of a Scream Queen”, has been featured in Gorezone magazine, a UK-based genre magazine that has a circulation of 90,000 issues per month. In October 2009, Suzi co-hosted the Gorezone Film Festival in London, England. She also recently co-hosted several Monster Fest episodes for the AMC channel. In April 2011, Suzi accepted a position as a staff writer at Shock Horror Magazine. She writes a gritty and unflinching column about serial killers, profiling a different and often obscure killer each month. She also writes a monthly column for Germany’s biggest horror magazine, Virus.
Suzi recently finished working behind the camera for the first time, having completed the horror-comedy feature film Won Ton Baby! A story about a cannibalistic devil baby with an Elvis pompadour who goes on a killing rampage, Suzi created the story, co-produced, and co-starred in the film. The film has screened at film festivals around the world and has obtained international distribution, enjoying cult classic success. In her spare time, Suzi enjoys traveling, writing, and collecting Alice Cooper memorabilia.
EYESTRANE: Suzi, it is a pleasure to meet you. I understand you just completed shooting Pinup Dolls on Ice the sequel to Bikini Girls on Ice. Can you tell us about the role you played?
SUZI LORRAINE: It’s great to meet you Tom. Thanks for doing this interview with me! In Geoff Klein’s Pinup Dolls on Ice, I play Joy, who is the manager of a campground. She invites her friends, a troupe of burlesque performers called the Pinup Dolls, to perform at a big bash at the campground. Moe, the killer from Bikini Girls on Ice, learns about the party, and decides to make a surprise appearance and crash the event. Instead of handing out party favors, Moe hands out a can of whoop ass for each person unfortunate enough to cross his path. The sequel is grittier, gorier, scarier, and has some incredible fight sequences and moments of high tension.
EYESTRANE: For your film, Won Ton Baby!, you played the starring role but also worked behind the camera in production as the assistant director. How was your experience and would you do it again?
SUZI: I would definitely produce again. In fact, I was one of the co-producers on Michael Merino’s The Haunting of Pearson Place in which I played “The Founder,” a devilishly delicious, deadly and deleterious character. I would probably not play a lead role in a film AND assistant direct again though. I think you run the risk of becoming too torn, and I would really need to clone myself in order to do it properly! If I were to assistant direct again, I would do a brief Hitchcock-length cameo. My experience on Won Ton Baby! was really positive. I don’t think I’ve ever been on a movie set where I’ve laughed so much. We had a scene in the hospital where the nurse presents little Won Ton Baby for me to hold. Debbie Rochon plays Madame Won Ton, and she’s sitting right next to me in the hospital, and as we’re having this heartwarming moment and celebrating the addition of this bizarre clawed baby to our family, she is getting periodically and randomly whacked in the face with the baby’s five foot long umbilical cord, operated by our puppeteers. We had to keep doing take after take because we couldn’t stop laughing. Other times, we were able to soldier through without cracking up, but I would hear the muffled cackles of a crew member which would set us all off. It made me realize how much I love comedy. And Asian devil babies with Elvis pompadours and claws for feet.
EYESTRANE: You have modeled quite a bit. Is that something you wish to continue doing or is acting your primary focus?
SUZI: I still enjoy modeling, and I do photo shoots often for the horror magazines that I write for, but my focus has been on acting for the past five years or so. I love modeling because you can literally capture a moment in time. I like photos that tell a story, and have some kind of meaning or impact, rather than just “pretty girl against a boring backdrop”. Just like film, photography should make you feel something, and images should provoke, inspire, and/or make you think. Or laugh.
EYESTRANE: Your modeling has a great range; from commercial to more alternative modeling. What types of modeling assignments do you prefer?
SUZI: I definitely prefer the more avant garde and over the top. Anything that is left of center, and deviates from the “norm” or the predictable. I love mixing horror with dark comedy and satire. Many of my favorite photo shoots blend humor and horror.
EYESTRANE: What first attracted you to the horror genre?
SUZI: Everything. I was really young when I started watching horror movies, and have been obsessed with them ever since. I think horror movies allow for a vicarious thrill, kind of like a roller coaster. It is a rush. It is exciting. And I just think it’s in my blood, and I was “imprinted” very early, watching horror movies with my older brother like Halloween, Dead and Buried, and Pieces. Even now, my Netflix que has a ratio of like 80%-20%. 80% horror, 20% all others. I collect horror-related dolls and toys too. I have tons of Gremlins, Alice Cooper dolls, Todd McFarlane dolls, etc. etc. Last year I met Tippi Heddren at a horror convention, and she signed my limited edition Tippi Heddren The Birds Barbie doll.
EYESTRANE: What films, horror or otherwise, do you think most influenced you?
SUZI: Oh my goodness, so many! Definitely Frank Henelotter’s Basket Case, Psycho, The Shining, Creepshow, Nightmare on Elm Street, Carrie, Evil Dead, The Wicker Man, and many more.
EYESTRANE: Are there any actors you have worked with that you admire? Anyone you would love to work with in the future?
SUZI: Christopher Walken is one of my favorite actors. He has such charisma and stage presence and intensity. No matter what he’s doing or what character he’s playing, he steals the show and commands your attention. I love his wacky and caustic sense of humor. “More cowbell!”
EYESTRANE: What types of roles do you prefer? The more in-your-face action roles or the subtler dramatic ones?
SUZI: Both really. It depends on the script. I’m attracted to any role that has substance, depth, and allows for a well rounded and complex character.
EYESTRANE: Out of the roles you have played, what have been your favorites?
SUZI: My favorite role thus far was playing “Little Wing Won Ton” in Won Ton Baby! I loved being able to play such an innocent and lovable character, who at the same time is so funny and downright strange and irreverent.
EYESTRANE: Do you think that sex and horror necessarily go hand in hand? Is it expected by audiences these days?
SUZI: I think they can go together, but it’s certainly not a prerequisite for a good horror film. I’ve noticed that a lot of online horror reviewers base criteria for a “good” horror film on the amount of nudity and gore. While everyone has different tastes and opinions, I find this to be a “dumbing down” of the horror genre. I would much rather watch an intense psychological thriller that really makes you think and feel, rather than a paint by numbers “splatterfest.” Sometimes the things you don’t see overtly are even more scary. My favorite movies are the ones that stay in your head for days after you watch them, and have an impact. Speaking of which, I was blown away by Simon Rumley’s Red White & Blue and also Robert Saitzyk’s Godspeed. Both have great stories, complexity, intelligence, and characters that draw you in and make you care and feel.
EYESTRANE: I think you are a very versatile actress. Do you have any desire to expand your acting into other genres?
SUZI: I love comedy, and would love to explore more work in that genre in the future. In fact, I was recently cast in Travis Legge’s romantic comedy, Dry Spell, and I’m really looking forward to working with Travis & crew on this. I am also working on a film called Barcelona Bolero, in which I star opposite Eric Roberts. It is a drama with elements of film noir, so again this is a departure from my usual horror fare. We are shooting in April in Barcelona and also San Juan.
EYESTRANE: You are also a writer and have written columns for online sites. Again, I have read some of your columns and not only are you a very good writer you have a great sense of humor. Any there any future projects that may encompass your writing abilities?
SUZI: Actually, I haven’t written for any online sites, although I would consider it if a good opportunity arose. I have written for five different hard copy/print publications over the years, including Italy’s Horror Mania, Germany’s “Virus Magazine”, the UK’s Gorezone magazine and Shock Horror magazine, and also US-based Bio Gamer Girl magazine. Virus and Shock Horror keep me really busy, and it’s really a dream come true to be writing for them. Growing up, I would read horror mags cover to cover, and I never imagined that someday I would be a staff writer for several of them. In terms of other writing projects, I co-wrote a short film called Tales from the Underbelly of Hell: American Serial Killers. It includes a story that I wrote about the “Kansas City Butcher,” Bob Berdella. James Morgart directed and wrote one of the other stories, about Belle Gunness, and he helped me turn my piece about Bob Berdella into a screenplay. More news soon!
EYESTRANE: How important is it to be able to interact with your fans?
SUZI: One of the best things about interacting with fans is that it allows you the opportunity to receive feedback on your work. It’s easy to get too close to your work, and you may lose objectivity. Having a fresh set of eyes watch something gives you additional perspective and insight. I do enjoy meeting fans at film festivals and genre conventions. It’s always a good time, and the fans are so passionate about horror films, and about good cinema in general. And if it weren’t for the fans, we wouldn’t be able to do what we do, so I am very grateful for their support.
EYESTRANE: Is there anything you would like to say to your fans?
SUZI: I would like to urge anyone who is a pet lover to adopt an animal from an animal shelter rather than from a breeder. There are probably a quarter of a million of homeless pets in the US alone. Do your part to save one of their lives rather than support unnecessary breeding. I got both of my cats from PetFinder.com and it is a great resource to locate local animal shelters and see the wonderful pets they have available. (Editor’s Note: Here is also an excellent article on pet’s improving one’s health.)
EYESTRANE: Where can we find more info about you and your projects?
SUZI: My website is SuziLorraine.com and I am also on Facebook under Suzi Lorraine. The official Won Ton Baby! Facebook page is www.Facebook.com/WonTonBabyFranchise.