27th Apr2018

Interview with Scream Queen Debra Lamb (Part One)

by Philip Rogers

Recognised as one of the original scream queens and a career spanning over three decades, Debra Lamb continues to work in film both as an actress and writer. I was lucky enough to talk with Debra about working on her upcoming film projects There’s No Such Thing as Zombies and Expresso to Die For, the title of a scream queen title, her short stories and an idea for the delicious sounding vegan dish ‘Lamb Stew’

debra-lamb

How did you first get into acting as a career?

When I was seven I kept bugging my mother that I wanted to take Ballet lessons. I had taken piano and typical lessons you take as a kid. She said if I enrol you in ballet you really have to be committed. So, I started Ballet when I was seven and you know how little kids I are didn’t want to practise, but she made me practise almost every single day at home. Which is good because she instilled in me the importance of practise and being dedicated. That was in Portland, Oregon. I took ballet from seven to fourteen and during that time their productions were really professional.

When I was a little kid, it was so long ago I was in some stage production of The Mayflower, I was the pilgrim or something (laughs) I don’t remember. As well as doing Ballet in school I also took drama and I was also playing a lot of instruments. I changed a lot of schools so every time I changed schools I also changed instruments. I took piano, guitar, clarinet, percussion, cello, trumpet, but I would never take any one instrument long enough to get really good.

My mother moved me and my sister to LA when I was 14, so I wasn’t in the Ballet Theatre Company anymore. I took dance and drama when I went to Beverly Hills High School for a year and then I went to Santa Monica High School for two years. Both schools have really top-notch theatre and dance schools. When I was out of high school I decided that I wanted to pursue acting. In my early 20’s I was taking acting classes at a famous acting school. It is no longer around because the CEO Ivan Markota passed away many years ago. It was the Van Mar Academy of Motion Picture & Television Acting. I was acting there for a few years and then went on to another school with one of the teachers who went out on his own for a few years. That how I got into acting by being an artistic person. As a kid I used write stories, poetry and illustrate them.

Basically, once I started out on my own I started modelling, I was dancing in certain productions and I danced in a handful of music videos. Little bit, by little bit I got my foot in the door with acting. I got in with certain directors such as  Fred Olen Ray, Gary Graver and Ross Hagen who were doing a lot of independent horror films. That’s how I got into horror films because those were my first jobs and it just kind of snowballed from there.

We are talking today about two new films you have filmed in the UK with Eddie Bammeke…

Three actually! I have been out to London three times now and each time I have worked with Eddie Bammeke he’s been wonderful.

I have There’s No Such Thing as Zombies and Expresso to Die For. What is the third film?

The third one, well I can’t really talk about it (laughs). The third one I was just out there for. I was out there for There’s No Such Thing as Zombies last August and I came back in November or Expresso to Die For. I was there as you know last month for the film Eddie told me I can’t talk about. But it’s going to be good!

And is that going to be another feature film?

Yes! There’s No Such Thing as Zombies is a feature film, Expresso to Die For is actually a short film I star in with Lynn Lowry, who I also star with in There’s No Such Thing as Zombies. The third film which I am not supposed to talk about is also starring me and Lynn Lowry so there is a theme going there.

Are you in scenes together or do you just feature in the same film?

There’s No Such Thing as Zombies we’re not. In fact, she shot all of her scenes a year and a half before me, because they did a short-called Talk of the Dead (2016), which is an award winning short. But Talk of the Dead is a part of There’s No Such Thing as Zombies. In Expresso to Die For we are in it together for the whole thing, she and I are co-hordes and in this new one… I think I may be safe to say that there might be ____ in it? I hope Eddie doesn’t kill me for giving that part away. Maybe we should miss that, there could be some type of horror monster in it. Maybe. I don’t want Eddie to strangle me, “No you weren’t meant to say anything!” And I’m like SORRY… So, there may be horror creatures in it, your guess is as good as mine. Lynn and I are in scenes in that together in that secret film which I am not supposed to give away.


We will talk about the film we can discuss then… With the film There’s No Such Thing as Zombies can you tell us what the film is about, other than zombies.

Well let me see, what could it possibly be about? Well in it I play… I know I am safe to say this, agent Abigail Tall of the ZIA. I am part of the Zombie Investigation Association team. I had the badge, but it turns out Eddie glued my ZIA investigation badge on a card that he needed back, so when I was there the last time I had to hand back my ZIA card. But I do have picture of it.

That one is a horror comedy…

They are both definitely horror comedies. In There’s No Such Thing as Zombies my partner is the funny guy and I am the straight guy or Gal. I am the straight woman in this one. I’m a bit crotchety and jaded. In Expresso to Die For my characters switch. I’m a comedic character and Lynn is the straight guy. Can I say straight guy without the feminist movement coming down on me? Do I have to be PC and say straight woman?

Or straight person we are politically correct now.

Oh, are we PC now with straight person? I am sorry, but I am just not a PC person. There are obviously some things you don’t want to say but… For all the non-PC people out there, depending on how un-PC they are, you are safe with me. It is so hard to offend me, and I am not easily grossed out either (Laughs).

The other horror film Expresso to Die For, can you explain what that film is about?

Oh, let me tell you real quick. That secret movie which I am not supposed to talk about is really serious! That is gonna be a scary one, I can’t wait to talk about it!

Did I tell you about There’s No Such Thing as Zombies? I told you about my character, but I am a ZIA agent. I am not actually trying to find zombies, I keep telling my partner we are not here to kill zombies, we are only here to ask questions! I am trying to track down this drug that is turning people into zombies. I don’t believe in zombies until… I can’t give it away, spoiler alert, I will just keep you hanging.

Expresso to die for, in that one Lynn Lowry and I are running a community theatre group. Lynn is not the one running it, so she is upset about that. She is second in command and I am third in command. My character is very silly in this one, which is surprisingly quite easy for me to play. What can I say without giving too much away, there is a killer as the title suggests in Expresso to die for and also expresso in it! And the expresso is to die for! This expresso is so good, people are willing to lay down their lives, that’s how good it is! People are dying right and left for this expresso and wouldn’t you know it I really happen to love expresso myself, so I can really get into a character who is obsessed with expresso. In fact, the three times I have come to London now, I have flown into Heathrow and the Nero’s coffee is right there. It has been my tradition, the first thing I do when I get off the plane and get my bag is go to Nero and get an expresso or cappuccino and then I take a picture of it and post a picture of my first obligatory coffee in London. And a brownie, because their brownies are really good! I actually have a Nero card that they stamp to get a free coffee the tenth one you get free. I currently have five, but I forgot to use it once or twice. I think one more trip to London and I will get my free coffee!

So, Eddie will need to bring you to London to make another movie just, so you can get a free coffee.

That’s exactly right. Well this last time I was there for three weeks which really turned out well. Do you know Mike Haberfelmer, he does the Search My Trash Blog?

The website, yes.

Michael is a good friend of mine and we have written a couple of scrips together. The first time I was in London I was just writing this outline for a script I was about to start, and I told them my story. Eddie loved it and he wanted to do it, so Eddie, Michael and I joined forces. It is a female road buddy movie. The plan was to go out and shoot this secret movie and then the next two weeks we would work on the script. But as you remember the weather was so cold. One of the scenes was going to be inside, but two of the scenes were going to be outside at night. It was so cold, Eddie said we can’t do that, we will have to wait until the weather warms up to shoot the second two days. Then a few days later we were planning on shooting and then it snowed. There were inches of snow which was exciting for me because I hadn’t seen snow for a very long time living in LA. We shot one day the first week, shot a day the follow week and a day on the final week because we had to do the outside shots. Of course, it rained but it stopped just long enough for us to get our shot. That London weather, what are you going to do? We did work on this other script and I will hopefully be out again in August, but we will see. I am sure I will be out again a few times.

Whilst you were shooting the two films and the one we can’t talk about; did you face any challenges during filming? I know you mentioned the weather.

Nothing out of the ordinary. Whether you are dealing with a big budget or low budget film there is always something that either delays your shoot days or you have to change a scene. On There’s No Such Thing as Zombies a couple of times we planned to shoot in one area, but we couldn’t shoot in the planned location. Eddie very cleverly rearranges things a little bit and I have to hand it to him, he has faced challenges with the three films and every time he came up with a very clever solution. He is very resilient with that and I am always very impressed with the solutions he comes up with. In fact, in many cases his original idea, because of some snafu which is out of his control, he comes out with a solution which is even better than the original plan.

Expresso to Die For there was a role in it and the person cast couldn’t make it. Eddie had to step in last minute and play one of the roles. It was great, because it was his cameo in the film. Even though it aggravated Eddie that the actor didn’t show, he stepped in and it was great.

On the secret one I can’t talk about it was mainly the weather. The first day we shot out there we were out for hours and we had to come inside to thaw out for a little bit then go back out. By the end of that first day I felt as though my hands were going to fall off if I stayed out there much longer. But if I can run through the mountains in the snow, in a negligee and ballet slippers, falling down in the snow, I can handle London weather. I was telling somebody about my escapades in The American Scream (1988). I was the girl who is running, tripping and falling, but it was up in the Big Bear mountains at night. It was full on snow high and thick. There I was in my negligee and ballet slippers. If I can handle that I can handle the London weather.

What were your favourite moments during filming?

There’s No Such Thing as Zombies there were several people staying at Eddie and Layla’s flat. I was actually staying at a Travel Lodge nearby, but I was over there most of the time. We had all the cast and crew everyone there and joking around a lot. Eddie and Layla are both vegan and I have been on and off vegan over 11-12 years. I do try but staying there they make the best vegan food and we eat like kings. Eddie was making this vegan cheesecake to die for. The next film should be Vegan Cheesecake to Die For! A lot of these low budget films don’t have a lot of money, so they scrimp on the craft service, but when you work for Eddie Bammeke you are going to eat good and your gonna gain about 100 pounds! They are both so funny and clever and when you are working on a film called There’s No Such Thing as Zombies, how are you not going to have fun?

The other two times I was staying so they are fattening me up, because some day they are going to throw me in the oven and eat me (Laughs). That is going to be the next film, although it’s not going to be fake. They are going to film me chowing down and saying, I’ll be saying “You guys are going to make me so fat” and the next thing you know there will be this giant pan. They will be like “We warmed up this water for you on the stove, because the hot water’s not working. Are you hungry, oh will just chop in some carrots in there for you, oh yum! Throw is some potatoes, oh you smell so good” I would be like “Oh it smells too good in here” and its stew of Lamb! We are making stew of lamb! They will be filming the whole thing “Oh we are just doing Facebook live” as they keep adding more and more vegetables. It will weigh me down and you will just see my head which will look like a giant potato with eyes. I would be like “Eddie! Layla! save me a bowl!” as my face goes under the vegetables and that’s the last you will see of me. That’s when they will have a giant wrap party, and everybody will be having this fantastic stew and asking them what this is? “It’s Lamb Stew!” “But your vegan, what are you doing?” and they will be “It’s Vegan Lamb Stew!” As long as I’m vegan its ok!

That’s a great story!

Eddie will see this interview and I’ll be like, “Eddie get working on the script”

It would make a great short, it’s like Hansel and Gretel but vegan style.

Or like Bugs Bunny where they stick him in a pot. So, my idea is maybe not that original, I may be plagiarizing.

But you will have a darker twist on a classic.

What should we call it?

I think Lamb Stew works and it’s an exclusive.

You heard it here and so no one else can do this, Debra Lamb come up with this. Besides you can’t make the movie without Debra Lamb!

Look out for Part 2 of this interview next week!

______

You can find out more about Debra Lamb on her website and social media pages:

Website: http://thedebralamb.com
Facebook: https://facebook.com/thedebralamb/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/thedebralamb
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/thedebralamb/
YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCNq5d6Jy-g8ZacO0VvC6V0Q

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