photo courtesy of Oscar Benjamin
First of all, why don't you introduce yourself to those of us unfortunate
enough to not already know you?
Well, I'm Debra Lamb, and I'm an actor, writer,
and producer. I've been fortunate enough to have worked with such acclaimed
directors as Kathryn Bigelow, David Lynch, Katt Shea, Paul Verhoeven, John
Hughes, and B-movie king Fred Olen Ray. I'm best known for the slew of low
budget horror films I did during the 80's and 90's. Fast forward 20 years
(give or take), I've been a contributor for Dark Beauty Magazine, writing
articles and short stories for both the print magazine and the website for
over two years, I’ve resurrected my acting career, added “producer” to
my credits, and am currently writing a script that will be produced by Joe
Hollow interview - click here] and myself sometime in
the next couple of years.
What got you into acting in the first place, and did you receive
any formal training on the subject?
I had been taking ballet and tap with
the Portland Parks and Rec. Ballet Workshop under the tutelage of the
original dance director, Bartelle Barrett, since I was a child, and every
year we put on two major theatrical productions, so I had been performing
on stage since the age of seven. After I moved to Los Angeles with my
mother and sister when I was fourteen, I continued to take dance at
Beverly Hills High School and then Santa Monica High School, and was
always involved in school dance productions. After graduating high school,
I knew I wanted to pursue an acting career, and so as soon as I was able
to afford it (a couple of years later), I started taking acting classes at
the Van Mar Academy of Motion Picture and Television Acting in West
Hollywood, where I took classes with fellow students Tommy 'Tiny' Lister
and Traci Lords. I had been going there for almost three years when my
acting coach, Jeff Rubens, branched out to teach his own acting class. I
left the Van Mar Academy and joined his class, which was much smaller with
just a handful of students and therefore were given a lot of personal
attention, for four years. When I felt that I had gotten as far as I was
going to with him, I looked for another class and I found my favorite
acting teacher to date, Victoria Wells. She was famous for being the one
who discovered Bob Crane's body in his apartment in 1978. She had been
performing in a dinner theater play with him called Beginner's Luck, and they had been close friends. I took her class for over
three years. I got a lot out of all the classes I took, but it was with
Victoria that I felt I made the most advancements in my skills as an
Can you still
remember your first time in front of a movie camera, and what was that
feature length film would be Stripped to Kill directed by
Katt Shea, starring Kay Lenz and Greg Evigan. I was featured in a strip
club scene as an amateur dancer in a contest, which wasn’t new to me
since I was working in a topless club at the time. My good friend
Michelle McCall recommended me to Katt Shea, who was looking for dancers
for the film. I have to admit, I was slightly nervous, but I knew almost
all the dancers that were featured in the film, so I was surrounded by
friends. It was cool, because Katt ended up using me as the body double
for the actor, Pia Kamakahi, who played both roles as a brother and sister
set of twins. It was exciting working those late nights alongside Katt,
Norman Fell and Kay Lenz, and of course I learned so much being on the
Over the years and due to your
popularity in B horror movies, you were eventually labeled "scream
queen" - your feelings about that label?
Well, it’s a funny story, but when I
was doing those type of films in the 80’s and 90’s, I didn’t realize
that they had such a large audience. I thought that most of the films I
was making were seen by relatively few people, and I had no idea that
there was this huge fan base for these low budget horror films. You have
to remember that this was way before everyone had computers, and it was a
rarity that I found one of the films I was in being sold or rented at my
neighborhood video stores. I had no idea that people knew who I was. One
day Steve Biodrowski, a writer for Femme Fatales magazine, called and
asked me if I would grant him an interview. I was confused. I said “How
do you even know who I am?” He laughed and said that both he and the
magazine’s editor, Bill George, were big fans of mine and had seen many
of my movies. I was like, “Really?! Well, what do ya’ know.” He came
to the set of Evil Spirits (which I co-starred in with Karen
Black and Michael Berryman) for part of the interview and asked if I
aspired to be one of the top scream queens. I know I must have looked at
him funny and my answer was something like, “No, I aspire to be a
serious actress.” Like, why on earth would anyone actually aspire to
become known as a scream queen? The funny part about it is that all these
years later, while I would still rather be known as a character actor, I
certainly owe my resurgence as an actor, at least in part, to that title.
However, the term “scream queen” has been greatly watered down since
the indie horror films of the 80’s and 90’s. Now it seems every Tom,
Dick, and Harriet with a digital camera and a discount card to their local
“Blood Be Us” store are running around guerrilla style convinced they’ve
just shot the next Blair Witch Project, and every “actress”
that gets splattered with blood while clad in a bikini is claiming to be
the next big scream queen.
actually a trained ballerina, right? Did that at all help you in your
All those years with the Portland Parks and Rec. Ballet Workshop molded me
as a performer. My teacher, Bartelle Barrett was a perfectionist, and even
though I was just seven years old when I started taking ballet there, she
made it very clear that she expected your best. I took ballet there for
seven years, along with a few years of tap and flamenco, and being a
student under her guidance, as well as performing in the numerous ballet
productions, gave me a serious attitude towards performance of any kind. I’ve
always been a perfectionist myself, and everything I have done during my
career, whether it‘s modeling, or performing on stage as a dancer, or
acting in films, I‘ve always wanted to give it my all. She instilled in
me very good work ethics at an early age, as did my mother, who made me
practice, practice, practice, whether I wanted to or not.
Also, you are a fire eater - now what can
you tell us about that talent of yours, and where do you even learn such a
At the “So You Want To Burn Your Face
Off Academy”--hahahaha!!! No, but seriously, I learned the skill of fire
eating from my dear friend, Hayward Schaller-Perez, who when she was in
her 20’s had been the assistant to William Wizard, a well known magician
who performed regularly at the Magic Castle in Hollywood. It had been many
years since she had performed with William Wizard when we became friends
back in the 80‘s, but of course she still knew how to do it and was
happy to teach me. I eventually made it a part of my act for my stage
performances, and ended up being hired as the fire eater in David Lynch’s
Wild at Heart and in Point Break, as well as a
handful of music videos.
I'd like you to say a few words to a few movies
and your characters in them I've (rather randomly) picked from your
Stripped to Kill
and Stripped to Kill II?
Since I already touched on Stripped to Kill
earlier, I'll comment on Stripped to Kill II.
I was thrilled that Katt Shea gave me the opportunity to come back and
play a more prominent role in the sequel, Stripped to Kill II: Live
Girls. In this film, I worked closely with choreographer, Ted Lin,
for my solo dance numbers, as well as the dream sequence for Maria Ford's
character, "Shady", in which Marjean Holden, Karen Mayo Chandler
and I perform an eerie number. I loved working with Katt Shea, and unlike
most other low budget films I’ve worked on, she really wanted all of us
to feel our characters. She had us come into the studio for rehearsals for
an entire week before shooting. I’ve always dreamt about working with
her again someday. You never know, it could happen.
wonderfully titled Rock and the Money-Hungry Party Girls?
Hahahaha--this movie was just so much
fun to make! The premise is that a very fat “Elvis” type character
passes away, and the hunt is on to find the “holy grail”--microfilm of
lost and unfinished songs worth millions, which has been hidden in a
locket holding the singer’s gold plated nose hairs. I play Tias, the
leader of the Money-Hungry Party Girls, and with my very sexy posse, we
get what we want by using special powers bestowed upon us by chanting to
our deity, Zsa Zsa Gabor. I still have a box of the official Rock and the Money-Hungry Party Girls
sunglasses that were part of the
I had so much fun working with director
Fred Olen Ray, Eddie Deezen, Michelle Bauer, Jillian Kesner, and Britt
Ekland on this film! My favorite scene is the one between Eddie and I,
when I glide into the room and proclaim, "I'm not going to hurt
you--I just want to bite your neck, and drink all your vital juices, and
make you my sex slave for all eternity!" After some rather silly
banter I inquire, "Is that a stake in your pocket, or are you just
glad to see me?" Eddie gleefully quips, "Ha, ha--it's a stake!
Now die, bitch!" After impaling me with a rather large stake, in vein
of the film's slapstick humor, I retort, "My that's a BIG ONE!",
while I writhe in agony, rays of brilliant light emitting from my body as
I fade away Twilight style, minus the glitter!
The Invisible Maniac?
This is one of my favorite films from
early in my career--it really is quite entertaining! I love Noel Peters as
Professor Dornwinkle. I love his line “I am now injecting the bunny
rabbit.”--that cracks me up every time! I play Betty, one of the five
girls who, along with the five male students, has to attend summer school,
and of course, all of us girls are cheerleaders. Now, Professor Dornwinkle
is actually an insane scientist who has escaped from the psych ward of the
neighborhood hospital. He has invented an invisibility serum and has a
thing for spying on the cheerleaders in the girl’s locker room as they
undress to take their showers. Gee, since the late Savannah co-stars as
one of the cheerleaders, who can blame him?
your work in B-pictures, you have also appeared in "mainstream"
cult classics like Wild at Heart and Point Break. What was
it like working on those as compared to working on low budget films?
Well, the pace is slower. There are a
lot more takes, angle coverage, camera/lighting changes, etc. One of my
favorite differences is that on a few of the big budget films I’ve
worked on, I had my own trailer--that was always a nice surprise, and of
course the craft service is excellent. Although, I must say, I have worked
on several lower budget films where the craft service was very good,
including Disciples. I know a lot of cast and crew members
judge the production of a film on the quality of the craft service. Coffee
and meals are a very big deal on the set. You’re usually working very
long hours, and a nice home-style cooked meal is just what you need to
decompress and relax, until it’s time to get back to work.
other films of your, shall we say, early or first career you'd like to talk about?
Trains & Automobiles and RoboCop were the two
big films that I got cut out of--damn! I loved working on both those
films. On Planes, Trains & Automobiles I worked with
John Candy and Steve Martin in a scene which the three of us completely
improvised. Everyone on the set was in hysterics, including director, John
Hughes. Several months later, I was invited to a screening for it on the
Paramount lot and was handed a cast and crew list as I walked in--my name
was on the list. I was so excited, but it turned out that my scene had
been cut--I was seriously bummed out. But what a fantastic experience.
Same thing with RoboCop. What an honor to have worked with
such iconic directors, John Hughes and Paul Verhoeven.
have appeared naked in quite a few of your movies - was on-camera nudity
ever an issue for you?
Hmmm ... let me think about that one.
Uh, no--hahahaha! I’ve always been a free spirit, and I guess all those
years of changing in the car while my mother drove me to ballet class
after school prepared me for not caring who saw me in my skivvies, and
then later for not caring who saw me out of my skivvies! During all the
years performing in the theatre, and then later dancing in burlesque
clubs, and modeling, I’ve never had an issue with nudity. I do, however,
have an issue being topless in bad movies--actually it’s just the bad
movies. So scratch that--no problem with nudity--just a problem with being
in bad movies--hahahaha!!! And technically, I’ve only been totally “naked”
in one film, and that’s W.B., Blue and the Bean (aka Bail
Out) starring Linda Blair and David Hasselhoff.
Around the mid-1990's you seem to
have disappeared from the radar for about 15 years. What can you tell us
about this career break of yours?
... life happens when you’re busy making plans. Actually, I ended up
with someone who said they supported me and my acting career. They lied. I
was with that person for over nine years--it was hell. I’m happy to
report that I’m now married to a wonderful man who truly loves me and
wants me to be happy, and loves it that I’m back acting again. In fact,
you’ll see my husband’s name, Eric Archuleta, in the credits for Zombie
Attack and also under “special thanks” for Disciples.
My husband’s got his own IMDb page--hahahaha!
What brought you back
into the movie world of late, actually?
got onto Facebook in 2010 and within a matter of months I was getting a
lot of people saying that they were thrilled to have found me, and that
they were big fans of mine. As time went on, I started getting filmmakers
who had been fans of mine from when they were in their teens, wanting me
to read their scripts, and offering me film roles. One thing led to
another, and here I am, back doing what I love the most!
In the short Zombie
Attack from 2011, you don't only play one of the leads, you're also
credited with co-writing the screenplay. Now what can you tell us about
that movie and your co-writer and director Reyna Young [Reyna
Young interview - click here]?
I met Reyna Young, aka “Miss Misery“,
on the set of KOFY TV-20’s Creepy KOFY Movie Time. It’s
a local Bay Area horror movie show, hosted by Balrok, a demon character,
and Noname, a zombie-wrestler type character. We became instant friends
and started brainstorming about a project to work on together. She came up
with Zombie Attack and got all her friends to come over for
a night shoot. Reyna and a few assistants made up about 15 of our friends,
including my husband Eric, into some frightfully formidable zombies, while
we went over the script. I started to come up with some ideas of how to
elaborate on the basic story line, and she really liked my ideas, so we
shot as much of the added script as time would allow.
few words about Disciples
and your character in it?
It’s difficult to keep my comments on Disciples
to a few words, but I’ll try. It was such a pleasure and honor to work
with director, Joe Hollow [Joe
Hollow interview - click here], on this film. My character is Marishka, and I
play a vampire who is possessed by an ancient demon. That’s right, I’m
both a vampire and a demon. It may sound odd, but it makes perfect sense
within the story. I absolutely adore this character, and I’m very
pleased that this will be my “official” comeback role. It was
incredible to be working with such horror film icons as Tony Todd, Bill
Moseley, Angus Scrimm, Debbie Rochon [Debbie
Rochon interview - click here], Brinke Stevens, Linnea Quigley,
Camden Toy, Tom Lodewyck [Tom
Lodewyck interview - click here], Barbara Magnolfi, and the list goes on. You can’t
believe how overcome with excitement I was to be on the set with my dear
friends, Linnea, Brinke, and Debbie after 20 years! I gave SFX make-up
artist Tim Hays [Tim Hays
interview - click here] fits because every time one of them would come through
the door, I would jump up from the make-up chair and run (screaming) to
hug and kiss them!
Joe Hollow, Debra Lamb
did you get involved in the film in the first place? And a few words about
your director Joe Hollow [Joe
Hollow interview - click here] and your collaboration with
him? And how did you two meet up to begin with, actually?
had become aware of Joe Hollow through many mutual friends and associates
on Facebook. I had been offered roles in a couple of films and was also
becoming involved with the production end of things. I approached Joe to
inquire if he’d be interested in directing and co-producing one of these
projects, and that opened up a dialogue. That project eventually fell by
the wayside, but it was “the beginning of a beautiful friendship”.
Joe offered me the role of Marishka in Disciples, and after
reading the script, I fell in love with the character and the story. You
don’t have to know Joe for very long before his talent, dedication, work
ethics, and sheer determination becomes obvious, and that led me to want
to invest in the film, so that’s how I became the co-executive producer
on Disciples. I also worked behind the scenes in certain
areas of production.
are also a producer on Joe Hollow's next film A
Blood Story, as well
as playing the lead, the notorious Erzsebet
Bathory. What can you tell us about that project yet, and what got
you into producing it?
and I had been discussing developing a few
projects that we could film very low budget, utilizing all our combined
resources, including a pool of highly talented actors and crew which we
consider family, the end result being very artistic films with high
production value. Joe and I kicked around some ideas, and we both got to
work on our respective scripts. Joe had a rush of creative energy and
banged out the first draft of A Blood Story. He gave me just
a hint of what was to come, and while I waited on pins and needles for him
to flesh out his script a bit more before he would send it to me, I began
work on mine. I was extremely excited when he told me that he wanted me to
Bathory--I‘ve always been fascinated by her.
My character is actually not the lead role in the film. Mindy Robinson [Mindy
Robinson interview - click here] plays Madison, the lead female character, but the Bathory character is
definitely a key figure in the story.
The G-String Horror
what is it about, and what can you tell us about your character?
a creepy tale of a stripper who was murdered while working at a gentlemen’s
club, and now haunts the building looking for vengeance. This is a very
unique film in that it’s part documentary and part horror film. The
documentary footage is not a bunch of scripted reenactments, but real
people commenting on their real experiences at the Market Street Cinema, a
100 year old theater and historical landmark. I play “Lady Zee”, a
psychic who has been called upon to come and give a psychic reading on the
building, and hopefully shed light on the spirits that reside there.
Actually, that’s exactly what really happened. Charles Webb [Charles Webb interview
- click here] contacted me
to see if I would come do a “walk through” and give a psychic reading
on the building for the film. I thought his concept for the film was very
original and interesting. He wrote me into the script as “Lady Zee”,
and while my character is fictional, the footage of me doing the psychic
reading was quite real.
The location was actually a 100 year old
historical landmark in San Francisco which was originally a vaudeville
theater known as The Imperial, ultimately becoming the Market Street
Cinema. The gentleman’s club that operates there only takes up a portion
of the building and the rest of the theater, which is off limits to the
public, is a horror filmmaker’s dream. While doing my “walk through”
of the theater, there were a handful of key spots that had my psychic
radar going crazy. I picked up on several tragic events, including two
major fires, the overdose of a performer in one of the upstairs
apartments, the gruesome death of a janitor in the basement, the enraged
spirit of a murdered dancer, and the presence of a vortex located above
the center of the original theater stage, which was inaccessible.
Let's talk about
your career as a psychic for a bit - and how did you become aware of that
talent of yours?
When I was
a small child I would see things other people didn’t. When I got a
little older I became aware that I was experiencing paranormal phenomenon.
I was fourteen when my mom moved me and my sister to Los Angeles, and soon
after I had an especially frightening experience. That prompted me to
start reading about poltergeists, ESP, clairvoyance, etc. I took a tarot
card class in my early 20’s, and my psychic studies just went on from
Any future projects you'd like to share?
right now I’m writing Blood at Sunset, which Joe and I
plan on producing together in the near future. We were going to try to film
A Blood Story and Blood at Sunset back to back, but it
just happened that everything fell together for A Blood Story
very quickly, so my script will probably be filmed in the next year or two.
Also, Joe Hollow’s Cannibals is scheduled to film next
summer, and I’m very much looking forward to that. I don’t want to
give anything away, but I will be playing a role that will be a complete
departure from any of my previous roles. My goal this “second time
around” is to strive to play characters that are very different from
each other. I would rather be seen in fewer films, and have those films be
projects that I can really be proud of, than be seen in a dozen films
playing the same type of character over and over. This closely relates to
what Joe Hollow [Joe
Hollow interview - click here] and I are set out to accomplish in the
next few years. We have a line-up of projects that we hope to prove, that
with smart filmmaking and a dedicated group of close knit “family”,
consisting of highly talented actors and our fabulous behind-the-camera
team, that you can make a film with a high production value on a low
budget. Earlier I mentioned that the main difference between big budget
and low budget films is the care given to covering each scene with several
takes, camera/lens changes, and attention to lighting--well, that’s
exactly what director Joe Hollow and cinematographer Wolfgang Meyer [Wolfgang
Meyer interview - click here]
worked so hard to achieve with Disciples.
photo courtesy of Oscar Benjamin
How would you
describe yourself as an actress?
“psycho-perfectionist“. Dedicated. Hardworking. A chameleon. Risk
Actresses (or indeed
actors) who inspire you?
Moore, Drew Barrymore, Steve McQueen, Humphrey Bogart, Lauren Bacall,
Milla Jovovich, Bruce Lee, Cary Grant, Uma Thurman, Robert Downey Jr.,
Christopher Walken, Willem Dafoe, Christoph Waltz, Al Pacino, Charlize
Theron, Johnny Depp, Keanu Reeves, Holly Hunter, Robert De Niro, Samuel L.
Jackson, and the list goes on.
Your favourite movies?
Thin Man, Key Largo, Scarface, Charade,
Gangs of New York, Inglourious Basterds, Kelly's Heroes, The Fifth
Element, Kill Bill, Bram Stoker’s Dracula, To Live and
Die in L.A., etc. There are seriously too many to list, but my
favorite to date that I‘ve been in is Disciples.
and of course, films you really deplore?
of Heaven and Alexander, and I’m pretty sure that The
English Patient would be on the list had I seen it.
Facebook, whatever else?
The Official Debra Lamb website: http://thedebralamb.com/
My page on IMDb.com: http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0482941/
The Debra Lamb Extreme fan page on Facebook is at: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Debra-Lamb-Extreme/153376554692458
My Debra Lamb Psychic Healing website is: http://debralambpsychic.com/
Dark Beauty Magazine: http://www.darkbeautymag.com/
Anything else you are dying to
mention and I have merely forgotten to ask?
you kidding me?!! Hahahaha!!!
You are very
welcome, Michael, and thank you so much! It was such a pleasure!