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An Interview with Tristan Risk, Horror Actress

by Mike Haberfelner

May 2015

Films starring Tristan Risk on (re)Search my Trash


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photo by Shimona Henry at Pin Up Perfection

makeup by Teresa Bussey of Dead Heaven Make Up

In recent years, you have had quite a bit of success in indie horror movies - so is horror a genre at all dear to you, and what makes you want to be in the movies you're in? And how do you enjoy the horror scene as such?


Horror was dear to me from day one. I have always been fascinated with the dark side and the things that scare us. I remember as kids, we'd gather up a bunch of kids and sit in dark attics, crawlspaces or in the woods reading scary stories to each other. I can only imagine my friend's parent's reaction to opening the crawlspace to find a drill or something and finding six preteen girls reading Stephen King to each other and trying to scare the shit out of each other with Pet Semetary and Tommyknockers.

To be able to be part of the media that helped me keep it together in my formative years is a dream come true. I never forget how lucky I am that my first films opened the doors to so much work. But I've had the most amazing time being able to work with so many different filmmakers and their casts and crew. I feel pretty spoiled. I have so many favourites in different subgenres of horror that I want to be like the Pokemon Master of Horror - I want to collect them all!


A project with a title that goes rather well with indie horror as such is your current webseries Straight to Video: The B-Movie Odyssey - so do talk about that one for a bit, what can you tell us about the shoot, and how did you get involved with the series even?


James Bickert and Tristan shooting Frankenstein Created Bikers

Cody Kennedy, who's brother is Matt Kennedy from Astron-6 (proves that talent is in their basic DNA sequence), got in touch with me. I was introduced to the House Of Heathens-crew, who are some of the funniest guys I've ever worked with. Lots of fun, and reminded me of all the funny dudes in the theatre class I liked hanging out with in high school. They shot me the teaser script and it was super funny. When in Edmonton filming the teaser, I went to Kevin's video store - the last of its kind in Edmonton - and saw the movie posters, all the familiar titles on the spines of the DVDs and that crying dog black velvet painting and thought, 'I'm home'. I'd performed in Edmonton for years when I used to tour through and I never knew that magical slice of sass from heaven was even there. 

The House Of Heathen dudes have put out a series of their webisodes online, and they gave me a DVD of the collection. Did I laugh? I soaked the seat. After watching it, I KNEW these guys got my aesthetic, and I love their appreciation of the Cannon era and grindhouse. All of the yes.


Jill Sixx, Tristan

You're also in the wonderfully titled Frankenstein Created Bikers - so anything you can us about that movie and your character in it yet?


I just wrapped filming in Atlanta, where Walkers are known to roam. I play Val - a badass with a penchant for blowing up cops, rival bikers, and who commands an unusual army. This is the follow up to James Bickert's Dear God No! [James Bickert interview - click here] and it's likely the last independent film shot on 35mm film. However, even if you've missed Dear God No! (and if you have, shame on you - you need to check it out) it's a pleasure and a joy to be around this cast and crew and I'm so ridiculously proud to be involved. I'm able to spend time on set with my friends Ellie (Church), Jill (Sixx) and Laurence (Harvey) which is nice, since we so rarely get a chance to see each other. I find making cool art such as this is perfect, since then we can have a blast, and then share it with the world. 

I had such a blast working with these cats and I fee like I've made some incredible friends. The cast and crew worked like rented donkeys and there is so much love going into ever facet of this film. If I snuff it, I can die happy knowing I was part of this movie. It was a wonderful experience and I'm seriously considering moving to Atlanta or at least spending a good chuck to time there so I can pester the cats at Silver Scream FX labs and watch movies at Jimmy and Lisa's backyard drive-in (for real) and drink beer with Jett. I think all the joy we had making this film will shine through when people watch it. I'm a grindhouse girl for life.


Another future project of yours is the British Redacted - so what drew you to that project, how did you become involved?


I basically bullied Andy Stewart into hiring me.

I kid, but I first was familiar with his work from Dysmorphia, when it played at the Rio Grind Festival in Vancouver. I saw someone in the audience pass out, and I was fan from then on. I followed his work with Split and Ink, all amazing body horror shorts. 

While I was in Ireland shooting Ground Floor with the SpadeLion boys, we got to talking on Facebook, and I sort of coerced him into letting me read the Redacted script, and again, it was pure Andy Stewart brilliance. It wasn't a body horror, but it was grand. I might have sort of said some words that some people might have taken as threatening, but Andy has a good soul, and saw I genuinely wanted to participate. He also was good enough to bring on my partner-in-genre-crime Laurence Harvey - this will be our fifth project together - to make this strange story. 

My role is non-verbal, though all my dialog is body language. Coming from a dance background, this was something I was excited to experiment with. I won't look familiar in a way anyone would recognize me, and I hope that if Ron Perlman, Doug Jones or Camden Toy see it, then they approve, all being phenomenal suit and makeup actors themselves. Being able to lose yourself in the make up and be something unlike anyone would know you as is an alluring concept to me.


Yet another future project of yours, Dark Continents, seems to hold a lot of promise - so you obviously have to talk about that one!


Yes! I'm looking forward to this one. Dark Continents features four travellers sharing stories about their experiences and the pasts that they are fleeing from with a good dose of Lovecraftian strangeness that ties all the stories together. I'll be playing the role of Bianca, who travels to see her sister, who has gotten involved with a strange cult. I love Lovecraft, and enjoy the high gothic sensibilities of the concept of four lost souls commiserating their strange experiences...


American Mary

Any other current or future films of yours you'd like to talk about?


Yes! I've got the good fortune to be travelling to Boston next week to work with Izzy Lee [Izzy Lee interview - click here] and the Nihil Noctem film crew to shoot her short film Innsmouth, which is Lovecraftian in nature. It caters to a certain taste of mine and Lovecraft fans will enjoy this hard and fast punch to the soul. Izzy herself is a major fan of the master's works, and I know her homage will get the nod from others, too.

I'm also working on a little project with Gigi Saul Guerrero and the Luchagore team at the beginning of June on a little short that will have her likely disowned by her family for the content and on a subject close to my heart. This will be part of Eli Roth's CryptTV, so I look forward to making people squirm en masse with it. I've wanted to work with Gigi for ages and and I can't wait!


What got you into acting in the first place, and did you receive any formal training on the subject?


I did theatre in my youth. I had done a few short films and music videos, but American Mary was my first major project. I have always been a performer though. I love it and having a camera and great stories and directors help to channel all that energy into something productive.


Women in horror, especially good loking ones, are almost automatically labelled as scream queens - a label that at all bothers you, and your thoughts about women in horror as such?


Not in the least. I'm proud of the title. There was a time in the 80s when the label first dropped and it described actresses who did horror movies and oftentimes were the victims. Known for their screams as they were victims of crazy psychos and monsters, it's where we started. But now with so many women in horror and people, men and women, writing smart characters, not just chainsaw bait, now the moniker is one that we've reclaimed. The women who are Scream Queens are busy causing other people to scream - not doing the screaming themselves. 

Consider this: In the 20s the term 'flapper' was used to label women that society saw as fast and loose. They didn't wear corsets, they had jobs, they drank, they stayed out. They did what they want. Now we think it's cute and we gloss over the fact that it was a derogatory term. Now it's no longer as such. The Scream Queen title has similarly be rescued and is now celebrated. If I'm labeled a Scream Queen, I wear that crown with fucking pride.


Your initial and main claim to fame is though not as an actress but as a burlesque dancer - so what can you tell us about that aspect of your career, and how did you get involved in it even?


I did it as a gag for a friend's party many moons ago... but since then it's taken me all over the world. Burlesque has done me right, and though I have begun making more films and spending less time on stage... the stage is my lover. She is tolerant though and allows me to have the silver screen as my misteress, since she knows my heart belongs to her.


I've read somewhere that you're also a fire eater - so how do you even learn such a skill, and other skills of yours you'd like to talk about?


I have a fairly wide catalog of what I call stupid human tricks. Sideshow, magic, striptease. A lot of these arise out of just messing around or a curiosity. It feeds into research which leads to developing a skill. I love fire and always have, but I got to do a fire show every night for six years in my touring days so you get really good at it. Also, I should point out, ironically, the only time I've been burned is with a curling iron or the oven when baking. Make of that what you will.


You're also very outspoken about third wave feminism - so please elaborate!


I could easily fill pages with my thoughts on this. The fact is, until women everywhere have equal rights with men in all things, my work being a vocal third wave feminist will never be done. No one has any right to dictate to me about whether I have the choice to govern my own body, receive equal pay, if female lives matter or to eat pussy. Until I don't have to fight for these things anymore, then I still have an obligation to be loud and call attention to the inequalities, especially for the women who don't have that voice.


How would you describe yourself as an actress, and some of your techniques to bring your characters to life?


photo by Shimona Henry at Pin Up Perfection

makeup by Teresa Bussey of Dead Heaven Make Up

I have a very bad habit of taking aspect of my personality and applying them to my characters. This helps me tap into what I'm doing, and while I can slip into play easily, sometimes getting out of it can be tricky. Method seems to be my modus operandi.


Actresses (and indeed actors) who inspire you?


Where to being? Malcolm McDowell, Brinke Stevens, Rosario Dawson, Rose McGowan, Doug Jones, Camden Toy, Ron Perlman, and Barbara Crampton to name a few. The list is pretty wide and long, since there are a lot of artists I respect. Inspiration gets drawn from many corners, and I could sing you a dozen different names every day for a week. I think it's a take from the idea that it takes a village to raise a child... if that's true there is a stained glass window in my mind of talent that makes up the mosaic of inspiration for me.


Your favourite movies?


My favourite all-time film is Labyrinth. I love the combination of live action and puppets. Being such a Jim Henson nerd, I totally loved it as a kid and now as an adult appreciate it on a different scale. The same movie wouldn't be made today unless it was an independent passion project, and I hope they are out there, but it'd likely just be CGI-ed to death. The magic was in the organic quality of the interaction between the actors and puppets, and it also was the basis of why I did men in eye makeup and tight pants....


... and of course, films you really deplore?


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Suckerpunch. As a feminist it made me really mad to see the way the women in it were portrayed, especially with the barely legal angle. If they were going that route, I'd say go Tokyo Gore Police on it and own it, but it was left with this NC 15 rating so all the over the top craziness that could have saved it instead watered it down and just left me feeling like it was one of those films I should just try and forget happened so I don't get mad thinking about it and wind up putting a hole in the drywall.

Seriously. I can't even see people CosPlay characters without wanting to facepalm.


Your website, Facebook, whatever else?



Instagram and Twitter: @littlemissrisk



Thanks for the interview!


© by Mike Haberfelner

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Thanks for watching !!!



In times of uncertainty of a possible zombie outbreak, a woman has to decide between two men - only one of them's one of the undead.


There's No Such Thing as Zombies
Luana Ribeira, Rudy Barrow and Rami Hilmi
special appearances by
Debra Lamb and Lynn Lowry


directed by
Eddie Bammeke

written by
Michael Haberfelner

produced by
Michael Haberfelner, Luana Ribeira and Eddie Bammeke


now streaming at


Amazon UK





Robots and rats,
demons and potholes,
cuddly toys and
shopping mall Santas,
love and death and everything in between,
Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

is all of that.


Tales to Chill
Your Bones to
a collection of short stories and mini-plays
ranging from the horrific to the darkly humourous,
from the post-apocalyptic
to the weirdly romantic,
tales that will give you a chill and maybe a chuckle, all thought up by
the twisted mind of
screenwriter and film reviewer
Michael Haberfelner.


Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

the new anthology by
Michael Haberfelner


Out now from