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Wednesday, December 2, 2020

Felissa Rose on ‘Camp Twilight,’ ‘Terrifier 2’ and the Return of the ‘Sleepaway Camp’ Franchise [Interview]

Horror icon Felissa Rose is incredibly busy. From performing in and producing films to appearances at conventions, she has managed to stay active and safe during this tumultuous year.

With her latest film Camp Twilight now available on demand, Felissa took some time to have a heartfelt conversation with us about the future of Sleepaway Camp, the making of Camp Twilight, her upcoming projects, and what her life in horror has meant to her. 

She also reveals her all-time favorite horror flick! Read on…

What can you tell us about the Camp Twilight process?

An interesting one there. From the very beginning it was super fun because Rick Finkelstein, who I absolutely love and adore, he owns Entertainment Factory, and I had done a bunch of movies with him. I love Rick and his wife Karen, it’s a real family affair. They said, “Hey, let’s go to Florida and make this camp movie.” And they had the structure of a script. And then myself and [Brandon Amelotte] who directed it, he and I sort of took the script and peppered it with ideas. I, you know, always want to make a camp movie, like without a doubt; say camp to me, I’m there. Then I thought let’s really use teenagers and let’s give it an interesting beginning and end. So, we were kind of peppering it with our thoughts even though some of the script was there. So, that’s the only thing that is strange; we were kind of adding on to a script that we had been given. So, there was a lot of working and reworking. We were trying our best to make it fluid and understandable, yet interesting. You know, if you’re gonna make a film hopefully it can be something interesting and always fun. For me, if it’s gonna be a camp movie, let it be silly and fun.

Well, the name is there. It has to be campy a little bit, right?

Exactly! And we just had a good time. You know, we were a whole bunch of friends that flew out to Florida. All my best friends were there, you know, Dave Sheridan, Vernon Wells, the whole cast, the crew, an amazing group. So, we had a good time. We partied a lot at night. It was a lot of wine. At night we would all sit in the hotel lobby and just drink cases of wine. To me, if it’s not fun, why do it. You know, anything in life should bring you joy.

Was there anything particularly challenging about the shoot?

I think maybe if there was anything challenging, and I like a good challenge, is we were working with real teenagers, like sixteen and seventeen. So, they would say like, “Oh, we have a spin-the-bottle make-out scene.” So, Brandon would say like, “Come on Felissa, let’s like talk to them about it.” Because I remember even when I made Sleepaway Camp, I was really thirteen, and I had a big make-out scene. It’s hard when you’re an adult. I still get weird when I have to do love scenes in movies.

‘Camp Twilight’

How did all the teenagers do?

They were so sweet. Not only were they so adorable and kind, but they were helpful in kind of improvising the language; Brandon and I were like, “Well, we’re old. We don’t know what this means.” I’d say, “Well what can you call my character,” they’d say “Extra.” Those scenes with the kids are just fantastic because they’re great, they’re super talented and they really worked hard at, you know, giving their all and having fun.

The movie is out now, so I don’t feel like it’s a spoiler, but did you enjoy playing the villain? How much influence did you have on that decision?

It had already been written where that particular woman had some stuff going on, but it was really Brandon. I love Brandon Amelotte. He’s such a talented person in so many aspects. He’s been the first AD on sets that I’ve been on, the producer, the writer, the director, the editor. He’s just a fantastic person. He really wrote it because I wanted to be able to play it. Although he would send it and we would go back and forth, it was easier for me to kind of read it, if that makes sense, rather than—you know, so I could process it. Then as the actor, I really have to say that I had the best time that night when I shot that scene at the end. I think it’s now, because I’m in my fifties, that I want to be challenged. Like I just said, I’m playing this kind of witchy character, in Victor Crowley I got to play a real character. I got to play a five-hundred-pound character in Garlic and Gunpowder. I feel like I want to challenge myself and so, this particular woman had a lot of layers and I wanted to get emotional. You know, you purge, and I wanted to go there.

How much on Camp Twilight, or just in general, is usually improvised for you?

You know, I would say ninety percent of all the work I’ve done is all scripted. I’m on a shoot right now and I’m really respectful of the writer, so I try to give him verbatim. I don’t ever try to stray unless you have that conversation prior and it’s sort of, you know, that doesn’t feel right, maybe try that way. But most of the time we’re really—again even with Victor Crowley or Camp Dread, and a number of the films I’ve worked with Harrison Smith, we try to stick with what’s on the page. It’s easier for me. Like, I work with Dave Sheridan a lot and he’s just so great at improvisation that a lot of what he does tends to veer in that direction, but that’s his specialty.

Are there any Easter eggs that may have gone unnoticed on an initial viewing?

My name is “Ms. Bloom” and I named myself after John Bloom who is Joe Bob Briggs.

You are incredibly busy. I saw you have a ton of stuff listed in pre-production or filming currently. How are you handling so many projects?

I know everyone is busy. My priority will always be my family. In fact, sadly today I had another interview scheduled and my kids needed me to go take them to get stuff for their sports, so I had to sadly reschedule and change that. So, they’re always number one above and beyond. They’re the loves of my life. I watch them every day and my mind is blown because I’m so enamored by these little people and watching them now grow into big people. They take my breath away. I’m in love. Being a mom is the greatest gift that ever happened to me. It’s a beautiful thing. But then with work, I love work. I’m definitely a workaholic. I thrive and I’m inspired by going, going, going. I just try to work it out. There are times when it gets a little wonky when I’ll have a shoot and I said yes to a convention. So, I just try, like everyone else to just juggle and work. And just take a breath in the moment and have conversations with you that just feed my soul. Because these are the moments that I say, “Ok. That was magnificent.”

So, what are you working on now?

I’m on a film called Sorority of the Damned and I’m obsessed with the script. I love it. My good friend who’s a good friend of Harrison Smith’s, Robby Knyrim and Joe Davidson from Stranger Things are co-directing, and Joe is the star of the film. I’m fortunately playing a really cool character. When you read a script, it’s always exciting to look at what’s on the page and get all excited about creating something that you haven’t before. That just drives me wild when I can do something different. So, I’m on that and then I go to a movie I’m producing and acting in called Times Up with my amazing friends Damian Maffei and L.C. Holt and Corey Norman, who’s directing, and Hannah Fierman and Dave Sheridan. And we’re all in this together. And then I go into Stream with the people that did Terrifier 2.

What role do you play in Terrifier 2?

I play a teacher in Terrifier 2. I have a cameo and I loved my part. Damien [Leone] gave me something really juicy to do and it was just really fun for me. And David [Howard Thornton] is just extraordinary. He’s one of the most iconic characters of our time. He gives a performance like no other.

Sleepaway Camp - Angela

‘Sleepaway Camp’

What can you tell us about a potential Sleepaway Camp reboot?

I will say this, because there’s been so much looming around the Sleepaway Camp universe for so long. Will they remake it? Will there be another sequel? I know that something’s in the works. I don’t even really know exactly how it will be, but I can tell you that definitely like—we just had our 37th anniversary—I would love to say that, mark my words, by the 40th, something will be out. Now, if they ever consulted with me, I would love to see a prequel to the Sleepaway Camp world. Because this is one of those movies that is driven by the circumstances that happens in the beginning of the film. And I would love to understand who is Aunt Martha? What happened to her in creating all that she did with Angela and Ricky? Why didn’t Angela go to camp with Ricky the other summer? With all of this, I would love to see a prequel. I would love to make the prequel. So, definitely we haven’t seen the end of Sleepaway Camp.

What about the possibility of it moving to a streaming platform?

I had heard something like that, but only from reading about it. I’m always skeptical because I haven’t heard about it from the close sources like the director or producer. Certainly, anything would be great, because for me it’s my whole life. It gave me a life. Sleepaway Camp gave me a life. That’s the truth. It sounds weird when I say that, but I married my husband because he was the—I didn’t marry him because he was the number one fan, but I married him and he was the biggest fan of the movie. We always joke, like these kids are here because of a cheesy movie from the 80s. Like, I was hugging my son the other day and I looked at my husband and I was like, do you realize that if Sleepaway Camp had never happened, this child would not be here? And my son is looking at me like, what? But it’s true. We met because he came to the set of Return to Sleepaway Camp almost eighteen years ago and we met because he was this crazy fan of Sleepaway Camp. And when he was twelve, he said “I’m gonna marry Felissa Rose. I’m gonna meet Felissa and I’m gonna marry her and we’re gonna have kids.” Talk about manifesting your reality.

I don’t think I’ve ever heard of anyone fulfilling their dreams more than him.

I’m like, restraining order—[laughs] no.

As such a horror icon, what has kept you interested in horror for so long?

Everything. Probably always going back to the people that I work with. I was always such a fan, now getting to meet, just—knowing Barbara Crampton. I still get cuckoos when her name pops up on my phone. Or Adrienne Barbeau. It’s definitely like being a fan, and then getting to work in this genre, lights my soul on fire with happiness. I just love horror scripts. I love producing horror because the elements are so exciting and electric from the special effects to all the—it’s just profound for me. It just really rocks my world from the storytelling to the character creations to the amazing people that I get to eat, sleep, and breathe with. There’s nothing like it. I just can’t say enough about how much I love it. I wish I could hug the entire community at one time.

What are some contemporary horror films and directors you like?

I love Joe Lynch. I love Mayhem. I love Adam Green. I was a huge fan of the Hatchet franchise.

What is next for you?

Maybe a comic book. A bunch of fun films, fun horror movies that I’m going to act in and produce, and conventions.

What is your all-time favorite horror movie?

Ok. So, my favorite, favorite horror movie of all time is the original Texas Chainsaw Massacre. It’s, to me, the epitome of a horror movie classic; sentimental to me, being young and having seen it. Marilyn Burns being the epitome of the scream queen; beautiful, organic performance. Everything about it checks all the boxes for me. I mean, I have a million favorites, but I’m in love with that one.

Felissa Rose is slated to make appearances in a number of upcoming films, and with any luck, we might get something new from the Sleepaway Camp universe in the next few years...

For now, you can rent her latest movie Camp Twilight on demand right now.


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