In MTV's Death Valley, Los Angeles's San Fernando Valley is overrun by vampires, zombies, and werewolves - oh my! Sadly, it's not too far off from the citizens who inhabit the area in real life. The show combines extreme laughs and extreme gore to create a fun and unique half-hour of television every week. We snagged a few minutes with actress Tania Raymonde, who plays Carla, one of the Undead Task Force agents who spends her days beating the hell out of zombies. She wiped the goo off her hands to tell us about the show.
You play the "straight man" on Death Valley.
Well, not completely straight...
Right. That's something we found out two episodes ago. Are we going to delve into Carla's personal life more?
We do. We meet her girlfriend, and there are some funny scenes with Carla and her girlfriend and John-John, who refuses to believe that Carla is a lesbian - despite very concrete evidence that she is.
Do you every wish that you got some of the more jokey, humorous material?
Yeah. It's tempting because it seems like [my character] is so surly and serious, but I was laughing all the time. Being around these guys on set was great. It was a fun time at work. I understand what my purpose is on the show - you need a straight character within the tapestry of Death Valley; otherwise, the other stuff doesn't work so well. And the nice part about this is that, as the season progressed, we got a little more comfortable with Carla, gave her a little more color, and she gets to have a little more fun at the end. You just have to keep watching and you will see some different shades of her.
Will we ever find out where these zombies and vampires and werewolves came from, or is it one of those mysteries that you just accept and enjoy?
I think that [the producers] pretty much decided that they wanted to throw everybody into the action right from the top instead of explain everything. If the show were to continue, I think maybe that would be something they would tackle in the second season. We found out in the last episode that vampires have the ability to control zombies. That is going to be a very important part of the rest of the season. We do kind of explain the vampires' relationships to the zombies, but not really how they got there in the first place. We just leave that to your imagination.
Sometimes it is better left to imagination.
Yeah. I don't know what could be so interesting about the origin story of zombies. People are so used to zombies, werewolves and vampires anyway, that it's just kind of believable that they could exist in real life. People don't ask too many questions about how they got there.
How do you guys keep the balance between horror and comedy without straying too far to one side or the other?
The guys who made the show wanted to make sure enough time was spent tackling each genre on its own, as its own separate entity. It's weird, because there are a lot of scenes that mix action and gore with comedy. But I think when it was supposed to scary and full of action, we really tried to make it look like a horror film, or look like an action film. I think we pay a lot of attention to detail, making sure every aspect of the show is realistic, so that the funny moments are actually funny. We don't want the entire show to be tongue-in-cheek, and I think that is what is cool about Death Valley: the funny doesn't really bleed into the scary.
It is very, very gory in a very, very good way. Has MTV been pretty cool about the gore levels?
Yeah, we were really lucky. That was one of the cool things about being on MTV. We expected that our audience would have a very high tolerance for gore to begin with. Kids are playing disgustingly violent video games by the time they are 12 years old. They've seen a lot already, so we kind of had free reign to do whatever we wanted. It was intense. At that point I had never been on a horror movie before, so I had never been around the prosthetics and fake blood and gross, bloated, disgusting, diseased bodies, rotting flesh falling off their faces. After a couple weeks you spend so much time around it, it starts to become like second nature. I was worried that I would have nightmares or wouldn't fall asleep at night, but I was totally cool with it. I don't know what that says about me... but yeah, it's definitely something you get used to very quickly.
Are you a horror movie fan?
Some of my favorite movies are horror movies. I love good movies, and don't really care about the genre. The Shining is probably one of my favorite movies of all time. It scares the shit out of me. The Exorcist scared the shit out of me when I was a kid. The Birds, Rosemary's Baby... those are the kinds of things that really stick with me. There is something about a great horror movie that you just never forget. I think it is so cool that we get to bring little scary parts into the show - especially for a comedy, you know, a half-hour. You don't really see any horror elements in shows like that.
Is there a particular monster you prefer fighting?
John-John and I are pretty much on zombie detail. We're the zombie killers of this show. I don't know what the kill count is at this point, but I know in episode three alone, we shot like 50 or 60 zombies in the head.
There is something about a werewolf that I don't find particularly scary. I think it's because the werewolves on our show are only werewolves a couple days a month. It's like having your period or an STD - it just kind of goes away. We don't really deal much with the werewolves. The vampires, on the other hand, are very sneaky, so those are the ones you really have to look out for. But the zombies are so much fun. It's like going to a shooting range.
What else can we look forward to this season?
We will learn more about this underground vampire society. These vampires are turning these innocent girls into vamps. We find out how vampires control zombies. There is also a big reveal of a new kind of monster toward the end of the season. It's a big secret, but the UTF has to deal with this new monster. There is a lot of cool stuff going on. I think the show just gets funnier as it goes along. We care about the characters now. A lot of the characters switch partners, too.