Once referred to as the ?princess of scream?, Tiffany Shepis is now quite possibly one of the last few surviving Scream Queens. A former Tromette and B-movie staple, she?s now starring in Italian horror films and planning her directorial debut. Last week, we got a chance to talk to one of our favorite genre dream-women, Tiffany Shepis, star of the Horrorfest 2008 title Nightmare Man and boy did she give us an earful. Tiffany spills the beans on just about everything from her most recent bra-and-panties-garbed, crossbow-wielding film, to her latest with Lance Henriksen, to some backtracking on that physically impossible death scene in Abominable and getting those ?crazy chicks naked?!
For those who haven?t seen the film, could you sum up your role in Nightmare Man in one sentence?
I get to fight off ridiculous shit and crazy chicks while doing so in my bra and panties with a cross-bow and a shotgun. [Laughs]
Your character, Mia is definitely a fighter until the end. What initially attracted you to the role?
Initially I worked with the director before and the role was pretty much written for me. I knew that right away and I couldn?t wait to see the script. Then to see that she was sort of this wise-ass and the chick is a little bit promiscuous and crazy, you?re assuming that she?s going to die right off the bat--because that?s what happens and they keep alive the little blonde virgin. But I think it provides a really cool twist that she gets to fight until the end. I?m really attracted to all the physical stuff. Anything that involves heavy weapons and fighting and blood and guts, I?m there.
Well you definitely have experience playing the sexy female that fights back. So essentially you?ve been preparing for this role for over a decade. What made this one different?
A lot of times I get brought onto these jobs to be the tough girl and 20 minutes into the film you?re dead. So the fact that I did get to survive was appealing and set it apart. I just liked what he did with all of the characters. You usually have your hero that you?re rooting for but here you are rooting for everyone.
Would you handle the situation the same? Standing and fighting?
Me personally, if there was a fucking car outside I?d get to the car. That?s my issue, I?m out. I don?t care whose staying. I?m gone.
I think I?m one of those assholes that would side with the serial killer. I think I?d be like ?Hey Gabbi is in there and she?s really susceptible so I?ll help you.? I would definitely turn anyone of my friends in a heartbeat.
Good to know?
Yeah there are definitely no hero days for me! I?d be like, ?I?ll stab her in the neck and you can take her!?
Do you have a favorite on-set memory?
The stuff that was my favorite was probably the behind the scenes stuff. There?s a lot of joking around on these movies. It was a really great group of kids and crew that we were working with up on the top of a mountain in the middle of nowhere. We did a 17-minute behind the scenes reel which is on the DVD that shows you what actually goes into the filmmaking. It usually involves playing cards and throwing ham on sleeping actors and making fun of each other.
Working with Richard Moll from Night Court was pretty cool. I remember growing up and when I couldn?t sleep at night that?s what I would watch.
Anyone that you?ve worked with that has just blown you away?
Brad Dourif, I worked with him in The Hazing. That guy, not only as an actor but as a human being is just bad-ass. My character basically gets possessed by him about halfway through the film and I have to take on his persona. My prosthetics looked just like him. He decided he wanted to do an English accent for the movie and I was just this 19-year old idiot actor and I thought he was crazy. So he came over to my house and tutored me in my accent. This was a guy who was nominated for an Academy Award for One Flew Over the Cuckoo?s Nest. It was pretty awesome.
I also got to work with Jeff Fahey, Bill Moseley. Working with horror movie veterans is just awesome especially coming from a fan of the genre.
Anyone you look forward to working with?
I?d love to work with any of our upcoming Splat-Pack. The Joe Lynch, Adam Green, and James Wan of the world. I wasn?t the biggest fan of Cabin Fever but, Hostel, Eli Roth.
And you?ve worked with Ryan Schifrin on Abominable a few years ago?
I did. And it was great!
We actually heard a rumor that you were pregnant during shooting for Abominable?
I was. I was 6-months pregnant.
Well your death scene was pretty physically intense. How did that work?
If anyone?s seen the movie they know I have the craziest death scene. I get pulled and bent backwards through the tiniest window of all time. They had me hooked up to this rig and at this point I hadn?t told anyone I was pregnant. I assumed that the pulling through the window was going to be CGI. I had to pull the stunt guys aside and say how safe is this rig and they said ?Oh it?s fine?unless you?re pregnant.? [Laughs] So I had to tell Ryan. The whole thing worked out fine and we used Ryan?s wife?s legs as the bottom part of the rig.
But Abominable was great; I hear they?re actually doing an Abominable 2. And I hear they?re also re-releasing the Abominable DVD with a new cover. I?m pretty dead so I won?t be returning but I tried to convince them to let me come back as Matt McCoy?s character. They didn?t go for it. Hopefully Ryan Schifrin will be working on something else I can get in on.
What has it been like for you to work on everything from Troma films to Italian Horror to Nightmare Man?
It?s been awesome. I?m one of the last of the Scream Queens to do this for a living. This is all I know how to do. I grew up making horror movies, it?s all I watch. It?s been a pretty wild ride and I hope the fans keep me working until I?m old and grey. I?m directing a movie next so hopefully if the looks go and people realize I can?t act, they?ll actually watch my directorial projects.
It?s called The Devil?s Pie. It?s pretty fun. It?s a sorority house, the hottest most bad-ass sorority house on campus, and they got that way because they of course sold their soul to the devil. And so they have a monster in their basement that they have to feed two virgins to every year and that?s why they have pledge week of course. And this year at pledge week they get two of the hottest chicks but they happen to be the dumbest chicks and of course they are so stupid they end up spoiling the plan. It?s a splatter comedy; Dumb and Dumber meets any splat-tastic horror film. And of course there has to be tons of T&A. I think it?s about time I get some of these crazy chicks naked.
We talked to a bunch of the supposed stars of Black Friday who all say they?re not sure what?s going on. Anything you can tell us about the film or you?re role?
You know, I can?t because the script has changed 82,000 times. Every week they have new people attached. It?s one of those that is such a fantastical project because it has so many people in it, but I?ll believe it when I see it. Occasionally you get attached to films that are too good to be true. Ask me about it in another six months, but there?s a ton of others.
I have Dark Reel coming up where I star with Lance Henriksen, Eddie Furlong and Tony Todd. So there?s definitely some fan favorites in there. It?s a pretty big budget horror film that should be out sometime next year.
I also just finished a movie called Bonnie and Clyde vs. Dracula. And I really wish there were drive in theaters across the country for this one.
And you play Bonnie of course?
Yeah, complete with accent and a machine gun. Model A cars and Model T cars. It?s a pretty fun little flick.
I?m also working on another film with Rolfe Kanefsky called Caller Unknown which is pretty cool.
You have a lot coming up but what can we see you in next?
I believe Nympha which is an Italian horror movie I did with Ivan Zuccon. I believe that?s coming out in July through MPI. It?s a very weird, visually beautiful Italian horror movie. You?ve got to be a fan of slow-paced weird Italian horror. It?s a different side of me. There are no wise-ass remarks. There?s nudity in the whole movie but it?s not your typical, oh I?m going to bend over because I dropped my bubble gum. It?s weird and bizarre.
I play a woman who is sort of lost, trying to find herself and goes to a convent in Italy. The rules of the convent are you have to hear god, see god, feel god and eventually speak with god. They do this by taking away your senses, hence I lose my eyes, my tongue and my hands and its just very fucked up and weird.
So it?s pretty bloody?
It?s really bloody but the most I can say about it is it?s visually stunning. The director shot it and lit it himself. They did a beautiful job. Shooting at 300-year old mansions.
What about Basement Jack and Queen of Screams?
Oh, Basement Jack, I forgot about that! It?s pretty cool. The director of that, Michael Shelton did all of the visual effects on Emily Rose so the effects are going to look beautiful. It?s a weird serial killer movie where I play a bad-ass cool cop with a bad-ass cool cop costume.
Queen of Screams I don?t know what?s going on with that. I shot it a year ago or something and I?m not sure what?s going on.
It was me and Eileen Dietz and she played the aging scream queen and I?m the new young hot scream queen. And she?s out for blood because she wants to regain her crown. (For more on Queen of Screams check out our interview with Dietz)
Some newer female genre actresses view ?Scream Queen? as a negative term. What are your thoughts?
It?s all a personal thing. A lot of girls come into horror as a stepping stone and aren?t really fans of the genre. You can tell when you go to the conventions and you can see it on their face, they?re just collecting their $20 for an autograph and doing it while they do their crossword puzzle. Me, I love being there and turning next to me seeing Lance Henriksen and going ?Holy Shit I?m in a movie with him that?s so cool?. I?m such a fan that I embrace it.
The term Scream Queen isn?t necessarily a dead term it?s just changed. It used to be that women were Scream Queens because they got naked and bloody and the male saved the day. Since the genre and demographic has changed, so has horror movies and there are chicks that are saving the day. I don?t think it?s a negative term anymore. Yeah these chicks are screaming and they?re bloody and naked but most often they?re saving the day. I don?t take it as a negative; I take it as a compliment. I embrace it! I used to be the princess of scream and now I?m the last reigning Scream Queen. I think that?s fucking cool.
What is your biggest fear?
Besides serial killers? I?m really, really, really afraid of heights.
written by Gabrielle DiPietro